Cincinnati Draft

During the first ten rounds of this year's draft Cincinnati selected heavily out of the college prospect pool and used rounds 8-10 on seniors. That would give good reason to expect that they're putting players in the pipeline that could advance quickly and save bonus money for later rounds.

Cincinnati waited until the fourth round (125th selection) before they dipped into the high school talent in this year's draft. That pick, Gavin LaValley out of Cal Albert (OK) High School, was the third third-base prospect that the Reds selected after Alex Blandino and Taylor Sparks. There are some doubts that he'll stick at the hot corner because his 6'3"/235# frame may limit his to first base.

There's little doubt about his bat that shredded rival Oklahoma high school pitching and led his team to three state championships. In 121 games he hit over .500 with 54 homers. The right-hander has impressive bat speed and strength to hit with power to all fields. He also runs well for his size and has a decent arm. It will be interesting to see where the Reds start the 19 year old defensively, which should happen in the Arizona League. Should he opt to pursue a college career he appears to be headed to the University of Oklahoma.

Teejay Antone was the first junior college prospect drafted by Cincinnati in the fifth round. The 20 year-old right-hander was selected out of Weatherford (TX) College. He was previously drafted by the Mets out of high school in the 22nd round two years ago but decided to attend TCU instead. He left there without playing much and plans to continue his collegiate career at Auburn if he does not sign. Scouts like his 6'4"/205# frame that he uses to run his fastball up to the low/mid 90's. He also throws a decent slider and his changeup that might be usable with some more work.

Cincinnati then went back to the college ranks in the sixth round with Seton Hall right-hander Jose Lopez. He was sidelined this season after Tommy John surgery after running his fastball up into the high-90's before. When he did pitch he kept his ERA around 3.40 for the Pirates, pitching mostly out of their bullpen with some spot starts. His frame is a bit slight at 6'1"/190#, but his heater projects him as a possible lockdown reliever in the future.

In the seventh round the Reds took another high school prospect, second baseman Shane Mardirosian out of Martin Luther King High School in Southern California. He stands 5'10"/170# and the Reds will compete with a scholarship offer from UC Santa Barbara for his services. If his Twitter account is any indication of sign-ability he reportedly was "so stoked" after receiving the news of his selection. A shortstop in high school, he's still only eighteen years old and projects as a left-handed hitting middle infielder with a quick bat and good speed.

Cincinnati started off this year's draft with a definite "coastal" flavor and that continued in the eighth round selection senior Brian O'Grady out of Rutgers. He's a 22 year-old, 6'2"/215" LH hitting/RH throwing first baseman out of Pennsylvania. He hit .338 AVG/.402 SLG for the Scarlett Knights while leading them in homers (5) and slugging percentage (.510). O'Grady is very athletic, stealing thirteen bases this year, and even patrolled center field during his junior season.

Teams get an allotted bonus pool and savings they manage signing their top ten picks can be applied to selections in later rounds. That's why seniors are popular choices in the late top-ten rounds because they've run out of collegiate eligibility and don't have much choice but to sign with low bonuses, saving money that can be thrown at talented high school prospects that fall to late rounds because of sign-ability concerns. That likely came into play when the Reds chose right-hander Brian Murphy in the ninth round out of the University of Hartford. He put up a low-four ERA for the Hawks and was second on the team in innings pitched behind Angles first-rounder Sean Newcomb. Hunter runs his fastball up to the low/mid 90's and mixes it with a slider and changeup.

The Reds stayed on the senior route in the tenth round when they selected their first southpaw of the draft, Seth Varner, out of Miami (OH) University. Collegiately he didn't pitch much before his senior season when he topped out over 100 innings while improved command allowed him to lower his ERA from over five as a junior reliever to below three while starting as a senior. A native of nearby Batavia, OH Varner stands 6'3"/225# and will likely get a spot in the Billings rotation during the short season.

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