10/29/2003 4:13 PM ET
Stenson shows his stuff in AFL
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
Dernell Stenson is hitting .419 in the Arizona Fall League. (David Kohl/AP)
CINCINNATI -- Dernell Stenson immediately proved to the Reds that he could be a threat at the plate. Following a brief delay, the outfielder has proven himself in the Arizona Fall League, too.
After hitting around .200 in the season's opening weeks, Stenson has launched a serious bid for the league's batting title while playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Six plate appearances shy of qualifying for the AFL's hitting crown while appearing in only 12 of Scottsdale's first 21 games, Stenson batted a robust .419 (18-for-43) with one home run and six RBIs.
This is the same Stenson who went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles in his first Major League start on Aug. 16 against Houston. He subsequently contributed several key pinch-hits before posting a .247 average for Cincinnati with three home runs and 13 RBIs.
Stenson probably won't crack the Reds' outfield next year, assuming Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr. and Austin Kearns return healthy. But he's a definite candidate to secure a reserve spot and could have an edge as a left-handed hitter -- a commodity that teams frequently seem to be seeking.
Outfielder Stephen Smitherman and catcher Dane Sardinha have maintained their robust hitting for the Scorpions. Smitherman was tied for third in the league with 16 RBIs while batting .316 with two home runs in 15 games. Sardinha owned a .324 average through 10 games with two home runs.
Joe Valentine continued to demonstrate why he was once considered a top relief pitching prospect. After nine appearances for Scottsdale, Valentine was 1-0 with two saves and a 1.04 ERA. He had allowed only six hits and walked two while striking out 14 in 8 2/3 innings.
Other Reds farmhands pitching for Scottsdale include David Gil (1-0, 4.20 ERA, two saves), Kyle Edens (0-2, 7.71) and Brian Shackelford (1-0, 7.11).
Might be someone to watch out for in the next couple of years.