While it’s going to be another 10-15 years before we truly know how the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft plays out, it’s barely 10-15 hours before we start seeing what others thought about how the Cincinnati Reds did over the course of the last three days.

Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports has some encouraging words from a rival executive about just how well the Cincinnati Reds did with their draft.

One rival executive didn’t mince words. “Cincinnati won the draft by far,” that executive said.

Not only is No. 2 overall pick Hunter Greene a potential All-Star, so are the Reds’ second and third picks – prep shortstop Jeter Downs and Wake Forest outfielder Stuart Fairchild, that exec asserted.

That executive went on to cite “bad scouting by other organizations” as reasons for the Reds’ haul. He said stars just kept falling into the Reds’ lap.

Later on in that article it notes that Hunter Greene’s signing bonus is expected to be close to slot money. If it’s even remotely close, it will be the highest ever paid to a draft pick since the draft pool began.

Those are some strong words. But for now, they are very good to hear from a Cincinnati Reds fan perspective. While everything that the Reds will say is going to be roses and sunshine about how they feel about their draft, outsiders saying the same things is good confirmation that maybe they were right.

Jim Callis of MLB.com ranked the Reds draft as the second best. He had nice things to say about all five of the Reds first four rounders and notes that if they could pick up a few guys beyond the 10th round it would just be icing on the cake, so-to-speak.

JJ Cooper of Baseball America broke down the National League Central drafts. Here’s what he said about the Reds:

Once the Reds landed SS/RHP Hunter Greene at No. 2, the rest of the draft is a bonus. But it’s a pretty good bonus as Cincy focused on up the middle defenders and college arms, including Miami prep SS Jeter Downs (1s), Wake Forest OF Stuart Fairchild (2) and intriguing high school LHP Jacob Heatherly (3).

Nothing too in depth, but I think that the key point for most drafts is nailed in the first sentence: Get your 1st pick right and anything else is a bonus. History shows that every pick that goes by, the less value you are going to get. In almost every draft, it’s the first two picks that you make that tend to be the ones that make it a ‘good” or a “bad” draft.

How did the Reds actually do in the draft?

Now it’s time to give my opinion on the draft. If you’ve been around the site for a while, and have a good memory, you’ll know that every year I say the same thing: In Chris Buckley I trust. Buckley is the head of Amateur Scouting and has been the head of the drafting efforts for the Cincinnati Reds since February of 2006. In that time he’s done about as good of a job as anyone in the game at turning draft picks into every day big leaguers. From 2006-2013 he’s gotten every first round pick he’s made into the Major Leagues with one exception, Nick Travieso, who is still just 23-years-old. And the year he was taken is the same year that Jesse Winker was taken in the supplemental 1st round, who has been to the Majors.

At the top of the draft the Reds landed the player that was #1 on their board in Hunter Greene. He’s the most athletic player in the entire draft and would have been a mid-1st round pick as a shortstop if he weren’t so highly touted as a pitcher. Terms like “generational talent” and “the LeBron James of baseball” have been thrown around in regards to Greene, though I think that’s incredibly over-the-top at this point. He’s incredibly talented, no doubt, but he’s also a 17-year-old pitcher and that means he’s still years away from even seeing the field in Cincinnati if things go perfect in his development. Every national outlet ranked him as the #1 player in the draft with several suggesting that it wasn’t even close. Baseball America’s JJ Cooper suggested on draft day that he’d rank Greene ahead of Nick Senzel, who is currently the #6 prospect in all of baseball.

As I said above – If you get the 1st pick right, everything else is a bonus. It’s tough to say that the Reds didn’t get their 1st pick right, even if Hunter Greene wasn’t the top guy on my personal draft board. A small personal preference wasn’t much and when looking at pure upside, there’s an easy argument to be made that Hunter Greene is at the top of any list for the 2017 draft by a wide margin. A rival executive said that the Reds also got possible All-Stars with their next two picks as well. With Jeter Downs and Stuart Fairchild the Reds got two very athletic, up-the-middle players who look like they’ve got a chance to have above-average bats. Big time athletes. That’s an overriding theme from Day 1 of the draft.

On Day 2 they got things started with some pitching, taking left hander Jacob Heatherly. He’s got legit stuff, and while there’s some work to do, all of the parts are there for a quality left handed starting pitcher. That was followed up by another athletic middle-infielder with perhaps the best name in the entire draft, Cash Case.

After the 10th round there were some real interesting picks. The key will be whether or not they can get any of the guys signed that fall into that category. Not that any of them will make or break the draft, but signing any of them could certainly give the draft a little bit of a boost.

Overall, there’s not much to dislike about what the team did. They grabbed the consensus top player in the draft at #2 and grabbed plenty of athletic up the middle players early on. Time will tell how things go, but the early returns seem to be about as good as you could expected.

30 Responses

  1. Bill

    Given the depth of talent in the Red’s system, it was good to see them target high-potential HS players with most of the early picks. While there is risk with the players and at least a few years of development between each player and Cincinnati, this was a great year to plant seeds for 4-5 years down the road. It would be great to see some of these players ready to step in and extend our competitive window.

    • citizen54

      Echoes my thoughts as well. Sow the seeds for the future.

    • simon cowell

      Ditto. Looks like the Reds super 2016 draft enabled the Reds this year to take gambles. This was an even better haul than 2016. Come mid 2018/9 the Reds will have the #1 ranked farm system. There won’t even be a close second by then.

  2. The Duke

    What I really like about the Jeter Downs and Cash Case picks are that while they are expected to be up the middle defenders, Downs may even stick at SS while Case likely moves to 2B, in both cases the hit tool is described as their carrying tool. Great feel for the zone and an ability to consistently barrel balls and put them in play. Both even have a chance for 15-20 HR pop as well. You need good defenders, but you also need guys who are going to hit the ball and drive in runs. I really wanted Tristen Lutz at 34 for that plus power, but by no means am I disappointed in Downs as the pick. As you said, In Buckley We Trust.

  3. Brad

    A lot to like with the Daytona Infield, the Dayton Outfield and the 18-19-year old infield of Case, Garcia and Downs. Add in Okey and Tyler Stephenson plus Victor Cruz at Catcher. Lot of depth and intrigue in different units.

  4. Kindell

    I love the strategy that they took with this draft. The Reds feel confident about the talent they have in the minors now, so they took athletic guys with upside.

    I think we had a very solid draft, but it would feel good to get one of Mase, Lonsway, or Brown.

  5. Arnold Ziffle

    You kept saying if Greene were the pick that he would not get slot money. That you would be very surprised if he did. Surprise, surprise, surprise. It appears as though he will get the near total amount.
    Two possible all-stars in Downs and Fairchild? MLB all-stars? Hardly. They both will be lucky to be bench players at the ML level. I see more in Fairchild than I do in Downs. Downs at #32 was a travesty. We shall see though. They have several years to prove or disprove their value at their selection spot.

    • Doug Gray

      Well, when one guy in the last six years has gotten anything close to slot money, and his slot value is significantly higher than the highest bonus ever paid out in this system and it went to a college guy who hit 31 home runs, it seemed like a pretty safe thing to say.

      But, in regards to Downs or whoever else – you need to wait and see how much money everyone signs for before calling anything a “travesty”. If going with someone else means you are able to sign Greene, then who cares?

    • wes

      Pretty tough angle to look at things Arni. Most don’t pan out. Be happy for the kids getting paid.

      Every national reviewer is raving about Reds draft. I try not to pretend I am smarter than them.

  6. The Rage

    It is all about Hunter. If he pans out, the draft is a success. If he fails, the draft will be bleh.

    • Keith

      If Hunter never pitches in the major leagues but Jeter Downs goes to the Hall of Fame, I’d consider the draft a success.

      Similarly, if we get 3-4 guys from this draft become consistent starters in the major leagues, it’s hard to argue with the draft, in my opinion.

    • wes

      Nice call on Lewis Rage!

      Keith- the probability of Downs being a HOF guy or that we get 3-4 consistent starters out of 1 draft has to be way less than 1%.

      If Greene is a top 3 rotation guy OR we can trade him for an ACE and we have 1 other guy be a consistent contributor- that seems like a win to me. Most guys don’t pan out.

  7. Ka

    So if you get a couple of top line major league players in the draft not named Hunter then it’s a failure? Please, pretty much every expert that makes a living evaluating these drafts has stated that the Reds landed a top haul. Seems like needless hyperbole to rail on picks at this point in time.

    • Doug Gray

      I’m assuming you were responding to The Rage with this comment. But I’d guess that, if history tells us anything, it’s highly unlikely you get one top of the line big leaguer, much less a couple of them from one draft, and almost defying odds that you get multiple from the same draft that doesn’t include your top pick.

      But yeah, if we look back in 12 years and see Jeter Downs and Stuart Fairchild are 4 and 6-times all-stars, but Hunter Greene never made it, that it is still going to be considered a great draft.

      • Hoosierbadger

        Thanks, Doug, for the perspective. Some folks are never happy. I think Greene will be the bomb, but who knows? Lady luck is fickle.

  8. Steve

    I thought Rooker was going at 32 because to me, Downs would have still been available at 38. Rooker vs. Fairchild. Only time will tell who will be the better pro.
    Hope Greene is a total team player and understands that giving the Reds a discount on his signing bonus might afford them to get Mace or Lonway. Not likely to happen, but the kid has high character, so not totally out of the question.
    Thanks for the updates Doug. Hoping for more good news soon

    • Doug Gray

      My advice to Hunter Greene: Look out for #1. This might be the only payday you’ll ever get. Get every penny you can.

      • simon cowell

        You should be an agent. That slogan would make you as popular with the players as one Scott Boras. In the same breath you would be considered a nefarious crook by the teams and fans.
        But I get you you are player first without regard to team or fan there is nothing wrong at all with that philosophy. But Just remember Doug when ticket prices sore at GABP to pay for Hunter Greene we’ll only get to see him once every 5 days. But….. at least the player is taken care of.

      • Doug Gray

        Ticket prices have little to do with player salary. And every agent absolutely should be doing every last thing in their being to get their player the most money possible in this scenario. It’s literally their only guaranteed contract of their life and they didn’t get to pick where they wanted to work in their chosen field. You bet your butt I’m on the side of the players here. Their salary is chosen for them without any say. If Hunter Greene were a free agent, he’d be getting $25M right now and he’d get to choose which team to play with. But he’s not. He’s limited in what he can get by the owners and current/past players deciding that THEY want more of the money for themselves. It’s collusion at it’s finest.

      • simon cowell

        Yeah you and I will never agree on player salaries. Your believe in equal wealth distribution and seem to forget that players are employees of a company. It isn’t revenue sharing Doug. The players do not own the team. And if you think Hunter would make more money in his lifetime doing something other than baseball please do share what you think he would be earning without baseball for the next 25 years. Even if he landed a great job he wouldn’t make what he makes in a baseball year for his entire life.

      • Doug Gray

        I never said he’d make more money playing baseball. I’m saying that it’s only in sports where you don’t get a choice of where you play out of school. Lawyers aren’t drafted and stuck practicing law in Omaha for 8 years before getting to go where they want to. That only happens in sports. And I’m also saying that if Hunter Greene were born in Cuba instead of California, and were a free agent, he would have gotten Luis Robert money instead of Hunter Greene money. And it’s fixed that way by the owners and the players.

        The players don’t own the team, but the players are the only thing that matter for the product. This isn’t Walmart.

    • Dan

      That’s not a high character thing to do. That’s just silly.

  9. DanD

    It would be great if 2016 & 17 turns out to be like 2007.

    Getting Mesaraco, Fraiser and Cozart was the exception to the rule from reading what Doug has stated.

    Let’s give the picks a chance before rushing to judgement.

    • Hingle McCringleberry

      Those 3 combined were a complete mixed bag. I wouldn’t hang my hat on these guys. Terrible example. So far, mesoraco is a career .237 hitter. Frazier is a .248 hitter, and cozart is a .252 hitter. All 3 have horrible OBP career numbers @ around .300-.315 so if we are holding these guys up as a successful draft, then we really don’t know what good players look like.

      We have to stop falling in love with player personalities and pay attention to the game.

      • Doug Gray

        Those three were draft successes. Even paying attention to the game, they’ve been successful picks, without question.

  10. WillieG

    I respectfully disagree with Steve. At this point, Greene has a small window to negotiate as best he can to ensure the financial security of his family. After he signs, his job is to bust his hump to be the best ballplayer he can be for his organization and teammates.

  11. Hingle McCringleberry

    Good job for the reds. I would have liked to see more lefties, and more bats.

    I just think if you declare for the draft, whoever has your draft rights, owns you. The baseball draft is a joke. You’re giving way to much power to these guys. They enter the draft to see where they land or which team drafts them? If you know you’re going to college, make it known you are going to college. Let these teams spend resources elsewhere.

    • Doug Gray

      You don’t declare for the draft. If you are a graduated high school senior, you’re eligible.

  12. Mbushskbum

    Which of the top 15 picks do you think end up in Billings this year?

  13. Brandon

    Thanks for the write-up, Doug. Just wanted to add in KLaw’s thoughts on the draft… His NL breakdown is up. Here’s a quote: “This was an important draft for the Reds, and I think they hit it out of the park. They landed the top talent in the draft in my eyes…”. He rated Greene has the #1 prospect.