Cincinnati Third Round

Cincinnati stayed in the college ranks when they began the second day of the draft when they selected USC RHP Wyatt Sexton in the second round. He'll go to work on the mound with a strong body that delivers a mid-90's fastball that has reached 97 mph on occasion. He'll work on improving command while he projects as a durable innings-eater at the MLB level.

On the second day of this year's draft Cincinnati invested their third-round selection on their fourth pick of a college prospect, USC right-hander Wyatt Strahan. This year the junior led the Trojans in innings pitched and turned in a 6-5 record with a 3.24 ERA which was almost one run per nine innings higher than the 2.45 he posted as a sophomore. He delivers the ball from a big, 6'3"/225# frame and runs his fastball up into the mid-90's.

Strahan also has a an effective curve ball and throws a changeup with confidence. His physique projects him as an innings-eater at the MLB level. Prior to college he starred for nearby Villa Park High School in Orange County and was drafted in the 27th round by Arizona in 2011.

The biggest question mark with Strahan is the most common one for young pitching prospects in general: command. He walked 49 batters in 104 innings this year. That was eased by his ability to ring up hitters, striking out 89. He's now 21 years old and will likely begin working on improving control at Billings in the short season.

The way the Reds started this year's draft it looked as if they wanted little trouble signing their top picks. Eight of their selections in the first ten rounds played at four-year schools, one is a junior college prospect, and only two are fresh out of high school. Many of those older players will be candidates for a fast track up the system. On the other hand, there was less overall upward movement across the organization this year compared to recent years that followed after they traded many of their AAA prospects for veterans a couple of years ago. They kept more players repeating levels this season which is a big reason why their Bakersfield and Dayton affiliates have good records.

There's a limit to how long they're going to hold back players, especially their top prospects which will create more competition in the lower levels. Pitchers shouldn't feel this as much because there are so many spots needed to fill. In Strahan's case, a mid-90's fastball will get him plenty of action on the mound somewhere. How he develops his command will determine how fast he advances and it would be no surprise to see him enjoy good success against lower level hitters initially.

Even if he stubs his toe against more developed hitters his velocity will keep him around a while. What makes him more impressive is the big, durable frame that enables him to ring up the radar without a lot of effort. Coming into the draft he wasn't considered one of the elite arms, but one of the top ones in the second tier. His draft position (94) was probably in line with expectations, but it doesn't take much imagination to think some development and improved command could create a pitcher with an intimidating mound presence.

Things should get interesting for Billings when the short season starts this year. The Pioneer League is a common starting place for new draftees coming out of college and if that holds to form with Cincinnati the Mustangs will see a couple of pitchers and a couple infielders from the first three rounds of the draft. There will be a lot of competition for those infielders to move up, especially if they both continue to play third base, but it will be wide open for Strahan to advance as fast as his command will allow.

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