Reds Top 10 Prospects
By Josh Boyd
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HSBrentwood, Calif., 2002 (1st round). Signed by: Butch Baccala.
Background: The Reds were split on which high school pitcher to draft with the third overall pick in 2002: Gruler or Scott Kazmir. The consensus was that Kazmir had a higher ceiling, but his price tag was considered much higher as well. Gruler, who got a club-record $2.5 million bonus, wasnt purely a signability pick, though. After his predraft workout, Johnny Bench said Grulers breaking ball and changeup were better than Tom Seavers. Grulers stock soared leading up to the draft as his velocity increased from the upper 80s to the mid-90s. With nine Reds scouts on hand for his final prep start, he hit 95 mph in the seventh inning. Upon reporting to Rookie-level Billings, Gruler was shut down after his first start as a precaution. He threw pain-free for the rest of the season, highlighted by six no-hit innings in the low Class A Midwest League. But his shoulder was sore during instructional league and doctors discovered fraying in his rotator cuff. Instead of having surgery, Gruler was ordered not to throw for two months and concentrated on rebuilding his shoulder strength.
Strengths: Gruler has two plus pitches to go with a clean and effortless delivery. His fastball explodes out of his hand and he pumped 89-94 mph fastballs with boring action in on righties. He snaps off nasty curveballs from the same arm slot, generating hard downward bite through the zone. While he toyed with a splitter in high school, Gruler shelved it in favor of a changeup, which has the makings of a reliable pitch. He has been a sponge since signing, soaking up knowledge from veteran pitching instructor Sammy Ellis and video work.
Weaknesses: The biggest hurdle for Gruler is his rotator-cuff injury. The fear is that while he has avoided surgery for now, six months of rehab wont repair the fraying and an operation is inevitable. He needs to hone the command of his fastball and continue to develop his changeup.
The Future: Grulers shoulder ailment could keep him out of action until May, and the Reds will monitor him closely. Provided he returns at full strength, hell return to low Class A Dayton after a stint in extended spring training. He should move fast if hes healthy.
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