The Major League Baseball draft is the least exciting of the big three drafts. That’s two fold: First, no one goes from being drafted and moves directly to the Majors. Often guys are at least 3-5 years away from the big leagues when they are drafted. Secondly, hardly anyone watches college baseball, especially in comparison to college football or basketball.

While the baseball draft isn’t celebrated, if a team drafts well it can be a huge difference maker. A majority of the Cincinnati Reds are homegrown. From 2003-2010 every first round pick the Reds made reached the Majors and every pick since is among their top prospects.

The general manager tends to get credit for how well the team drafts, but in most cases the scouting director is running the show and the Reds have had the same guy running the show since the 2006 draft. Chris Buckley came over from Toronto to head the scouting department and the organization has been one of the best drafting teams year-in and year-out ever since.

Where will the Cincinnati Reds draft?

The Reds will have the 11th overall pick in the draft. They do not have any compensation picks this year, but do have an additional competitive balance pick after the 2nd round.

What are the team needs?

This is a bit of a loaded statement, as teams do not really draft for big league needs since players are so far away from being able to help out the big league club and the team needs could be quite different by that point in time. They also aren’t going to draft for an organizational need inside the first 5-7 rounds to try and fill in some depth issues in the organization, but could do so in rounds 10-40.

The Reds currently have a grand total of two pitchers in Double-A and Triple-A that are left handed pitchers. Lefties are generally tougher to come by, but having just two lefties combined in the upper minor leagues represents a real lack of depth. Coming into the season there was only one middle infielder in the Top 20, though the depth that they do have there is at the lower levels. The organization also seems to be lacking in the depth department at the corner infield spots.

Where is this draft strong?

This draft is considered to be quite weak, but one area where it’s supposedly strong is at the shortstop position. With the team picking 11th overall, the weakness of the draft won’t really be present in the 1st round, but we may begin to see it show up after that.

Who have the Reds been linked to?

Everywhere you look you will see that the Reds have been linked to Cincinnati Bearcats outfielder Ian Happ. The connection makes plenty of sense as the team can get looks at him for every home game he’s played over the years. Some believe that he could transition back to second base as a professional, where he has played in the past.

Fangraphs Kiley McDaniel has linked the Reds to prep outfielder Kyle Tucker and prep catcher Tyler Stephenson. Tucker has drawn some big time praise for his swing and advanced bat. Stephenson has been noted for his big arm and big power potential.

John Manuel at Baseball America had the Reds selecting Happ in his first mock draft but also linked the organization to two starting pitchers from Vanderbilt. Carson Fulmer is having a better season than his teammate Walker Buehler, but both are having strong seasons. Fulmer has a 1.56 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 86.2 innings. Buehler has a 2.86 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 56.2 innings (he’s made three fewer starts than Fulmer this season).

With the draft being just over three weeks away there is still plenty of movement that could happen on draft boards. College and high schoolers are still playing games and scouts are getting more looks at guys and gather more information. In three weeks we will make one final look at the draft before it takes place and will have a better feel for things and how they could shake out in the first round.

12 Responses

  1. Vanessa Galagnara

    What is meant by being linked to? Does that basically mean that a Red scout was seen watching a particular player or does it mean that someone from the organization has actually sat down and talked with the prospect?

    • Doug Gray

      Generally speaking, both. At this point in the game, the Reds have probably at least talked with a larger chunk of the first rounders. The organization has seen all of the guys play that are likely to be in the first few rounds, no question.

      • Vanessa Galagnara

        Thank you sir! BTW great article!

    • tct

      Another difference in the baseball draft is the leverage the players have because, unlike the NBA and NFL, college eligibility is not affected just by being drafted or entering the draft. So a kid out of high school who doesn’t like how much money the team that has drafted him has offered can just say “No thanks, I’ll go to college.” He can’t be drafted again until after his junior year, but it still gives them some leverage. A college junior can also decline to sign and go back for his senior year.

      So, when someone says the Reds are linked to a player, especially a High school guy, it may be that they have put feelers out to the kid and his family about how likely he is to sign. This is not as big a deal now that they have gone to the slotting system and a draft cap, but still some guys don’t sign and you don’t want to waste a high pick on a guy that you can’t sign.

      • Doug Gray

        If you offer a guy slot money and he turns it down, you get that pick spot next year along with your regular spot, so the teams do get some protection. But yeah, in the first three or four rounds the teams have talked with the guys and know what it’s going to take to sign them.

        Unless you are a 1st round talent, going back to college for your senior season is a terrible, terrible mistake. College seniors don’t get hardly any signing bonuses unless they are true 1st round talents, so you had better be incredibly sure of yourself and pray you don’t get hurt. It’s why most guys don’t go back once they are drafted.

        High schoolers are a different bunch. They can go to school, but if they go to a junior college, they can be drafted the next season, so they don’t always have to wait three years. It just depends on how you want to play things.

  2. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I agree, Doug. In the baseball draft, you don’t draft for “now”. You draft for what you think you will need 3, 5, 7 years from now. Sure, the first round, you may grab someone who can assist immediate, aka Leake. But, odds are great, that doesn’t happen.

    What I believe we are in dire need of, though, is hitters. We need hitters. BA, OBP, etc. I still believe defense is a bit overrated at the major league level. For those reading, I didn’t say “not needed”, I specified “overrated”. For, I believe good pitching can assist with that, also. But, we need to get some hitters.

    • Doug Gray

      You don’t even draft for now if there’s a Leake there. Even Mike Leake wasn’t able to step in right away. He was drafted in June, then didn’t pitch in the big leagues until the next April – nearly a full year later.

      My take is this: Always drafted the best player available regardless of position. Too many guys simply don’t make the Majors, so grab guys that can and if you don’t have room for them in five years, you can trade them to someone who does and get what you need.

  3. Mike V

    While I agree relatively no one watches college Baseball .. the game is growing in popularity . its all over Directv in the spring (granted at an extra charge ) . LSU and Arkansas draw really big crowds in the SEC now and have for quite awhile . Locally here in the “ville” , Dan McDonald’s U of L team is really catching on in this Basketball crazy town . Both U of L and UK get some time on the TV sports when they play . This NEVER happened ten year’ s ago . Yes you can’t beat the price for a U of L game (its Free) but even so over 6000 folks showed up last Friday for the first game of a series vs Florida State .. U of L’s outfielder Cory Ray looks like a first Rounder to me for next year’s draft . More folks should give the college game a look .. Its great fun and can be very exciting … especially if the weather is decent . Personally the game provides me with a much needed Baseball “fix” in Late February and March before and during Spring Training while the Reds are in Arizona ..

  4. WVRedlegs

    SS is the deep position in this year’s draft. Three SS will be off the board by the Reds pick at #11. LHP is where I think they go and they go back to the well again where they got last year’s #1 pick. UVA. The Reds select LHP Nathan Kirby, University of Virginia.
    Now if LSU’s SS, Alex Bregman falls a couple of spots, the Reds could snatch him up there.
    Would the Reds dare to select LHP Brady Aiken if he falls to #11 with his agent Scott Borass???

  5. Kevin Michell

    Great GREAT primer on the draft, Doug!!

    What’s your personal take on Happ (strengths, ceiling, etc.)? I really don’t know much about him, even as he plays just a few miles away from me (which speaks to how little coverage there seems to be on college ball).

    • Doug Gray

      I’d be lying if I said his strikeout rate wasn’t concerning. A 21% strikeout rate in college, much less the AAC, seems like a bit of a red flag to be honest.

      Let’s compare that to another local product, Arkansas’ Andrew Benintendi. He’s struck out just 11.7% of the time this season in the SEC while carrying similar AVG/SLG as well.

      Generally speaking, your top college hitters walk a decent bit more than they strikeout. That’s not to say that Happ isn’t going to be a good pro, but it does leave me wondering exactly how well he can handle professional pitching right now.

      Ceiling wise – he could probably be an All-Star. He’s got some power, a good hit tool, speed and enough defense to be solid at a few different places.

  6. Mike Bittenbender

    Can I put an order in for Corey Ray in 2016? Dude is going to be special and is already in Louisville, so moving would not be difficult at all. Seriously special talent.