The Cincinnati Reds have the 2nd overall pick in the June 2016 Major League Baseball draft. It will match their highest pick in the history of the draft (which goes back to 1965). The Reds history of drafting in the top five isn’t exactly strong. The organization has had a pick inside of the top five on five different occasions.
In 1985 the team hit a double grand slam when they drafted Barry Larkin 4th overall. In 1983 the team made their highest pick ever when they selected Kurt Stillwell (3.1 career WAR). The next year they had the 5th overall pick and selected Pat Pacillo (-0.7 career WAR). In 1992 the team selected Chad Mottola (-0.9 career WAR) with the 5th overall pick. Then in 2002, the most recent time the Reds had a top five pick, the team picked Chris Gruler with the third overall pick. Gruler injured his shoulder and never made the Major Leagues.
With the team in a rebuild/retooling/whatever you would like to call it, having the 2nd overall pick is pivotal for accelerating that plan. The 2014 draft already has provided four teams with significant contributions for the White Sox (Carlos Rodon), Cubs (Kyle Schwarber), Phillies (Aaron Nola) and the Mets (Michael Conforto).
The 2016 draft isn’t considered a strong, or necessarily weak draft at the top. What it is right now, is uncertain. The raw talent is there, but no one has really separated themselves at the top just yet with their performance and raw talent. Here’s a quick preview of the players in the MLB Pipeline Top 5 as we enter the season for both college and high school players.
Jason Groome | LHP Barnegat High School (NJ)
A big left hander, listed at 6′ 6″ and 220 lbs. the high schooler features a big fastball and curveball combination. He also has a change up, but it lags behind the other two offerings and needs to keep improving. His season has not started.
AJ Puk | LHP Florida
Another big left handed pitcher, Puk is listed as 6′ 7″ and 230 lbs. He has a fastball that’s touched 98 MPH and sits around 94 MPH. He mixes in an above-average slider and a solid change up. Coming into the season the biggest question was his higher walk rate, Puk walked just over 4.0 batters per 9.0 innings in his first two seasons. He’s made two starts this season for the Gators and has one walk and 11 strikeouts in 6.2 innings.
Alec Hansen | RHP Oklahoma
Hansen throws from the right side, but like the pitchers before him he’s tall, listed at 6′ 7″ and 235 lbs. He sits in the mid 90’s and can touch the upper 90’s with his fastball. He’s got an above-average slider and above-average curveball to go with a solid change up. That hasn’t translated well in 2016 so far as the righty has posted a 9.00 ERA in 4.0 innings over two starts where he has seven walks and six strikeouts.
Riley Pint | RHP St. Thomas Aquinas High School (KS)
Compared to the earlier players, Pint is short at his listed 6′ 4″ and 195 lbs. The right hander sits 93-95 with his fastball and tops out at 99 MPH that he mixes with an above-average slider and a solid change up. The change up doesn’t get used often, but when he does bring it out it’s a solid offering. Control has been a concern in the past. His season won’t start until March 23rd.
Corey Ray | OF Louisville
No one has had a better start to the season than Louisville’s Corey Ray. A true five-tool player, the left handed hitter has destroyed the ball through two weeks for the Cardinals. In 34 plate appearances he’s hit .536/.588/1.143 with four walks, four home runs, three doubles, a triple and six stolen bases. The thing he needed to work on heading into the season was his strikeout-to-walk ratio (24 walks and 60 strikeouts in 2015 – top college hitters almost always walk more than they strikeout and it’s a red flag when they don’t). So far, so good in 2016 with two strikeouts against his four walks in the early going.
It’s still early in the 2016 season with most high schools around the country yet to even begin playing and colleges just two weeks in. A whole lot can change between now and the first week of June. The top of the draft board right now doesn’t look great from a performance standpoint as the two big college pitchers had have some struggles and the two high school pitchers have yet to play. Corey Ray on the flip side has gotten out to a start that stacks up with anyone in the country. We will revisit the 2016 draft in a few weeks with another update on some of the top players in the draft (we will likely check in on these guys as well as some others).