With Paul Janish currently slated as the Reds starting option for 2010, shortstop is a spot that certainly could use some addressing. Zack Cozart is currently the top option on the farm as he just finished up a solid season in AA. Cozart has above average defense, rating out as +19 and +11 in the TotalZone stat over at minorleaguesplits.com. While I think there are some flaws in the TZ system, scouting reports back up its findings that have Cozart as an above average defender. Offensively, Cozart saw his power go down from Dayton to Carolina, but he also saw his walk rate more than double while slightly lowering his strikeout rate. HeadingĀ  to the AFL in a few weeks, Cozart could come into spring training with a job to compete for if he shows strongly in Arizona.

Billy Hamilton was the Reds 2nd round draft pick in the 2009 draft. Coming out of high school he was considered to be raw, but one of the best athletes in the entire draft. A two sport star in high school with a scholarship to play football on the table, Hamilton signed with the Reds and passed up an option to play football. While the bat could use plenty of refining, we should be patient as he began to switch hit in the hopes to take advantage of his plus speed. Defensively Hamilton lead the GCL in fielding percentage at shortstop while also recieving solid scouting reports on both his range and arm.

Miguel Rojas (pictured above) really jumped onto the scene this season in Dayton. He was the only player coming into the season who the manager was told to be sure to play every day, a sure sign that the organization was high on him. The 20 year old proved the powers that be correct as he was named the leagues best defensive shortstop by Baseball America. On the offensive side of the ball Rojas made huge strides from 2008 where he hit .185/.249/.249 for Billings. In 2009 Rojas hit .272/.317/.338 on the season. At first glance that isn’t an impressive line, but after a terrible April Rojas hit .294/.350/.360 through the end of the season.

Like Rojas, D.D. Gregorius came out of nowhere to make a name for himself. The 19 year old spent about a month filling in for Sarasota, but was sent to Billings upon the start of the short season league. Gregorius went on to hit .314/.360/.387 while showing excellent plate discipline for the Mustangs.

Chris Valaika had a disappointing season and has been mentioned as a second base option as well as Rick Sweet suggesting that Valaika isn’t viewed as a future shortstop. However I think until we see him playing full time elsewhere, he at least deserves a mention here as coming into the season he was a Top 10 prospect in the system. Valaika struggled for the first few months before injuring himself punching a water cooler. Upon his return he did hit .299 the rest of the way. Defensively is where the main concerns are with Valaika, as he is considered to be a below average defender by scouts.

One last guy who I believe deserves more than a name drop is Junior Arias. The 17 year old spent the season playing for the Dominican Summer League Reds after signing a 6 figure bonus in the 2008 international signing period. Overall his season line was .230/.303/.388, which comes with its good and bad. The good is the walk rate was solid and there was plenty of power coming from the shortstop. After a slow start, Arias finished strong as he hit .259/.327/.475 over the final two months of the season. He is a guy to watch for in the US next season.

Overall I would grade the Reds as a B at the shortstop position. They do lack that sure bet guy, but they have 5 or 6 legit guys worth watching in the system at a position that is tough to have depth at and for me that goes a long way.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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