Third Option

Reds sorting out third base situation




CINCINNATI—Third base is the deepest position in the Reds organization.

For that to continue to be true, Juan Francisco and Neftali Soto are going to have to continue to develop. Though neither is having a great year, the Reds say that both of them are still on track.

"They're doing about as expected," farm director Terry Reynolds said. "Francisco is probably at the level he belongs. Soto is probably a level ahead. They've both adjusted and made improvements."

Francisco, 22, was batting .261/.295/.463 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs at Double-A Carolina. After walking 17 times all of last year, he walked 15 times in the first half.

"He comes out of the dugout swinging," Reynolds said. "You want someone who's aggressive, rather than someone who's up there taking all the time. He's working on it being more selective, though."

Francisco, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2004, has a big-time arm but has made 26 errors already this year. The feeling is he may outgrow third. He's listed at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds but is closer to 220. He made a strong impression by breaking the 35-year-old record for home runs by a lefthanded hitter in the Dominican League last winter, hitting 12 in 40 games.

Soto, 20, was batting .243/.280/.372 with nine home runs at high Class A Sarasota. The organization's supplemental third-round pick in the 2007 draft, Soto has made 16 errors.

The Reds eventually will have to make a decision about which position Francisco and Soto will play long-term. Todd Frazier, who was considered part of the third-base depth in the organizaiton, is now playing left field at Carolina.

"Everybody can't play third base," Reynolds said. "We've got (Edwin Encarnacion), we've got these two. Everyone knows Frazier can play third. It will come down to who can help the Reds the most. The others will have to find other positions."

RED HOTS


• First baseman Yonder Alonso still had not started swinging the bat again after breaking the hamate bone in his right hand with Carolina. He had not played since June 18.

• The Reds had signed eight of their top 10 draft picks, though the top two—righthanders Mike Leake and Brad Boxberger—were the two that had not signed.