The Major League draft takes place over three days, beginning on Monday night and going through Wednesday afternoon. The draft has changed a bit over the last five years. It’s gone from 50 rounds down to 40. Major League Baseball has implemented a slotting system and serious penalties for teams that go over their spending budgets (though teams have been creative in how to make the most of the money they are allotted). The first and second rounds are even broadcast on national television these days. Among the big three sports, the baseball draft is still far and away behind the NBA and NFL drafts, and it likely will be that way forever given how long it takes baseball players to go from high school or college to the big leagues, but it’s gained fan interest recently compared to just five or ten years ago.
The Cincinnati Reds will draft 11th overall in the first round, the highest they have drafted since the 2009 draft when they selected Mike Leake 8th overall. The Reds have had incredible success with their first round draft picks over the last 12 years. Here’s a rundown of every first round pick they’ve made (not counting compensation or supplemental 1st round picks) since 2004:
- Homer Bailey
- Jay Bruce
- Drew Stubbs
- Devin Mesoraco
- Yonder Alonso
- Mike Leake
- Yasmani Grandal
- Robert Stephenson
- Nick Travieso
- Phillip Ervin
- Nick Howard
Going back to a year prior to include Ryan Wagner, from 2003-2010 every Reds first rounder made the Majors and all but Wagner were starting caliber players for the large part of their careers. The guys that have followed are top prospects in the system. The team hasn’t really missed on a first round pick in a very long time, something that they’ve been better at than any other team in baseball in that span.
Looking at the 2015 draft, it’s considered to be one of the weaker drafts in recent history, which isn’t good for the Reds given they have their highest selection since 2009. The team has just ten picks before their selection comes up, a situation where you normally would have a good idea of who the team is leaning towards selecting. In 2015 that isn’t the case. After the first few picks of the draft, it seems that things are wide open for the taking.
The Reds have been linked to ten different players in the draft by various mock drafts since the start of May by Keith Law at ESPN, Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com and John Manuel at Baseball America. Here’s the list of those players:
- Andrew Benintendi | OF | Arkansas
- Walker Buehler | RHP | Vanderbilt
- Daz Cameron | OF | High School
- Trenton Clark | OF | High School
- Carson Fulmer | RHP | Vanderbilt
- Ian Happ | OF | Cincinnati
- Jon Harris | RHP | Missouri State
- Tyler Jay | LHP | Illinois
- Tyler Stephenson | C | High School
- Kyle Tucker | OF | High School
Essentially, the Reds have been linked to lots of college pitchers and high school outfielders. The lone wolf has been high school catcher Tyler Stephenson. Given how many names that the team is linked to, it would be a shock to see them go off of the board and make a selection that no one saw coming. It’s been a long time since the Reds have made a pick that they weren’t linked to at some point.
With all of the uncertainty, how things unfold on Monday night on MLB Network will be interesting to watch. One stance I’ve taken with the organization, because of their strong track record, is that whoever they take is good enough for me even if I don’t necessarily agree with the pick at the time. The track record under Chris Buckley (the scouting director since 2006) stands on its own. If you are interested in my thoughts on all of the players, I will have my own Top 25 draft board posted later this week at RedsMinorLeagues.com. For now, i’ve got out scouting reports on all of the players if you are interested in that, and you can find that here.
Among the players that I expect to have a solid chance of being available, and among those that are listed above, I’d personally lean towards Cincinnati local and now Arkansas center fielder Andrew Benintendi. I just think his overall game fits the best, though it’s really close between him and a few other guys on my draft board.