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October 1, 2013

Advance Scouting Series

Jay Bruce

by Nick J. Faleris

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Advance Scouting Report

Filed by: Nick Faleris

Player Name: Jay Bruce

Context: 12 Games; 9/9/13 to 9/22/13

PA

AB

H

1st P

K

BB

TB

Hard

AVE

OBP

SLG

OPS

TOTALS

55

47

12

11

8

8

19

9

.255

.352

.404

.756

Sample vs. Season:

Average/on-base down from season lines; slugging significantly down; very little power manifesting to opposite field; arms generally working away and hitter content to serve oppo or wait for middle-in to drive; decreased strikeout rate from season line – could be result of more defensive approach on outer half when behind in count.

SCOUTING BREAKDOWN

Physical/Health:

No known injuries at present; strong, athletic build; listed 6’3”, 215-pounds (looks closer to 220/225); strong core/trunk and arms, assets in box; good balance and athleticism.

Hit Tool

Interesting hitter; solid strike-zone awareness and pitch ID belie struggles to make consistent hard contact; generally passive hitter early on, with middle of the plate the only real trigger zone (will expand zone of aggression in fastball situations); seven of nine hard-hit balls were first-pitch middle-zone offerings; highly effective distinguishing balls/strikes when presented with same-spot sequencing, but can struggle to pick up the ball when worked east/west, particularly against lefties; slight hitch in load creates length and, at times, inconsistent barrel delivery – lots of soft contact on stuff down and away and following east/west or north/south sequencing; failure to square up the ball most pronounced on outer half when hitter allows ball to travel and has shorter swing arc (less time to adjust); impressive ability to make in-swing adjustments middle-in – didn’t generally square when fooled, but could see ability to do so in skill set; high strikeout totals likely more a product of working behind in count than larger contact issues; plane and path allow for solid plate coverage; can make adjustments from at-bat to at-bat, and across series, but will also micro-manage at-bat to a fault, rather than letting ability take over. -- Grade: 5

vs. LHP

vs. RHP

Borderline passive early in count, will rarely offer at off-speed/breaking ball on first pitch; generally sits fastball middle and content to let others go; fastball situation will expand first-pitch zone of aggression; susceptible to off-speed/breaking stuff away and will expand away and down when behind in count; swing-and-miss more likely on slider/changeup that can match fastball plane; LH breaking ball/off-speed down and away plays to hitter’s weakness.

Generally will sit fastball middle on first pitch but will also offer on breaking balls starting well above belt; can lock down quadrant after consecutive pitches to same spot; will seldom offer at 12-to-6 curve or off-speed away/down early in count; middle-in danger zone; away generally content to go with the pitch and serve oppo; can be put away with plus or better breaker down and in, but slim margin of error – don’t want to miss middle or up.

Notable At-bats

Date

Description

9/10/13

Third at-bat vs. Jackson (RHP); first pitch FB (93) down-in for called strike; second pitch FB (88) low-middle for ball; third pitch FB (92) up-out for ball; fourth pitch SL (83) low-out, fouled off (middle-out FB trajectory); fifth pitch FB (93) down-in for swinging strikeout; textbook example of attacking hitter after falling behind – moving ball around and not giving in to fastball in fastball count (2-1); .

9/14/13

First at-bat vs. Blazek (RHP); first pitch CB (75) missed middle-out; second pitch CB (76) middle-out called strike; third pitch FB (94) missed middle-up; fourth pitch CB (74) middle-out called strike; fifth pitch SL (83) down-in for swinging strikeout; east/west with soft stuff and elevated fastball to change pace/zone.

9/15/13

Four straight one-pitch at-bats: Second at-bat vs. Gallardo (RHP): FB (89) up and out hard opp groundball for FC; third at-bat vs. Gallardo (RHP) FB (90) middle-middle hard single up the middle; first at-bat vs. Hand (RHP) CB (68) middle-middle stayed back and singled to left; first at-bat vs. Henderson (RHP) SL (85) middle-middle driven to center, robbed of home run by Gomez; aggressive in middle of the plate across pitch spectrum and has strength to drive offerings where pitched.

9/21

Nine of 10 pitches over three at-bats were power CB; first at-bat vs. Burnett (RHP): first pitch CB (83) back foot swinging strike (middle FB trajectory); second pitch CB (83) middle-out fouled; third pitch, CB (83) middle-down rolled over 4-6-3; third at-bat vs. Burnett (RHP): first pitch CB (84) middle-in swinging strike (middle-up FB trajectory); second pitch, CB (85) swinging strikeout down-out; third pitch, swinging strike down-out; both at bats effect RHP use of fastball trajectory to disguise hard breaking ball – success in and out of zone.

Second at-bat vs. Burnett (RHP): first pitch, CB (84) down-in swinging strike (FB middle trajectory); second pitch, CB (85) down-in swinging strike (FB middle trajectory); third pitch, CB (85) back foot for ball; fourth pitch, FB (93) up-in for ball; fifth pitch, CB (84) middle (FB up-out trajectory) line drive up the middle caught by Alvarez (shift from third base to slightly right of second); target was down, intending middle-out trajectory, missed up and in middle of plate and hitter drove.

Power

Raw power could be plus-plus, but it is a manageable risk; hitter aggressive middle-in early in count and when ahead in the count (fastball situations); ability to adjust to off-speed and breaking balls up, and strong enough to drive out to all fields; power manifests middle-in and across the plate belt and above; struggles to drive ball down and out, or off-speed stuff away when behind in the count; extremely dangerous hitter in fastball counts and with multiple runners on base (fastball situations). – Grade: High 6

vs. LHP

vs. RHP

LHP can minimize power threat by working down and east/west, with focus on lower-out quadrant; has had trouble adjusting to soft stuff away out of lefty hand, resulting in soft fly balls to left.

Can punish anything over middle of plate early in count; missing with soft stuff out of righty hand big threat to be driven; has bat speed to turn on hard stuff in and up and can drive belt high and above to all fields; aggressiveness in middle of plate out of righty hand can cause to expand against hard breaking stuff that starts on middle-plate trajectory.

Notable At-bats

Date

Description

9/17/13

Third at-bat vs. Lyles (RHP); bases loaded following walk-single-walk; FB (91) slightly out from middle, home run to left-center; FB situation, sitting FB and drove where pitched.

9/18/13

First at-bat vs. Peacock (RHP); first and second after two walks, FB (92) slightly out from middle, double down left-field line; FB situation, sitting FB and drove where pitched.

Speed/ Baserunning

Below-average home-to-first times; solid fundamental baserunner; good reads and solid jumps; not a large threat to steal; better runner underway than out of box; will think about extra base even if cut off in the gaps.

Conclusions and Means of Attack

Dangerous bat in the wrong situations, but otherwise manageable threat. Stay low and out early and challenge in and up as needed once ahead; key to success is avoiding fastball counts and getting ahead early; limited zone of aggression early in count is opportunity to set tone of each at-bat; attack down and out until hitter shows willingness to widen first-pitch zone of attack; if hitter shows added aggression in at-bats, attack with soft stuff with plane deception – marked for middle; no reason to miss in the zone – particularly for RHP; change eye level periodically and try to switch quadrants of attack every two pitches or so; unless bases loaded and behind in count, avoid feeding fastballs in fastball situations, regardless of location – hitter can get to them; if you have to throw a fastball, don’t repeat a location; RHP keep off-speed/breaking stuff down; RHP can set up back foot breaking ball and bury stuff off fastball away once ahead in the count.

Late innings utilize same side arms if available (Reds will at times stack Votto/Bruce in the lineup, so mark late innings where they are due to come up and have lefty ready); quality secondaries trump velocity for relief arms; ability to hit spots paramount; don’t get burned in big situations missing in the middle of the plate; worth pitching around in crucial situations if arm doesn’t have the precision, or quality secondaries, to execute plan; lesser threats behind Bruce in lineup.

Matchup Stats at a Glance

First Pitch Swing

11/55 (excludes bunt against shift)

Bunt Threat (Sac, Push, Drag)

Push bunt against shift with LHP on mound; only such bunt against PIT (who utilized shift with bases empty).

Defensive Positioning

Straight up; generally hitting ball where pitched.

Outfield

Straight up; right shade deep; left-field tendencies are soft, but hitter strong enough that even poorly struck ball can carry; ability to drive gaps and yank hard to right.

Splits

vs. LHP

.200/.273/.300

vs. RHP

.270/.386/.432

Nick J. Faleris is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Nick's other articles. You can contact Nick by clicking here

Related Content:  Scouting,  Advance Series

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