Bruce earns Griffey comparison
BY JOHN FAY | JFAY@ENQUIRER.COM
SAN FRANCISCO - What does Louisville manager Rick Sweet think of the Reds' prized prospect, Jay Bruce?
"I had (Ken Griffey Jr.) his first year," Sweet said. "I put Jay Bruce in that category."
Griffey was 17 when Sweet managed him; Bruce is 20. But you get the idea.
Bruce, the club's No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft, was named the Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America, becoming the first member of the Reds organization to win that honor.
Sweet, who joined the Reds as a coach for the San Francisco series, was impressed with Bruce both as a person and as a player.
"He's special," Sweet said. "A very special player and person. He's fun to be around because he loves to play."
The first time Sweet yelled at Bruce, the kid was a bit taken aback.
"I said, 'Hasn't anyone ever yelled at you before?' " Sweet said. "He said, 'My mother.' "
Sweet isn't saying Bruce is a finished product, ready for the major leagues.
"He's 20," Sweet said. "He makes mistakes - baserunning, throwing to the wrong base - but he's learning."
It was at Sweet's insistence that Bruce ended up at Triple-A. Sweet was familiar with Bruce from spring training, so he asked general manager Wayne Krivsky to bring up Bruce when a couple of the Bats' outfielders got hurt.
"I had to beg Wayne to let him come up," Sweet said. "I got an e-mail that said in big letters: 'For one week only.' "
Bruce never returned to Double-A because he played so well at Triple-A. He hit .305 with 11 home runs and 25 RBI in 50 games for the Bats.
Bruce wasn't the only young player who came through Louisville that Sweet raved about.
"Johnny Cueto's special," Sweet said. "Jay Bruce is special. Josh Hamilton's special. We've got some people."
Cueto went 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in five starts for Louisville.