Homer Bailey is the youngest and most anticipated starting pitcher to Reds fan since Ryan Wagner. He’s a strong one with a fast ball that hits the mid-90s and a wicked curveball. His off-speed stuff was slower in developing and was what kept him from being brought up before, along with his ability to handle baserunners.
And, really, there’s some debate about whether Homer’s readiness really had much to do with his call-up. He may well be ready for the big leagues and everyone hopes the very best for him, but there’s little question that he was brought up when he was to generate enthusiasm from a fanbase that was losing interest with a team that was 15 games under .500 and 10.5 games back.
Whatever the reason, here he is. He struck out the first batter he faced at the major league level.
Homer came to the Reds organization in 2004 when he was drafted in the first round as the seventh over-all pick. In his first professional season, he went 0-1, with a 4.38 ERA in 6 appearances for the Gulf Coast League Reds. Prior to going pro, Baily was named to the First team High School All-American and was named Baseball America High School Player of the Year.
He had some very favorable comparisons made about him:
Still, his delivery and stuff draw comparisons to other pitchers the state has produced. And in an era when high school righthanders are picked apart by scouts looking for a reason not to spend an early-round selection and millions of dollars, Bailey stands up to the scrutiny.
“There’s always going to be some risk involved with any pitcher you take,” a scouting director said. “But there’s going to be some people taking chances on this kind of arm. It’s one of those rare ones that doesn’t come along often.
“If you look at the state of Texas, two recent ones that have gone out of the state in the first five picks have had a little success: Beckett and (Kerry) Wood.”
In 2005, Bailey was ranked by Baseball America as the Reds’ top prospect. He pitched at Class-A Dayton and went 8-4, with a 4.43 ERA in 21 starts and 7 relief appearances for the Dragons.
In 2006, he received the Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award as its Minor League Player of the Year.
He split his time between Class A Sarasota and Class AA Chattanooga where he combined to go 10-6 with a 2.47 ERA in 26 starts.