Bruce letting his bat do the talking
Top-ranked prospect continues dominating performance with Louisville
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
Jay Bruce went a perfect 3-for-3 and came within a single of hitting for the cycle on Wednesday afternoon, but you wouldn't know it from talking to him.
"I'm excited about the fact that I drew two walks more than anything else," said Bruce after Louisville's 11-6 victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. "I'm an aggressive hitter, but I'm trying to balance that by showing discipline at the plate. That's half the battle right there. I plan on staying aggressive, but at the same time I have to make sure that I don't get myself out by swinging at pitches that I can't do anything with."
While Bruce focuses on his plate approach, the rest of the Cincinnati organization and their fans will no doubt focus on the fact that MLB.com's top-ranked prospect had yet another stellar ballgame. The 2005 first-round Draft pick collected three extra-base hits -- including his eighth home run of the season -- drove in three runs and scored two. He has hit an astronomical .611 (22-for-36) over his past 10 ballgames, and an International League-leading .366 overall.
"I haven't been really doing anything different lately. Things have just been going really well, and I'm going to ride that wave for as long as I can," said Bruce, who leads the IL in hits (50) and ranks second in RBIs (33). "The biggest thing is consistency, because baseball is a game of failure, and you have to be able to deal with the highs and the lows."
Clearly, those clamoring to see Bruce make his Major League debut in the Cincinnati Reds' outfield are only going to get louder. At this point, it's only a matter of time.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it, but all I can do is take care of my business and wait it out," said the Texas native. "Until then, all I can do is just work on being the best all-around player I can be. I take pride in doing the little things correctly, because eventually that's what is going to make or break you."
On Wednesday, Bruce was far from the only contributor in Louisville's starting lineup. With the exception of third baseman Adam Rosales, every player hit safely and scored at least one run. Andy Phillips went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs to extend his hitting streak to 17 games and raise his average to a season-high .327.
Justin Lehr (2-1) earned the win, allowing a run on just three hits over six innings of work. The 30-year-old righty has pitched at least 5 2/3 innings in all of his eight starts this season.
Heath Phillips (2-1) made just his third start of the season and took the loss, allowing eight runs -- five earned -- on six hits over just a little more than an inning. The Indiana native did not retire any of the six batters he faced in the second frame.
Justin Christian, Cody Ransom, and JD Closser all drove in a pair of runs for the Yankees (28-13). Ransom blasted his sixth home run of the season in the eighth.
The Bats (26-15) have won five straight games, and are now just 1 1/2 games behind Toledo in the International League's West Division. For now, Bruce is just happy to be playing a role in the club's success.
"I'm just having a great time winning games in Louisville," said Bruce. "We have a really good team here, and I'm glad I can contribute."