BOR: Ok, so the Reds on Friday added to the 40-man roster RHP Enerio Del Rosario, OF Chris Heisey, RHP Logan Ondrusek, RHP Jordan Smith, IF Chris Valaika, LHP Philippe Valiquette and LHP Travis Wood
. Obviously the more recognizable names from that list are Heisey, Wood and Valaika. Heisey
is one of those guys who's getting a lot of publicity lately. And depending on whom you ask, folks either really like his game or are just kind of mildly impressed. What can you tell us about him?
TR: Chris is a guy that Jeff Brookens in our scouting department deserves a lot of credit for. He was a 17th-round draft pick out of a small school in Pennsylvania and this guy has really good tools. He can run, he can throw, he can hit, he can play all 3 outfield positions. (He has) enough speed to play center, enough arm to play right. He's a smart player.
He's hit and put up good numbers at every level he's played which includes Double-A, Triple-A and now the Arizona Fall League. He's a good-looking young player that I'm happy we have in our system.
BOR: And I have to admit, we were in a meeting at the beginning of the year in Walt's office and he asked you point-blank, "Give me a name that we should keep an eye on," and you said Heisey and it's paid off, he had a great year.
TR: He's one of those guys you root for, too because without any fanfare he does his job, does what he's told, works hard at his game and tries to improve everyday.
BOR: Travis Wood
had a breakout year down on the farm last season, did you see this coming and what happened to enable Travis to enjoy this renewed success?
TR: Well I think the pat on the back goes to the pitching coaches in player development whether it's Tom Brown or Rigo Beltran or Mack Jenkins or any of the pitching coaches that have dealt with Travis over the last couple of years. I think it's really just a case of him maturing both as a player and as a person. He was very young high school player when he was drafted, and each year it's kind of taken him a second year at each level to get his feet underneath him and be successful.
This year, he jumped into Double-A and really tore it up from the beginning of the season, (and he) pitched well when he got to Triple-A. He's always had the stuff to do it, I think it's a matter of increased confidence and increasing his ability to throw pitches where he wants to throw them. Did I see it coming? No, to answer your question, but it sure was a pleasant surprise and hopefully he can keep that going.
BOR: And you mentioned his stuff, is it true - I think I read in Baseball America - that he learned a new pitch?
TR: He throws a cutter, which has helped. It just gives the hitter something else to look at and it gives him a little bit more confidence to throw the ball in on the hitter's hands.
And it has been a big help to him.
BOR: Chris Valaika
had a really rough start in 2009 and then when he returned from injury showed signs of his old self. Where do you see his progress at this point?
TR: I'm going to call last year just a blip on the radar screen for Chris.
He didn't have a good year performance-wise, (and then) he had a broken hand and missed a bunch of time. Just when it looked like he was coming back to be his old self, it just kind of leveled out at the end of the summer. My expectation with him is that he's going to come out and have a real good year next year in Louisville. In talking to him just recently, I know he's very focused on doing that. For the people who don't know Chris, he's one of those guys that if he tells you he's doing something, he's gonna do it in the offseason and come in ready to go. I know it was a frustrating year for all of us, but most importantly it was a frustrating year for him and I wouldn't (plan to) see a duplication of that coming next year.
BOR: And for Chris, do you see him more as a shortstop or a second-baseman or a utility-infielder? What's your take on that, what's his best position?
TR: Well he's played predominately shortstop for us in the course of the minor leagues. If he can do that, I don't have any reason to doubt that he couldn't come up and play shortstop at the Major League level.
The great thing about Chris is that he can give you some versatility. If you need him to play second he can do that, he can even play third, he can do that. I would still consider him primarily a shortstop but he's got the ability to - if needed - can play any one of those 3 spots.
BOR: Now let's talk a little about the lesser-known players who were added to the roster. We'll start with Enerio Del Rosario
. What kind of pitcher is he, and what makes him roster-worthy?
TR: He was one of those guys that started out in A-ball this year for us and basically dominated that level. He made a stop in Double-A and pitched extremely well there. And then you kind of hold your breath because we had a bunch of guys move 2 levels this year, which is something you try not to do if you can avoid it. But it was one of those unavoidable circumstances with a lot of guys and Ernie got to Triple-A and I don't know if he gave up a run there in a bunch of outings. Most nights he was almost unhittable. He's just one of those guys who really knows how to pitch. He keeps the ball way down in the strike zone, he changes speeds, he's very aggressive.
I wouldn't say there isn't anything overpowering about the guy, but I would say if you had to have somebody come out there in the 7th, 8th or 9th inning during this summer, he would've been 1 of the 2 or 3 guys in our system you wanted out there on the mound.
BOR: Logan Ondrusek
is a lanky hard-thrower. He's had some recent struggles, but obviously the organization likes what they see out of him. What's your take on Logan?
TR: Everything I just basically said about Del Rosario is true for Ondrusek, too. He also started in A-ball, ended up in Triple-A, ended up in the (Arizona) Fall League. (He) pitched at a tremendous level this summer in all 3 levels he pitched. He ended up struggling a bit in the fall league and I'd say some of that was due to throwing a lot during the course of the summer, maybe more than he's thrown for us in the past. And also, the break between the end of the season and the fall league; I think he's one of those guys who the more he pitches consistently without a break, the better he gets. I think the thing that was different with Logan this year was his attitude. He believed he could get hitters out, he's always had the stuff to do it and this year he went out there and pitched that way.
BOR: An interesting name to me is Jordan Smith
. He is coming off an injury and didn't pitch much in '09. And again, obviously the club thinks enough of his ability to protect him by adding him to the 40-man roster. What can you tell us about Jordan?
TR: He's a big, strong, right-handed pitcher who's been used predominately by us as a starter in the past. I think there's talk that we may try him in the pen, come the spring. But he's got probably the best stuff of the guys we've been talking about on this call.
He's young, he's big and he's strong. He did have a set-back with an elbow issue during the course of the season but he did not have surgery. He joined us in Instructional League and it looks like everything is good and he should be 100% ready to go in the spring. He's one of those guys who can move real fast if he's healthy.
is a hard-throwing lefty, what impresses you about his game?
TR: Well the most impressive thing is he's a lefthander throwing at anywhere near 93 to 97 mph. He's French-Canadian without much of a baseball background when we drafted him, so it's been a fairly steep learning curve for Philippe during the course of his career. It's just every year (his progress has) been incrementally done and last year was by far the best he's pitched as a Red. (He has) one of those arms, that when the draft comes around in December, he'd be an easy guy for another club to take because you could just put him in the bullpen and throw him out there a couple of times a week, and "Oh, this guy's got a great arm"
and hang on to him for a full season. He's one of those guys, that when it all clicks and that he finally becomes a complete pitcher, he's got as good of stuff as anyone we have.