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OnBaseMachine
08-16-2008, 05:11 PM
Former Reds No. 1 shouldering blame
2002 pick Gruler refects on short career, has advice for Alonso
By Jeff Wallner / MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- Chris Gruler was strolling through Home Depot one February afternoon in 2006 when his cell phone rang. The news wasn't good.

Gruler, a promising right-handed pitching prospect, had been drafted No. 1 (third overall) by the Reds in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft. But after multiple shoulder surgeries and ill-fated comeback attempts, the Reds released him.

"It wasn't something I had planned for," Gruler said. "At first it was devastating. I felt like I let my family and friends down. I can't imagine how many hours my parents put into Little League and showcases."

At Liberty High School in Brentwood, Calif., Gruler wowed scouts with a 96-mph fastball and devastating overhand curve. As a senior, he went 4-3 with a 1.49 ERA in 11 games, including seven starts, striking out 135 batters in 66 innings.

The Reds rewarded Gruler with a $2.5 million signing bonus, amid much fanfare. Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, working as a consultant to the Reds, compared Gruler to Hall of Fame hurler Tom Seaver, saying Gruler had "a better changeup and breaking ball" than the storied Reds pitcher.

Barely four years later, Gruler was out of work.

"I had a hard time sleeping," he said. "Things were not good in my life."

Gruler, who never advanced past Class A, went 3-5 with a 5.08 ERA in 27 Minor League appearances. He struck out 71 and walked 57 in 92 2/3 innings between 2002 and 2006, sandwiched around three shoulder reconstruction surgeries.

Gruler used acupuncture and both weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing exercises to regain strength in his shoulder, but to no avail.

Following his release from the Reds, Gruler threw for a couple of teams in Tempe, Ariz., but his shoulder couldn't withstand the strain.

"I tried everything in the book," he said. "You tend to believe what you read about guys being overworked when they're young. But, you know, I wanted to pitch. I wanted to show my stuff. There's no right or wrong. I won't play the blame game. That's not me."

Gruler, who currently resides in Scottsdale, Ariz., channeled his disappointment into a new business venture.

He has teamed up with pal Erik Averill, a former big league pitcher, to form Protégé Branding, which helps professional athletes develop and strengthen their personal brand. Protégé lists ex-Major Leaguer Roberto Alomar among its clients.

Gruler had some advice for this year's No. 1 Draft choice Yonder Alonso, whom the Reds signed late Friday.

"You have to understand baseball is a business," Gruler said. "Appreciate the opportunity that's been given to you. I had to learn the hard way."

Gruler's in the process of writing a tell-all book about his experiences in the game, but says he harbors little bitterness resulting from his release.

"It would be easy for me to say the Reds could have done more," he said. "That would be selfish. A shoulder is such a complex surgery. They did as much as they could."

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080816&content_id=3318899&vkey=news_cin&fext=.jsp&c_id=cin

Red Daddy
08-16-2008, 05:30 PM
I really had high hopes for Gruler. I thought he would be a special pitcher, but I also felt the same about Howington, Basham, Gardiner, Pauley, and Aramboles. Plus, I heard Gruler in an interview after one of his surgeries and he seemed to be such a bright kid. He was throwing at 88 mph at the time and felt like he would be over 90 again soon. Too bad his career didn't have a chance to take off.

Sea Ray
08-19-2008, 03:19 PM
I really had high hopes for Gruler. I thought he would be a special pitcher, but I also felt the same about Howington, Basham, Gardiner, Pauley, and Aramboles.


Shows how fragile pitching arms can be. More often than not the reason a young pitcher busts is physical and Reds' farmhands have had more than their share of breakdowns

15fan
08-19-2008, 04:11 PM
Time for the semi-regular look back at the 2002 draft. The Reds could have taken anyone not named Bullington or Upton.

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/draft/2002/June-Reg/1.shtml

Only 2 of the top 25 picks never made the majors: Gruler at 3, and Bobby Brownlie of the Cubs at 21.

And someone needs to drop the baseballcube folks a line. They're still showing Khalil Greene as the best pick of the round, instead of Cole Hamels, Prince Fielder or Scott Kazmir...

Screwball
08-19-2008, 04:25 PM
Time for the semi-regular look back at the 2002 draft. The Reds could have taken anyone not named Bullington or Upton.

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/draft/2002/June-Reg/1.shtml

Only 2 of the top 25 picks never made the majors: Gruler at 3, and Bobby Brownlie of the Cubs at 21.

And someone needs to drop the baseballcube folks a line. They're still showing Khalil Greene as the best pick of the round, instead of Cole Hamels, Prince Fielder or Scott Kazmir...

It also shows Clint Everts, taken 5th by the Expos, never made it to the majors either; his highest level was high A.

dougdirt
08-19-2008, 04:59 PM
Time for the semi-regular look back at the 2002 draft. The Reds could have taken anyone not named Bullington or Upton.

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/draft/2002/June-Reg/1.shtml

Only 2 of the top 25 picks never made the majors: Gruler at 3, and Bobby Brownlie of the Cubs at 21.

And someone needs to drop the baseballcube folks a line. They're still showing Khalil Greene as the best pick of the round, instead of Cole Hamels, Prince Fielder or Scott Kazmir...

I think it might be something like the best pick is whoever got to the majors first?

camisadelgolf
08-20-2008, 01:43 AM
I think it might be something like the best pick is whoever got to the majors first?

That's possible, but I think it has something to do with games played or plate appearances/innings.

15fan
08-20-2008, 08:54 AM
My bad on forgetting about Everts.

88% of the top 25 picks saw the Show.

Lucky Reds bucked the odds and landed on the 12% bust side of the ledger.

ochre
08-23-2008, 03:11 PM
Oakland with 7 first round picks in that draft - 4 have made it to the ML level.
It has taken the reds 6 first rounds (went back 2 drafts to get to the 4) to get that many (signed by them) Major Leaguers... :)
Espinosa
Moseley ^
Sowers* (didn't sign, but has made it to the mlb level)
Gruler
Schramek
Wagner ^
Bailey ^
Bruce ^

ChatterRed
08-23-2008, 03:37 PM
How in the heck did they get 7 first round draft picks? Pretty good chance of success at that rate.

Oxilon
08-23-2008, 04:17 PM
I believe 2002 was the year after they lost Damon, Isringhausen, and Giambi, so they received 1st rounders for them. Than they had their own first round pick, and than probably a few supplemental picks as well.

ochre
08-23-2008, 05:22 PM
How in the heck did they get 7 first round draft picks? Pretty good chance of success at that rate.
at first glance it would seem so, but their first pick wasn't until the 16th pick. I think after the first 10 picks or so the impact odds go down fairly quickly. I don't have anything to back that up though.

Will M
10-16-2008, 12:42 AM
Cole Hamels was taken 17th in the 2002 draft. I remember when he and Homer were class A studs in 2006. Hamels went from A ball to the bigs and now has pitched his team into the World Series. Homer still can't win a game in the bigs.

dougdirt
10-16-2008, 12:51 AM
Cole Hamels was taken 17th in the 2002 draft. I remember when he and Homer were class A studs in 2006. Hamels went from A ball to the bigs and now has pitched his team into the World Series. Homer still can't win a game in the bigs.

Of course Hamels was also 22 in 2006. Homer is 22 now. Not that Homer is the pitcher at 22 that Hamels was, but your statement lacks a lot of information based on what you are actually trying to say. It is a nice shot taken for no reason at all though.

Will M
10-16-2008, 10:34 AM
Of course Hamels was also 22 in 2006. Homer is 22 now. Not that Homer is the pitcher at 22 that Hamels was, but your statement lacks a lot of information based on what you are actually trying to say. It is a nice shot taken for no reason at all though.

Hamels in 2006 >>>>>>>>> Homer in 2008. ( both at age 22 )

dougdirt
10-16-2008, 10:39 AM
Hamels in 2006 >>>>>>>>> Homer in 2008. ( both at age 22 )

Yeah, I am pretty sure I said that in my post. My point was, why are we even talking about it?