The 2014 Draft happened just two months ago, but the signing date has passed and just about everyone that signed is on the field and playing. The Cincinnati Reds were able to sign 28 of their 41 draft picks, including the first 18 picks of the draft. While I am not going to profile all 28 picks (I do plan on going to sleep tonight), I will be taking a look at the first five rounds and highlight a few guys beyond that who are off to a good start. Stats will be available on all players at the end of the post.
1st Round | RHP Nick Howard
The former college closer and starter has been told he will relieve for the rest of the 2014 season, but will make the transition to starting pitcher in the 2015 season. Howard has gotten a later start than most guys, but he’s been sent to Dayton to pitch for the Dragons. He’s made five appearances for a total of 7.1 innings and has a 3.68 ERA to go with a 0.68 WHIP. The right hander has allowed two home runs, walked a batter and struck out seven. I wrote a full scouting report on him over at my site and also put together a quick video showing his three pitches from a recent outing.
1st Round | SS Alex Blandino
The Reds wound up with a second first round pick as compensation for Shin-Soo Choo declining their qualifying offer. With the 29th overall pick the team selected Alex Blandino and sent him to Billings to begin his career. With the Mustangs he hit .309/.412/.527 with 16 walks and 18 strikeouts. An injury in Dayton to their starting shortstop opened up a spot for Blandino to be promoted last week. He hasn’t missed much of a beat with the Dragons, hitting .280/.379/.520 over the span of six games. He has gotten off to a quick start to his career and is already at his second level.
2nd Round | 3B Taylor Sparks
Third baseman Taylor Sparks got off to a very quick start, hitting .340/.484/.660 over the first two weeks of the season with 12 walks and 15 strikeouts, but the last two weeks have been much more of a struggle. In his last 14 games he has struggled, hitting .211/.328/.439 with seven walks and 25 strikeouts. Overall his season has been good, but the last two weeks have been a struggle and he will need to adjust back to the pitchers in the league who have seemingly made the first one.
3rd Round | RHP Wyatt Strahan
Right hander Wyatt Strahan has been placed on the typical college starter program in his first season, which is basically to remain as a starter, but to only get two or three innings in order to keep them on an innings limit after a long college season. Strahan has made nine starts but has totaled just 24.1 innings due to the restrictions. He’s posted a 3.70 ERA with the Billings Mustangs,walking eight batters and striking out 21. His longest outing of the year has been for 3.1 innings.
4th Round | 3B Gavin LaValley
One of my favorite facts from the draft was on LaValley, who hit 51 home runs in his high school career. To put that in perspective, elite high schoolers tend to finish with 20-30 in their career. The third baseman has made a smooth transition to the professional ranks at the plate, hitting .319/.406/.479 for the Arizona League Reds. He has had some struggles in the field early on, posting an .869 fielding percentage. It should be noted that rookie level fielding rates aren’t really indicative of future defensive performance though.
5th Round | RHP Tejay Antone
The 20-year-old out of small Weatherford College was sent to the Arizona League Reds to begin his career. The right hander made three appearances there, throwing just 7.2 innings before being sent to Billings. With the Mustangs he had made six appearances, all starts, throwing 19.2 innings. He had started off slowly, but his last start went 6.0 innings without any runs or walks. Overall he has a 4.94 ERA in 27.1 innings pitched.
Other notable performances from the 2014 Draft
8th Round | Brian O’Grady
I didn’t list a position for Brian O’Grady because he has played a little bit of everywhere this season for the Billings Mustangs. He has logged time at first, third, center and right field this season, though the majority has come in center field. O’Grady has been quite good across the board on the offensive side of the ball, posting a .271/.394/.488 line to go along with 28 walks and 22 strikeouts. He’s added four steals to his 18 extra-base hits as well.
9th Round | RHP Brian Hunter
The right handed reliever has tossed 17.1 innings over the course of 13 appearances with one save. His 1.56 ERA and 0.98 WHIP are quite impressive for the hitting friendly Pioneer League. He’s kept the ball in the park, allowing just one home run and he has only walked five batters while striking out 17 of the 65 batters he’s faced this season.
20th Round | RHP Conor Krauss
The 6′ 5″ Conor Krauss has been outstanding in his professional debut. The right hander made nine appearances with the Arizona League Reds where he posted a 1.42 ERA in 12.2 innings before being promoted to Billings last week. With the Mustangs he’s only made one appearance, but it was good for 4.0 shutout innings. Between his two stops he has a 1.08 ERA in 16.2 innings with two saves, eight walks and 22 strikeouts.
26th Round | LHP Brennan Bernardino
No one has begun their career from the Reds 2014 draft better than left handed reliever Brennan Bernardino has. The 22-year-old has posted a 0.50 ERA in 18.0 innings to go along with five saves for the Billings Mustangs. He’s posted a 0.94 WHIP on the season all while striking out 24 of the 72 batters he faced with just five walks.
29th Round | Michael Sullivan
For the second year in a row the Reds have taken a player from small Gloucester County College in Sewell, New Jersey. After taking Narciso Crook last season the team took left hander Michael Sullivan this year and it’s paying off early on. While his action has been limited, he’s posted a 1.04 ERA in 8.2 innings with three walks and 16 strikeouts while picking up a save.
All 2014 Draft Pick Stats