One of last year’s fastest rising stars in the Reds minor league system got off to a great start in Reds camp during the team intrasquad game on Saturday. Right-handed outfielder Dave Sappelt finished the day 3-for-3 with a double in his squad’s 6-1 win. beat writer, Mark Sheldon, wrote a nice profile piece on Sappelt Thursday, and it sounds like he fits nicely with the Reds love for HAVOC!

“He moved through the organization fast. He’s a very exciting player,” Louisville manager Rick Sweet said. “He’s aggressive. He swings the bat, puts the ball in play and runs. I would say the biggest thing is he creates havoc. He makes things happen.”

The organization’s 2010 minor league hitter of the year was drafted by the Reds in the 9th round of the 2008 draft. Sappelt signed quickly and played 62 games at Rookie class Billings that season. He hit very well in his first exposure to professional baseball, with 31 extra base hits and an .850 OPS in 279 plate appearances.

The following year, Sappelt played with both of the Reds A-ball clubs in his first full professional season, displaying less extra-base power and posting just a .726 OPS. His prospect status was not high on many analysts’ radar after the 2009 season. He didn’t crack John Sickels’ top 40 Cincinnati Reds prospect list, nor was he listed in Sickels’ 2010 prospect book.

An offseason workout routine with a former college coach set up his successful 2010 campaign. From Sheldon:

His swing was broken down and compared to those of successful big leaguers like Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Evan Longoria and Ryan Braun.

“As I was working, I eventually got it down almost perfect with their swings. Once that happened, I expected big things,” Sappelt said. “No matter where they start, every time when they were getting ready to hit the ball, we were all the same. Where our bats went from A to B was the same with the legs and everything all the same.”

The results were improved offensive statistics across the board (.342 AVG and .905 OPS combined at three levels), the return of his extra-base power, earning the Reds minor league hitter of the year award, and an invitation to the Reds 2011 spring training as a non-roster invitee after only 25 games at AAA. Sickels’ now has Sappelt at #13 on his 2011 Reds prospect list.

2008 21 Rk 62 279 7 6 66.7% 21 45 0.299 0.354 0.496 0.850 11.1%
2009 22 A,A+ 136 602 7 47 68.1% 36 75 0.281 0.327 0.399 0.726 6.8%
2010 23 A+,AA,AAA 133 564 10 25 58.1% 42 74 0.342 0.395 0.507 0.902 9.4%
Career 331 1445 24 78 64.5% 99 194 0.308 0.359 0.459 0.818 8.7%

Sappelt is likely starting the 2011 season in AAA, and one area Rick Sweet and staff will be focusing on is better utilizing his speed on the bases. While he has racked up 78 stolen bases in 331 professional games, he has also been caught 43 times for a career 64.5% SB ratio. Saturday’s intrasquad game was a simple illustration of Sappelt’s pros and cons at this point in his career. Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer John Fay tweeted that Sappelt was caught stealing and picked off at first base in the game.

If he keeps hitting like he has been, then we will see him in a Cincinnati Reds uniform before the end of the year. With another good season, he has a real chance to claim the starting left field job by the beginning of the 2012 season.