Josh Holden thrives in Reds organization

The Cincinnati Reds regard former Army running back Josh Holden as a five-tool talent. He can run, throw, catch, hit for average and power. Cincinnati scouts think that Holden can be the Reds' leadoff hitter one day. That's Holden's goal. To represent West Point and the U.S. Army in the majors one day.

"It's surprising how many fans know I went to West Point," says Holden, who is an outfielder for the Dayton (Ohio) Dragons, the Reds' short-season Class A affiliate in the Midwest League. "I will be on the field and hear them yell 'Go, West Point.' It's a good feeling to be out there and doing a good job representing the Army."

Holden, 25, is the first West Point graduate to earn an early release through a new program called the Alternative Service Option put in place by the Department of the Army. He served two years active duty and will spend the next six as an Army recruiter.

Holden's big-league dream began in 2004 when he was stationed at Fort Sill, Okla. He attended an open Cincinnati tryout at Collinsville High School in Tulsa and was signed by scout Brian Wilson. The Reds are intrigued by Holden's smooth left-handed stroke and speed.

It takes the average left-handed major leaguer 4.2 seconds to get out of the box and to first base. Holden, who is a chiseled 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, gets down the line in about 3.8 seconds. "There is no question in my mind that Josh can be a major-leaguer," Wilson says. "He is the type of guy who can be a real table-setter. Josh has some improving to do, but so does everyone else in the minor leagues. He's just getting his feet wet."P<> Holden played briefly in 2004 for the Reds' Gulf Coast League team during leave time and batted .348 with 10 steals in 89 at-bats. He played for the rookie league Billings (Mont.) Mustangs last summer, batting .251 with 13 stolen bases and 30 RBI. After a slow start with Dayton, Holden has raised his batting average up to .255.

"I'm feeling a lot more comfortable this year," says Holden, a 2003 West Point graduate, who played for the Army football team from 2000-02. "I'm seeing the ball well (at the plate). It's great not having to catch up."

2nd Lt. Josh Holden spent the offseason recruiting at such venues as the U.S. All-America Bowl in San Antonio. He is getting set to recruit and do speaking engagements at high schools in the Dayton area.

Holden can't wait to represent the West Point and the U.S. Army.

"It's real easy to say good things about West Point and the Army," Holden says. "It's a pleasure."

Josh Holden photos courtesy of Dayton Dragons organization Top Stories