Most Reds’ fans were not familiar with Xavier Paul until he was called up from Louisville in 2012. However, he was not unloaded from the turnip truck when he arrived at GABP. He has been playing professionally since 2003. He was drafted in the 4th round of the 2003 amateur draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Paul began his career with Ogden of the Pioneer League where his rookie league season produced a slash line of .307/.384/.489.
He improved as he moved up the ladder and in four years of Triple-A ball his line was .323/.382/.508.
Paul was called up when former MVP Joey Votto was injured and ultimately put on the DL. Even before Votto’s exodus the Reds were painfully short on left-handed hitting. It makes you wonder if he would have been called up had he batted from the right side.
He has played all three outfield positions in his career and his versatility came in handy as he played both corner positions flawlessly. In limited playing time Paul had three multi-hit games, the first being a 3- hit performance against the Houston Astros. He also knocked in two runs in the Reds’ 4-2 win.
In 96 trips to the plate in 2012 Paul batted .314/.379/.465 with 2 HR along with 7 RBI. His MLB career numbers are not as impressive: .259/.305/.364.
When asked about Paul’s hitting, manager Dusty Baker said, “He was hitting the ball great in Triple-A when he was playing every day,”
His splits indicate that he cannot hit southpaws, only batting .140 in 61 PA. Unfortunately he isn’t much of a pinch hitter either, posting a slash line of .200/.232/.347. He does have two PH homers however.
Paul is an excellent leadoff hitter batting .321/.360/.440 with 8 SB in only 19 games.
With the starting outfield of Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo decided before spring training, it doesn’t look as though Paul will get much playing time. He may spell any of the three starters however Chris Heisey will probably get most of the reserve duties.
Paul and Heisey are the only actual substitute outfielders available although utility man Jason Donald can play outfield in a jam.
The fact that he hits from the left side will probably mean he will be one of the first pinch hitters used unless the Reds are facing a southpaw. Reserve third baseman Jack Hannahan also bats left and will be used quite frequently in a pinch.
After hitting you with all of those numbers, is he a keeper or a crapper? I am inclined to believe he is a keeper and I believe will play an important role on the Reds quest for another Central Division title.