Reds Draft Tendencies

Scout's Lead MLB draft analyst Jeff Ellis continues a 30 part series looking at the recent draft history and tendencies of every team in major league baseball. Next up is the Cincinnati Reds who own the second pick in the 2017 draft.

Next up for my draft tendencies piece and draft review are the Cincinnati Reds since, for the second year in a row, they are selecting second. It is a bit unusual to see a team picking this high in back to back years that has not had a fire sale at any point. The Reds have made some deals for Frazier and Bruce, but they still have a lot of veteran talent. However, thanks to years of bad drafting, their minors have been unable to fill the holes on their team.

Walt Jocketty was hired as the general manager of the Reds in January of 2008. During his nine years, the Reds have had 15 first round selections. This year will also mark the fourth time during his tenure that the Reds have picked in the top ten. During this time, the Reds have never taken a high school player in the top ten, and just four high school players overall. The last two years, the Reds have selected a pair of high school players in round one, which does show a small shift in approach.

The last player the Reds drafted in the first round who contributed on a consistent basis to their team was Mike Leake, in 2009. It should be noted that the Reds also selected Yasmani Grandal in 2010, who has become a solid everyday player. He was traded away to the Padres in the Mat Latos deal, though, before contributing to the Reds.

Now, one of the big advantages of selecting college players is that they are supposed to be quick to the majors, but the Reds have not had much luck with their picks. I also would be remiss if I did not point out the weird tendency the Reds showed for a time where they drafted college relievers, trying to make them starters. Both of those players taken in back to back years are once again back in the pen, though Michael Lorenzen is the only first rounder taken in the last five years to make the majors, so he has to be considered a success for the Reds.

Since I have already looked at high school and college players, the next basic area I often look at is the number of pitchers and hitters selected early. Of those 15 selections, only 6 of them (just one third) were pitchers. The Reds have not taken a pitcher in round one since 2014. Of the last six picks they have made in round one, they have taken just one pitcher, Nick Howard of Virginia, who they took in 2014. He was the other reliever they tried to make a starter. Howard has yet to make it to AA, so he can be added to the list of first round struggles for Virginia players.

So, looking at the most basic information, it is fairly obvious that the Reds have leaned towards college bats. This makes things interesting because, as of now, there is just one college bat who is getting talk as a possible top five pick, and only two who have been talked about as potential top ten picks.

Leading up to last years’ draft, I heard a ton of rumors on the Reds, but none linking them to Senzel, their eventual pick, until the day of the draft. The one consistent rumor I was told is that the Reds wanted to go with upside early. They did this with their competitive balance pick of Taylor Trammell. Senzel, though, was more in the vein of a traditional Reds selection. He was an up the middle player in college with safe, solid tools. I don’t mean this as an insult, as I was very high on Senzel throughout the process. He is just not the player you would expect a team looking at ceiling to grab with the second pick. He was viewed as a safe bat who could have above average power with a plus hit tool at third. This is a great profile, but not one that makes people talk about MVP potential.

The player at this time who currently makes the most sense to me as a Reds selection would be Jeren Kendall. Kendall fits the traditional Reds mold of a highly productive up the middle talent. He also fits the profile of the athletic, high ceiling player the Reds looked at a year ago. As a bonus, he is practically in their backyard at Vanderbilt, which means they will see a lot of him this year. Kendall might be the top player in the entire class and, unless he has a down year, injury, or gets taken by the Twins, it is hard to see another player taken at this spot.

If Kendall was off the board or had struggled, I would assume they would take whatever college pitcher has risen to the top spot on the board. The usual suspects of Alex Faedo, Kyle Wright, JB Bukauskas, and Tristan Beck could all get run here. I suspect Wright would be the choice among those arms. If the Reds were set on a college bat, then maybe they grab JJ Schwarz, who fits the usual profile for the Reds as well.

Nick Senzel Michael Lorenzen Mike Leake Jeren Kendall Taylor Trammell Cincinnati Reds Kyle Wright Yasmani Grandal