By Jim Callis
March 21, 2006
Though the Reds already had a productive catching tandem in Jason LaRue and Javier Valentin, they added a potential third catcher to the mix on Tuesday. Cincinnati acquired David Ross from San Diego for righthanded pitching prospect Bobby Basham.
Ross, 29, spent most of last year in the majors with the Pirates and Padres, switching organizations in a July trade for J.J. Furmaniak. He hit .240/.279/.392 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 51 games. He also threw out seven of 13 (54 percent) basestealers. Ross’ best tool is his power, and he has decent catch-and-throw skills. He doesn’t hit for average because he’s overaggressive at the plate, and like most catchers he has well below-average speed. He’ll make $500,000 this season and likely will be eligible for arbitration afterward if he spends much time in the majors. Ross is a career .217/.288/.406 hitter with 19 homers and 50 RBIs in 169 career games.
Basham, 26, signed as a 2001 seventh-round pick out of Richmond, where he also served as a backup quarterback. Several Reds officials considered him the system’s best pitching prospect after he had a breakout season in 2002, but he subsequently tore his labrum and missed the entire 2004 season. Basham returned last year to go 10-5, 3.36 in 20 starts between high Class A Sarasota and Double-A Chattanooga. He had an 88-15 K-BB ratio in 102 innings, with opponents batting .292 with eight homers against him. Basham, who had a low-90s fastball before his injury, pitched in the high 80s for most of last year but showed increased velocity at season’s end. His slider also isn’t as good as it once was but could give him an average second pitch. He also has a passable changeup and has no problem finding the strike zone. He has a career 22-22, 3.55 record in 57 minor league starts.