Being the top baseball prospect in America puts a lot of pressure on a player, and many have not been able to handle it. Names like Ben Grieve, Brien Taylor, and Todd Van Poppel all come to mind as top prospects who crumbled under pressure.
So far, that is not the case with Reds prospect Jay Bruce. He is currently tearing it up in Triple-A and has a call-up in his near future. His confidence and passion to be the best goes all the way back to when he was kid, playing among some of the best young players in Texas, and now in the MLB.
"Playing against Clay Buchholz and other great pitchers really improved my game at an early age," Bruce said.
Now playing among some of the best in the minors and having success, Bruce reflects on his trek through the minors.
Just three weeks after the draft and down in Low-A, Bruce had finally accomplished his dream. However, he went through an adjustment period that led to his slow start.
"I think the biggest adjustment was living on my own. Back home, my mom did everything. Now, I had to be responsible and accountable. I was a professional now."
He finished the season proving to everyone around him that the wooden-bat transition would not affect him, which allowed the Reds to move him forward in their system.
Although Bruce established himself as a top prospect, the attention did not get to him. He was selected to a Futures Game but went in just trying to enjoy the experience.
"It was awesome, a great experience," Bruce said, "Everyone though is trying to showcase their stuff so when I got in a good count, I swung at a good pitch and took it out to deep center."
Some are projecting Jay Bruce to hit 500 home runs, but Bruce is just focused on getting to the big leagues and helping the Reds.
Not just a player, but a fan too.
While Bruce works to get strong and endure a long season, he follows baseball very closely. He even offered me a taste to who he thinks are the top young players in baseball.
"The top hitter, well Justin Upton is off to a good start, he has made good adjustments. My boy Joey Votto has been overlooked, but he will hurt you if you forget about him. Evan Longoria of the Rays, too. I am going to go with Joey [Votto] though. He will turn some heads if he hasn't already."
It is a too early to say that a managerial role is in his future, but he did offer his opinion on Barry Zito's slow start.
"Everyone has down years," Bruce said. "He's struggling though."
You have to have fun.
When asked who he would rob of a home run if he had the opportunity to pick, he said:
"Griffey. He would be my guy."