Monday, February 25, 2008

Demotion looming for The Boss?

For those of you that don't know, The Boss is Jay Bruce the top prospect in the Cincinnati Reds farm system, and likely, all of baseball. Word today is that when Reds Manager Dusty Baker was asked who would lead off when Ryan Freel or Norris Hopper aren't in the lineup, he responded that he "[hoped] one or the other was in the game". This doesn't bode well for Bruce's chances of making the big club directly out of Spring Training, as I had been hoping he would. Bruce is a truly great prospect who would likely be stretched a bit in center field, but has the ability to play it at this stage in his career. He will likely fill out a bit and slot into right field when Ken Griffey Jr.'s contract runs out this year, or in '09 if the Reds pick up his option.

Every one of Bruce's skills rate as above average on the 20-80 scouting scale with his best being his power as a 65-70. He has the ability to hit for average and power because of his tremendous bat speed. He also has a fantastic work ethic resulting in him often being the first to arrive and the last to leave the ballpark, as well as displaying exceptional instinct and leadership qualities. He does strike out a lot, but it hasn't affected his ability to hit for average and is an acceptable tradeoff considering his power production. Last year in the Minors he started at Hi A and progressed all the way to Triple-A. His call up to Triple-A was only supposed to be as an injury fill in, but he impressed enough to stay there the rest of the year. He ended up hitting a combined .319/.375/.587, with 26 homers between the three levels.

I am extremely excited to see Bruce in the majors, and hope it happens as soon as possible because Ryan Freel is much better suited to be a utility man and Norris Hopper is a 4th/5th outfielder who got extremely lucky late last year. This would be the best thing for the Reds to do if they are to overcome the odds, the Cubs and the Brewers to reach the playoffs this year, although I would understand if they sent him back to Triple-A for a couple weeks to delay his free agency clock for another year, but that would still result in him likely becoming a Super-Two player. Still, at this point in the Major Leagues, the more cost control, the better.

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