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11/20/09 5:19 PM EST
Reds make moves, fill out roster
Rising prospect Heisey could contend for outfield spot
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Faced with a slew of prospects that needed protection, the Reds added some players to their 40-man roster on Friday while also cutting a few.
By adding outfielder Chris Heisey, infielder Chris Valaika and pitchers Enerio Del Rosario, Logan Ondrusek, Jordan Smith, Phillippe Valiquette and Travis Wood, the Reds have protected those players from exposure to next month's Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings.
Departing is outfielder Laynce Nix, who refused an outright assignment and elected to become a free agent. Pitcher Daryl Thompson was outrighted from the roster and backup catcher Craig Tatum was claimed off waivers by the Orioles.
The deadline to protect players is Friday at 11:59 p.m. ET. The Reds' roster stands at exactly 40 players, which means they currently have no space to add players in the Rule 5 Draft without making another transaction to clear room.
Among the seven additions, Heisey is the most notable as the team's best outfield prospect and someone with a potential chance at the opening in left field. In 134 games at Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville, the 24-year-old batted .322 with 22 home runs, 35 doubles and 77 RBIs. Heisey continued his solid year in the just completed Arizona Fall League season by batting .297 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 24 games.
A shortstop and third-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Valaika remains a high-end infield prospect despite seeing his production numbers take a dip. The 24-year-old batted .235 with six homers and 36 RBIs in 95 games for Louisville. He missed an extended period with a fractured hand suffered when he punched a cooler in frustration. Before this past season, Valaika had been a consistent .300 hitter in his three previous seasons in the Minors.
Wood, a left-handed starter who could wedge himself into the battle for Reds rotation's fifth spot, was 13-5 with a 1.77 ERA in 22 starts combined with Carolina and Louisville. Over his 167 2/3 innings, the 22-year-old Wood allowed 121 hits and 53 walks while striking out 135.
Del Rosario, a 24-year-old right-handed reliever, rose from high Class A Sarasota to Louisville in 2009. In 50 games combined, he posted a 1.68 ERA and 12 saves. He struck out 54 with 12 walks and allowed 66 hits over 80 1/3 innings.
Ondrusek, 24, also earned two promotions from Sarasota to Louisville as he went 4-1 with a 1.50 ERA and 19 saves in 56 relief appearances. Over 72 innings, the right-hander gave up 44 hits and 21 walks with 47 strikeouts. He also participated in the Arizona Fall League and had a 13.50 ERA in 10 games.
Smith, 23, is a right-handed starter who went 5-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 13 outings for Carolina. He gave up 77 hits and 21 walks with 39 strikeouts. A 22-year-old lefty reliever, Valiquette was 2-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 44 games. He allowed 36 hits over 52 1/3 innings with 29 walks and 46 strikeouts.
Reds Minor Leaguers left exposed are eligible to be plucked by other clubs in the Rule 5 Draft for $50,000. If they don't stay on a Major League 25-man roster for the entire 2010 season, those players selected can be offered back to their old team for $25,000.
No major prospects were left unprotected but of the more familiar names, there was outfielder Danny Dorn, catcher Wilkin Castillo and pitchers Ben Jukich and Dallas Buck. The right-handed Buck was one of the prospects that came over from the D-backs in the 2008 Adam Dunn trade.
Nix, 29, was signed to a Minor League deal last winter and earned a spot with the Reds out of Spring Training. In 116 games, he batted .239 with 15 homers and 46 RBIs. After a hot start that moved Nix from the bench to a starting role early on in the season, he struggled down the stretch while also battling with a cervical disc injury.
Being eligible for arbitration likely made Nix more expendable as the Reds seek payroll flexiblity. The club still protected fellow corner outfielder Jonny Gomes, who will is also eligible for arbitration. Teams have until a Dec. 12 deadline to offer a contract to eligible players.
Thompson, 24, reached the Majors for three games in 2008 but was limited to only nine Minor League games because of a shoulder injury in 2009. He was 1-2 with a 6.59 ERA in eight games, including six starts, for Louisville.
Tatum was promoted from Louisville after the Reds had a shortage of catchers and was also an older player at 27. He batted .239 in 64 games for Louisville and .162 in 26 games with Cincinnati after his July callup.