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Jay A. Bruce (born April 3, 1987 from Beaumont, Texas) is a Major League Baseball outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds. He was selected 12th overall in the 2005 Amateur Draft. He bats and throws left-handed. He has been listed as a top prospect in both his league and as an outfielder overall.
Bruce attended West Brook High School in Beaumont, Texas, where he was selected as a 3rd team High School All-American OF.
Bruce's professional career began in 2005 in the GCL playing for the Reds' lowest rookie team. He hit .270 in 37 games before moving on to the Reds' rookie affiliate Billings Mustangs. There he hit for a .257 batting average with 4 home runs and 13 RBI. In 2006, he was bumped to the Reds' low-A affiliate Dayton Dragons, where he excelled with a .291 average and 16 home runs, prompting him to be placed in many top prospect lists. For the 2007 season, Bruce was placed with the Reds high-A team, the Sarasota Reds, then quickly promoted to the Red's AA team, the Chattanooga Lookouts. He was selected to the 2007 All-Star Futures Game. Bruce was then promoted to the Reds' AAA club, the Louisville Bats, where he ended the season by winning Baseball America's Player of the Year title.
Reds General Manager Wayne Krivsky informed Bruce and the media that Bruce would not get a look in the big leagues in 2007; however, during the Reds' final game of the 2007 season, Bruce was recognized for winning the Minor League Player of the Year award.
Bruce was invited to the Reds' 2008 spring training. On March 20, Bruce was reassigned to the team's Minor League camp, and started the season at Louisville. It was speculated that this move was done to prevent Bruce from accruing enough service time to qualify for "Super Two" arbitration under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Bruce hit .262 with an OBP of .279 in his first spring training.
On May 27, 2008, the Reds organization called Bruce up and he made his major league debut against right-handed pitcher Ian Snell of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bruce made his debut in center field, batting second. He went 3-for-3 with two singles and one double. Throughout the game, he drove in 2 runs, scored twice, walked twice, and stole a base. In his second game, May 28, 2008, also against Pittsburgh, he added a double, another stolen base, and two more walks. Bruce became the first Major Leaguer since 1977 to reach base in his first 6 plate appearances. On May 30 Bruce had what would come to be his first signature game in the Major Leagues. He went 4 for 5 in a 3-2, 11-inning win over the Atlanta Braves. The Reds collected only 7 hits in the game, making the feat even more impressive. Bruce doubled in the tying run (his 3rd hit off Braves starter Tom Glavine.), and scored the winning run in the 11th inning after leading off the inning with a single. Bruce's brilliant gem of a start in the Majors shone brighter yet on May 31. The Braves and the Reds tied at 7 runs each, Bruce, having already knocked two solid base hits earlier in the game, launched his first Major League home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Reds the win in walk-off style. One day later, on June 1, he went 2 for 3 with a home run, a single, 2 runs batted in, and 1 base on balls. Bruce had an astounding 1.000 slugging percentage after his first six games. The only Major League player since 1969 to achieve a higher slugging percentage after his first six games was Mike Jacobs in 2005, with a mark of 1.050. On June 2, Bruce hit the third home run of his career while going 2-for-4 in Philadelphia against the Phillies' Kyle Kendrick.
In his first full week in the majors, he batted .577 (15-for-26), with 3 home runs, 3 doubles, and 9 singles in addition to 6 bases on balls. The 3 home runs came in 3 consecutive days for Bruce, with his first being a walk-off homer. He also scored 12 runs, and batted in 7 more runs. Most importantly, the Reds had a winning percentage of .714 (5-2) during his first week. Before Bruce was called up to the majors, they had a winning percentage of .451 (23-28), and had lost 5 of the last 7 games.
- 2007 - Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Award
- 2007 - Baseball America Minor League All-Star
- 2007 - FSL Mid-Season All-Star
- 2006 - Baseball American Minor League All-Star
- 2006 - MID Post-Season All-Star
- 2006 - MID Mid-Season All-Star
- 2006 - MID All-Star Game Top Star