John Fay wrote an interesting article on Chris Valaika today:

Reordering the article some..but…

Valaika, a 24-year-old infielder, hit .235 with six home runs and 36 RBI in 266 at-bats at Triple-A last year.

Mind you, the season before Valaika combined to hit .319 with 18 home runs and 81 RBI at Single-A Sarasota and Double-A Chattanooga.

He won the Chief Bender Award as the Reds’ top minor leaguer that year.

His previous two years in the system were similar.

Valaika, a third-round pick in 2006 out of UC-Santa Barbara, had won gold medals as a member of Team USA at the World University Games and the Pan-Am Games before the Reds drafted him.

He went into last year as the fourth-rated prospect in the system by Baseball America.

I think it’s interesting how far someone can fall with one bad year. Going into last year, he was one of THE names when you talked about the Reds system. Now, he’s an afterthought and some people I’ve spoken with don’t even think he’ll be a starter at Louisville.

But I also find it interesting the way John wrote the article, talking about the adjustments to AAA, but also that Valaika had to learn to fail and how humbling that was.

“It was the first time I really struggled bad,” he said. “It was about making adjustments. I was getting by on talent alone. I had to learn how to be a baseball player and understand what was happening. In a weird way, I think it helped me.”

The frustration got the best of him. He broke his hand hitting a water cooler and missed five weeks.

“I think everyone has those moments when it gets away from you,” he said. “It gave me a chance to sit back and observe, something I might not have been able to do if I was playing. I was kind of too close to the problem.”

Give it a read, I think it’s worth the time.