Jayson Stark on the changing of the guard in Cincinnati:

There’s Jay Bruce, age 22. And Joey Votto, age 25. There’s Edinson Volquez, age 25. And Johnny Cueto, age 23. And there’s the old-timer in this group, Brandon Phillips, age 27.

We’re not sure it’s even fair to call these guys the new faces of the Reds franchise, not when almost nobody outside the 513 area code could pick their mugs out of a Facebook montage.

But let us be the first to warn you: There’s something happening here in Reds Land. Something building. Something growing….

Scouts who have followed the Reds this spring have talked nonstop about the energy that seems to jump off the field at you when you watch them. That’ll happen when you build a team around a bunch of 20-something energizers, especially when those 20-something energizers look around and realize this is now their team.

“It is their team, to mold and develop into a championship-caliber team for the long run,” GM Walt Jocketty said. “And that’s basically what we’re trying to do — build this team for the long haul.”

You really need to go read the entire article. There’s a ton of great stuff about “Bruce’s natural charisma and Votto’s intense drive for greatness.” Including yet another reason to love Joey Votto:

People around the Reds see players gravitating toward Votto, though he’s far from the loudest voice in the room. And that’s not just because he’s really only “sneaky, fake quiet,” Bruce quips.

“I look up to him,” Bruce said of his pal Votto. “Before last year, I worked. I worked hard on hitting. But I didn’t have a routine. I didn’t really know how to consistently work at hitting. But he’s taught me how to have a routine. And that’s been good. He’s young. He hits left-handed. We’re good friends. So I look up to him. But don’t think for a second we don’t [rip] each other all the time.”

It’s all working out exactly how the Reds would have drawn it up: Two young impact talents, arriving together, feeding off each other and driving each other to reach for the stars.

“I talk to Jay all the time about this,” Votto said. “Myself and Jay, we have a responsibility to become the type of players we expect to be, and [to reach] our potential. I’m sure a lot of people expect big things from Jay and me. But more importantly, Jay and myself think we’re going to play well, and we are where we belong. Whether or not that’s going to happen remains to be seen. But I think it is. And we both work very hard, and we both push each other because we know the competitiveness between us leads to good things on the field.”

Sweet. Very sweet.