Gelalich Ready for Full Season

Gelalich Ready for Full Season

2012 was a big year for Jeff Gelalich as he led UCLA to a spot in the College World Series. After that Cincinnati obtained his services with a supplemental first round pick. He came into their organization a polished player with good all-around skills and will be ready to resume his professional career with a full season at Dayton.

Countdown to opening day: 2 days Around one year ago there were a lot of questions surrounding the Cincinnati outfield. Jay Bruce received his second all-star selection and Chris Heisey has been a solid backup since arriving in 2010. After those two, things looked shaky everywhere else. Ryan Ludwick started the season off with a slump, Drew Stubbs struggled at the plate all season, and there was no contribution from the fifth spot until Xavier Paul arrived in July. Thought it was probably coincidence, in the June draft the Reds addressed future outfield needs in the supplemental portion of the first round by selecting Jesse Winker and Jeff Gelalich.

Winker went on to have an impressive debut at Billings and though Gelalich's stats weren't as eye-popping, not a lot of stock should be put into that. The Reds must have felt he has the potential to man a job regularly at the MLB level before investing such a high pick (57th overall). Given their recent success with first-rounders that's a good sign for Gelalich. Devin Mesoraco was named Reds Minor League Player of the Year, Todd Frazier received a lot votes for NL Rookie of the Year, Robert Stephenson is one of the highest rated prospects in their system, and three others were the bulk of a trade package that returned top-rotation pitcher Mat Latos.

Gelalich was originally drafted in a late round by the Phillies out of high school but opted to work on his game at UCLA instead. Everything came together for him during postseason of his sophomore year and continued through the next season, landing him on the list of finalists for the Golden Spikes Award given to the nation's top amateur baseball player. He led the Bruins in every major offensive category during their run to a super-regional championship and appearance in the College World Series.

As expected from college players Gelalich arrived after the draft with a polished skill set. Nothing really sticks out in his game because he's good all around. He's a line drive hitter and despite a short swing projects average power at the major league level. He has speed to steal some bases and brings good range in the outfield where his arm strength will probably keep him in right for the time being.

Atop his list for improvement is contact at the plate. Last year at Billings he struck out 42 times in only 146 plate appearances. The good news is that he had a similar start at UCLA and made nice progress before finishing his collegiate career. He did manage 14 walks which gave a nice boost to his on-base percentage (.336) which was almost .100' higher than his average (.244). Of course if he had no need for development somewhere then he'd be wasting his time in the minor leagues.

Gelalich will get a lot of minor league action in the Dayton outfield during his first full season. Joining him will be Winker and former Bruin teammate Beau Amaral. He's recently turned 22 years old and the Reds are expecting a big year from him in the Midwest League. It's less than one year from the draft and they must already feel like they got a good deal by acquiring Gelalich as compensation for free agent departure Francisco Cordero.

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