Monday, June 8, 2015

2015 Draft: "With the 11th pick, the Cincinnati Reds (should) select..."

Let's get this out of the way right up front, I'm pretty much over the moon for three prospects in this draft. It's a bit of a watered down draft and it took a bit of time for me to get excited about it, but these three players really stood out to me. Two of them are top tier draft prospects, the other falls into the second tier. Those prospects are Andrew Benintendi, Garrett Whitley, and Brendon Sanger, respectively. There are a number of others that I like and hope the Reds select, but I'm really hoping the Reds land one of Benintendi/Whitley with the 11th overall pick and Sanger with a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th round pick.

For me, Benintendi and Whitley are neck and neck. The former has more present production and polish, but he also lacks Whitley's physicality and bat speed. So, Benintendi has the higher floor and a reasonably high ceiling, while Whitley has a lower floor and a very high ceiling. So, do we go with the greater probability in Benintendi or the slightly higher ceiling in Whitley?

I love Benintendi's disciplined approach and I really like his swing, but I love Whitley's swing and power/speed tools. Can I draft both? No? Well, given the Reds current situation, I'd have to rank my draft board as follows for the 11th pick:

1. Garrett Whitley, cf
2. Andrew Benintendi, cf
3. Kyle Tucker, of
4. Ian Happ, inf/of
x. Daz Cameron, cf (depending on bonus demands)
x. Kolby Allard, lhp (depending on the medicals)

There's a line under the top two because for me, there's a gap after those two. I like Tucker, but not quite to the same degree as Garrett or Andrew. Questions over Happ's defensive home and the legitimacy of his power spike give me pause. Cameron's bonus demands might make him a non-viable selection. Allard has medical issues, so a lot depends on getting a clean-bill of health. In the end, it's really a top two for me and then a second tier. If we don't end up with either of the top two, I'll be somewhat disappointed.

Benintendi's polish and relative youth are true value-drivers, but I have to go with the pure upside and select Garrett Whitley. I'd love to add two disciplined, professional hitters like Benintendi and Sanger to the system, but in the end Whitley's athleticism and tools, ability to stick in centerfield, swing mechanics and pure bat speed are just too good to pass up. So, Whitley's higher upside is the thumb on the scale that ever so slightly tips the balance in his favor. That said, these two are really 1 and 1(a). I'd love to have either or both. In the end, something about Whitley just stands out and I could see him emerging as the best player in this draft class.

After that pick is in the books, I'm really hoping that the Reds will have a shot at Nate Kirby, Kolby Allard, or Dakota Chalmers with their 2nd round pick. The first two are admittedly a long shot to slide that far and Chalmers probably isn't that much more likely, but those would be great additions at that point in the draft. Unfortunately, after picking 11th overall, the Reds don't select again until pick 49, so a lot of quality players will come off the board before they make their second selection. So, we'll need some luck for any of those guys to slide that far.

Finally, I'm hoping the Reds recognize the potential value in Brendon Sanger's hit tool, pitch recognition, and plate discipline. I really want the Reds to focus more on professional hitters and that's something that's easier to do in the middle rounds. In the first round, sure, grab the explosive, high ceiling guy. That's justifiable. But, in the middle rounds, there's nothing wrong with skewing more towards discipline and hit tool. Sanger may be short on power, but he's a good athlete and might be able to shift back to second base where power is less important. I like him more than the general consensus. There might be hitters out there who can match his pitch recognition and plate approach, but I find it hard to believe anyone out there is better in those departments. Sanger would be a very good value in the 2nd/3rd/4th round, wait as long as you can to grab him, just make damn sure you end up with him when the music stops.

If the Reds walk away with one of Andrew Benintendi or Garrett Whitley with the 11th overall pick and Brendon Sanger with a 2nd/3rd/4th round pick, I'll be very, very happy. If they also reel in a sliding pitcher from the Nate Kirby, Kolby Allard, and Dakota Chalmers troika, then I'll be ecstatic.

Someone notify Walt that our picks are now in!

Go Reds go!

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