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OnBaseMachine
05-27-2008, 01:04 PM
From Dragons to Reds, Bruce has been great on and off the field

By Marc Katz

Staff Writer

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

DAYTON Some people look at the Dayton Dragons and see minor-league baseball players.

I look at the Dragons and see future Cincinnati Reds.

Not all of them, of course, but certainly Jay Bruce.

Let me walk to the edge of the limb here. He is the best prospect the Reds have signed since 1998 two years before the Dragons came into existence and I've seen almost all of them, from Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Pena to Todd Frazier, another player you'll be seeing sooner than you think in a big-league uniform.

That's just the playing part. As a person, it would be difficult to find a nicer guy than Bruce. In that regard, he'd be in competition with Paul Janish and Joey Votto, but neither one of those two were No. 1 draft picks. Bruce was, in 2005, although you'd have to know that because he'd never think of mentioning it to you.

Most top draft picks have an air around them, and a little shoulder chip that pushes them. Bruce is just "aw shucks." He will joke and kid and spend as much time with the rawest of cub reporters as he will with Hall of Fame reporters such as our Hal McCoy.

I've often told people there is no way you'd know he was a No. 1 draft pick just by talking to him.

You'd sure know it by watching him play.

That's not as easy as you might think.

From the end of spring training until the end of the playoffs, I see the Dragons play 70-to-80 games a year. That's a lot, but when you do that, you understand what scouts go through. Judging baseball talent or any athletic talent is a long process.

He spent 2006 with the Dragons and hit .291 with 16 homers and 81 RBIs in 117 games.

I've always felt Bruce and Votto (who played here in 2003 and '04) would hit better as they moved up because the pitching gets better. So why would they hit better against better pitching? Because in the low minors, pitching can be ragged. A batter doesn't know if the next pitch will be down the middle of the plate or headed for his left (in lefty-hitting Bruce's case, right) ear.

At least in the majors, you know the pitch is going to be around the plate. Good hitters can focus on hitting good pitches.

Being an athlete is not like other professions. Some people are smarter than others, but grammar and mathematical formulas stay the same day after day. While doctors and lawyers can be stymied by certain situations, there are plenty of medications and filings that become routine.

In baseball, a player can hit three home runs on day and none the rest of the month.

Bruce certainly has been in slumps, but if you saw him with the Dragons two years ago, you saw a young man with a purposeful stride to the plate, a beautiful swing, power, ability to run (not what they call plus-plus ability, but not a dawdler, either), instincts to catch the ball in the field and a powerful arm.

In other words, he has all the tools. He's not a classic center fielder, but he can play there. Two weeks ago I saw him in Louisville and he went to the warning track twice to make over-the-shoulder catches.

He's only 21, too, and Dragons manager Donnie Scott said as good as he is, he never thought Bruce would be ready for the major leagues so soon. Yet here he is, ready to debut with the Reds tonight against the Pirates.

How good will Jay Bruce be in the major leagues?

Well, he can be among the best, which means, at worst, he'll be an everyday starter. There are layers of major-league players. There are future Hall of Famers such as Ken Griffey Jr. There are solid everyday players such as Adam Dunn (if you don't think 40 homers and 100 RBIs a year is solid, you're wrong). There are good players who might not play every day (Ryan Freel) and there are players filling roster spots for some specialty (the Reds are full of those as pinch-hitters, fielders, catchers).

Bruce is a line-drive hitter with power and a man who will pay attention to his fielding. He will not get down if he goes into a slump, and will not allow a strikeout (he has to cut down on those) to affect his play in the field. He will be a good influence in the clubhouse.

Finally, I'm reminded about what football's Lou Holtz used to say: "If a dog will bite you, he'll bite you as a pup."

Jay Bruce could hit the first day he stepped in the batter's box for the Dragons. He hasn't stopped, and I suspect he'll continue to hit for the Reds.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/s/content/oh/story/sports/pro/reds/2008/05/27/ddn052708katzweb.html

OnBaseMachine
05-27-2008, 01:08 PM
Jay Bruce Timeline

2005
Was a National High School Player of the Year candidate during his senior season at West Brook High School in Texas where he had a .538 batting average, while hitting 12 HR, 31 RBI and 13 stolen bases.

Selected 12th overall by the Reds in the 2005 MLB Draft.

In his first professional season Bruce batted .266 with 9 HR and 38 RBI in 54 games between the Rookie GCL Reds and Rookie Billings.

Ranked by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Pioneer League and the second-best prospect in the Gulf Coast League.

2006
Batted .291 with 16 HR, 81 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 117 games at Single-A Dayton.

Named by Baseball America as Low Single-A Player of the Year.

2007
Hit .319 with 46 doubles, 8 triples, 26 homers and 89 RBI at Single-A Sarasota, Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville combined.

Named Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America, Sporting News and the Reds' organization.

2008
To this point with Louisville, Bruce has hit .364 with 10 HR, 37 RBI and 8 stolen bases. In his last 10 games, he has a .359 batting average through 39 at-bats in which he has 2 HR, 4 RBI and 7 runs scored.

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/AB/20080527/SPT04/805270312/

OnBaseMachine
05-27-2008, 01:09 PM
Reds rookie debuts

How four other ballyhooed Reds slugging prospects fared in their debuts:

Johnny Bench, 1967 Age: 19

Debut: Aug. 28, 1967, went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts vs. Philadelphia's Dick Ellsworth and Turk Farrell at Crosley Field

First season: Batted .163 in 26 games

Finally stuck: 1968, hit .275 with 15 homers, 82 RBI, named Rookie of the Year

Eric Davis, 1984 Age: 22

Debut: May 19, 1984, grounded out as pinch-hitter vs. St. Louis' Joaquin Andujar

First season: Hit .224 in 174 at-bats

Finally stuck: In 1986, hit .277 with 27 homers and 80 stolen bases in 132 games

Reggie Sanders, 1991 Age: 23

Debut: Aug. 22, 1991, went 0-for-4 batting leadoff vs. Atlanta's Charlie Leibrandt

First season: Hit .200 in 40 at-bats

Finally stuck: In 1992, hit .270 with 12 homers and 16 steals in 116 games

Adam Dunn, 2001 Age: 21

Debut: July 20, 2001, went 1-for-3 with an intentional walk off Florida's Matt Clement and Ricky Bones

First season: Hit 19 homers in 66 games after hitting a combined 32 that season at Chattanooga and Louisville

Finally stuck: Here to stay in 2001

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/AB/20080527/SPT04/805270312/

klw
05-27-2008, 01:33 PM
Paul Householder
Debut: August 26, 1980 vs. CHC 4 AB, 2 H, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SB
Finally stuck: 1982
Unstuck: 1984

Ron Madden
05-27-2008, 03:03 PM
IIRC, Johnny Bench broke his thumb shortly after being called up in 1967.

wheels
05-27-2008, 04:11 PM
Paul Householder
Debut: August 26, 1980 vs. CHC 4 AB, 2 H, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SB
Finally stuck: 1982
Unstuck: 1984

Bite your tongue.

WebScorpion
05-28-2008, 12:30 AM
Reds rookie debuts

How four other ballyhooed Reds slugging prospects fared in their debuts:

Johnny Bench, 1967 Age: 19

Debut: Aug. 28, 1967, went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts vs. Philadelphia's Dick Ellsworth and Turk Farrell at Crosley Field

First season: Batted .163 in 26 games

Finally stuck: 1968, hit .275 with 15 homers, 82 RBI, named Rookie of the Year

Eric Davis, 1984 Age: 22

Debut: May 19, 1984, grounded out as pinch-hitter vs. St. Louis' Joaquin Andujar

First season: Hit .224 in 174 at-bats

Finally stuck: In 1986, hit .277 with 27 homers and 80 stolen bases in 132 games

Reggie Sanders, 1991 Age: 23

Debut: Aug. 22, 1991, went 0-for-4 batting leadoff vs. Atlanta's Charlie Leibrandt

First season: Hit .200 in 40 at-bats

Finally stuck: In 1992, hit .270 with 12 homers and 16 steals in 116 games

Adam Dunn, 2001 Age: 21

Debut: July 20, 2001, went 1-for-3 with an intentional walk off Florida's Matt Clement and Ricky Bones

First season: Hit 19 homers in 66 games after hitting a combined 32 that season at Chattanooga and Louisville

Finally stuck: Here to stay in 2001

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/AB/20080527/SPT04/805270312/

Jay Bruce, 2008 Age: 21

Debut: May 27, 2008, went 3-for-3 with 2 walks, 2 RBI, 2 Runs scored, and a stolen base against Pittsburgh's Ian Snell, Damaso Marte, and Marino Salas.

First season: Stay tuned, batting 1.000 so far. ;)

Finally stuck: Here to stay in 2008

:beerme: