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

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Join the conversation! 18 Comments

  1. Good stuff, Doug. Thanks!

  2. Nice updates. Have fun in Pensacola. I checked out Pensacola in Tennessee over the weekend. Two good 2-1 games. Lost one and won one. Corcino and Moscot both had a 1st inning hiccup and then both went on to pitch great baseball finishing with 6 IP and 1 run.
    Klimesh (#29) looked good out of the bullpen. He did a nice Sam LeCure immitation. He came in the bottom of the 7th with bases loaded, two outs in a 1-1 game. Promptly K’d the batter and pitched a nice 8th to finish with 3 K’s in his 4 outs. He just might, maybe with the way the Reds move relievers up and down, be the first from this team’s pitchers to reach the Majors. He throws strikes. I hope you get to talk to him when you are there in Pensacola. Ask him how he likes his new Redleg Nation T-shirt.

  3. A general question Doug. But first, thanks for the great info and effort as always. I often see references to a “hitter friendly” or “pitcher friendly” league. I’m assuming that it’s still 60′-6″ from the rubber to home, and that everyone swings a wooden bat. So the differences can really only be the altitude or the distance to the fences, correct? Can you give us sometime a summary of the conditions in the various leagues for the Reds affiliates?

    • Altitude and distance to the fences do play a role, but wind patterns also come into play.

      Each year I writeup the park factors or each stadium the team plays in. You can read how things played in the 2013 season here: http://redsminorleagues.com/tag/2013-park-factors/

      Generally speaking, Louisville and Dayton play rather neutral. Bakersfield is very hitter friendly. Arizona is a little hitter friendly as a league, but the Reds place is slightly pitcher friendly compared to the league. Billings league is very hitter friendly, but their home ballpark is quite pitcher friendly. Pensacola is a wild card. To left field, it’s insanely hitter friendly. To right field it’s like playing in Petco. The wind comes off of the bay and it pushed everything to right towards center, so an already 335 down the line to right just gets that much longer. Anything hit to center or left though gets pushed toward the shorter parts of the park, so the ball really carries to that part of the park. So when you say Pensacola is hitter friendly, it really depends on the hitter. If a guy uses right field a lot, it really hurts him. If a guy uses left a lot, it really helps him.

      • I learn something new every day.

      • Thanks Doug. Great stuff. Hadn’t really thought about prevailing winds. I suppose the best news is that in evaluating player development meticulous evaluators like you are already taking those factors into consideration.

        • I’m not sure if everyone does it, but I’m certainly nerdy enough and fortunately, computer savvy enough to be able to truly run the numbers and figure it all out. It helps me do my job better and really, that’s what is important.

  4. I was at Omaha and saw the winds coming in from all fields. Our guy Taylor Sparks was the only guy to reach the warning track in the first game with a rope that decided the 2-1 game. I like Taylor Sparks, but did wonder about his glove when I saw him. doesn’t matter because if he cannot play third, he will be a great outfielder

  5. Thanks for the information, Doug. Like you, I really like the Gavin LaValley kid. From what I understand, he was committed to play at Oklahoma when the Reds changed his mind by selecting him in the fourth round. Do you know if he was given above-slot money to “change his mind?” . . . Either way, I think this may be the real steal of this entire draft, especially considering how much of a premium offense demands in today’s game.

  6. From the ages it seems like an awful lot of college players. Is it common to only have 2 of the top 10 and 3 of all 28 signed picks to be high school players? Seems low.

    • They seem to have a formula they have been using recently. Top heavy with college talent.

      • My only problem with that is it seems like you get players with a higher floor, but a lower ceiling. Sure you’ll get a Leake, or a Cingrani, but you’re that much less likely to get a Trout or Stanton type player who were both 17 when drafted. Think about the roster this year…

        High School Players: Votto, Hamilton, Phillips, Mesoraco, Bruce, Bailey, Latos

        College Players: Frazier, Leake

        With Cueto being signed when he was 18 as well. Just seems to me like high school talent is what built this team’s success over the last couple years. Why go away from it?

        • You take the talent, don’t worry about where it’s coming from. There are all kinds of superstar caliber guys that were college picks. The guy right behind Mike Trout in WAR this season was a college guy (Tulo). The guy that’s third was also a college guy. The number 2 pitcher in WAR was a college guy. So was the #5 guy. There is talent no matter where you are drafting/picking from. Just pick the right guys. The Reds have absolutely done that. They haven’t missed on a first rounder since 2003 and even that guy had a good big league season before he fell apart.

    • That is a little bit low, but there were actually five high schoolers: LaValley, Mardirosian, Trees, Marshall (Brandon Phillips cousin – injured and hasn’t played yet) and Correll (hasn’t played yet).

  7. Blandino starting next season at AA would a huge sign of relief for this fan base when we wonder who the next IF will be from the system . . .

    • The odds of that happening are slim and none. He will be back in Dayton next year if he is going to stay at shortstop. If they try him at second base, maybe he gets a look at Bakersfield to start the year.

  8. Doug. Have you rated the infield prospects in the system? Seems that Grand Salami and others have various ideas who the prospects are. For instance, some are concerned that the Reds have not brought up Navarro. Is he really a prospect?

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A Minors Obsession