Originally posted on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 9/26/13
From 2005-2007, Baseball America, along with many other minor league baseball publications, raved over one pitcher. Homer Bailey, drafted straight out of high school with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2004 draft, was considered to be the top prospect within the Cincinnati Reds organization over those three years.  Although he was drafted in the same class as pitchers like Justin Verlander (No. 2), Jered Weaver (No. 12), Gio Gonzalez (No. 38), and Yovani Gallardo (No. 46), Bailey seemed to be different. He had tremendous velocity and devastating off-speed pitches, with an arm that scouts from MLB.com described as "effortless and loose." Bailey, having just turned 18 when he was drafted by the Reds, was the perfect pitching prospect. All he needed was a few years in the minor leagues to mature before he would embark on his journey to the Hall of Fame -- well, at least that's what many believed. Bailey made his major league debut in 2007 at the age of 21. While his pitches still had the same bite that scouts saw throughout his high school days, his control had not developed. In 45.1 innings, Bailey posted a 5.76 ERA with just as many walks (28) as strikeouts. The following year was even worse: in 8 starts between June 5 and Aug. 6, Bailey threw 36.1 innings, resulting in a 7.93 ERA, 17 walks, and 18 strikeouts. It was clear that Bailey didn't take the jump to the MLB as well as the Reds' organization had hoped, but at just 23-years-old, entering what would be his third season in the bigs, the Reds weren't ready to give up on him just yet. The Reds started Bailey in AAA at the beginning of 2009, letting him work on his mechanics and hone his control. After 14 starts, Bailey sported a 2.71 ERA and seemed ready for another shot at primetime. The Reds awarded him a spot in the starting rotation by the end of May, and Bailey finally seemed to be making strides. In 20 starts, Bailey finished with a 4.53 ERA, 52 walks, and 86 strikeouts, a considerable jump from his previous stint. Things were trending upwards for the young pitcher, and it appeared as though he was poised to breakout in 2010. Unfortunately, that's not what happened. His results in 2010 were, for the most part, identical to his 2009 season. His ERA dropped from 4.53 to 4.46, and he increased his K:BB ratio, striking out 100 while only walking 40. Yet again, the season ended, and the world still didn't know much about Homer Bailey. And, yet again, the following year would bring high expectations and high hopes for this still-young pitcher from The Lone Star State. In 2011, it was much of the same: a slight improvement on ERA (4.46 to 4.43), a few more strikeouts (106 to 100), and a few less walks (33 from 40). As far as any baseball aficionado could see, Bailey, the former top prospect with a ceiling as high as the Hagia Sophia, was plateauing a little too early. And then things changed. Bailey emerged in 2012 as a potential front-line starter, tossing 208 innings of solid production. His 3.68 ERA was nearly a full run lower than his average from the prior three years (4.47), his 168 strikeouts to 52 walks proved that his control was finally -- for lack of a better term -- under control, and for you Sabermetricians out there, his WAR was an impressive 2.5, according to FanGraphs.com. While Bailey's 2012 campaign was a significant improvement, one season cannot erase six years of lackluster pitching. So, in 2013, Bailey decided to come back for more. Through 31 starts this year, Bailey has done a lot. He threw the second no-hitter of his career, a feat that many pitchers will never accomplish even once. He reached the 200-inning mark for the second time in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. He posted a 4.0 WAR, good for 9th in the National League, trailing only Clayton Kershaw, Matt Harvey, Adam Wainwright, Cliff Lee, Mat Latos, Jhoulys Chacin, Jose Fernandez, and Cole Hamels. He should break the 200-strikeout plateau -- he has 196 and another start against the Pirates on Friday -- and has only amassed 50 walks. He has helped the Reds clinch a playoff spot despite playing most of the season without star pitcher Johnny Cueto. And, he should help the Reds succeed in the playoffs, something they might not have trusted him to do just two years ago. Most importantly, though, Bailey has done the improbable: persevered through hundreds of bad innings, through critics saying he was a draft bust, and through the journey to success in the big leagues that many never complete. At age 27, Bailey's star is finally shining bright yet again.

This article first appeared on The Sports Post and was syndicated with permission.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Top takeaways from Sunday's Week 14 action

Jack Morris, Alan Trammell voted into Baseball Hall Of Fame

Dirk Koetter responds to report that he has not supported Jameis Winston

Derek Carr takes full blame for weak Raiders performance

DeMarcus Lawrence blasts referees after Cowboys win

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Cardinals, Luke Gregerson reportedly agreed to two-year deal

LeSean McCoy wins game with dash through snow in OT

Seahawks' Malik McDowell arrested for disorderly conduct

LaVar Ball draws massive crowd at BBB pop-up shop in NYC

Cubs reportedly agree to two-year deal with Brandon Morrow

WATCH: Adam Vinatieri nails clutch FG after refs screw Colts on 2-point try

Sports & Politics Intersect: When Olympic gold corrupts

The 'And the winner is...' quiz

NHL Weekender: Caps gain ground, Kings ready to rule?

The naughty and nice athletes list for 2017

Dissecting the road to the NFL postseason

The 'What's old is new again (but also still old)' quiz

The NFC playoffs will be loaded from top to bottom

NFL Week 14 predictions

Is this when Zach Werenski and the Blue Jackets really get their season going?

Joel Embiid and displacing fundamental truths

Eight NFL teams in desperation mode heading into Week 14

The 'More power to you (for the right price)' quiz

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

NFL Week 14 injury report

Sports & Politics Intersect: When Olympic gold corrupts

The best games of 2017

The naughty and nice athletes list for 2017

The 'And the winner is...' quiz

NHL Weekender: Caps gain ground, Kings ready to rule?

Dissecting the road to the NFL postseason

The 'What's old is new again (but also still old)' quiz

The NFC playoffs will be loaded from top to bottom

NFL Week 14 predictions

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker