"I see this team finally growing up," says Johnny Bench, a former Reds catcher who is a Hall of Famer. "For a long time they played under the shadow of Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn (Reds veterans who had departed by the beginning of last season). For them to finally turn the corner, they had to commit to young kids like Bruce and Votto who needed to develop their own style and leadership."
The Reds are getting especially big contributions from Leake, 22, and Cueto, 24. Leake, a rookie who made the team out of spring training without a lick of minor league experience, was 51 with a 3.02 ERA after his teammates got him off the hook with the comeback against the Giants on June 10.
Leake was 16-1 for Arizona State last season and came equipped with a maturity level that enabled him to become the first player since 2000 to jump directly from the draft to the big leagues.