Name: Homer Bailey | Organization: Cincinnati Reds
Position: Pitcher | Drafted: 2004 #7 overall pick
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Height: 6-4 | Weight: 205
[Below is the original “Prospect Spotlight” that I wrote about Homer Bailey back on March 9, 2007. The point of these retro series is to bring back important players, drafts, events or games and look at them from today’s perspective. Not that two years is a long time ago, but I think it’s long enough ago to look back at a pitcher who was supposed to be the next big thing and has still yet to pan out. While Bailey has yet to fulfill his legacy, he still may be able to reach some form of stardom but it may be in another uniform as the former prospect may need a simple change of scenery. Here’s how Bailey looked almost two years ago to myself as well as many other people in the world of baseball.]
Before the start of every new season it seems as if everyone rolls out their own “Top Prospects” list. While everyone’s differs in some way, shape, or form, there has been one thing that has been consistent across the boards this season. No matter who it is doing the list, the top two pitching prospects are always some variation of Philip Hughes and Homer Bailey. I personally feel that Bailey is the better pitcher, however Hughes will probably end up seeing more success due to the fact that as long as he’s wearing Yankee pinstripes, he’ll always have a powerful lineup behind him. But one thing is for certain, no matter which one you believe is superior, you can’t argue the abilities of the Cincinnati Reds’ top prospect Homer Bailey.
History: The tall right hander was chosen with the seventh overall pick straight out of high school in the 2004 draft. He entered the draft with high accolades and many scouts singing his praises as the best high school pitching prospect in the country. In fact, despite Bailey pitching against some of the toughest competition in the country, he still dominated on mound and went on to be named Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year.
After the Reds drafted the Texas born fireballer, Bailey would go on to have a rough first year as a pro. Bailey would end up struggling a bit with his command and was forced by coaches to rely heavily on his changeup (his weakest pitch) in order to help develop it further. Despite his struggles it was still obvious that he had the skills of a superstar in the making. That became very apparent in 2006 when he had a breakout season and named Baseball America’s top prospect in the Florida State League as a member of the Sarasota Reds and in the Southern League as a member of the Chattanooga Lookouts. 2006 was a huge year for Bailey as his performances helped etch his name as one of the top overall prospects in all of baseball.
Scouting Report: Bailey has all the pieces to be a number one starter for years to come. He’s tall with a big league frame and superb arm action. He has a 3/4 slot motion that allows him to stay tall along with two plus pitches (fastball at 89-97 mph with good movement and a curveball at 75-80 mph with a dominant 12-to-6 break) which when he has working makes him virtually untouchable. He has been trying to develop his changeup which is currently below average, but the Reds hope he will be able to improve it with another year of seasoning in the minors. The only concern scouts have had with this youngster is his lack of control at times. Most of these worries were put to rest last year as he improved immensely from his rocky 2005 season. Bailey has the makeup of a true work horse and once he is able to improve his changeup, will have quite a strong arsenal of pitches at his disposal.
As I said earlier, I believe Homer Bailey is the top pitching prospect in the game of baseball. He will be a number one starter for years to come and should be able to overcome the hitter’s heaven known as the Great American Ballpark. Despite having an unfortunate first name for a pitcher, Bailey has the build, potential, tools, and confidence to be one of the best pitchers in baseball in the next few years.
By Matthew Whipps
“The Diamond Cutter“
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist