Reds Take Two in Second Round

This year Cincinnati got a competitive balance pick which gave them two second round selections in the draft. They used both of them on right-handed pitchers Antonio Santillan and Tanner Rainey. Santillan is a high school prospect while Rainey is a collegiate senior. Both of them use big physiques to bring mid-90’s heat off the mound.

This year is not only the fiftieth anniversary of the MLB draft it’s also the fiftieth anniversary of the greatest Cincinnati second round pick in history. In their very first second round selection in 1965 they chose one Johnny Bench who commenced a Hall of Fame career that left many considering him the greatest catcher of all time. It was a pretty safe bet that the Reds would not select a catcher in this year’s second round because they used their first round pick on Tyler Stephenson. Chances are also very remote that they or any other team acquired a player that will turn in a storied career like Bench, but they did take a couple of shots at getting a future star on Antonio Santillan and Tanner Rainey.

Right-hander Santillan, the 49th overall selection comes out of Segiun (TX) High School. Oddly, there are conflicting reports on his size, but one thing they all agree upon is that he’s big. He stands 6’3” and weighs between 195-240#. The consensus also says that he’s also very strong and athletic. He was drafted as a pitcher but initial comments by Reds Scouting Director Chris Buckley suggested that he’s a good prospect as a position player. That might be true, but his fastball that runs up into the mid-90’s and tops out at 98 mph will likely make that career path a “plan B”. He also throws a curve with good drop that arrives in the mid-80’s.

The high selection indicates that Cincinnati doesn’t expect it will be difficult to persuade him to sign instead of taking his scholarship offer from Texas Tech. He will be represented by the same agent as recent Reds selections Michael Lorenzen and Taylor Sparks. After a couple of seasons when Cincinnati drafted college players with their top picks they may have to be aggressive and go over recommended slot value to sign their top two this year because they are both fresh out of high school with college options available.

Assuming they do sign Santillan, like any other high school pitcher there is expected to be a lot of development work. He’s very rough right now with some significant command issues and not much in the way of a third offering. However, it’s not unusual for young prospects to need fine tuning for their delivery and should he gain consistency it could send him down the road to being a top-rotation MLB pitcher.

Another right-hander, Rainey, comes to Cincinnati from a competitive balance pick, one of five between the second and third rounds. He’s another big one, standing 6’2”/230# and comes from the University of West Alabama. Like it sounds, the school in Livingston, AL is a bit off the beaten path and has had only three players drafted previously including former Cincinnati infielder Jeff Branson. Like Santillan, Rainey has potential to be a good hitter after slugging a record 19 HR for the Division II school. Should Cincinnati have to reach deep in their pocket for their first two picks they can get some of that back with Rainey because the 22 year-old has completed a senior collegiate season after transferring from Southeast Louisiana.

During that season his action on the mound came out of the bullpen which would normally project him as a closer at the MLB level. However, he’s got a strong frame and is working on a changeup to add to his mid-90’s fastball and mid-80’s slider which might get him consideration for a future as a starter. Cincinnati has not been bashful about developing college relievers as starters with Lorenzen and Tony Cingrani coming to mind. Given the high selection they’ve invested on Rainey the chances are high that they send him down a similar path.


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