- Age: 21 - Level: AAA
2008 Numbers: 37 games, 25 Runs, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 7 SB, .348 AVG
If you've been doing your research then you should probably know about Jay Bruce already. Since he has been tearing up AAA ball for the affiliate, it only makes sense that he be this week's "Almost Ripe" pick.
Bruce's numbers have been studly since he started swinging a professional bat. In 2006 he posted 16 home runs and 19 steals in A ball. His 80 RBI and .291 average in 117 games were impressive for a 19 year old.
With 26 home runs in 133 games in 2007, Bruce found his power stroke but never reached his speed potential (only 8 steals). His .319 was a nice improvement from 2006 and showed he could mature quickly.
Coming into 2008, Bruce was Cincinnati's top outfield prospect. Many hoped that he would make the opening day Reds roster but that plan didn't come to fruition. He was sent to AAA to find the speed that he lost in 2007.
Bruce has done all he can so far this season with 7 steals and 7 home runs in only 37 games. It's only a matter of time before the Reds get tired of , , and in the outfield.
The only downside to Bruce is his tendency to strikeout and not take walks. He notched 137 Ks and only 47 BBs in 2007. His strikeout rate will likely increase in the majors for his first few seasons. If he can get the bat on the ball it shouldn't be a problem.
If you are in a keeper or dynasty league, Bruce should already be on your roster. If you are in a head-to-head or roto league, then you should add him to your team ASAP to avoid the rush. He should be an immediate contributor when called up.
Each week "Almost Ripe" features a maturing minor leaguer who could see major league time in the near future.