Reds Draft: Round 11-20

In the final day of the draft Cincinnati began selecting players to fill up the lower levels of their pitching pipeline. None of their picks have overwhelming fastballs, but several do have room to fill out giving reason to believe they could improve to the mid-90's as their bodies mature.

In the third day of the MLB draft this season teams picked players in rounds 11-40. If Cincinnati fans look at the recent history in those rounds for their team you couldn’t blame them for not getting very excited. Only seven of the 100 players selected in these rounds over the previous ten years have even seen MLB action and three of them were in 2005. In the last nine years only four players selected have made it to the top level and one of them didn’t sign with the Reds. Only two (Chris Heisey 06 & Nick Christiani 09) have played with the Reds.

However, it’s not fair to include players in recent years because they haven’t had time to work their way up the system. This year it appears they might have some extra money left over to go after “fliers”, talented players that drop to later rounds because of expectations they will attend college. Six of their eleven picks in the first ten rounds were college players and they will have the edge in negotiations with three of them because they finished their senior seasons. Of course there will be a lot of pressure to sign their top two picks that are both out of high school and still have college options open. However, they’ve already inked top choice Tyler Stephenson at the recommended slot value.

In the eleventh round they not only added their second junior college player in the draft, but Brantley Bell is also their second pick this season from State College of Florida Manatee. There is more knowledge about this player than his teammate, eight-rounder Mitch Piatnik, because Bell is the son of current Reds bench coach Jay Bell. Before going the JUCO route the younger Bell was a member of 2014 College World Series Champion Ole Miss where he it over .300. He hit .325 AVG/.375 OB this season and like his father, the 22 year-old is a shortstop. He’ll have to improve defensively to stick there, he was a second baseman this season when Piatnik was not hurt, but he’s made progress with the leather since leaving Ole Miss. Actually these two were not atop the list on their team for Cincinnati Scouting Director Chris Buckley’s interest because his son was also on the roster.

Twelfth-rounder Alexis Diaz is a 6’2”/170# right-handed pitcher from Juan Jose Maunez High School in Puerto Rico. He’s already running the ball up to 90 mph and looks like a bargain because he’s very sign-able and could add a few ticks to his fastball as his body fills out. His brother Edwin, who is pitching at the AA level for Seattle, was a third round selection and though Alexis has been under the radar he looks like single digit round talent.

In the thirteenth round Cincinnati called the name of another pitcher, Andrew Jordan out of Hunter Huss (NC) High School. While there the right-hander starred in multiple sports and was quarterback for the football team. Off the mound there are a lot of similarities with previous pick Diaz, 6’3”/180#, right-handed, and low-90’s fastball with reason to expect improvement. He keeps the ball down and also mixes in a changeup and curve. Should he opt to pursue a college career instead it will be at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Cincinnati tabbed another right-hander, Rice’s Austin Orewiler in the fourteenth round. He didn’t have much choice to play a senior collegiate season because he was injured as a freshman, didn’t play as a sophomore, and was a part-time player his junior year. He did come on strong his fourth season with a mid-two ERA and 6-3 record in 84 innings for the Owls. The 22 year-old stands 6’2”/200#, has a low-90’s fastball, and showed improvement to his curve.

In the fifteenth round Cincinnati opted for only their second non-pitcher that was not listed as a shortstop. College of Charleston’s Blake Butler is listed as a second-baseman, but he’s big for the position at 6’3”/195#. The 21 year-old can spray the ball all over the field and improved his power while doing it his junior season with a slash line .324 AVG/.395 OB/.564 SLG and 13 homers. That slugging percentage is almost .200’ higher than his previous year and he’ll probably need to maintain it because there is some doubt that his range will allow him to stay at the middle infield position.

Perhaps the pre-draft strategy in Cincinnati was to go heavily after thin right-handers because in the sixteenth round they selected 6’2”/185# Jake Johnson out of Southeast Louisiana. Baseball America rated him in their top 300 prospects, so he looks like a nice bargain at the 475th overall selection. He’ll be the second Jake Johnson pitching in the Reds system, the other being a 2009 11th rounder currently at Pensacola. Before pitching for the Lions he pitched in junior college for the Neosho County (KS) Community College. This season with the Lions he went 10-2/3.24 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 94 innings. He comes with a low-90’s fastball, sharp slider, and work-in-progress changeup.

The Reds selected their second Canadian in this year’s draft in the seventeenth round in J.D. Salmon-Williams out of David Suzuki (ON) Secondary School. He’s a 5’9”/195# second baseman and may eventually be known as Jade Williams. He stands 5’9”/195# and has good bat speed that he will start using either in the Reds system or at the University of Florida.

In the eighteenth round Cincinnati stayed north of the border with their first southpaw, pitcher Isaac Anesty out of Our Lady of the Lourdes Catholic High School in Ontario. Both he and Salmon-Williams played on the Canadian Junior National team. Anesty is 6’1”/185# and runs his fastball up around 90 mph. He also mixes in a nice curve and is working on a changeup.

Mike Salvatore out of Ewing (NJ) High School was Cincinnati’s nineteenth-rounder, a 5’11”/170# right-hander. Given his size he’s probably either headed for bullpen duty in the Arizona League or to St. Johns in the Big East. He’s another one with a fastball touching 90 mph. The northeast schools have a shorter season and high school players that come out of that region often don’t have as much of a background to check out as players from warmer climates.

Reds 20th rounder Rock Rucker was selected after limited action collegiately. He transferred from Auburn to Auburn University at Montgomery and pitched only six innings this year while also getting some time in the outfield. The 22 year-old southpaw is one of the more intriguing prospects. He stands 6’5”/230# and is a high-ceiling/low-floor type prospect. His fastball gets up to the low-90’s and he has a good breaking ball. As one might guess given his lack of collegiate experience, he’s quite raw for a college player.

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