In exchange for an awful 2016 campaign, the Reds and their fans were rewarded with the 2nd overall pick in somewhat watered down draft class. Nevertheless, the Reds should be able to reel in a high upside, potential impact talent with their first pick.
Here are the likely candidates for pick 1.2.
Hunter Greene - RHP/SS
Notre Dame High School (CA)
6-3; 195 lbs
Greene is hands-down the most hyped prospect in the draft class. He earned a Sports Illustrated cover story, creating the type of lofty expectations that are occasionally lived up to (Bryce Harper) and occasionally are not (Matt Wieters). Fortunately, Greene seems to the have type of character and makeup needed to deal with those expectations.
Greene is a legitimate two-way prospect, handling both shortstop and pitching. Most everyone believes he's better on the mound, but shortstop is a nice fallback option to reduce the development risk that high school prospects inherently bring along with them.
So, the focus with Greene is on the mound. Here's a look at him in action, courtesy of FanGraphs on YouTube:
Greene is highly athletic with a lean build. He works with a quick tempo and has very quick arm. He generates easy velocity, topping out at 102 on the radar gun. He also throws a slider, curveball, and a changeup. Given his arm speed, the slider is the more likely breaking ball going forward.
The hype surrounding Greene included unnamed scouts stating that he has "perfect mechanics." Of course, we heard the same thing about Mark Prior when he was coming out of USC.
I like Greene's mechanics, but I'm not convinced that they are "perfect." I'd like to see greater differential between the rotation of his hips and shoulders, which would help generate power through the kinetic chain and reduce stress on the arm.
That said, Greene's mechanics are fairly clean and fluid and his stuff is explosive.
Kyle Wright - RHP
6-4; 220 lbs
Kyle Wright is a Vanderbilt University starting pitcher and the best college pitcher prospect in the draft class. He has size, stuff, polish, and remaining projection to his game. Wright didn't have quite the season for Vandy that people were expecting, but he's a legitimate candidate to go 1.1 in this draft.
Here's a look at Wright in action:
I watched Wright pitch a brilliant start in 2016 during his sophomore season, so he has been on my radar for quite a while.
The issues that concern me on Wright are (1) that the sum total seems slightly less than the individual parts at this point and (2) his pitching elbow gets up a bit high, rising up above shoulder level. On the plus side, he has good stuff, good command, and a track record of success at the collegiate level.
Brendan McKay - LHP/1b
University of Louisville
6-2; 212 lbs
Brendan McKay is another two way prospect, a polished southpaw and perhaps the best college hitter in the draft class. Scouts are split on whether he should pitch or hit. On the mound, he has a very effective fastball, one he commands very well, but one that lacks the top tier velocity you like to see in a top 15 draftee. At the plate, he's a polished, well rounded hitter who hits for average, gets on-base, and slugs the ball.
Here's a look at McKay in action, courtesy of 2080 Baseball on YouTube:
I lean towards McKay as a hitter. Unfortunately, McKay is limited defensively to 1b, where the Reds have Joey Votto locked up for the foreseeable future. Still, if he's the best player available, then the Reds should grab him. His diversified game leads to well diversified development risk.
Mackenzie Gore - LHP
Whiteville High School (N.C.)
6-2; 180 lbs
Mackenzie Gore is outside my top 3, but I'm including him here because I kinda love what he brings to the table. He has a funky leg kick, great differential between hip and shoulder rotation, good athleticism, and a lot of upside. My gut says he's one to watch, so I'm including a video from Baseball America on YouTube: