Tag:Fred Lewis
Posted on: August 8, 2011 6:51 pm

Reds' Alonso left in positional limbo

Yonder AlonsoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The moment Yonder Alonso was drafted by the Reds in the first round of the 2008 draft, the questions about where he'd play began. Alonso played first base at Miami and looked like he'd be limited to first base.

That's fine and good, except for when you have the reigning MVP at first base already and that player's just 27. 

Last spring the Reds started trying Alonso in left field and he played 30 games there in 2010 between Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville, but still played the bulk of his time at first base, logging 96 games there. This season with his bat ready for the big leagues, he was given more time in the left field, where he played 62 games in left compared to 21 at first base.

Since the left-handed hitting prospect was called up to the big leagues when Jonny Gomes was traded, he's started three games in left and none at first. The first part is going to change, the second may not.

Alonso's latest position may be third base after he struggled in two games in left at Wrigley Field this past weekend, playing one ball into an inside-the-park home run for Cubs rookie Tony Campana and then misplaying another ball for a crucial error in Saturday's loss.

When asked on Monday when Alonso would play left again, Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters, "not in the near future," according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Alonso took ground balls at third base -- his main position growing up, he's said -- but Baker said he doesn't expect Alonso there anytime soon.

"You don't want to do it in the big leagues," Baker said, according to Fay. "But that's the position he started at. It's a mirror image of first base, really. You get more plays. Most first baseman are at first because they're left-handed or they don't have the arm to play third.

"We'll see. We're trying to find the best place to get his bat in the lineup."

Yonder AlonsoWhile Alonso's looked shaky in the field, he's been locked in at the plate, where he's started the season 8 for 16 with two doubles and a homer. The Reds called up another prospect, Dave Sappelt, on Sunday when Chris Heisey went on the disabled list and Sappelt will likely get a chance to play quite a bit in left and center. Sappelt had a hit leading off in his major-league debut on Sunday. Fred Lewis is starting in left on Monday.

Finding a spot for Alonso is tricky. The Reds thought he was the best hitter available when they took him with the seventh overall pick in the 2008 draft and he's shown it in the minors, where he's combined to hit .293/.370/.466. He was hitting .296/.374/.486 with 12 homers when he was called up. Although he's 4 for 7 as a pinch-hitter so far this season, going forward he's going to be too valuable for filling just that role.

The Reds and Blue Jays reportedly talked about a blockbuster sending Joey Votto to his native Toronto in exchange for Jose Bautista, opening a spot for Alonso. Although that deal didn't go down, it does show how much the team values Alonso and feels he can be an impact player in the big leagues.

Votto is under contract through 2013, so he's in the team's immediate future but could be too expensive when he reaches free agency. Alonso would be a lower-cost alternative.

Alonso could also finish the season strong and be a more valuable trade piece in the offseason because of his early success in the big leagues. 

Physically, Alonso looks more like a first baseman -- or DH -- than third baseman, but he says he feels comfortable there. He didn't play third at Miami because current Twin Danny Valencia was at third base when he got there. The Reds have a need at third base. With Scott Rolen on the disabled list (and at 36), the Reds are using a combination of rookie Todd Frazier and veteran Miguel Cairo to man the position. Rolen is under contract through next season and the team's top prospect at the position, Juan Francisco, has been hurt this season and unproductive in a couple of big-league stints.

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Posted on: June 7, 2011 10:31 am
Edited on: June 7, 2011 11:25 am

Looking back at second-round picks

Joey Votto

By C. Trent Rosecrans

While the first-round of the MLB Draft is gaining more attention in the last couple of years, the later rounds are where most of the work is done. 

The second round starts today at 11 a.m. ET, so here's a look at some of the best second-round picks in recent memory.

Angels: In 1999, the Angels took John Lackey out of Grayson County Community College with the 68th overall pick in the draft. In 1995, they took Jarrod Washburn with the first pick of the second round.

Astros: Perhaps the team's best player right now, outfielder Hunter Pence, was the 64th overall pick in 2004. 

MLB Draft

Athletics: The A's took Vista, Calif., high schooler Trevor Cahill with the 66th overall pick in 2006. Two years before that they took Kurt Suzuki in the second round and in 2003 they took Andre Ethier in the second round. They traded him for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez in 2005.

Blue Jays: Right-hander Dave Bush in 2002 is probably the team's best second-round pick since taking Derek Bell in 1987.

Brian McCannBraves: Current first baseman Freddie Freeman was selected with the 78th overall pick in 2007, but the best pick was easily 2002's No. 64 overall pick, a local high school catcher named Brian McCann.

Brewers: The Brewers took Yovani Gallardo with the fifth pick of the second round in 2004.

Cardinals: In 2001, the team took Dan Haren with the 72nd overall pick. More recently, Jon Jay was taken in the second round of the 2006 draft.

Cubs: You have to go back pretty far -- unless you go with Bobby Hill -- to find much success with the Cubs' second-round pick, but if you go as far back as 1984, they took Greg Maddux with the third pick of the second round and he turned out OK. Also among their second-round picks is former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter (1996).

Diamondbacks: A's starter Brett Anderson was Arizona's second-rounder in 2006. He was part of the big trade that send Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks.

Dodgers: The Dodgers got future closer Jonathan Broxton with the 60th overall pick in 2002.

Giants: Of recent vintage, the Giants have taken Nate Schierholtz in 2003 and Fred Lewis in 2002, but the most interesting second-round pick by San Francisco was in 1982. That year they took the son of a team legend with the 11th pick of the second round (39th overall), but Barry Bonds went to Arizona State instead.

Indians: Jason Kipnis is one of the team's top prospects, taken in the second round in 2009. In 1995, the Indians took first baseman Sean Casey out of Richmond with the 53rd overall pick.

Mariners: Recently-demoted Orioles starter Chris Tillman was taken in the second round of the 2006 draft. Keep an eye on 2009 second-rounder Rich Poythress, who had 31 homers in Class A last season.

Mike StantonMarlins: It wasn't until the 12th pick of the second round -- and 76th overall -- for someone to pick up Mike Stanton in 2007. 

Mets: There's some slim pickins for the Mets recently, but few Mets fans would trade their second-rounder of 1977, Mookie Wilson. (Seriously, this one was tough, the only players the Mets have picked in the last 15 years who have made the majors were Kevin Mulvey, Neal Musser, Pat Strange and Tyler Walker -- maybe that explains some things.)

Nationals (Expos): Jordan Zimmermann was the team's second-rounder in 2007. Current Reds All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips was taken by the Expos with the sixth pick of the second round in 1999.

Orioles: Nolan Reimold was taken 61st overall in 2005, but if you want to go back a few years, the team took Cal Ripken with the 22nd pick of the second round in the 1978 draft. Ripken was the third of four picks the Orioles had in the second round that year.

Padres: San Diego took Chase Hedley in 2005.

Phillies: Jimmy Rollins was the team's second-rounder in 1996, going 46th overall.

Pirates: Last year's pick was Stetson Allie, who many expected to go in the first round. Lefty Tom Gorzelanny was taken in the second round in 2003 and catcher Ryan Doumit was taken 59th overall in 1999.

Rangers: The only player taken by the Rangers in the second round of the last decade to make the majors is Jason Bourgeois.

Rays: The Rays famously took Josh Hamilton No. 1 overall in 1999, but their second-round pick that year was pretty good too -- Carl Crawford.

Red Sox: How about Justin Masterson (2006), Dustin Pedroia (2004) and Jon Lester (2002)?

Reds: NL MVP Joey Votto (2002) was the third pick of the second round (44th overall) and Travis Wood was taken in the second round of the 2005 draft. Keep an eye on 2009 pick Billy Hamilton, who already has 45 stolen bases this season for Class A Dayton.

Rockies: For recent vintage, Seth Smith (2004) is the pick, but you can go back a few years and pick Aaron Cook (1997).

George BrettRoyals: For all the prospects the Royals have stockpiled in the last couple of years, strangely not too many are second-rounders. Outfielder Brett Eibner (2010) was the only member of the Royals' Top 10 by Baseball America taken in the second round. You have to go back to Carlos Beltran (1995), Jon Lieber (1992), Bob Hamelin (1988), Mark Gubicza (1981), Darryl Motley (1978) and Dennis Leonard (1972) to find serious big-leaguers. Oh, and also a kid out of El Segundo, Calif., in 1971 named George Brett. He was pretty good, too.

Tigers: The Tigers took Brandon Inge with the 14th pick of the 1998 draft as a catcher out of Virginia Commonwealth. In 1976, Alan Trammell was the second pick of the round.

Twins: A nice run of arms earlier in the decade with Kevin Slowey (2005), Anthony Swarzak (2004), Scott Baker (2003) and Jesse Crain (2002). Frank Viola was the team's second-rounder in 1981.

White Sox: A's outfielder Ryan Sweeney (2003) is the team's best second-rounder since Bob Wickman (1990) -- not counting Jeff Weaver, who went back to school after he was picked in 1997 and was taken by the Tigers a year later.

Yankees: In the last 20 years, only two Yankees second-rounders have made the big leagues, Shelley Duncan (2001) and Randy Keisler (1998). Catching prospect Austin Romine was the team's second-rounder in 2007. In 1982, the team did take a shortstop from McAdory High School in Bessemer, Ala., who went on to play football at Auburn instead. His name is Bo Jackson. That was the year after the team took Stanford outfielder John Elway.

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Posted on: May 16, 2011 2:39 pm

Reds to go with three-way platoon in left

GomesBy Evan Brunell

Jonny Gomes started 2010 as a starter, the first time he had done so all year.

While Gomes (pictured) had grabbed 540 plate appearances last season, he hadn't begun the year as starter and needed some time to get near-full playing time. The left fielder has always raked lefties but manager Dusty Baker has felt confident in his abilities to hit righties, even though his numbers last season weren't all that great.

They've worsened this year despite his continued raking of lefties, giving him an overall line of .186/.329/.389 in 140 PA.

"I thought Jonny might be ready to play against everybody," Baker told MLB.com. "Maybe that's not the case yet. I just have to pick and choose who I try to play guys against."

Now, Baker says left field will start being a platoon between Gomes, Fred Lewis and Chris Heisey.
"That's part of my job is to match guys up in a situation where they're most likely to succeed, to match guys' strokes against guys I think they'll probably hit good," added Baker. "Some guys are fastball hitters. Some guys are low-ball hitters, high-ball hitters."

Joining Gomes in left is Lewis, who came over from the Blue Jays as a free agent but missed time due to injury and 15 games worth of rehab in the minors. He's played rather sparingly since joining Cincinnati in a bench role, but that will start changing. His calling card is his speed, as he swiped 17 bases last season for Toronto in 110 games. It's likely with a full season of playing time he could reach 30 and was held back last year by manager Cito Gaston, who elected not to pursue an aggressive running game.

"Right now, Freddie is in a situation where we're trying to figure out when to use Freddie, against whom and give him the best chance and us the best chance," Baker said. "Same with Heisey."

For his part, Heisey has been impressive in limited duty. The 26-year-old knocked eight home runs in 226 PA last season, hitting .254/.324/.433. He's been even better this year with a .263/.338/.509 line through 65 PA and four home runs. Baker doesn't feel as if Heisey is quite ready for prime time just yet, but it would come as no surprise if he eventually emerged as the starter, both in 2011 and long-term. For now, though, he's stuck in a three-way platoon.

"There was a point when everybody wanted Jonny Gomes to play every day. There was a point when everybody wanted Laynce Nix (now with the Nationals, who is wresting the left field job away from Mike Morse) to play every day. There was a point when everybody wanted Heisey to play every day," Baker explained. "Those guys are more matchup guys, in my mind, at this point in their careers rather than every day guys."

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Posted on: April 17, 2011 7:29 pm

Uehara's streak stopped

Koji UeharaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Before a full-count pitch to Shin-Soo Choo with one out in the eighth inning on Sunday, Orioles reliever Koji Uehara had gone 36 appearances without a walk.

That pitch -- much to the chagrin of Uehara and manager Buck Showalter -- was called a ball, ending the third-longest streak in baseball history behind Dennis Eckersley (41 games from 1989-1990) and John Smoltz (38 games from 2003-2004). 

"I'm not so sure it was a walk, either," Showalter said of the pitch called a ball by home plate umpire Ed Hickox, via the Baltimore Sun.

Uehara, through his interpreter, told reporters, "I think it wasn't going well with the umpires today."

After going 36 appearances without a walk, Uehara walked Travis Hafner after striking out Carlos Santana. His last walk before today was July 16, 2010, to Fred Lewis, then with the Blue Jays.

Uehara needed 29 pitches to get through the inning in which he also struck out two batters, but had needed just 33 pitches to get through the first 4 2/3 innings he'd thrown this season. Still, he said he'll be ready to pitch on Monday. He's allowed just one hit and no runs in five appearances this season.

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Posted on: January 10, 2011 6:07 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2011 6:12 pm

Reds ink Lewis, M's sign Kennedy

LewisThe Reds finally found their backup outfielder, inking Fred Lewis to a one-year deal worth $900,000, as MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports.

Cincinnati was hoping for a left-handed outfielder to replace Laynce Nix, and the Reds were also hoping for someone who could fill in at leadoff. That's Lewis, who spent most of 2010 with the Blue Jays after being squeezed out in San Francisco.

Lewis hit .262/.332/.414 in 480 plate appearances for the Jays, hitting nine home runs and swiping 17 bags. His most successful season came in 2008, when a then 27-year-old Lewis hit .282/.351/.440 with nine homers and 21 stolen bases in 521 PA.

Lewis will come off the bench backing up Drew Stubbs in center field and should receive ample playing time against right-handers in left field, with Jonny Gomes assuming a platoon role.

In other transaction news, infielder Adam Kennedy inked a minor-league pact with the Mariners, as Larry Stone of the Seattle Times reveals. He will battle for the backup infield job with Josh Wilson.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: January 3, 2011 8:32 pm

Reds close to signing Hermida

Jeremy Hermida The Reds "appear to be close" to signing outfielder Jeremy Hermida to a minor-league contract, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon writes .

The Reds are looking for a left-handed hitting reserve outfielder and have said to be looking at Scott Podsednik and Fred Lewis.

Hermida played for the Red Sox and A's last season and hit .216/.268/.351 with six home runs and 29 RBI. Hermida played his first five seasons with the Marlins, hitting .265/.344/.425 in the National League.

The Reds have right-handed hitters in left (Jonny Gomes), center (Drew Stubbs) and on the bench (Chris Heisey), with left-handed Jay Bruce in right. Heisey can play all three outfield spots.

The team could still bring in Lewis or Podsednik and let them all battle it out in spring training. Lewis makes more sense for the Reds because he's younger and cheaper than Podsednik.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: December 3, 2010 12:28 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:37 am

Russell Martin among those non-tendered

The deadline to tender contracts was Thursday night at 11:59 p.m., and here's the players who were not tendered contracts and are now free agents:

A's: Edwin Encarnacion, Jack Cust, Travis Buck

Angels: Kevin Frandsen

Astros: Sammy Gervacio

Blue Jays: Jeremy Accardo, Fred Lewis

Braves: Matt Diaz

Brewers: Todd Coffey, Joe Inglett

Diamondbacks: Blaine Boyer, Ryan Church, Augie Ojeda, D.J. Carrasco

Dodgers: Russell Martin, George Sherrill, Trent Oeltjen

Giants: Eugenio Velez, Chris Ray

Mariners: Ryan Rowland-Smith

Marlins: Jose Veras, Ronny Paulino

Mets: Chris Carter, Sean Green, John Maine

Nationals: Wil Nieves, Joel Peralta, Chein-Ming Wang

Orioles: Matt Albers

Padres: Scott Hairston, Tony Gwynn Jr., Luis Perdomo, Matt Antonelli

Pirates: Lastings Milledge, Argenis Diaz, Donnie Veal, Brian Burres

Rangers: Dustin Nippert

Rays: Lance Cormier, Willy Aybar, Dioner Navarro, J.P. Howell

Red Sox: Hideki Okajima, Taylor Buchholz, Andrew Miller

Rockies: Manny Delcarmen

Royals: Josh Fields

Tigers: Zach Miner

White Sox: Bobby Jenks, Erick Threets

Yankees: Alfredo Aceves, Dustin Mosley

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com