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Sports Notes: Reds may be center of MLB universe again, but for much different reason

Home Run Derby champ Todd Frazier may be one of the last recognizable Reds on the roster when the July 31 trading deadline rolls around (Cincinnati Reds Photo)

Home Run Derby champ Todd Frazier may be one of the last recognizable Reds on the roster when the July 31 trading deadline rolls around (Cincinnati Reds Photo)


It was just a week ago that Cincinnati was the center of the Major League Baseball universe, serving flawlessly and impressively as the host for the 2015 All-Star Game.

Hometown third baseman Todd Frazier rode a late voter wave to be a starter for the National League and he won the Home Run Derby to boot.

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Now it appears the Reds will generate a fair share of attention in the baseball world over the next week or so, but for completely different reasons. According to multiple media reports, Reds’ ownership and general manager Walt Jocketty have decided to unload a number of the team’s stars. The only question appears to be where they will wind up when the July 31 trading deadline arrives.

A substantial number of Reds fans think this rebuild of the roster is coming at least one year too late. Heading into this week’s play, the Reds are nine games under .500 and trail the Central Division leading Cardinals by 16.5 games. They are only a game ahead of last-place Milwaukee.

Starting pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake are two of the most sought-after commodities. Both will be free agents after the current season and are unlikely to return to Cincinnati anyway. Leake is 7-5 with a 3.95 earned run average while the higher-profile Cueto, a former 20-game winner, is 6-6 with a 2.79 ERA despite going just four innings and walking six in his most recent start.

But there is also interest in flame-throwing reliever Aroldis Chapman, outfielders Jay Bruce and Marlon Byrd and even former MVP Joey Votto, once thought to be untouchable.

But the Reds haven’t won with those players and they are getting both older and more expensive. The Reds need to retool and get younger and obtaining young prospects and drafting well is the way to go. A well-stocked minor league system has allowed the Cardinals and Pirates to be consistently good and that’s the blueprint the Reds will attempt to follow.

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Not sure just how meaningful this is, but former Kentucky guard Devin Booker tied a single-game Summer League high over the weekend when he scored 31 points to help the Suns to a 93-87 win over the Pelicans. Booker was nine of 19 overall from the floor and converted five of his nine three-point attempts. He also grabbed nine rebounds, handed out a pair of assists and was six of seven from the free throw line.

The Suns’ entry in the Las Vegas Summer League also features former Cats Josh Harrellson and Archie Goodwin.

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It was surprising to learn that Louisville star pitcher Kyle Funkhouser will be back for his senior season despite being a first-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Funkhouser was the 35th overall pick in June, the highest draft selection in Louisville program program history. The righthander announced his decision on Twitter on Friday just over three hours before the 5 p.m. deadline for MLB teams to sign 2015 draft picks.

With a 26-9 record, Funkhouser is second in career wins for the Cards. He was 8-5 with 104 strikeouts last year and set a school record for single-season victories in 2014 with a 13-3 mark. He also had a 1.94 earned run average and 122 strikeouts in 120 inning of work. He was a major factor in the Cardinals 2014 appearance in the College World Series.

Funkhouser was among four Louisville players selected in the 2015 MLB Draft and the other three: senior infielder Sutton Whiting, a 24th-round pick by the Chicago Cubs; sophomore lefty Josh Rogers, an 11th-round choice by the New York Yankees; and sophomore lefty Robert Strader, taken in the 12th round by the Baltimore Orioles, all signed professional contracts.

The Cardinals were 47-18 overall last year and ranked as high as No. 8 following the season and advancing to their third straight NCAA Super Regional.

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The Class A Lexington Legends have run into a rough patch, losing six of their last seven games, and their path won’t soon get any easier.

South Atlantic League home run and RBI leader Ryan O’Hearn has been promoted to the advanced-A Carolina league and he has joined the Royals’ affiliate in Wilmington.

O’Hearn takes with him his 19 home runs and 56 runs batted in. When he was promoted last week, he was third in the league in slugging percentage at .494, 10th in hits with 87, and fifth in OPS at .845. O’Hearn was also the starting first baseman for the Southern Division in the SAL All-Star game, and he won the Home Run Derby competition.

Added to the Legends’ roster was former Lafayette and Western Kentucky University star Anderson Miller, who debuted for the Legends Sunday in West Virginia. Miller played right field and singled in four appearances at the plate.

Miller was drafted by the Royals in the third round of the June 2015 draft and was the 98th overall pick. He earned first-team Conference USA honors in his final season at WKU and after signing with the Royals, he played in one game with the Arizona League Royals before moving on to the Burlington Royals of the Appalachian League.

In Burlington, he played in 10 games and had 13 hits in 38 at bats for a .342 average with two home runs and seven runs batted in.

The Legends begin a seven-game home stand Wednesday, July 22, with a 12:05 p.m. contest against Rome.

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I reluctantly add my name to the list of those who believe Tiger Woods will never win another major golf tournament. He has been stuck on 14 since 2008 and recent performances don’t give much reason for optimism.

Woods, who will turn 40 on Dec. 30, missed the cut in last weekend’s British Open, after he failed to qualify for the weekend in June’s U.S. Open. He has missed the cut in three of his last four major appearances and seems to be as lost as a 20 handicapper on the course. Scores in the middle 70s and even 80s are not uncommon.

Golf is a funny game.

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Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s basketball team will play in the 2018 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam. The tentative dates for the event are Nov. 16-19, 2018. Complete pairings will not be announced until the summer of 2018.

“We are thrilled to be participating in the 2018 Paradise Jam,” EKU head coach Dan McHale said. “I have been fortunate enough to participate in it twice and can’t wait to take the Colonels to the Virgin Islands.”

Accommodations, ground travel and ticket packages will be available for Colonel fans through Basketball Travelers, Inc.

The Colonels participated in the 2005 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam. EKU nearly beat Wisconsin in the first round before falling 95-89 in double overtime. Eastern then knocked off Norfolk State 67-60 before closing out play with a 76-68 loss to Georgia.

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