Zack Cozart: Cincinnati Reds SS Making Early Case for Rookie of the Year

Tim MorelandContributor IIApril 13, 2012

Zack Cozart: Rookie Sensation
Zack Cozart: Rookie SensationJohn Grieshop/Getty Images

The former second-round draft pick by the Cincinnati Reds, Zack Cozart, ended 2011 on a sad note: requiring Tommy John surgery after a freak play at second base injured his elbow.  With that play, Cozart's 11-game major league debut came to an end.

In his short 2011 MLB stint, the 25-year-old prospect flashed the potential Reds fans were hoping to see.  He blasted two home runs in only 37 at bats while hitting a solid .324 average.  These numbers did not come without some worries, such as no walks and no extra base hits besides the home runs, but these were minor issues.  Cozart showed that he was not intimidated by big league pitchers.

Heading into 2012, Cozart was the best option for the Cincinnati Reds at shortstop, earning the starting spot.  He brings to the position a strong glove, which has been touted since the Reds drafted him in 2007.  The offensive ceiling of Cozart has been questioned, but his glove has always been a sure thing.

In the first week of the 2012 season, not only has Cozart been strong in the field, but he has also been Cincinnati's best hitter.  He collected at least one hit in the first six games of the year before going hitless on April 12th.  The rookie has even drawn a couple of walks.  In just the second game of the season, the young shortstop fell a double short of hitting for the cycle.

Currently, the best rookie out of the gate has been Cozart.  In a 162-game season, this means virtually nothing in terms of award races.  However, it does mean that the Reds may have found themselves a starting shortstop and top-of-the-order batter for both now and the future.