The Cincinnati Reds did not win the draft lottery over the winter. They came awfully close, though, getting the #2 overall pick in the draft despite some of the lowest odds. College and high school baseball is still taking place, but are coming to an end for most teams in the next two weeks. While the Reds may not have their exact pick locked in because that may all depend on what Cleveland does at the top of the draft, they likely have a pretty good idea at this point given that they are selecting 2nd and don’t have to wait to see how multiple scenarios play out in front of them.

The draft this year is very college heavy at the top. For both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline all eight of their top rated players come from the college ranks. And while you never really know how things are going to play out, drafting second in the draft in a year where multiple guys are having historically good seasons in college feels like it’s a good place to be.

When it comes down to things it seems like there are two groups of two, but also a wild-card that could be options for Cincinnati. There are two hitters that seem to be ahead of the rest of the group, two pitchers that seem to be ahead of the group, and then there’s the guy who does both.

At the plate you’ve got Charlie Condon and Travis Bazzana. Condon’s story is a bit crazy as he was a walk-on at Georgia three seasons ago and redshirted. Last year he came out and won Freshman of the Year and set an SEC freshman record with 25 home runs and put up an OPS of 1.284. This year he’s made an absolute mockery of college pitching. The first baseman/corner outfielder has hit .452/.567/1.063 with 19 doubles, a triple, and 35 home runs in 53 games played. That’s an OPS of 1.630. Those numbers would be insane if they were put up when college baseball bats were unregulated, but the fact that he is doing it with BBCOR bats is beyond words.

Travis Bazzana’s got a story of his own. An Australian, he came to the US to play college baseball at Oregon State in 2022. He had a solid freshman year with a .902 OPS, but really broke out in 2023 when he hit .374/.500/.622. Like Condon, he’s been making a mockery of college pitching this season . In 53 games played the second baseman has hit .429/.587/.963 with 16 doubles, 4 triples, and 26 home runs.

On the mound it seems like the two top guys are Hagen Smith and Chase Burns. Smith is a left-handed started at Arkansas. As a senior in high school he threw seven no-hitters. His time with the Razorbacks hasn’t been THAT good, but I guess he’s facing college hitters now so things are a bit different. After a solid freshman season he took a step forward and had a good sophomore year. But this season he’s taken it to the extreme. He’s made 14 starts, gone 9-0 and has a 1.52 ERA. In his 77.0 innings he’s allowed just 35 hits, walked 29 batters, and now has 150 strikeouts. He did have Tommy John surgery as a sophomore in high school, so teams may have that in the back of their mind when discussing his future.

Chase Burns spent the first two seasons of his college career at Tennessee. He was mostly a starter as a freshman, but piggybacked in the rotation as a sophomore where he made eight starts and 10 relief appearances and threw 72.0 innings. He transferred to Wake Forest this season and he’s taken a big step forward. In his 14 starts he is 10-1 with a 2.63 ERA. Over his 89.0 innings he’s allowed 51 hits, struck out 24 batters, and has 169 strikeouts.

And then there’s the wild-card that is Jac Caglianone. He’s a first baseman and he’s a starting pitcher at Florida. At the plate this year he’s got a wild set of power numbers. He’s only hit four doubles in 54 games. But he’s also hit 29 home runs. The ratio there just seems so off. Still, he’s hitting .414/.525/.851 and has nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts in 54 games. On the mound he’s got potential thanks to big stuff, but his performance hasn’t really stood out. He’s made 13 starts with a 4.35 ERA. In his 62.0 innings he’s struck out 68 batters, but he’s also walked 44 of them.

Caglianone’s numbers on the mound aren’t great, but he’s got a mid-90’s fastball that touches 99. His secondary offerings are solid across the board and if he were only a pitcher he’d more than likely be a 2nd/3rd round pick, but since it comes with all that he brings to the table at the plate a team with the idea to use him as both a pitcher and as a hitter, he’s got far more value.

So which way are the Reds leaning? It’s tough to know at this point because even though Cincinnati is drafting 2nd overall, the players haven’t exactly floated out how much they want to sign just yet. And while teams are limited by bonus pools and all of that, sometimes that stuff will come into play – even at the very top of the draft.

With that said, the most recent mock drafts have had the Reds selecting either Charlie Condon or Travis Bazzana. In those same mock drafts it’s been Cleveland also selecting one of those two guys. Short of something changing in the next few weeks as college baseball’s season comes to an end, it feels like one of those two guys are the likely pick for the Reds in July.

41 Responses

  1. LDS

    Let’s hope they go for bats, not more pitching. Not that they don’t need more pitching, but they really need bats.

    • Mike

      I mean, we have a potentially strong lineup in the bigs, even more when McLain and Marte get back. And we got bats like Collier, Stewart, Edwin Arroyo, Hector Rodriguez in the minors. Bazzana seems great (assuming Condon goes 1) but Hagen Smith seems like something truly special, as well

      • Rednat

        Please Mike lets be real. The reds cant hit and have not been able to hit for some time on any consistent basis. You have to go back to tbe early Griffey Jr years to look for the last reds consistent offense. I agree with LDS we really need to focus on bats,bats and bats or we will continue to be NL bottom dwellers!!

      • old-school

        mostly agree Rednat. The 2017 team could rake, just had no pitching.

        Votto was 2nd in MVP in the league.
        Cozart was in full donkey mode with 24 HR and OPS> .900
        Scooter was a legend that year.
        Duvall had 31 bombs
        Schebler had 30 bombs and Suarez had an OPS .828

        But get the hitting for sure in 2024+

    • Dewey Roberts

      I hope their pick this year is better than the two straight years when they chose Senzel and India. The Reds could have had two great players on their teams if they had selected wisely.

  2. Mauired

    I know Bazzana is great but Caglianone and Condon are also great and Reds need middle of the order slugging much more than a tenth middle prospect.

    If Condon unlikely drops because Guards take Bazzana, Reds would have to take him.

    If it comes down to Bazzana or Caglianone, I’m hoping Caglianone. His ceiling is a 50 homer cleanup hitter and 50 save closer.

    I’ve seen people say he can pitch and hit but that’s already been proven incorrect. Why can’t a DH close?

    • Andy

      While Shohei is proof of concept, we still have not seen an American MLB system produce a true 2-way player. They may give lip service after draft (like with Hunter Greene), but never take it seriously. I would not consider pitching ability when deciding between hitters in a draft context. Even if the player wants it, new draftees have no leverage to demand cross-training.

      That said, it would be malpractice if MLB teams weren’t studying Shohei’s development in Japan to see if it can be replicated here.

      • Randy in Chatt

        One thing about Caglionone is that he has twice a chance to be a big leaguer. If he fails at climbing the ladder as a hitter, he can always switch to pitcher because that arm will play.

        An interesting fact about JC is that he not only has more walks than strikeouts, he has more home runs than strikeouts in the toughest NCAA conference, the SEC. he has drastically cut his strikeouts from last season and is one to watch in the SEC & NCAA tourney.

    • Votto4life

      My fear about Caglianone is he will end up being primarily as DH. Here’s hoping the Guards pass on Condon.

      • Mauired

        Having a DH is fine. Reds have a DH spot and the abs have been mostly bad players this year, India, Ford, Martini. Nothing wrong with having an elite slugger as a DH/1st baseman.

        Wouldn’t it be nice right now if Reds did not pass on Pete Alonso in 2016 and take senzel because Alonso was just a DH?

    • AllTheHype

      In 2017 the Rays took Brendan McKay at 1-4, an elite two way player. There was an argument at the time whether he should be developed as a position player or pitcher. He was given about 400 PAs or so in MiLs, but his hit tool never developed. Sadly, he encountered injuries and never developed as a pitcher either.
      It’s a VERY TALL ask for a young player to develop both sides of their game. There’s a loss of focus for both sides, when you try to split time.
      For Caglianone, he is not an elite pitcher. He potentially has elite stuff, but he’s not 1st or 2nd round talent as a pitcher alone. It would take him an enormous amount of time dedicated to pitching to try to acquire the command necessary to pitch in MLs in any capacity. And that time would be subtracted from time he spends developing his hitting.
      I would venture to say not a single ML team will allow him to pitch at all, nor should they. Every minute he spends on baseball should be perfecting the craft of hitting and becoming the best hitter he can be.
      Ohtani changed nothing in MLB. He is a freak that has happened once in 50 years, and he has otherworldly talent on both sides of the ball. No one else before or since in the last 50 years has that kind of talent. Certainly not Caglianone.

      Condon or Bazzana, whichever is available at 1-2.

      • Mauired

        Yeah the conservative fear based approach has been working perfectly for this franchise for decades now. Let’s just stay on the path. No need to try creative ways to give the small market financially strapped roster any edges to win ballgames.

      • AllTheHype

        You lost me on the relevance of the fear reference.

        But I suspect during the 2017 draft, using the same logic you seem to be using now, you’d have had the Reds take McKay over Hunter Greene at 1-2. But you will probably say no to that because of the benefit of hindsight. A lot of people wanted the Reds to take McKay then for the same reason they want Caglianone now.

      • BK

        Is it a conservative approach to take the best player available? I haven’t seen anyone tab Caglianone in the top 2. I agree with ATH’s assessment of how this is similar to McKay vs. Greene. Don’t overthink this decision; just take the BPA. It seems like the draft isn’t considered to be very deep, but the top talent is quite good.

  3. CD

    Having a good outfield bat would be nice, so I would go with Condon if he isn’t picked first.

  4. Mike

    No way the Reds will draft a guy and let him two-way. Didn’t do it with Hunter, didn’t do it with Sheng en Lin, and Jac still has holes in his swing, so he should be out of the discussion. Hopefully, the Reds are out on Burns, too. Figure out why your first Wake pitcher is struggling in the minors before getting another, please.

    Assuming the Guards take Condon (and if they don’t, the rest of the discussion is moot—rush to the podium with his name on the card) its either Bazzana or Hagen Smith. The latter looks like he could be prime Chris Sale, while the former hits like a LH Altuve.

    Only question is who to move, where, if taking Bazzana, since he’s only a second baseman.

    • Mauired

      “Jac still has holes in his swing”

      He has more homers than strikeouts. What holes?

  5. Doc

    Is Bazzana a Joe Morgan type? Good hitter with some pop.

  6. ksdavis

    I take a hitter. Is ther anything floating out who Cleveland may take?

    • Votto4life

      I have seen mock drafts showing them taking Condon, but I guess Cleveland doesn’t always take the obvious pick. Also, someone here mentioned Bazzana won the MVP award in the Cape Cod League, which scouts put a lot of emphasis on.

      Personally, I am hoping the Reds are able to draft Charlie Condon. In my mind, he projects to be an Aaron Judge type bat.

      I would be OK with Bazzana, but just a tad disappointed. He seems more of a Matt McLain type and we already have Matt McLain. But that is just my impression from what I have read. I wouldn’t know either player if I passed them on the street.

      • Reaganspad

        I will take MattMcLain every time I can get him.

        Look at the Reds before McLain, with and now after.

        He is a difference maker. More like him please.

        Bazzana will not take 2nd from a healthy McLain. Those 2 guys at the top of your lineup for EDLC, Steer et all will be a lot of fun

    • Mauired

      From what I have read Cleveland is asking the top players who will take a discount to go number 1 overall so they can spend more in the later rounds. Sounds like they aren’t fixed on one player even though Condon is having the best year.

  7. Jpser05

    I may be biased, since I am a WVU alum, but JJ Wetherholt and his 70 hit tool look pretty good if Condon is gone. He has had a bit of an injury issue this year, but he is a terrific hitter who probably is a 2B, but has played SS this year.

    2023 – 449/517/787 – 268 PA – 26BB/22K
    2024 – 375/519/708 – 132 – PA – 28BB/13K

  8. ClevelandRedsFan

    Bazzana profiles as a very good contact hitter, excellent plate discipline, high baseball IQ and enough power to be dangerous. Plus he grew up in Australia where baseball was an afterthought.

    Sounds like anyone else we know, maybe one Joseph Daniel Votto?

    I’m hoping Guardians take Condon, but I don’t think they will. They target contact and plate discipline over power and strikeouts. That’s why Benson was available.

    • RedDawg

      I live in Athens, GA, home of UGA. Condon has 39 strikeouts in 270 PAs coupled with 50 walks and 10 HBP. He is not your typical power hitter. Also, he plays a solid third base as well. Finally, he has hit 60 HRs in 109 games (two college seasons) after redshirting his frosh year.

  9. Jeff K

    What happened to Kurtz and Wetherholt? Earlier mock drafts always mentioned them.

    • Randy in Chatt

      Kurtz: slow, slow start but turning it around lately.
      JJW: bad hamstring issues and limited games at WVU.

      Both have lost a little bit of luster since the earlier mocks….but not much. They will still be top 10 picks.

  10. Mike W

    First of all Doug’s Details are great! I’m 66 and just told my son and Dad all about what Doug said. Thx Doug!
    I’m putting forward an outside the box and perhaps unpopular opinion, but want to shake things up in the organization. And God knows the moves management has made the past 5+ years have resulted in us not making the playoffs once.
    I say take one of the top two hitters (Condon or Bazzana) and plan on his starting with us immediately. KG Jr. was 19.5 years old when he started. Both C and B must be older than that.
    Tell the kid (sorry, couldn’t resist) you don’t know exactly what position (field or DH), but he will start until he proves he can’t handle ML pitching. Obviously, there will be no hesitation in his signing with us. What more could a player in the draft want?
    This will show the Reds are trying to think outside the box. If the draft pick does well, yeah. Fannie’s in the stands and big jersey sales. If he can’t handle ML pitching, we can send him down to the minors to work on his craft.
    The sad part about our current players’ BA’s is that if we got Condon or Bazzana, and the batting average of whichever player we c hose fell 150 points (!), they’d still have the highest BA on our team right now!
    Come on Reds, it’s time to start doing things differently. Please!

  11. mac624

    Either Bazzana or Condon are fine with me. Either one will likely be in the Big Leagues by the end of 2025. Reds need Offense (I know, don’t draft for need), but it’s still doesn’t mean they don’t need offense and just so happens the best prospects are hitters at the top of the draft. Seems like a no-brainer that you pick the player that the Guardians do not out of Bazzana or Condon.

  12. doofus

    They MUST build a team around Elly before he becomes a dodger. This ownership team that proclaimed they knew how to build championship teams needs to finally prove it! After 18+ years of mediocrity I think it is only fair that Reds fans demand it.

  13. Rick

    Get us a good college hitter with power.
    Jury will be out a while yet on most of our young guys, a couple of smallish guys whom are showing a propensity of injuries albeit with short career total’s.
    Let’s move beyond 4A players forced in as lengthy starts or playing time with us annually beset by the injury bug(‘s).

  14. Joey

    Don’t draft the two way player, our organization will mishandle him. Hitter or pitcher.

  15. Keith Williams

    Being from Arkansas, go with Hagen Smith. He will not disappoint.

  16. Jeremiah

    Draft whoever can come up to the big leagues the quickest…no high schoolers or two way players projects in my opinion. Love what Hunter Greene is doing and if healthy he’s probably going to have a good career, but it took like 7 years to get to this point where I see Skenes with the Pirates in the Majors and dominating early after like 1 year! Skenes is special, but I think whoever can be closest to the Big Leagues I’d go for.