|The Reds staged a tryout this spring for the job of backing up third baseman Scott Rolen. Todd Frazier went 15-for-51 (.294) with 11 extra-base hits, including five homers, to win the job. (He also plays left field, first base and, in a pinch, second base.) Frazier’s competition, Juan Francisco, went 10-for-51 (.196) with four homers and a double, but since the 24-year-old is out of options, Cincinnati faced two choices: trade him or risk losing him on waivers.
The Reds chose the latter option, dealing Francisco to the Braves for 24-year-old righthander J.J. Hoover, who reached Triple-A for 19 innings last season and, perhaps just as importantly, has three options remaining.
|J.J. Hoover, rhp
Born: Aug. 13, 1987 in Pittsburgh.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 230. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Calhoun (Ala.) CC.
Career Transactions: Selected by Braves in 10th round of 2008 draft; signed Aug. 15, 2008.
The Braves shifted Hoover to the bullpen last June, whereupon his velocity ticked up to a steady 92-95 mph and he notched a 47-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 0.90 WHIP in 32 2/3 innings across two levels. With a thick lower half, he’s built to deliver innings in whichever role he pitches, though his fastball can flatten out when he doesn’t stay on top of the ball. Hoover’s slider is a deadly weapon versus righthanded batters, who he held to 32-for-204 (.157) last season coming out of the bullpen. He also throws a below-average changeup that he seldom deploys in relief.
|Juan Francisco, 3b
Age: 24. Position: 3B (88 G), RF (1 G).
Born: June 24, 1987 in Bonao, Dominican Republic.
Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 245. Bats: L. Throws: R.
Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Reds, May 6, 2004.
Francisco mashed 38 homers in parts of three seasons for Triple-A Louisville, showcasing top-of-the-line power (.559 slugging) and plus arm strength at third base. Just as evident: an ultra-aggressive hitting approach that resulted in a .337 on-base percentage (despite a .304 average) and 30-to-170 walk-to-strikeout ratio over 742 plate appearances. The ball really carries off Francisco’s bat when he makes contact, though, and he dealt serious damage to International League righthanders. Against them, he batted .333/.360/.628 with 31 homers and 44 doubles in 511 PA for Louisville since 2009, while also making contact in 77 percent of at-bats and putting up a crazy .295 isolated power. Similar story versus big league righties—Francisco hit five homers and put up an .847 OPS in 154 PA for the Reds. That power versus righties, paired with a solid glove at third base (provided he stays in shape), is what the Braves are buying. Francisco also appeared in five Rookie-level Arizona League games last year, going 9-for-18 as he rehabbed from surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee.