The Cincinnati Reds (and every other team) completed 40 rounds of the MLB Draft on Saturday evening after three days worth of draft picks and 41 total picks by the team. Over the years I have thought it was a good idea to sit back a few days and let everything settle in before writing about the draft and letting my thoughts process rather than give an immediate opinion on the draft. For scouting reports, stats and video on the draftees, you can click here.

With the three days of the draft, I am going to break things down into talking about each day of the draft.

Day One (Rounds 1 and 2)

Day one of the draft is always the most important day of the draft. It is where teams will spend 50% or more of their draft budget and in theory, it is where the best talent should be available. On day one the Reds had three picks, selecting RHP Nick Howard out of Virginia, SS Alex Blandino out of Stanford and 3B Taylor Sparks out of UC Irvine. I am a big fan of the Nick Howard pick. He spent two years starting while at Virginia, but has been moved into the bullpen this past season where he worked as the closer. He is another guy with more of a fresh arm that the Reds have seemingly targeted early in the draft. They followed that up with shortstop Alex Blandino, though it isn’t likely that he can remain at the position at the big league level though the team has said they will try to keep him there in the minors and see how it goes. They followed that up with third baseman Taylor Sparks to round out their day one.

As I said, I am a big fan of Howard. He has a big time arm with some limited use. Their pick of Blandino is interesting and could go in several ways. Scouting reports have him potentially moving all over the place defensively. If he can move to second base and stick there rather than winding up at a corner spot in the future, the pick looks like a good one. If he has to move to third base or the outfield, then it may be tougher to see the bat play as well. The pick of Taylor Sparks is another very intriguing pick. Sparks is a risky pick, but one with a very high ceiling. He has five average or better tools to work with, but his plate discipline has been a big question for him and while it did improve in 2014, it was still a big question mark.

Day Two (Rounds 3-10)

Day two of the draft can be a day where a team can really find some talent without having to reach into the seven-figures to sign them. The team made eight picks on day two and started things off with a big right handed arm with Wyatt Strahan out of USC, who has topped out at 97 MPH as a starter. A high school corner infielder followed with the selection of Gavin LaValley out of Oklahoma who has plenty of power potential to work with. Four of the next six picks on the day were pitchers with a mixing in of a second baseman and a first baseman.

While a lot of the picks on day two were pitchers, the position players were pretty interesting. Gavin LaValley is a guy who really catches my eye. While he was known, he wasn’t among the Baseball America Top 500 so he was certainly under the radar so to speak. Reading the scouting reports though I can’t figure out how he wasn’t  ranked more highly though. Sixth rounder Jose Lopez didn’t pitch in the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery before the season began, but has been up to 98 MPH out of the bullpen.

Day Three (Rounds 11-40)

Day three is a day that as a writer, almost kills me. After two days spanning just ten rounds, you get 30 rounds in about seven hours. It makes tracking down the information on the picks tough as there is only 10-15 minutes between each pick for a team on the day.

With that many picks there are far too many to go through and talk about each one individually, but a few stand out for different reasons. In the 12th round the Reds selected the cousin of Brandon Phillips when they took Montrell Marshall, a 6′ 5″ and 215 lb third baseman out of high school. His bat is quite interesting with his size and bat speed, he could grow into some good power and he is pretty athletic. In the 18th round the team went all of the to Alaska to draft Roderick Bynum, a strong athlete who should be able to stick in center field with tools across the board. In the 21st round the team made an interesting pick with  RHP Tyler Parmenter, who only pitched one season in college, but topped out at 97 MPH despite his lack of time on the mound. 29th round pick Michael Sullivan came out of small Gloucester County College and the lefty absolutely dominated while there, posting an ERA under 1.00 in both seasons there while not giving up a home run and posting 140 strikeouts and 26 walks over 113.2 innings. In the 31st round the team selected Joshua Palacios, an outfielder who was ranked in the Baseball America top 500.

Overall Thoughts

It needs to be noted that while we can talk about how the draft went right now, that until everyone is signed and we know who is actually coming into the system and who is going to college or going back to college, it is a lot tougher to truly grade out how the draft went. We can love a pick, but if the player doesn’t sign, then in the end it simply doesn’t matter. On day one I think that the team got picks that were safe, but they also grabbed upside and some risk. It had a bit of everything. On day two I was left loving the selections made. It too was a day that had a little bit of everything. While it was pitching heavy, there were some big upside type of arms in there, a few safer picks that can help fill out the system and a couple of position players worth keeping an eye on. Day three is usually a day where you see a lot of college players taken to simply fill out the system, but the Reds were actually able to pick some players that if they sign, could be real prospects worth following along the way through the system. It will come down to who signs from that group before we get a really good feel for how the last part of the draft went. Overall I think the Reds did a good job with the draft. While I wouldn’t say the get an A grade at this point, I think they are a solid B grade right now with all that I do know about the players that they took in the draft.

17 Responses

  1. Alan Horn

    As I mentioned earlier, LaValley caught my attention also in the video and his numbers.

  2. terry m

    I think you are correct that we need to wait to see who signs before we start to think how well they did. One thing I noticed is that LaValley will turn 20 in December. I also noticed that in rounds 8-9-10 were all college seniors. I also like picks 11-12-13 with the likes of Trees, Marshall and Correll all HS seniors….

  3. Kyle

    Doug, do you see any of the picks this year moving into the organization’s top 10 prospects?

    • Doug Gray

      Nick Howard jumps into the back end of the Top 10 right now. Obviously his performance/stuff and how others perform moving forward will dictate whether or not he stays there or moves up/down.

  4. sultan of swaff

    I like that the Reds don’t play it safe in the mid rounds. It’s what makes their conservative treatment of certain prospects in the system so curious.

  5. Kyle

    According to today’s Baseball America chat, they see Nick Howard and Alex Blandino both as top 10 prospects in the organization.

  6. Stock

    Good write up Doug. I am starting to really like the depth we are getting in the system. You would think a 1st round pick is a lock to be in the top 10. Assuming Howard signs I have no doubt he is in the top 8. But that leaves two spots for other draft picks, players currently playing (Barnhart, Yorman, SMB, Arias and Romano) and those who will be playing in Billings (Kivel, Armstrong, Thompson, Franklin and Ortiz). I am thinking we will have a very deep top 20 this year.

    Doug, any chance of replacing the 2013 draft tracker with one for 2014? My guess is you are working on it but thought I would ask.

    • Doug Gray

      I was literally working on it as you asked! It’s up and running as of about 30 minutes ao.

  7. Scott from upstate NY

    It is reported the Reds agreed to terms with 5th round pick Antone $308K per MLBtraderumors.com tweeted by Cotillo

  8. rick in boise

    Who are the “flyers” in later rounds who we’d have to pay overslot?

  9. drews4runner

    Mlbtrsderumor is saying we have signed thirteen picks so far. Going to be a crowded farm look for releases

  10. RobL

    Doug, I agree that the first day picks all have a significant upside. I liked the Howard pick and felt it matched the clubs recent m.o. I was okay with the Blandino pick, and after seeing him some this weekend, he has some slickness to him in the field. I don’t know if he has the arm for ss, but I think he has the glove for it. I did not like the Sparks pick at the time, and I’m still not on board. I got to watch him some this weekend, and they will be in the CWS so we can see him more. He has an absolute gun over there at third base. He did get at least 4 hits in six at bats that I saw. Out of those at bats, he swung at the first pitch 4 times. He is a big guy, with wide shoulders. If they tweak his swing, he should have big power potential. But he is over aggressive, and k’s a lot. I am down with Strahan, and the hs players. But overall, it seems like they took a ton of people with big arms, but little to no track record. Maybe the draft just wasn’t very deep, but day three just seemed to be devoid of college players that had success.
    Overall, I was underwhelmed, and felt that the Reds lacked creativity. I don’t think they will be saving much money to sign the higher profile guys later in the draft. Hopefully, Blandino sticks at ss or at least second, and Sparks can get his aggressiveness in check.

    • doctor

      I am with you on Blandino, if he can stick at 2B, then i get the pick. I like the other 2 high picks better as they provide something, power arm or power bat, than has potential to play up.

      I guess its “In buckley we trust” for rest of the reds picks. :-)

  11. Norwood Nate

    According to MLB trade rumors LaValley and Strahan were two of the 13 signed. Also mentioned that Strahan was a top 100 prospect and LaValley landed at 118 on the MLB.com rankings.

  12. Mongo

    Mongo likes Reds draft, but Mongo loves Kate Upton.

  13. DaveCT

    I would say the club’s been very creative drafting the recent arms with lower mileage. Howard, Lorenzen, Traveiso, Langfield, to some degree, looking good. Also some higher mileage, low maintance success, Smith, Moscot, Lively, Wright. And of course the high upside stud himself, Stephenson and who knows from this draft. I would agree wil you, Doug, on a solid B grade, A- if Blandino comes on as a starting 2B.