Monday night was the first day of the Major League Baseball Draft. Rounds 1 and 2 took place at an incredibly slow pace in a made for tv event. Tuesday will have rounds 3-10 and Wednesday will have rounds 11-40 in days that move at a much quicker pace and are only available on MLB.com. I will provide full coverage and have stats, scouting reports and video on nearly all of the day two and three picks at RedsMinorLeagues.com if that is something you are interested in checking out over the next few days.
For today at Redleg Nation I am going to look at the three picks that the Cincinnati Reds made on Monday night. Here’s a rundown of the picks:
1st Round – 11th overall | Tyler Stephenson | Catcher – Kennesaw High School (Georgia)
2nd Round – 49th overall | Antonio Santillan | RHP – Seguin High School (Texas)
2nd Round Lottery B – 71st overall | Tanner Rainey | West Alabama
The Reds took two high schoolers and a Division II college player. Two pitchers and a catcher. Let’s jump into talking about each player.
The 1st round selection by the Reds was long linked to the team and for a while it seemed that he wasn’t going to make it to the 11th pick with him being projected as high as 1st overall over the weekend. That rumor didn’t turn out to be accurate and the catcher was there for the taking. Stephenson has loud tools. He’s all about power. He’s got plus raw power at the plate. He’s got a plus arm behind the plate. Despite his large size, listed at 6′ 4″ and 210 lbs, he’s regarded as an advanced defender with soft hands behind the plate who can already call a quality game.
The two areas where the high school backstop needs to work on would be his footwork behind the plate and perhaps shortening his swing up as it can get a tad long at times. The footwork behind the plate isn’t bad, but it could be improved with work. At his size, there is some concern that if he gets any taller he won’t be able to remain behind the plate and will have to move to a corner position, but his bat is strong enough that it will play just fine if that does have to happen.
Cincinnati took a big time arm strength guy with their 2nd round pick by selection Antonio Santillan out of a Texas High School. The right hander sits 93-95 MPH with his fastball and he’s touched 98 with easy mechanics. He’s also offering a plus slider to go along with a below-average change up that he hasn’t used much in high school.
So, how does a guy with that kind of arm strength last until the 49th overall pick? That’s where the concern comes in with Santillan. He’s had struggles with throwing strikes. He tinkered with his mechanics during the season and his control took another step backwards. He’s a high risk guy because of that, but he’s got a whole bunch of potential and if he can work with professional coaches and get his mechanics and control in order, he could be an outstanding pick.
The Reds went to college for their third pick of the day, using their Lottery B pick following the second round and the 71st overall pick to select Tanner Rainey. The right hander spent the first two years of his college career at Southeastern Louisiana before moving on to Division II West Alabama where he turned his baseball career around.
Rainey has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in his college career, but he does have three pitches and some scouts believe that he’s got what it takes to make the transition into a starting pitcher as a professional. He’s 6′ 3″ and 235 lbs, so size isn’t an issue, but he would need to build up stamina to make the transition. If he’s going to remain in the bullpen, his mid 90’s fastball that touches 97 will play quite well with a plus slider. He doesn’t use his change up as a reliever, but he does have one if he’s going to start in the future.
Overall Day 1 Thoughts
The 2015 draft is considered to be rather weak overall, but the Reds took an approach to go for high upside players with their three picks. Tyler Stephenson has far fewer question marks with his game than the other two selections do, but grabbing two pitchers that can hit 97 and 98 MPH in a weak draft seems like a good strategy to take. The Reds haven’t said what the plan is for Tanner Rainey, but he profiles as a classic Chris Buckley pick with a fresh arm as a college reliever with three pitches and a big arm who could possibly make a go of it as a starting pitcher. As a college senior, Rainey should save some pool money, but he wasn’t exactly a money-saving overdraft either. He could move quickly if he remains in the bullpen. The wildcard is Santillan. If the Reds can work with him and get his walks under control, he represents a big time arm that could move through the system. The second round represents a perfect example of high-risk/high-reward and maybe the Reds wind up with the risk and no reward when we look back on things in a few years, but in a weak draft class, it’s a strong plan to take in my opinion.