When Homer Bailey was drafted in 2004 by the Cincinnati Reds, it was expected that he would be at the top of their rotation by 2007. Well they tried that experiment and had some mixed results over 2007 and 2008, it had less than desirable results. In 2007 he went 4-2/5.76/1.57 then in 2008 he went 0-6/7.93/2.05. Many people felt as though his career was over. With nothing to lose the Reds brought him back to AAA in 2009 and he became a new pitcher, thanks to a new pitch and a more effective delivery.
His new pitch is the split finger fastball, he changed his delivery so that there are no pauses and all his efforts go into the throw. He moved his fastball up from 91 MPH where he was getting pounded to 97 MPH. Couple that with the movement of the split finger and it is easy to see why minor league hitters were baffled with it. The result in AAA Louisville was 8-5/2.71/1.27, big drops from his 2007-08 seasons.
Homer was promoted to the majors last year in June and made the most of his opportunity. He went 8-5/4.53/1.47 in 20 starts. Don’t let those numbers fool you, there were times he looked unhittable. The key for Homer now is to get more comfortable with his mechanics and refine them even more. With another year of experience behind him and a plus new pitch he is going to be leaned on quite a bit by Dusty Baker this year as he competes for a spot in the Reds rotation. My fingers are crossed for Homer, being a fan of his since he was drafted.
As for his hobby value, even though he has yet to separate himself as a legitimate MLB starter, his cards are going for between $10 – $20 for autographs. A lot of people still consider him a top prospect, but I think a lot of that is going to hinge on this upcoming season. If he can prove he is a MLB player then he will be worth the money, if not, then we might have another situation like Bryan Bullington.