This is from Rotoworld.com's Prospect Report:
Jay Bruce – OF Reds – From a criticism of the Reds above to a complement here, (RL-Rotoworld was following up on the Kearns/Lopez trade and was still criticizing the Reds for the move, just wanted to add so that sentence would make sense) Bruce is the best prospect still left available in a number of leagues with shallow farm systems. Cincinnati has simply loved toolsy outfielders in recent memory, a trend that has survived multiple general managers and was again evident when the club selected Drew Stubbs eighth overall in June. Bruce fits that bill well, although he’s much more of a power hitter and a baseball player than an athlete who brings a large percentage of his value from speed and defense.
Bruce was a National Player of the Year candidate while dominating at West Brook High School in Beaumont, Texas last season. He was signed to go to Tulane, but quickly decided against the move when the Reds snagged him with the 12th overall pick in the 2005 draft. There were rumors before the draft that Bruce could go as high as No. 4 to the Nationals, so the Reds were openly happy to select the outfielder later in the round.
A big, left-hander at 6’3” and 190-pounds, Bruce had shown enough speed and defensive ability to warrant a look in center field once breaking into professional baseball. However, his bat was certainly strong enough to carry him in a corner outfield spot should he end up better suited there.
Signed quickly after drafting, Bruce was assigned to Rookie Ball to start his career. He acquitted himself nicely between two short-season levels, showing some semblance of plate discipline and a promising power stroke that led to 22 extra-base hits in 54 games. That he struck out 53 times and thus had a weak .266 batting average was of concern. Also of note is that while Bruce possesses good speed, he was doing a poor job of reading pitchers and finished with just six steals in 14 attempts. Still, that he wasn’t embarrassed and flashed significant power potential meant it was a solid debut.
The Reds decided to play it safe with the 19 year-old and assigned Bruce to Low-A Dayton to start the 2006 campaign. And somewhat surprisingly, the left-hander is already deserving of the opportunity to challenge more advanced High-A pitching. That’s because Bruce has hit an incredible .308/.388/.544 with 17 steals in 25 attempts over 96 games. The improvement with the bat and on the base paths is rather noticeable, but it gets even better when looking a little deeper.
Bruce’s slugging percentage is made up of 13 homers, five triples, and an amazing 36 doubles. We’d all like to see more long balls, but those doubles and triples are going to start turning into homers as he continues to improve his approach at the plate and fill out his imposing frame. At such a young age, it’s more important to note how consistently hard Bruce is hitting the ball than strictly looking at a simple home run rate.
That he’s driving the ball well is also evident in his high batting average despite 83 strikeouts in those 96 games. Those strikeouts will affect his batting average more at higher levels, but given his age and the fact that he’s also drawn 39 walks, he gets a pass on that front for now. Bruce will need to continue working on his control of the plate and his ability to read pitchers while on the bases, but his potential is clearly quite enormous. He’ll likely get a promotion to High-A Sarasota before the year is out, and I’m guessing Bruce spends at least half of next season in Double-A.
While still playing center field, he’s more likely to move to right and be a fine defender there. The Reds don’t currently have a glut of outfielders that could block Bruce, so he should see the majors some time in the second half of 2008. However, his first chance to entrench himself as a regular will probably come in 2009. Bruce is capable of belting 30+ homers to go with 15+ steals in his prime, so he’s worth an investment and patience while he develops.