02/26/2006 4:00 PM ET
Reds' Minor Leaguers arrive early
World Baseball Classic may create more opportunities
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- You never know when you might need more players at Spring Training.
That was the Reds' thinking this winter when the organization decided to hold a Minor League mini-camp for some of its players. It got underway on Saturday.
Minor League pitchers and catchers aren't scheduled to report until March 2. The first full-squad workout is set for March 9.
"We brought some guys in to start getting ready during the early part of Spring Training in case we lost guys for the [World Baseball Classic]," Reds player development director Johnny Almaraz said. "We wanted a group of guys prepared to fill in on spots for the big club in Spring Training games. Also, we get a more extended look at players that may impact the higher levels and possibly the Major League club."
Cincinnati has six players leaving camp this spring to play in the World Baseball Classic.
Among the 18 players participating in the mini-camp are outfielders Timo Perez, Rob Stratton, Brian Buchanan, first baseman Jesse Gutierrez and pitchers Bobby Basham, Scott Chaisson, Steve Kelly and Brad Salmon.
On the move: Right-handed pitcher Justin Germano, who came over from the Padres in the Joe Randa trade last summer, could be in the mix for the fifth spot in the starting rotation if Paul Wilson suffers any setbacks in rehab. Germano spent most of the last two seasons pitching at Triple-A.
Injuries: After the club originally worried he had a hernia that could put him on the disabled list, infielder William Bergolla was diagnosed this week with a high groin strain. He likely will miss a few more days.
Names in the game: After he's been away from the organization for years since his retirement, former big-league pitcher Mario Soto has been working in camp. The organization has enjoyed having Soto and has praised his teaching skills. The right-hander has been teaching younger pitchers about the changeup, among many other areas.
They're No. 1: Right-hander Homer Bailey, who was the seventh overall pick from the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, has been impressive in live batting practice sessions during the early days of camp. Last season for Class A Dayton, Bailey went 8-4 with a 4.56 ERA and was named the second-best prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America. The publication listed the right-hander as the No. 38 prospect in the Minor Leagues heading into 2006.
Class of '05: Outfielder Jay Bruce, the 12th overall pick in last season's First-Year Player Draft, batted .270 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in 37 games with the Gulf Coast League Reds rookie level team. He moved on to rookie level Billings of the Pioneer League and batted .257 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 17 games. The organization envisions Bruce beginning the 2006 season at low Class A Dayton.
What they're saying: "He's got a power arm. He's a two-pitch type of guy with a good fastball and a good slider. He had a really good year at winter ball. He had that closer's role and really blossomed during the winter. He's two years post-Tommy John [surgery], so we'll probably see a pitcher that has already overcome the rehab process and he is what he is." -- Almaraz, on Chaisson, who was signed as a six-year free agent this winter after he pitched for the Rockies organization.