Second, Howington's 'age 20' season was MUCH better than anything Bailey has done this year. Howington started the season in the Midwest League (Dayton) and posted a ridiculous 1.15 ERA and 10.9 K/9IP in 6 starts. He was then promoted to the California League (Mudville) and posted an outstanding 2.43 ERA and 10.7 K/9IP in 7 starts. To top it all off he was promoted AGAIN, this time to the Southern League (Chattanooga), where he posted a solid 3.27 ERA and 8.3 K/9IP in 7 starts.
Good perspective on just how good a prospect Ty Howington appeared to be for a short time. However, I think there are some important differences between the two prospects, using Homer now vs Howington 1999-2001.
First, there were some early whispers that Howington's curve would not be usable at the major league level because it was too slow. I believe it was in the 60s. Apparently, Homer's is mid 70s. Secondly, there was talk from the outset of Howington's arrival in the system that he had mechanical issues. By contrast, Homer is considered mechanically sound. Finally, there is the matter of "buzz." Bailey has been highly touted by the major league manager, Mario Soto, and the likes of Baseball America. Howington was something of a BA darling, but not to the extent Homer is, and he certainly never had the Reds manager calling for his immediate promotion to the majors. Put what stock you want in this "soft scouting" phenomena that surrounds a prospect -- for me, it merits consideration when trying to figure out just how good the kid has a chance to be. Is it pure hype, or informed optimism? My assessment in Bailey's case is that enough people are saying the same kind of stuff that it isn't an accident.
So, I do think Homer has the highest ceiling of any pitching prospect the Reds have had in a long time (and I've been following the minor league system for 20+ years). Other guys have had better numbers, for sure, but I think he's got the best combination of talent, performance and projection that's come through in decades.
Of course, there's no guarantee he'll make it, but I feel certain that only a serious arm injury could keep him from having at least a solid career. There's a good chance he'll have some arm issues along the way because most pitchers do -- you just hope the shoulder stays intact.