Jay Bruce was selected as the top prospect in the Pioneer League by Baseball America and was joined on the list by teammate OF Brandon Roberts. Travis Wood, also promoted to Billings from the GCL, apparently would have joined Bruce and Roberts on the list if he would have had enough innings to qualify.

Billings got a boost in August with the addition of the Reds’ top two choices, first-round outfielder Jay Bruce and second-round lefty Travis Wood. Bruce impressed enough in 17 games to rank atop our Pioneer League Top 20, while Wood would have followed close behind him had he not fallen two-thirds of an inning shy of qualifying.

Here’s what they had to say about Bruce and Roberts.

1. JAY BRUCE, of, Billings Mustangs (Reds)
Age: 18 Ht: 6-2 Wt: 200 B-T: L-L Drafted/Signed: Reds ’05 (1)

Bruce was a little-known player from east Texas prior to last summer, when he played alongside Roger Clemens’ son Koby and other prospects on the Houston Heat, a prominent Houston-based summer league team. His five-tool potential couldn’t be concealed, and he blossomed into the 12th overall pick in the 2005 draft.

He homered in his first game with Billings and again in the playoffs, standing out as an 18-year-old in a league loaded with four-year college players. Bruce has good bat speed, a picture-perfect swing that should yield above-average power and a patient approach. He uses all fields and makes consistent hard contact.

An average runner, Bruce has good instincts in the outfield as well as on the bases. He mans center field adequately, but projects to eventually move to right field, where his power potential and plus arm profile well. He has excellent makeup and aptitude.

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
70 16 18 2 0 4 13 11 22 2 2 .257 .358 .457

16. BRANDON ROBERTS, of, Billings Mustangs (Reds)
Age: 20 Ht: 6-0 Wt: 190 B-T: B-R Drafted/Signed: Reds ’05 (7)

Roberts was one of a handful of intriguing center fielders roaming PL outfields this season. Like Helena’s Fermaint and Darren Ford, Roberts has plus speed. He deploys a slap approach, mixes in some gap power and has good plate discipline.

His defense showed signs of improvement, though he relies on his speed to makeup for mistakes reading balls off the bat and has an average arm at best. How he develops his game around his speed will determine his future.

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
274 50 87 9 6 4 36 24 44 32 7 .318 .386 .438

Later,
Tom

Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. BA is really reliant on draft position in preparing its ultra-low-level top prospect teams. In other words, this is based mostly on the fact that Bruce was taken at #12 and didn’t get hurt or totally fall on his face.

  2. Here’s some Reds related comments from Alan Matthews Pioneer League Chat from BBA:

    Q: Brandon from Cincinnati asks:
    Jay Bruce-next Larry Walker?

    A: Alan Matthews: That’s been the most common comparison. Bruce’s body is long, strong and lean and his swing is smooth and powerful. He still lacks an advanced feel for the game, though his instincts aren’t bad and he has a willingness to absorb instruction and seems to have a strong desire to improve. There’s not much pretension to this kid, which you have to like from a player who was taken in the first half of the first round. With his tools and work ethic, the Walker comp might come to fruition.

    Q: Carl Lindner from Cincinnati asks:
    Where would Travis Wood have ranked had he been eligible? Would you consider him a wise draft pick for the Reds where he was drafted in the 2nd round?

    A: Alan Matthews: Great draft. He would have ranked near the top five. He’s got good stuff, room for improvement and a sound track record as an amateur.

    Later,
    Tom

  3. Q: Carl Lindner from Cincinnati asks:
    Where would Travis Wood have ranked had he been eligible? Would you consider him a wise draft pick for the Reds where he was drafted in the 2nd round?

    It’s good to see Uncle Carl checking up on how well his GM did. 😀

  4. I’d be curious to hear from someone that has studied how quickly players normally advance as to where they believe some of the Reds minor league “stars” will begin next year…like Bailey, Votto, Wood, Bruce, Rosales, Piepkorn (though I’m not sure the Reds value him as highly as I do after watching him this season), Avery… and my two buds, Haltiwanger and Lanier?

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2005 Reds, Minors, Reds - General