After months of clamoring from fans for the promotion of Zack Cozart, the Cincinnati Reds finally made the move on Thursday.
The 25-year-old shortstop – who was the Reds’ second-round pick out of Ole Miss in 2007 – was batting .310 with seven home runs, 32 RBIs and nine stolen bases at Triple-A Louisville. In 323 at-bats, he laced 26 doubles, two triples and had an OPS of .825.
The Reds are wasting no time when it comes to Cozart’s role on the big club. He is in the starting lineup – batting in the seven hole – in tonight’s game at Milwaukee.
General manager Walt Jocketty apparently reached his boiling point when it came to the platoon of Paul Janish and Edgar Renteria at short. It remains to be seen how well Cozart plays, especially as a wide-eyed rookie, but there’s little doubt he will be an upgrade over Janish and the washed-up version of Renteria that Reds’ fans are seeing this season. (He once was an outstanding MLB player.)
It should be pointed out that the year Cozart had with the Louisville Bats this season is by far his best offensive campaign since beginning his professional baseball career. Prior to this year, his best season came in 2008 at Single-A Dayton when he batted .280 with 14 HRs and 49 RBIs (.787 OPS in 418 at-bats).
As for Cozart’s defense, it’s considered at least above-average at the MLB level (and perhaps better). He’s probably a step down from Janish in that department, but his offense will likely more than make up for it. The interesting thing is that when Cozart was drafted, scouts had no question about his glove; they just wondered if he would ever hit well enough to make the big leagues. And to be clear, Cozart’s defense is solid, it’s just that his bat developed in the minors more than anyone expected.
Hopefully the Reds have found their shortstop of the future. It will be intriguing to monitor his progress to say the least. What a talented, young roster the Reds are putting together. They should be a contender for years to come.
UPDATE: To make room for Cozart, the Reds optioned Janish to Louisville. Also, Edinson “I Can’t Believe We Traded Josh Hamilton For This POS” Volquez was sent down to Louisville, and Carlos Fisher was recalled.