"He's the epitome of a pure projection pitcher. He has plus stuff with a good breaking ball, and he even has a little change-piece now."
--NL scout (via Baseball America circa 2005)
A recent thread examined why Livingston got a call up earlier this month instead of Homer. Roughly two tough weeks later and the Reds look dead in the water with the recent performance by their rotation having spiraled downward (especially at the backend.) They could really use a shot in the arm and there is a growing call from the Reds fan base to promote Homer given his seeming dominance in AAA. So the question becomes, is Homer Bailey ready to contribute at the major league level? In order to help with the debate, here’s the RedsZone guide to Homer's '07 as illustrated by his peripherals in Louisville as of today:
1. Homer has been kept on a relatively strict 90 pitch limit.
2. His strikeout rate is down considerably from previous years but that’s because Ted Power and the Reds are pushing Homer to develop his secondary pitches so he’s throwing considerably fewer fastballs. Even so, opponents aren't routinely making solid contact. Concerning his stuff, Homer features an elite fastball (mid to high 90's but capable of changing speeds) and a hammer curve with a true 12/6 break (77-80 mph) for two plus pitches. He struggles to command his curve at times and his third pitch, his changeup, is not considered major league quality yet.
3. Given Homer has been utilizing his secondary pitches more frequently, he’s suffered some command issues which have prevented him from going deeper into games. Frankly his command is the primary concern regarding Homer. He’s often just barely begun making it thru the lineup a third time before hitting his pitch limit which is depriving him of some valuable opportunities to learn how to adjust to seeing batters multiple times. Homer's endurance might be considered a question mark since he's only pitched over 130 innings one season thus far. However, his superior frame and "tall" arm slot is the stuff scouts fall in love with so few consider endurance a major issue with Homer. Basically his “pitchability” is still pretty raw.
4. While Homer has been effective in AAA, it’s probably not reasonable to expect him to be a difference maker at the major league level yet. He’s raw and his command issues don’t bode well. A summary of the five available projection systems suggest Homer would be something a little less than roughly league average in the majors this season (projected: ERA=4.65; FIP: 4.94).
These developments are encouraging because they seem to support the notion that the Reds are approaching one of their most valuable commodities with a well-reasoned strategy. If they stick to their guns and don’t promote Homer until he’s truly ready for a long term assignment, ’08 might be a reasonable expectation for his arrival.