David Paschall wrote an article on Cody Strait who will make his second season debut with the Lookouts. Here are some of the highlights:

The most frightening moment for the Chattanooga Lookouts last season occurred May 20 at AT&T Field, when right fielder Cody Strait foul tipped a ball into his right eye and fractured his orbital socket.

“After I got hurt, I kept struggling for a while, but I had a good last month and feel strong and healthy and ready to go.”

“Cody is not scared,” (Jamie) Dismuke said. “He’s digging in there and taking it like a champ like nothing went on, and that was the part I was scared of. I thought he might be a little tentative, but he’s shown no effects of it at all.”

Said Strait: “I just lost a year is basically how I’m looking at it, so now I’m right back where I started in ’07. I’m ready to go.”

Strait was a strong prospect coming into last year showing off good power and speed in the FSL, but last year he kind of fell apart. He has lots of tools and he dealt with the eye injury, which certainly caused him some problems last year. He is certainly worth following this year as his package of tools aren’t easily matched throughout the system.

Kevin Czerwinski of Milb.com wrote an article on 10 Names to Know in the International League. Our Reds had 2 names on the list:

1. Jay Bruce, OF
Louisville Bats (Cincinnati)

The former first-rounder excelled at three levels last year, including 187 at-bats with Louisville. Overall, he hit .319 with 26 homers, 89 RBIs and 80 extra-base hits. He was named the top prospect in all of baseball by MiLB.com, and with good reason. He got nicked up early in camp with a strained quadriceps muscle, costing him nearly a week of playing time, and a few more months at Triple-A clearly won’t stop him. He’s going to be in the heart of the Cincinnati order before long.

8. Homer Bailey, RHP
Louisville Bats (Cincinnati)

Bailey got a taste of life in Cincinnati last season, going 4-2 with a 5.76 ERA in nine starts. He was also 6-3 with a 3.07 ERA in 12 starts at Louisville, putting him a position to win a spot in the Reds’ starting rotation this spring. Didn’t happen. The former first-rounder had a rough spring (1-3, 5.21 ERA, 24 hits allowed and 16 walks in 19 innings), so from that standpoint his being sent back down wasn’t much of a surprise. The fact that he missed a big chunk of last year with a groin injury also prevented him from gaining some valuable mound time — time he’ll be able to make up over the next few months in Louisville.

Tim Leonard has an International League preview on Milb.com. Here is what he has to say on our Louisville Bats:

Louisville Bats
2007 Results: 73-70
2008 Manager: Rick Sweet
Things to look forward to: Jay Bruce. The center fielder seems destined to become a star. Before that happens, he’ll spend a little more time in Louisville after the Reds optioned the top prospect in baseball to Triple-A during Spring Training. Don’t wait until May or June to go to Louisville Slugger Field — Bruce likely won’t be there too long. … Highly touted right-hander Homer Bailey also wound up in Louisville after struggling during Spring Training. Bailey, who won’t turn 22 until May, was expected to have the inside track for a spot in the Reds’ rotation. With two rookies in the Reds rotation, Bailey’s stay at Louisville could be longer than Bruce’s. … The Dave Matthews Band will play a concert at Louisville Slugger Field on Aug. 1. It will be the band’s first appearance in Louisville since 1995. Country music legend Willie Nelson also will perform that night. Tickets for the show are $65 for lower-bowl reserved seats and $55 for upper-deck seats. … The Triple-A All-Star Game will be played at Louisville Slugger Field on July 16. The game will feature top players from Minor League Baseball’s top two circuits, the International League and the Pacific Coast League. This will be Louisville’s second Triple-A All-Star Game — the other was in 1991, when National League affiliates defeated the American League affiliates. Louisville will become the first International League city to play host to the current incarnation of the All-Star Game.

C.L. Brown wrote an article on Homer Bailey for the Courier Journal. Here are some of the highlights from that one.

“We lose track of how hard this game is,” Bailey said yesterday. “There’s a reason there are only a select few up there and there’s even a more select few that excel. It’s not something that’s going to be learned overnight.”

Bailey will be the Bats’ opening-day pitcher. It’s not something he expected, but he’s learning not to rush his ascent to the major leagues.

“I have probably (less) patience than anybody,” he said. “When I’m not doing as well as I can, I do have to sit back and say, ‘Take a look at the big picture. Take a step back and slow down and get everything under control.’ ”

“He’s still 21 years old; people forget about that,” (Ricky) Stone said. “He moved so quickly and has done so well so early, and now they’re saying his control is not there; well, his control is there.

“He’s got to get his confidence. He’s going to get it down here (Triple-A) and going to go right at hitters.”

Louisville pitching coach Ted Power said Bailey’s control correlates to how he goes at those batters.

“It’s just a matter of consistency,” Power said. “He’s got to throw strikes earlier in the count so they can’t sit on certain pitches and he’s not forced to throw his second- or third-best pitch when he’s behind in the count instead of his fastball.”

Both Power and Bailey said his problems have been more mental than mechanical. He admitted he has been in situations on the mound where he has lost focus.

“You could be out there mowing the lawn and start thinking about something else, and you look back like, ‘I just missed a spot there,’ ” Bailey said. “It’s kind of the same thing.”

Good stuff from Brown there. Go read the entire article.

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