Homer Bailey Interview
This entry was posted on 9/25/2006 4:12 PM and is filed under Prospect Interviews.
By Denny Foster
Project Prospect Writer
The Cincinnati Redís first round pick in 2004 (7th overall) and consensus top prospect, Homer Bailey, 20, dominated High-A Sarasota and Double-A Chattanooga in 2006. After 13 very successful starts at Sarasota, he was promoted to Chattanooga, where he continued his success by going 7-1 in 68 innings while striking out 77 while maintaining a paltry 1.59 ERA.
Bailey is often compared to Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood because they are all native Texans (Bailey is from La Grange), have similar body types (Bailey is 6-foot-4, 185-pounds), and throw power fastballs (Bailey tops at 98). His competitive drive, overall make-up, and dominating stuff gives him the potential to excel at any level. Bailey's ability to throw three pitches for strikes already makes him one of the top prospects in the game as well as a possible 2007 National League Rookie of Year candidate (if he is given an opportunity next season with the Reds).
Home with his family in Texas, Bailey told us about his reaction to not being a 2006 September callup, how he was told to alter his pitching approach last season, and what it's like to be called one of the Reds best pitching prospects in decades in an email interview.
Project Prospect: In the past, youíve stated that you wanted to put pressure on the Reds for keeping you downÖthat you wanted to be so successful that theyíre only keeping you down because of your age. Do you think you accomplished that this year?
Homer Bailey: Yes. I showed them lots of good things and I think they are pleased with how my season went.
PP: There was some speculation that the Reds may have called you up after the Double-A playoffs. Instead, they decided to shut you down for the year to protect your arm. What were your thoughts when you didnít get a call-up?
HB: I was a little disappointed at first because I felt I had worked on everything they had asked me to. But then I realized itís more about the long term that they are thinking about, not just one month. Plus, I got a chance to get back to Texas and see family.
PP: Reds General Manger Wayne Krivsky is known for being very careful when promoting young players. What do you think your chances are of making the Major League jump out of spring training?
HB: I really donít know what my chances are. I know if I have a good spring the thoughts will be passed around.
PP: You have a high 90ís fastball, a nasty curveball, and a changeup. Are there any other pitches that youíre working on adding to your repertoire? If not, will you be concentrating on perfecting any particular pitch in the off-season/spring training?
HB: No, those are the pitches I throw, and I donít think I will be adding any pitch soon. I wonít be working on any one thing, but pitching in general.
PP: Your strikeout to walk ratio improved drastically from 2005 to 2006 (2.01 to 3.12). What did you do differently from 2005 to 2006 that aided this improvement?
HB: This year I was told to be more aggressive and not so much ďwork on the things,Ē attitude. And I think that helped a lot.
PP: How would you compare the mental preparation that you went through prior to games this season to the mental preparation that youíve done in previous years?
HB: I started looking at the game as my job. When I take the field, Iím there to prove what I can do.
PP: The Reds have tried to get you to use all of your pitches rather than rely heavily on your fastball. Did you feel like you were mixing your pitches better last season than you had in the past? What helped you gain confidence in your secondary pitches?
HB: I think that was a thing that really got blown up. I think there might have been 2 or 3 games where I didnít use my change-up as much as I was supposed to. But in those games I didnít feel the need to because of the batters I was facing. My first priority is to win a game, and when Iím out on the field that is the only thing that is going through my head. I felt like I started using my off-speed to certain batters that I knew I could be effective with. And I have a lot of confidence in all my pitches.
PP: There have been a number of dominantly pitched games where the starting pitcher said he had nothing (in terms of stuff) in the bullpen prior to the game. Can you tell what kind of stuff youíre going to have in a given day when youíre throwing in the bullpen?
HB: Every outing is different. Sometimes you throw real good in the pen before the game and when you get in the game things donít work as well. Then sometimes in the pen you canít find the plate to save your life then you get out in a game and itís like you canít miss your target.
PP: What has been your favorite pitching atmosphere as youíve ascended through the Reds minor league system: Rookie Ball (GCL Reds), Single-A Dayton, High-A Sarasota, or Double-A Chattanooga?
HB: I would have to say Double-A Chattanooga. We had a great defense that made a lot of good plays behind me.
PP: Which of the three stops has been your overall most enjoyable in term of clubhouse, fan support, community, etc?
HB: Single-A Dayton wasnít bad, they draw good crowds but it seemed to be more about the show they put on between innings rather than the game itself. My favorite so far has been Chattanooga, I thought the city was more my style in the fact that it is southern and I really enjoyed my time there.
PP: I know the season just came to an end, but have you managed to come up with any goals for the off-season? How about the 2007 season?
HB: Instead of starting my five day a week workouts in December, I am going to start them in November because I know that this is going to be a big spring and I want be prepared as much as I can Ė even though my legs may not like it, oh well.
Iím not much of a goal person as far as what my ERA is, or the strikeouts I get. So for the season I focus on doing whatever it is I can do to make myself better as a pitcher.
PP: The Reds value you as one of their best pitching prospects in decades. What kind of pressure do you feel to live up to their expectations?
HB: None. If I do my job and take care of the things I need to, then everything will fall into place. You hear so many times about the failures that their prospects have had in the past, but thatís all in the past. We have new ownership, a new front office, and Iím confident that things will go good.