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.
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.