August 29, 2006

Former Gauchos Excel in Professional Ranks

Aug. 29, 2006

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Last season's media guide cover players, Andy Graham and Chris Valaika, have had an immediate impact on their respective organizations, the Colorado Rockies and Cincinnati Reds, this season. Graham, a 21st round selection in the MLB June Amateur Draft, has been outstanding for the Class A Short-Season Tri-City Dust Devils of the Northwest League. Over thirteen games and eight starts, Graham has accumulated a 3-1 record with an impressive 2.45 earned run average. Over 47.2 innings pitched, the Rolling Hills, Calif. native has recorded 39 strikeouts and has held opponents to a measly .213 batting average against. Earlier this season, the right-hander tossed nineteen and a third scoreless innings. Graham was equally impressive in his last outing, dealing six no-hit innings while striking out nine batters and walking only one against the Spokane Indians of the Texas Rangers organization on August 25.

Valaika, a native of Valencia, Calif., just concluded a club-record, Pioneer League record and Minor League season-high thirty-two game hit streak for the Billings Mustangs on Sunday, August 27. Over the streak, which began on July 22, Valaika batted .374 (49-for-131) with ten doubles, three triples, four homers, 35 RBI and 29 runs scored. In addition, Valaika tallied fourteen multi-hit games during the run. After the surge, the infielder is now batting .329 with eighteen doubles, four triples, eight home runs, 57 RBI and 54 runs scored. Furthermore, Valaika is tops in the Pioneer League in hits (82), RBI and total bases (132).

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Gauchos in the Pros