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There are a ton of promising young third basemen around baseball these days and I think Edwin Encarnacion often gets lost in the shuffle. His offensive numbers aren't as gaudy as some of the other top prospects at the position, but he is young, a solid defensive player, and has been very good at the plate on a consistent basis. The Rangers' ninth-round pick back in 2000, Encarnacion was dealt to the Reds along with Ruben Mateo for Rob Bell in the middle of the 2001 season. Mateo is toolsy former top prospect who is a career .250/.303/.386 hitter in the majors and Bell has an ERA of 5.58 in 608 big-league innings, while Encarnacion, an afterthought at the time, may turn out to be the best player in the deal.

Encarnacion hit .282/.339/.458 in 2002, his first full season in the Reds' organization, smacking 53 extra-base hits and stealing 25 bases as a 19-year-old at Single-A Dayton. He spent the 2003 season between Single-A Potomac and Double-A Chattanooga, hitting a combined .294 with 41 extra-base hits, 15 steals, and a .433 slugging percentage in 125 games. Encarnacion stayed at Double-A last season and put together his best year yet, hitting .281/.352/.443 with 13 homers, 49 total extra-base hits, 17 steals at an 85% clip, and a very solid 79-to-53 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Joe Randa is currently keeping the hot corner warm for Encarnacion in Cincinnati.

  •  There was a great article in The Washington Post on Sunday about African Americans turning away from baseball.
  •  Ramon Ortiz is apparently injured.  He joins the injured Reds pitchers list which already includes Josh Hancock and Luke Hudson.  Good to know we're getting an early start on good health in 2005.  These injuries do seem like the small nagging variety however, which is a positive.  It has to be counted as a plus that the torn hamstring counter remains at 0.