Francisco Brings 'Wow' Factor To Reds





CINCINNATI—Third baseman Juan Francisco has the kind of physical skills that can wow you.

Wow as in: "Wow, he hit the that ball a long way."

Which is what fans were buzzing after Francisco hit a ball that cleared the Moon Deck in right field at Great American Ball Park, a shot estimated at 502 feet—second-longest in park history.

Wow as in: "Wow, what a throw!" Which is what fans were saying after Francisco fielded a ball five feet into foul territory and threw out Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd.

"That was Brooks Robinson stuff right there," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I didn't think he had a play, and he got it there on a fly."

Francisco, 24, has always shown great power and arm strength, but consistency and approach remain a question.

Francisco started the season on the major league roster, but he strained a calf on April 18. When he was activated, he was optioned to Triple-A Louisville, and he stayed there until his September callup.

Francisco hit .307/.334/.540 at Louisville. His walk-to-strikeout ratio was typical for him: 10 walks, 61 strikeouts. In his minor league career, he has walked 112 times and struck out 614.

"When he swings at strikes and puts the ball in play, he's effective," Baker said. "He has an electric bat."

Scott Rolen is signed for 2012 and is going to be the starting third baseman, but the Reds will limit his playing time to 120 games or so. That was plan this year, but Rolen didn't hold up that long.

Francisco's own injuries kept him from assuming the backup role. When Rolen went on the disabled list for the second time (July 22), Francisco was recovering from knee surgery.

"He's been playing well," Baker said. "He's been very impressive, not only with the monster home runs he can hit but also playing good defense."

RED HOTS

• Shortstop Billy Hamilton plans to play winter ball in Puerto Rico after instructional league. Hamilton stole an organization-record 103 bases at low Class A Dayton.

• Lefthander Matt Maloney became Louisville's all-time leader in wins (39), starts (86), strikeouts (435) and innings (516). Maloney went 7-1, 2.99 for the Bats this year.