Last fall, Eric and I spent some time on here talking up Jay Bruce, the 20-year-old Cincinnati Reds prospect who lit up three minor league levels in 2007 (26 homeruns, 89 runs batted in, .319 batting average, .962 OPS, 46 doubles in 133 games). In the early stages of spring training this year, Bruce seemed to have the inside track on Cincinnati’s centerfield job, but that might have changed with today’s news that the team has signed Corey Patterson to a minor league deal:
Patterson will join Norris Hopper, Ryan Freel and top prospect Jay Bruce to battle for the vacant starting spot in center.
The Patterson signing could put a dent in Bruce’s chances. The 20-year-old is currently day-to-day with a mildly strained left quadriceps muscle.
“It just adds to the competition we have,” Krivsky said. “It’s a chance to compete, that’s all. There are no guarantees for either one.”
Mildly strained or not, my (largely uneducated) guess is that Bruce’s quad lands him in Triple-A Louisville to start the season, if only because it will give Dusty Baker an excuse to utilize a veteran player with whom he already has some familiarity.
The closest International League team to me is Pawtucket, which originally had me excited because the Bats and PawSox play a four-game series in mid-April. Unfortunately, it’s @ Louisville, so even if Bruce begins the season in the minors, I probably won’t have a chance to see him play.
Pair of veterans added to camp (Reds.com)