Sunday, June 23, 2002
Top draft pick gets a taste of Cincinnati
On the farm
By John Fay, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Saturday's visit to Cincinnati was Chris Gruler's idea. He wanted the trip enough that it came up in contract negotiations.
Pitcher Chris Gruler, the Cincinnati Reds' first selection in the draft, talks with Reds GM Jim Bowden after being presented with a Reds jersey Saturday.
(Greg Ruffing photo)
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I had heard about the other top picks coming here, he said. It will help me understand what I have to work for.
Gruler made the trip a lot more pleasant with his outing Friday night. Gruler, the Reds' No.1 pick and third overall in the draft, made his professional debut at rookie-level Billings. The right-hander pitched four innings of two-hit, shutout ball, walking two and striking out three.
I was nervous at first, Gruler said. As far as performance, it was decent. I wasn't able to hit my spots like I normally do. It had been three or four weeks since I pitched in a game.
Gruler is on the fast track to the big leagues. His teammates at Billings mostly are college players. Reds director of player development Tim Naehring's plan for Gruler is to have him start five or six times at Billings. If Gruler is successful there, he could be moved to Single-A Dayton.
Everything I hear is nothing but positive, Gruler said. That makes me feel good. It makes me want to work 10 times harder.
The Billings experience was a new one for Gruler, a 6-foot-3, 190-pounder. His games at Liberty High in Brentwood, Calif., drew 200 people when he was pitching and maybe two dozen if he wasn't. Nearly 5,000 fans attended his Billings debut.
That's not what made me nervous, he said. It was more, "This is my professional debut. I've always dreamed about this. Wow.'
Gruler had to get up at 5:30 a.m. to make his flight to Cincinnati. He'll spend the night in Cincinnati, then go to Billings and get back to work.
Reds general manager Jim Bowden gave Gruler a jersey Saturday.
He'll be wearing this in that stadium over there in a few years, Bowden said, pointing to Great American Ball Park, if not sooner.
Gruler would like nothing better. That's another reason he wanted the trip.
This is good. It shows me the difference between here and Billings, Gruler said.
IMPRESSIVE START: The draft pick who is turning heads early is first baseman Walter Olmstead, a fifth-round pick out of Texas Christian University.
Olmstead had at least one hit in his first five games at Billings. He was 7-for-16 with three home runs and six RBI.
He's a big kid, about 6-feet-5, said Reds assistant director of player development Grant Griesser. He runs pretty well. He hit two (homers) left-handed and one right-handed.
YOUNG ARMS: With Dustin Moseley's promotion to Double-A Chattanooga, the Reds have three talented pitchers all 21 or younger at Double-A. Moseley, Ty Howington and Josh Hall could make the bigs at an early age.
Howington has pitched well since coming back from a bout with tendinitis in his shoulder. Howington had another solid outing Friday, going four innings and allowing two runs on four hits in Chattanooga's 6-3 win over Huntsville.
Back in the saddle again
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Enquirer Page Two Top&Bottom Five
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