All eyes are on this Reds trio
BY JOHN FAY | JFAY@ENQUIRER.COM
It looks like after years of trying, the Reds have the type of young starting pitching to sustain the franchise.
Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez have been the sensations of camp. Homer Bailey, last year's big story of the spring, showed a live arm, but will start the season at Triple-A Louisville.
There are a lot of reasons the Reds have seven straight losing seasons, but the biggest is the inability to develop starting pitching.
"Starting pitching is probably the hardest thing to develop," player development director Terry Reynolds said. "Not so much how we develop them - because we do it very similarly to how we do it with the position guys - it's just attrition. For every 10 you get, I'm guessing half those guys have a setback. Not necessarily a surgery but an arm issue of some kind, something unforeseen."
The Reds drafted starting pitchers in the first round in 1999 (Ty Howington), 2001 (Jeremy Sowers) and 2002 (Chris Gruler).
Howington never made it above Double-A. Elbow and shoulder problems ended his career before he reached his 25th birthday. Gruler, the third pick overall, had shoulder trouble and never made it out of Single-A. Sowers, now with Cleveland, never signed with the Reds.
And until 2003 or so, the Reds had no presence in Latin America, fertile ground for finding pitching. That has changed.
Three months before the Reds took Bailey in the first round of the 2004 draft and signed him for $1.5 million, they signed Cueto for $3,500 after a tryout camp in the Dominican Republic.
Cueto's ahead of Bailey now. Volquez came to the Reds via Texas in the Josh Hamilton trade. At 24, he's the same age Aaron Harang was when the Reds acquired him from Oakland.
"I saw him in Oakland," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He wasn't the same Aaron Harang. He threw harder with less command. Sometimes a light goes on. You never know why."
Cueto, Volquez and Bailey all throw harder than Harang did when the Reds got him.
If the light goes on for them this year, it would be a very bright time for the Reds.