Bruce biding time in the Minors
Outfield prospect is waiting for his shot
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Outfielder Jay Bruce may have a bat that's the talk of baseball, but there's still room at the inn in Cincinnati for the top prospect in the game.
Bruce, who went 3-for-3 in Wednesday's game for Triple-A Louisville vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, enters Thursday batting .366 with eight home runs and 33 RBIs. The 21-year-old was riding a five-game hitting streak and is batting .611 (22-for-36) over his last 10 games.
Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has been asked this a lot lately: When will Bruce be in the Majors?
"It's a good question," Jocketty said. "He's really done well there and it hasn't gone unnoticed by any of us here. The question is getting him enough playing time here. Until we can determine if we have enough playing time here, it just doesn't make sense to bring him up and play him part time. He's better off continuing to develop down there."
Bruce was a candidate for the regular center-field spot but lost out once free agent Corey Patterson was signed. Ryan Freel is also playing there often. Patterson struggled mightily most of this season but has shown signs of heating up this week.
"We want to let the center-field spot develop more before we decide," Jocketty said.
The other alternative would be for the Reds to move one of their star outfielders -- right fielder Ken Griffey Jr. and left fielder Adam Dunn. Griffey would have to waive his full no-trade clause as a 10-5 player (10 years' service, at least five with one team).
Rumors have swirled in recent weeks that the Mariners would like to bring Griffey back to Seattle. Jocketty said there hasn't been activity involving Griffey.
"No talks," Jocketty said.
Meanwhile, Bruce will have to bide his 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," Bruce told MiLB.com this week. "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."
In other developments, the Reds don't appear poised to lock up more of their younger players long term. It's a trend that has been in vogue this season around the Major Leagues.
On Thursday, the Brewers became the latest team to give a rising star extended security. Reigning National League Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun was inked to an eight-year, $45 million contract.
Under previous GM Wayne Krivsky, just before Spring Training opened, the Reds made a long-term commitment with Brandon Phillips. The second baseman signed a four-year, $27 million deal to avoid arbitration.
Evan Longoria, who is still in his rookie season, signed a six-year, $17.5 million deal with the Rays on April 18.
Troy Tulowitzki started the trend of pre-arbitration players signing long-term contracts. The Rockies' shortstop signed a seven-year, $31 million contract over the winter.
The Reds have a few more potential candidates that could some day be offered security. Rookie first baseman Joey Votto is the club leader in home runs and tied for second in RBIs. Edwin Encarnacion is eligible for arbitration this offseason. Starting pitcher Edinson Volquez, the NL's ERA leader, is having the makings of a career year.
"We haven't really discussed it yet," Jocketty said. "It's a strategy I've done in the past in St. Louis, if you find the right guys. It's something we'll take a look at in the future."