Schafer second is funny.
1. Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati – After placing 14th in our rankings last year, this tender-aged (just turned 21) flyhawk has shot to the top of the RotoRob Prospect List this year. Bruce is ticketed for a bit of seasoning at Triple-A, but don’t sleep on this guy. Expect him to arrive in Cincy by May or June and be capable of putting up some very strong numbers immediately. Sure, he’ll probably be prone to plenty of Ks, but Bruce is a star in the making, drawing comparisons to Larry Walker and Jeremy Hermida, among others. The only thing worrying me here is manager Dusty Baker’s propensity to screw up younger players.
10. Homer Bailey, RHP, Cincinnati – Despite some souring on him (we had him at No. 4 on the list last year), Bailey still looks like a future ace to me. Just 21, the kid only has 45 career innings under his belt, so I wouldn’t spend more than a buck on him for 2008. But in looking forward, let’s keep things in perspective. Recall that Johan Santana had a 6.49 ERA in 86 innings as a 21-year-old, so don’t panic if Bailey takes some lumps this year. Stay the course, and you’ll be rewarded.
T-26. Joey Votto, 1B/OF, Cincinnati – Votto’s poor spring cost him the starter’s job in Cincy, but he still made the team and it shouldn’t take much for him to overtake Scott Hatteberg soon. The Toronto-born 23-year-old, drafted out of high school in the second round in 2002, broke through in 2006 as the Southern League MVP. He built on that last year by continuing to show good patience at Triple-A, and did extremely well after getting the late-season call to the Show. This dude is ready.
T-26. Johnny Cueto, RHP, Cincinnati – Much like Nook LaLoosh in Bull Durham, Cueto “announced his presence with authority.” Except, of course, Cueto has an idea where his fastball is going, and it’s usually in the strike zone. This 22-year-old kid from the Dominican Republic was playing in the FSL All-Star game in 2007, but now he’s in the Reds’ rotation and has become an immediate waiver wire favourite. This phenom has No. 1 starter stuff, making him a big part of a revitalized Reds’ system.