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Hart star could be Olympian

• Reds prospect to play for U.S. in Yankee Stadium

Posted: June 27, 2008 2:22 a.m.
Updated: August 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Valaika

 

 

A Hart baseball product has a shot at being named to the U.S. Olympic baseball team, which will play in Beijing, China.

Whether he ends up being chosen or not, Chris Valaika will play in one of the shrines of Major League Baseball.

On Thursday, Valaika was named to the Team USA roster to play in the XM All-Star Futures Game.

On July 13, he will play in Yankee Stadium, in a game against the World Team that is part of All-Star Sunday.

On July 15 at Yankee Stadium, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played.

Valaika plays shortstop for the Chattanooga Lookouts, a Class AA-level team of the Cincinnati Reds.

"That's big-time," said Hart High School baseball head coach Jim Ozella said. "It qualifies him to make it to the U.S. Olympic team. Pro people think very highly of him."

Valaika is hitting .269 for Chattanooga and .311 overall with 11 home runs this season. He was called up after hitting .363 with Saratoga in the Florida State League.

"He's rising to the challenge," Ozella said.

Valaika holds the Hart Indians' school record for most career home runs with 18.

He earned All-Foothill League honors his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He received first team All-State and first team All-CIF honors as a junior and senior.

Valaika was drafted by the Reds in the third round of the 2006 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

He won gold medals at the Pan-Am Games in Santo Domingo and at the 2004 World Championship in Taiwan.

Valaika also played for UC Santa Barbara, where he was named Big West Freshman of the Year.

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