Oct. 16, 2008
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Former UC Santa Barbara baseball player Chris Valaika finished an impressive 2008 campaign between Single-A and Double-A and was recently tabbed as the Cincinnati Reds' top position prospect according to Baseball America.
Beginning the season at Class A Sarasota, Valaika batted .363 with a .393 on-base percentage and was named the 13th-best prospect in the Florida State League.
Valaika, a shortstop, was then promoted to Class AA Chattanooga where he hit .301 with a .352 on-base percentage. Valaika, 23, will play in the Arizona Fall League and is expected to begin next season at Triple-A Louisville.
"He has good instincts," Reds player development director Terry Reynolds told Baseball America. "He positions himself well. He's able to make up for some of the tools he lacks - like foot speed."
The Gauchos were also prominently mentioned in Baseball America's recent college recruiting article after landing left-handed pitcher Chris Joyce. Joyce was rated Baseball America's 184th best prospect because he has "four quality offerings. Joyce tops out at 92 (mph) from the left side," the article said.
Baseball America also mentioned Ryan Tregoning and Ryan Palermo as adding "athleticism and power potential" to the Gauchos' lineup.
UCSB's season opens on February 22 vs. Saint Louis. The Gauchos' first home game is Feb. 23 vs. Westmont at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.