Retro Prospect Spotlight: Homer Bailey

Matthew WhippsContributor ISeptember 24, 2009

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 07:  Starting pitcher Homer Bailey #34 of the Cincinnati Reds delivers against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 7, 2009 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Sports writers, like most human beings, don't like to be proved wrong. That's why whenever we get a chance we like to revisit predictions, statements or anything else we can grasp that we were right about to show that, hey, we do know what we're talking about! This doesn't happen as often as we'd like to admit.

In baseball, the scouting and analysis of prospects has become bigger and bigger each passing season. In fact, just five years ago you had to search pretty hard to find much of anything about prospects who weren't in the "elite" class.

I myself have been grading and scouting youngsters for about four years and I was one of the few that I recall to have a top prospects list back then (there's that whole tooting our own horn thing I mentioned earlier).

Before the start of every new season, we see hoards of writers roll out their own “Top Prospects” list. While everyone’s differs in some way, shape, or form, there was one thing that was consistent across the boards prior to the 2007 season.

No matter who was doing the list, the top two pitching prospects were some variation of Philip Hughes (here is an article I recently wrote about his move to the bullpen) and Homer Bailey.

Back then, I felt that Bailey was the strong prospect. However I also felt Hughes would 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 was for certain, no matter which one you believed to be superior, you couldn't argue the abilities of the Cincinnati Reds’ top prospect Homer Bailey.

Here's a quick history lesson on Bailey as well as the scouting report I wrote on him back in the spring of 2007:

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 No. 1 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.

Well there you have it. Now I wasn't the only one to think so highly of the young Bailey, but things just haven't worked out they way we once thought. Bailey's biggest problem has been his horrible mechanics.

His arm action is sloppy and doesn't repeat, his ball release is all over the place and he finishes with no true direction. This along with the stress these motions caused to his arm have been the reason for his 5+ MPH drop in his fastball and his erratic control. Things were looking bad for the tall righty.

Recently Bailey has been able to improve his mechanics enough to have some pretty good success over the past month or so. While the Reds have enjoyed an improved starter, Bailey still has some work to do this offseason in order to become a staple in the Reds rotation.

I know I for one will be cheering him on so that next year about this time I can write again about how right I was about Homer Bailey.

Now hopefully one day Delmon Young will figure things out and then I'll really be in business.