A Minors Obsession

Previewing the 2014 MLB Draft

The 2014 Major League Baseball draft is a three day event that will beginThursday night (June 5) at 7:00pm on the MLB Network where the first two rounds of the draft will take place. On Friday and Saturday the rest of the 40 rounds will take place and you can follow online through MLB.com, beginning at noon. Next week I will provide more information on the draft picks taken in my weekly column, but from Thursday-Saturday I will be providing all sorts of content, scouting reports, video and stats on the new draft picks over at my site devoted to the minor league system.

Quick Facts for the draft

  • The Reds draft 19th and 29th in the first round. They will also select 59th on the first day.
  • There is a “spending cap” for each team that is spread out over the first 10 rounds. The Reds are allowed to spend $6,973,400 on those picks. Anyone signed after the 10th round can be signed for up to $100,000 without counting towards their spending pool, but anyone signed over that amount will count towards that cap.
  • Director of Amateur Scouting Chris Buckley has been with the team since 2006 and has been quite successful with first round draft picks (Stubbs, Mesoraco, Alonso, Leake, Grandal, Stephenson, Travieso and Ervin).
  • There are 40 rounds in the draft.
  • Not all players will sign. Some will return to college and some will choose to go from high school to college.

Who the Reds have been linked to in various mock drafts

Player Postion From Who linked the player?
Grant Holmes RHP High School Baseball America
Casey Gillaspie 1B College Baseball America
Sean Reid-Foley RHP High School Baseball America
Forrest Wall 2B High School Baseball America
Milton Ramos SS High School Baseball America
Derek Fisher LF College Scout.com
Kodi Medeiros LHP High School Scout.com
Derek Hill CF High School Scout.com
Michael Chavis 3B High School Scout.com
Brandon Finnegan LHP College MLB.com
Spencer Adams RHP High School MLB.com
Monte Harrison OF High School MLB.com

What does the recent history tell us?

The Reds have had two top 50 draft picks four times under Scouting Directory Chris Buckley. The first time came in 2007 when the team selected high schooler Devin Mesoraco 15th overall and followed that up with Todd Frazier out of college for the 34th overall pick. In the 2009 draft Mike Leake was taken 8th overall out of college and the Reds took another college right hander with the 43rd overall pick when they took Brad Boxberger. In 2012 Cincinnati selected Nick Travieso out of high school with the 14th overall pick and followed that up with another high schooler, outfielder Jesse Winker with the 49th overall pick. Last season the team took outfielder Phillip Ervin out of college with the 27th overall pick and also selected college pitcher Michael Lorenzen with the 38th overall pick.

When the Reds have drafted in the top 12 of the draft, they have gone exclusively with college players (Stubbs, Alonso, Leake, Grandal), but when they have drafted after that, their first pick has been mostly high schoolers (Mesoraco, Stephenson and Travieso) with just one college player (Ervin). One other thing I have picked up on is when they have had multiple picks, they have gone with a safer player but have also gone with a riskier, high upside player as well in the first or second round (Kyle Lotzkar, Billy Hamilton, Michael Lorenzen).

Where do I expect them to go?

It seems that they have been heavily linked to high school right handed pitchers, with a whole slew of sources having the team in on RHP Sean Reid-Foley and a few more linking them to RHP Grant Holmes. Both Baseball America and Jim Callis at MLB.com have commented on their love of the more athletic players in the draft as well. They have been linked to Monte Harrison several places and the high school outfielder may be the best athlete in the entire draft. When you are drafting that far down in the first round, it is tough to know how the draft will play out. Unlike other sports, teams don’t draft at all for the needs of the team because unlike other sports, these players are still several years away from being ready to contribute and things can change quite a bit when it comes to the needs of the big league team in those years between the draft and when the players are ready.

34 thoughts on “Previewing the 2014 MLB Draft

  1. Its hard not to look at gaps on major league team and AAA to try to figure out who to draft but optimum path is always take best player available to increase your success rate. Especially given a number/quote I read off prospectdigest.com, from NY Mets player development Vice-Pres Paul DePodesta

    *****
    “Unfortunately, the attrition rate is gruesome. Out of the entire pool of drafted and signed players, only about 18% of them ever get even one day in the big leagues, and only about 7% of them actually accumulate three years in the Major Leagues. It’s even scarier if you examine the rounds – fewer than 50% of 1st round picks get three years in the big leagues, and from rounds two through five that number drops to about 15%. After that it plummets to the low single digits. In short, it’s very difficult to scout, draft, sign, and develop Major Leaguers, so having a plan to do so isn’t enough. (Paul Depodesta)”
    *****

    Amazing how hard it is to make it, and yet watching the College WS regionals how incredible some of the players seem to be that you could easily imagine seeing them in majors when odds likely are against.

    • I also heard on ESPN last night that no #1 overall pick in the MLB draft has made it to the Hall of Fame yet. Ken Griffey, Jr. will be the first and Chipper Jones will be the second. There are no guarantees.
      This year’s draft is deep in pitching. Sean Reid-Foley seems like most mentioned for the first pick at #19. He’s listed at 6’2″ and 210. Reports say his fastball is his calling card, in the 90-92 mph range with some movement hat hits 95. He has a very good curveball and throws a change-up some. He’s from Sandalwood HS in Florida. It is reported that he is very, very similar to Nick Trevioso.
      Grant Holmes is highly regarded, but was injured this year.
      Spencer Adams is another RH the Reds have been rumored to like. He’s another big guy. He’s 6’5″ and about 190. He is from HS in Georgia. The Braves are said to covet this guy, and they pick at #34.
      If the Reds can get SRF and Adams with the #19 and #29 picks they will have scored a big coup. And I am not an advocate for them to spend both 1st round picks on pitching, either.
      The sleeper in the 1st round for the Reds could be a high school SS, TiQuan Forbes. He’s 6’4″ and 170. He is from Mississippi, near where Billy Hamilton is from. The reports say he has a great bat and good arm.
      It’ll be interesting to see how the first day pans out for the Reds. They have 3 nice picking spots and should get 3 high quality players.

    • I know how Joseph Votto, Christopher Denorfia, and (sigh) Nicholas Markakis at #675 turned out. What happened to Chris Gruler?

  2. Doug (or anyone) – I heard a commentator yesterday making the point that hitters make it to the majors at twice the rate of pitchers. I wondered if that was true. And if that is the case, is that an argument for not “wasting” an early pick on a pitcher?

    • It may be true overall, but pretty much any draft data is old data anymore. Pitchers have been used very differently for the last 10-12 years at the minor league level, especially high school pitchers. It used to be that right out of the draft, teams would treat high school pitchers and college pitchers the same. High school arms fell apart often in that scenario because they just weren’t ready to throw 140+ innings yet. Now they might throw 100 in most cases, with a few guys going 120 that first year. And all of it is happening on 80 pitch counts, so they need to be effective to go that many innings too.

      I did a study a few years ago based on the first two rounds since 2000 and the safest picks were college third basemen. The least safest pick was catcher (both high school and college were within half a percentage point of my failure rate – which I can’t remember what it was). There was basically no difference between high school pitchers and college pitchers overall. College pitchers were a tad safer, while high school pitchers had a tad more upside to them overall.

      End of the day with me, Chris Buckley and his staff have done nothing short of a remarkable job in the draft, especially early in the draft. They have yet to miss on a first round pick and this will be the 9th year. They have my trust with whoever they take. They’ve earned every bit of it.

    • Unless the draft eligible pitcher has command of more than one pitch it is high risk. Whenever a young pitcher shows up in the majors the most uttered comment by the talking heads is “When he develops another pitch he could be tough”. We have seen what Chapman has done since his arrival. He now has 3 pitches the batter needs to think about. The hitter thought is more than likely true as all GM’s will find a place somewhere for a “bat”.

  3. Last year’s 4th round pick, Ben Lively increased his record to 9-1 yesterday for Bakersfield.
    Also, “Jesse Winker had two home runs and five RBIs to led the Blaze offense. Seth Mejias-Brean, Beau Amaral and Ryan Wright added solo home runs for Bakersfield.”
    Lively has done about all he can do at Bakersfield. Time for a promotion to Pensacola.

    http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/sports/condors/x2067244144/Local-report-Another-W-for-Liveley-as-Blaze-rips-Mavericks

  4. The draft is like going to Las Vegas to get rent money. How about current minor leaguers, they are the better bet, with better odds.

    Future Reds?
    How about 2 outfielders to replace Ludwick, Bernadina and Chris H., and 2 infielders to replace Cozart, Santiago, and Brandon P.

    Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers —
    There’s been clamoring to bring him up to the majors with him having an excellent season (.337, 15 HRs, 33 RBIs, 13 steals) in Triple A. He’s a left handed-hitting center fielder and he would solve some of the Dodgers’ future problems. But they have committed to Andre Ethier in center now that manager Don Mattingly has decided Matt Kemp needs to become a corner outfielder. As a big-market team, the Dodgers need to win now and not be in the development business at the major league level. Unless there are more outfield injuries, Pederson will likely stay put for a while.

    Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates —
    As their hopes fade, Pirates management is steadfast that Polanco won’t come up until they have beaten the arbitration clock. He’s hitting .348 with six homers and 43 RBIs and would surely make a difference. Pirates’ fans who communicate with this reporter are irate. They should be. Haven’t they suffered through enough losing seasons?
    Sources; Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com.

    Chris Taylor, shortstop, Mariners—
    After being selected as the Mariners’ Minor League Player of the Year, shortstop Chris Taylor did nothing to diminish his rising status this offseason. Taylor, the No. 5 rated Mariners prospect by MLB.com, opened a lot of eyes by hitting .314 with 47 extra-base hits, 108 runs and 38 stolen bases for Class A High Desert and Double-A Jackson this past year. Taylor was a fifth-round Draft pick out of Virginia in 2012 and has moved quickly through the organization by impressing both with his glove and bat.
    “He’s pretty steady. That’s what he is,” said Mariners Minor League coordinator Chris Gwynn. “We were happy to see it. He’s probably pretty tired after playing this long this year in the middle of the diamond, but he keeps on impressing and we’ll keep pushing him and see where it ends up.”
    “He’s a young infielder, a shortstop that still has a lot to learn,” Gwynn said. “But he’s really smooth, with an easy gait to how he does everything. And he’s pretty athletic, too. So he’s just going through things everybody does as Minor Leaguer. He’ll make his errors and have lapses now and then, but that’s normal. Brad Miller had the same stuff. But most of time, he’s in the middle of everything, and offensively, he’s getting on, stealing a base, driving in runs, moving guys over. He’s just a smart player.”
    Source, Greg Johns / MLB.com/ 11/21/2013

    Addison Russell, shortstop, A’s:
    Oakland has challenged Russell early in his professional career, and he has answered the bell every time. He has erased some Draft-day questions about his long-term future at shortstop with his play. Now scouts are convinced Russell has the tools to be an above-average defender, a consistent performer in the batter’s box and is moving quickly toward the Major Leagues. Florida prep infielder with a plus power bat and better than average speed, shortstop Addison Russell will probably grow out of the position very soon, but he’ll look quite good as a third baseman in Oakland. He’s probably the best hitting prospect in the Oakland system, and could get a chance in the “Bigs” earlier than expected. We’re as excited about Addison as a person and as a player, the way he acclimated himself to spring training, being around the big league players, he was definitely in a comfort zone compared to his first spring training and he was performing very well. He was hitting the ball with authority. He was making the plays in the field. I’ve been with the Oakland A’s since November of ‘98, and I’m as excited about Addison Russell as anybody we’ve had during that time frame
    Source; A’s director of player personnel, Billy Owens.

      • Doug, as you well know baseball is an odd game many thought the Reds would never trade Hamilton until a major league starter was mentioned, then he was gone.
        If Stephenson is that good then using him to replace a current starter is not out of the question.

        • I don’t know who said that the Reds would never trade Hamilton, but I certainly would have never said that.

          As I said, there is next to no chance that any of the guys I mentioned are being moved. They are franchise caliber players in the upper minor leagues. Teams don’t move those guys when they have a place to play them and all of those guys have places to play.

  5. the questions about the draft that I have are; 1), As the GM would you trade 2 top 50 draft picks for a AA player with great upside?, 2) As a GM would you trade a AA player with great upside for 2 top 50 draft choices? If the answer to #1 is yes and the answer to #2 is no then I would think that those to answers tell the true value of the draft.

    • Teams cannot trade draft picks in the MLB draft. It is not like the NFL at all. But there is some talk of changing that in the future.

      • You are right and when it happens (future change) the questions and answers are very relevant then and the same now. When participating in the current draft the defining decision should be looked at the same way. Wouldn’t this allow the lower rated teams to get back up to par more quickly and thus put more importance on the players drafted. The NFL has it more right than MLB. in this area.

        • Yes. And the foreign nationals from Cuba, South Korea, Japan etc. should be made to participate in the draft. They should never be declared free agents and eligible for multi-year, multi-million $$$ contracts right from the start. This also would help the lower teams become more relevant more quickly.

        • It makes more sense in the NFL than MLB because of the proximity to readiness for the players on draft day. In MLB guys are so far away that the risk is large enough that you really would only see picks in the first round traded. There are 40 rounds. So it doesn’t really make sense to let guys move picks.

    • The only picks that are tradeable are the competitive balance picks, so 99% of picks aren’t able to be moved.

      And the answer to both questions depends on the player. If you are trading for Byron Buxton, yes. If you are trading for say, Jesse Winker, then no. There is a large difference between say, the top 5 guys and say, the number 50 guy.

  6. I believe there is some kind of a prohibition on trading at least one of those picks. I may have that wrong though.

    • Not positive, but I believe it’s only the competative balance lottery picks that can be traded.

      • Yes, the CBL’s can be traded along with the International Bonus Pool slots. which I know nothing about.
        The Reds had a CBL pick last year and selected Lorensen with it.

  7. Can we find another Jesse Winker? Preferrably one who can play SS or 2B. Lol

    Kid’s mashing .320/.417/.558 in A+. Why hasn’t he been promoted yet? Doesn’t seem like there’s anything left for him to prove at that level.

    • If there were a Jesse Winker type of hitter who could play the middle infield there is no chance at all that he would be available beyond the first five picks. So no lol.

      • A man can hope, can’t he? Also saw where Ervin finally got his AVG over the Mendoza Line and his OPS back over ,600.. hopefully that means his wrist is finally starting to be 100%. Might need him in a year or two.

        • Ervin’s struggles this season in Dayton have been disappointing. After last season, I envisioned Winker and Ervin filling the Reds OF and filling out the top half of the lineup. If Ervin turns is up in the 2nd half to start 2015 in A+ and start 2016 in AA, that could still happen with the 1st 2 months of 2014 nothing but a bump in the road.

  8. The last time I looked on the MLB website, it had listed in our top 20 prospects 19 OF’s and P’s, 1 catcher, and no IF’s. I can’t help thinking we need to concentrate the upcoming draft on IF’s who can hit and hit well. Now, if a prize player was to drop to us, then sure, I could understand drafting them. But, I can’t help thinking we need some IF support coming up.

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