03/12/2006 1:30 PM ET
Five-tooled Bruce moving up
Reds want to ensure top choice in 2005 lottery is challenged
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Reds have every reason to be excited about outfielder Jay Bruce.
The 12th overall pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Bruce quickly established his five-tool talent in the low levels of the Minor Leagues. The 19-year-old Beaumont, Texas, native batted a combined .266 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs in 54 games during his first pro season with the Gulf Coast League's Reds and at the next level with the Billings Mustangs.
Baseball America recently ranked Bruce at No. 76 of the top 100 Minor League prospects for 2006. He finished last season as the publication's top prospect in the rookie level Pioneer League.
Bruce, who bats and throws left-handed, played center field last season but could eventually wind up playing a corner outfield spot as he continues to mature physically.
More progress is expected this season. The Reds expect Bruce to begin this season in low Class A Dayton.
"We're going to challenge him," Reds player development director Johnny Almaraz said. "We're going to put him at a level where he can compete at, and excel and be pushed."
On the move: Because of injuries in the big-league rotation, left-handed prospect Phil Dumatrait has made two starts this spring. Dumatrait is 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA (two earned runs over five innings), but has three walks and one strikeout.
On the pine: Infielder William Bergolla (high groin strain) is running at 70 percent and taking batting practice. Bergolla could see his first game action by next weekend.
They're No. 1: Left-handed pitcher Ty Howington, the 14th overall pick by the Reds in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, is seeking a healthy and full season after almost two lost years. Howington, who had reached Double-A Chattanooga, missed all of 2004 because of left shoulder surgery. In 2005, he was able to make three starts while rehabilitating with the GCL club.
What they're saying: "I think a starter needs to possess three pitches and he needs to be able to change speeds for him to succeed at the Major League level. Whether it's a changeup or some kind of split that backs up the hitter from sitting on a fastball, I feel a starter needs to command three pitches and throw them all for strikes." -- Almaraz, on the importance for the Reds' young pitchers to develop off-speed pitches