June 11, 2009
CINCINNATI - Among the litany of names and players selected by the Reds on Day 2 of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft on Wednesday, one seemed very familiar.
It was Matt Valaika, who was taken in the 20th round (599th overall) by Cincinnati. The second baseman from the University of California, Santa Barbara is the younger brother of Reds shortstop prospect Chris Valaika.
Like his little brother, Chris, Valaika was also a Gaucho. He was a third-round pick by the Reds in 2006 and is currently with Triple-A Louisville.
"He's a good, hard-nosed guy like Chris," Reds senior scouting director Chris Buckley said. "He's a line-drive hitter and more of a true second baseman. He can really swing the bat. It's just a good baseball family."
In 50 games this season for UC-Santa Barbara, Matt Valaika batted a team-leading .343 while also hitting six homers with 45 RBIs during his junior season. He had an on-base percentage of .341.
Assuming he signs, Matt Valaika will be assigned to the same Rookie-level team in Billings as his older brother. During his first professional season in the Pioneer League, Chris Valaika batted .324 and set a league record with a 32-game hitting streak.
Currently, Chris Valaika is batting .161 for Louisville and is on the disabled list with a broken right hand. Last year, the organization named him as winner of the Chief Bender Award as its Minor League Player of the Year.
"Chris is hurt now, but has done well since we picked him," Buckley said.