Friday, June 8, 2012

Final 2012 Reds Draft List

Here is the final list of Reds 2012 draft picks, courtesy of Baseball America's draft database: 

Cincinnati Reds

2012 Bonus Pool: $6,653,800

2012 Bonus Pool Spending: $0

2012 Bonus Pool +/-:  $0

Players signed indicated in Bold

Round Overall Player [+All] Position School State Pool Amount
1 14 Nick Travieso  RHP Archbishop McCarthy HS, Southwest Ranches, Fla. Fla. $2,375,000

1s 49 Jesse Winker  OF Olympia HS, Orlando Fla. $1,025,900

1s 57 Jeff Gelalich  OF UCLA Calif. $897,800

2 78 Tanner Rahier  SS Palm Desert (Calif.) HS Calif. $649,700

3 109 Daniel Langfield  RHP Memphis Tenn. $436,800

4 142 Jon Moscot  RHP Pepperdine Calif. $317,800

5 172 Mason Felt  LHP Hebron Christian Academy, Dacula, Ga. Ga. $237,900

6 202 Joe Hudson  C Notre Dame Ind. $178,300

7 232 Beau Amaral  OF UCLA Calif. $146,000

8 262 Seth Mejias-Brean  3B Arizona Ariz. $136,300

9 292 Daniel Pigott  OF Florida Fla. $127,300

10 322 Jeremy Kivel  RHP Spring (Texas) HS Texas $125,000

11 352 Nolan Becker LHP Yale Conn.  

12 382 Brent Peterson  SS Bakersfield (Calif.) JC Calif.  

13 412 Matt Boyd  LHP Oregon State Ore.  

14 442 Luke Moran  RHP Grayson County (Texas) CC Texas  

15 472 Ben Klimesh  RHP Trinity (Texas) Texas  

16 502 Nick Routt LHP Mississippi State Miss.  

17 532 Jose Ortiz C Colon HS, Comerio, P.R. P.R.  

18 562 Jackson Stephens  RHP/3B Oxford (Ala.) HS Ala.  

19 592 Austin Muehring RHP Palomar (Calif.) JC Calif.  

20 622 Brock Dykxhoorn  RHP St. Anne's SS, Clinton, Ont. Ont.  

21 652 Jordan Remer LHP San Francisco Calif.  

22 682 Avain Rachal RHP Cy-Fair HS, Cypress, Texas Texas  

23 712 Daniel Sweet OF Northwest Rankin HS, Brandon, Miss. Miss.  

24 742 Mike Saunders  RHP Saginaw Valley State (Mich.) Mich.  

25 772 Sean Lucas LHP Albany N.Y.  

26 802 Chase Rezac RHP Southern Utah Utah  

27 832 Joey Housey RHP Oregon Ore.  

28 862 Mo Wiley RHP Houston Texas  

29 892 Adam Matthews OF South Carolina S.C.  

30 922 Kyle Wren  OF Georgia Tech Ga.  

31 952 Michael Salter RHP Cisco (Texas) JC Texas  

32 982 Christian McElroy  RHP Cincinnati Ohio  

33 1012 Justin Topa RHP Long Island N.Y.  

34 1042 Richard McCaffrey LHP UC Santa Barbara Calif.  

35 1072 Michael Sheppard RHP Seton Hall Prep, West Orange, N.J. N.J.  

36 1102 Jarvis Flowers 2B Cypress Ranch HS, Cypress, Texas Texas  

37 1132 Zack Vincej SS Pepperdine Calif.  

38 1162 Daniel Poncedeleon  RHP Cypress (Calif.) JC Calif.  

39 1192 Jacob Stone  RHP Weatherford (Texas) JC Texas  

40 1222 Rafael Pineda RHP Texas A&M Texas  

Monday, June 4, 2012

"With the 14th overall pick, the Reds (*should*) select...

...Matthew Smoral, lefthanded pitcher out of Solon High School in Ohio."

Simply put, I'm sold on Smoral's combination of stuff, mechanics, and physical stature. What he lacks in track record, he makes up in upside. He's commonly projected to go in the back half of the first round, in part because he missed his senior season, but I like him for the Reds at 14. For me, he has top of the rotation potential and represents a very good option for the Reds.


If I was the Reds, I'd grab (1) Smoral, and if he's off the board, (2) ss/3b Addison Russell, followed by (3) of David Dahl with the 14th overall pick. And, I'd try to land rhp Ty Buttrey with one of their two picks (49th overall and 57th overall) in the supplemental round and rhp Pat Light in the second or third rounds.

Russell is intriguing. When I looked at him, I was looking at him in the context of third base. And, I thought his swing and offensive potential were more than adequate at third base. However, there are many pundits who think he has a legitimate shot to stick at shortstop, which would obviously make his bat all the more valuable. Wherever he ends up on defense, I think he has the type of bat that could make him an impact talent. He'll need to refine his swing (shorten) and his approach (improve to the opposite field), but there's something there. 

As for Dahl, he's rated as the best strike zone judgment in the high school class and the 3rd purest hitter in the high school class. Throw in a plus arm and plus speed and that's enough to overcome the few negatives. I can't speak to his desire or drive, so I'll take those with a grain of salt. And, while he doesn't effectively use his lower half, it hasn't slowed him down to this point. And, it's not an uncorrectable flaw, so if the need arises he could rework his swing to incorporate more of his lower half. As it stands, his plus hit tool and good bat speed help offset the largely upper body swing. And, as a table-setter, he can get by with gap-to-gap power. In an organization short in on-base skill, Dahl would be a welcome addition.  

Here are some final thoughts on some of the other available options:

  • Andrew Heaney -- As I mentioned in his write-up, I have concerns about his durability given his failure to effectively incorporate his lower half into the delivery. I love the combination of performance and polish, but the mechanics don't work for me. If he can avoid injury, he's more of a high floor type prospect, as he lacks top of the rotation upside. 
  • Richie Shaffer -- After seeing Shaffer's swing, I'm sold on his ability to hit and hit for power. After seeing him at third, I'm sold on the need to move him to first base. His defense lacks fluidity, as his movements and fielding actions are stiff and rigid. I'm not at all convinced he has the footwork or agility to handle the hot corner at the upper levels. We could use an impact bat and it's possible he could handle leftfield, but we have a 1b locked in at the MLB level for a few more years and to be in the mix with the 14th overall pick the bat had better be special if the defensive value is negligible. You always go best available player in the MLB draft, but I don't think Shaffer fits that description at 14th overall.
  • Victor Roache -- I don't like the swing, especially the hand action, and don't think it'll play against advanced pitching.     
  • Stephen Piscotty -- If he could handle third base, then he'd be on my list of players to draft. Like Dahl, he uses a quiet lower half, but Piscotty does a better job of incorporating his hips into his swing. I wonder if Piscotty has a David Freese like future. Somewhat unheralded. Unclear if the power will develop. Defensive position uncertain. But, has a hit tool that is rare and that carries him up the ladder. Still, the risk is too high at 14th overall to find out. 
  • As for the top of the draft pitchers, I like Mark Appel and rate him higher than Kevin Gausman, Kyle Zimmer, and Lucas Giolito. There is no runaway winner at the top of the draft and I wouldn't put Appel in the Trevor Bauer, Shelby Miller, Dylan Bundy class of pitchers, but, of those pitchers who fall in the consensus top-tier among pundits, he's the best bet and could develop into a legitimate #1 starter. Appel just has a bit more risk than the typical top of the draft pitcher. Even so, I'd have to say I like Smoral every bit as much, if not more than Appel.
  • I haven't looked deeply into Mike Zunino, but my first impression isn't that positive. I'm not wild about his build or his swing. Still, the general consensus is strong on him, so maybe a more in-depth look at would have uncovered a more impressive Zunino than what I saw in my cursory look. 
  • Again, I didn't spend much time look at players who were locks to be off the board by the time the Reds drafted at 14, but Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton are impressive talents. I would have no objection if the Astros had decided to select either of them at 1.1 and it wouldn't surprise me if Correa turns out to be the best player in this draft. 

Over the last offseason, the Reds did a very good job of utilizing their farm system. However, they utilized it by trading away a large portion of the upper level prospects. As a result, the Reds are thin down on the farm and have needs all across the organization. So, while you always go "best available player" in the MLB draft, it's especially true for the Reds who have to restock every position and level in the system. It starts with the 14th overall pick, but the Reds have 5 picks in the first three rounds. A solid draft would go a long way towards restocking the farm system. And, if the Reds are going to continue to contend in the future, they'll need cost controlled young talent to fill in around the expensive veterans.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

2012 Draft: Two Players of Interest

Here are two names that should be of interest to the Reds and who are definitely of interest to me.


Ty Buttrey -- rhp

Buttrey is a righthanded pitcher from Providence Sr High School in North Carolina. He has a good physical frame for a pitcher, standing 6-5 and tipping the scales at 205. He has a good fastball that can touch 94/95, but sits in the low 90s. In addition, he has shown the ability to cut it or run it, which is impressive polish for a high school pitcher. He features a big breaking curveball with sharp bite that has good potential and a fringe changeup. He'll need to refine his secondary offerings, but he has good upside and room for additional projection.

Here's a look at him in action:




Buttrey uses his height very well, both to generate velocity and throw on a downward plane. He uses a very strong, high leg kick and an aggressive and long stride. He works at a fast tempo and has a clean arm action. He definitely needs to refine his command and his secondary offerings, but he has all the makings of a impact pitcher.


Pat Light -- rhp

Light is a righthanded pitcher for Monmouth University. He stands 6-6 and weighs 215 pounds. Despite his height, Light features very good control, walking only 12 batters and striking out 87 batters in 86 innings. He also features very good stuff, including a fastball that sits in the low 90s and reaches 96. He also features a slider and changeup that are inconsistent, but show promise. 

As for his mechanics, he works from a high three-quarter arm slot. His arm action is long in the back, which occasionally makes it slow to get up into proper position, but the arm action is clean overall. He has a high leg kick with good coil and makes a strong, aggressive move towards the plate with a long stride. Despite the long stride, Light manages to consistently get out over his plant leg in his delivery. Despite the strong move towards the plate, he maintains good balance throughout the delivery and he finishes up in proper fielding position.



Light is an intriguing combination of stuff and polish. His size gives him room for additional projection, but his command gives him a measure of polish not usually seen in taller pitchers.



I'd love to see the Reds land both Buttrey and Light. Buttrey is projected to go higher in the draft, but it's possible that he'll be available for the Reds in the supplemental first round. Light is projected to go a bit later, so it's possible that he'll be available in the 2nd round.

2012 Draft: Players of Note

Andrew Heaney -- lhp

Heaney stands 6-2, weighs 175, bats left, and throws left. He is one of the top collegiate pitchers in the country, pitching for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Heaney has a three pitch mix with a 90-92 mph fastball that can touch 95, a sharp biting curveball, and a good changeup. He has an effortless delivery and very good command, which helps his stuff play up a tick. As a junior, he posted a 1.60 ERA with a 140/22 K/BB ratio in 118.1 innings for the Cowboys.


The Reds have been tied to Heaney, but I'm torn about his mechanics. I love the mechanics from the waist up, but hate the mechanics from the waist down. Heaney has a smooth, clean arm action and an effortless delivery, which isn't surprising given that he doesn't incorporate his lower body into the delivery at all. He has a nice leg kick that passes parallel with a bit of hip rotation, but he gives away all the potential energy that he could impart on the ball by unpacking his leg kick BEFORE driving towards the plate. Instead of pushing off towards the plate from the apex of his leg kick, he lowers his leg before driving to the plate. You simply can't generate as much energy with the lower half if your drive to the plate begins after you have already unpacked your leg kick. 

Not surprisingly in light of his limited lower body action, Heaney uses a conservative stride and gets zero separation between his hip rotation and his shoulder rotation, which means that he generates his velocity largely with his arm, not his entire body.


Here's a look at Heaney in action:



 
   

Heaney grades out well in terms of performance (stuff/command) and polish (experience and proximity to the majors), but I wonder about his injury risk. Can you consistently pitch 200+ innings with low 90s velocity generated largely by the arm? There's certainly no guarantee that he can't, but I have my doubts. Heaney offers a great blend of performance level and polish, but I would downgrade him on my list based on his mechanics.  



David Dahl -- of

David Dahl has some intriguing attributes, but actually shares the same problem as Andrew Heaney: limited use of the lower body. Dahl stands 6-2, weighs 185 lbs, bats left, and throws right. He has plus speed and a very good arm, which should serve him well in centerfield, but there are questions about his instincts.

At the dish, Dahl has a balanced, smooth swing which enables him to make consistent contact and generates gap power. However, it's easy to have a smooth, balanced swing when you don't incorporate much lower body action into the swing. Good balance is about controlling the forces in the swing, but if you leave out the force generated by the lower half than good balance is easier to attain and less impressive to witness. 


Here's a look at Dahl courtesy of BaseballAmerica:





You can see the small stride and very quiet lower half, but also the good balance and quick stroke. He doesn't, however, cock his hips to generate load in his swing. While Dahl currently uses limited lower body action in his swing, it's not as problematic as it might be for Heaney. It may limit Dahl's power potential, but it won't increase his injury risk and he can certainly profile as a table-setter even without increasing his power production. As it stands, his good hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition skills enable him to consistently square up the ball.

While Dahl has some impressive tools, there are concerns about his intangibles and his motivation. Some question whether he has the desire and drive necessary to be great. However, one of the big positives on Dahl is his strikezone judgment, which Baseball America rates as the best in the High School player pool. Dahl also rates as the 3rd best Pure Hitter in the High School player pool. Dahl could develop into a leadoff or number two type hitter, but he comes with some risk.  


Marcus Stroman -- rhp

Here's a quick look at Duke's Marcus Stroman. Stroman has electric stuff, but stands only 5-9. I don't buy into the bias against short righthanded pitchers, but the general consensus is that Stroman will end up in the bullpen. Given that I'm not convinced he can stick in the rotation, he slides down my list. Relievers in the first round aren't a good idea in my book, as I'd rather roll the dice on a pitcher who clearly profile as a starting pitcher. Here's a look at him in action:







Stephen Piscotty -- 3b/of

Piscotty is a pure hitter. He is a junior at Stanford University who spent time at third base and rightfield. He has limited power potential, but hits line drives at a very good clip and uses the whole field very well. He makes consistent contact, often walking more often than he strikes out. Unfortunately, Piscotty lacks power potential and may not be able to stick at the hot corner. If he shifts to a corner outfield spot, then the lack of power becomes more problematic. Piscotty is the type of professional hitter that I would love to have in the system, but as a tweener with limited power potential he's a reach at #14. If the Reds think he can stick at third base, then he might be worth the risk, but as a corner outfielder he doesn't profile as well. If he by some stretch of the imagination lasts until the 49th overall pick, then I wouldn't mind seeing the Reds pull the trigger in the hopes that he emerges in David Freese type fashion.

At the very least, it's worth watching him swing the bat:



Friday, June 1, 2012

2012 Draft: Addison Russell, 3b/ss

Addison Russell stands 6-0 and tips the scales at 215 lbs. He bats right, throws right, and was last seen holding down the shortstop position for Pace High School in Florida. Last summer, Russell's weight ballooned up and questions emerged about whether he would be able to stick at shortstop or have to move over to the hot corner. However, Russell rededicated himself in the weight room, shedding 20 lbs and adding muscle. At this point, the consensus has shifted back towards Russell being able to stick at shortstop. Obviously, staying at short would increase his value, but his bat will play at either position. 

As for signability, Russell seemingly has a strong commitment to Auburn University. In fact, he verbally committed during his sophomore season and has said "I am wanting to be the first member of my family to go to college and graduate from college. I am also looking to be a good role model and example for my brothers and sisters." That said, his baseball talent may require him to put his collegiate career on hold for a while.

Russell was part of the under-18 U.S. National team that won the gold medal at the 2011 COPABE 18U/AAA Pan American Championship in Columbia. Russell hit the only home run, a grand slam in the championship game, for the U.S. squad in the tournament. He earned all first-team honors by hitting .393 with 11 hits (3 2bs, 1 3b, 1 HR) with 9 RBIs and 11 Runs scored. 


Here's a look at Addison in action courtesy of BaseballFactory:





Russell moves well in the field. He doesn't possess elite range, but he has soft hands and good fielding actions. When coupled with his above average arm strength, he can make the plays he can reach. He's not silky smooth and his arm action is unusual, but he may be able to hold down the position as he climbs the ladder.    

At the plate, Russell has a tendency to tinker with his swing mechanics, but ideally he'll find his optimal mechanics and stick with them. In the first part of this batting practice session, he utilizes a slightly wider than shoulder width stance and a bat waggle in his pre-pitch stance. As the pitcher delivers the pitch, Russell turns his front knee back and inward by rolling up on his toe, which effectively cocks his hips. This move allows him to load up for the swing despite not using a significant stride. Later in the batting practice session, Russell uses a higher leg kick instead of turning his front knee inward. He picks his foot up off the ground and strides forward to begin the weight transfer. When he commits to the swing, he fires the hips to generate power, which gives him impressive bat speed. His hip rotation is explosive. There is, however, some length and looseness to his swing, which could create holes to be exploited or throw his balance off on offspeed pitches, so he may need to tighten things up.   


To me, Russell is a prime candidate for the Curtis Granderson treatment. When Granderson joined the Yankees, hitting coach Kevin Long worked with him on refining his swing. One of the things that he did was to dump the one-handed follow-through in favor of keeping both hands on the bat throughout the swing. Edwin Encarnacion is another hitter who has credited this change with helping him unlock his offensive potential. By utilizing a two-handed follow-through, the hitter should realize advantages from increased bat control and a shorter swing, both factors may also lead to improvements in balance. Further, Encarnacion believes it keeps him from pulling off the ball too soon and too aggressively, problems which occasionally plague Russell as well.

When I look at Russell and his bat speed, I see a guy who could easily shorten his swing without losing much in the way of power. If Russell can shorten up his swing and become more adept at driving the ball to the opposite field, then he could become a more complete hitter and be well on his way to a special career. At the very least, it's easy to dream on his swing and bat speed.  

Russell is another prospect near the top of  my very short draft list. While there certainly is a risk that he'll have to slide down the defensive spectrum to third base, his offensive potential largely negates that concern. There seems to be little doubt that Russell can stick on the left side of the infield and he has more than enough bat to be an impact player at either shortstop or third base.