Bailey Reds' top Minor Leaguer of 2006
01/24/2007 2:47 PM ET
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- This news wouldn't really fall under the category of a surprise.
As buzz about Reds top prospect Homer Bailey continues to build, the starting pitcher just added one more accolade to his resume. On Wednesday, the organization named Bailey winner of the Sheldon "Chief" Bender Award as the 2006 Minor League Player of the Year.
The award is named after Bender, who spent 64 years in baseball. His last 39 years in the game were with the Reds' scouting and player development departments.
The 20-year-old Bailey was 10-6 with a 2.47 ERA in 26 starts combined at Class A Sarasota and Double-A Chattanooga. The right-hander struck out 156 batters, compared to 50 walks.
The seventh overall pick of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Bailey was an All-Star from both the Florida State and Southern Leagues last season and named as both leagues' top prospect. He was also selected to pitch in the MLB All-Star Futures Game.
Bailey's adjustment from Class A to Double-A was impressive. He did not allow a run over his first three starts, covering 17 innings, and twice notched a season-high 11 strikeouts in a game. With the Lookouts, he went 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA in 13 starts as the clamoring intensified for Bailey to be promoted to the Majors.
That didn't happen, as the Reds have been deliberate and cautious with Bailey's development. He will be in Major League camp as a non-roster player during Spring Training with an outside chance of joining the rotation as the fifth starter. However both general manager Wayne Krivsky and manager Jerry Narron have already indicated Bailey will likely begin 2007 at Triple-A Louisville.
Other Reds prospects were also recognized on Wednesday. First baseman Joey Votto was named the organization's Hitter of the Year and pitcher Johnny Cueto the Pitcher of the Year.
Playing for Chattanooga, Votto led the Southern League with a .319 average and was its Most Valuable Player. The 23-year-old had 22 homers and 77 RBIs and also led the league in hits (162), doubles (46), on-base percentage (.408), slugging percentage (.547), extra-base hits (70), total bases (278), runs scored (85) and walks (78).
Cueto was 15-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 26 starts at Class A Dayton and Sarasota. The 21-year-old right-hander led all Reds Minor League pitchers in victories, and he was second behind Bailey in strikeouts with 143.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.