A Minors Obsession

Checking in on the 2016 Draft

The 2016 draft is a month away and the Cincinnati Reds will be making their highest pick in the history of the franchise when they select the 2nd player overall. The only other time they selected this high was in 1983 when they selected high school shortstop Kurt Stillwell.

As things stand right now, the Reds seem to be down to about 10 players that they are considering. Who all 10 of those players isn’t entirely certain at this point, but today we are going to look at some of the guys that it would appear that the team is considering.

The High School Group

It would seem that there are five high school players that are likely in consideration for the #2 overall pick in the draft. Two pitchers, two outfielders and a shortstop.

Delvin Perez is a 17-year-old shortstop from Puerto Rico. If you click the link from the opening paragraph there’s a detailed article about how he performed in front of Reds scouts last week in a showcase. From a scouting perspective, he’s the toolsiest player in the draft, a potential true 5-tool guy. He’s also one of the youngest players in the draft, not turning 18 until after the minor league season is over.

Blake Rutherford is a 19-year-old outfielder who has been one of the top hitters for the 2016 draft for several years now. His bat is his calling card with a good hit tool and power tool, but he’s also got some speed and projects as a good corner outfielder in the long run.

Mickey Moniak has been a bit of a late riser into the top 10 this spring. The left handed hitter projects to hit for average, has plenty of speed, should stick in center field in the long run. How much power he eventually hits for is the big question, though double digit home runs isn’t out of the question.

Riley Pint entered the season as the strongest arm in the entire draft and that hasn’t changed. The high schooler from Kansas has topped out at 102 MPH and sits in the 95-99 MPH range while showing a potentially above-average slider, above-average curveball and above-average change up. The biggest question with Pint is around his control, though there are some questions about his mechanics as well.

Jason Groome entered the year as the top prep arm, but in some places has fallen behind Pint. In his last start he was roughed up quite a bit, a second consecutive outing where he wasn’t nearly at his best. Of course when he is at his best, the left hander is throwing 92-95 MPH and touching the upper 90’s with a hammer breaking ball and a good change up. Mechanically there are no concerns with him, but all spring long he’s lost velocity as the games have gone on.

The College Group

The college group seems to have four players that are likely in consideration with three hitters and a starting pitcher.

AJ Puk is arguably the top arm in the draft. The Florida left hander has outstanding stuff, with a mid 90’s fastball, wipeout slider and good change up. The Phillies, who have the #1 pick have been all over him and most places expect Puk to be their selection. The Gator has a 3.04 ERA this season with 71 strikeouts and 25 walks in 50.1 innings pitched. Control has been an issue at times for Puk, but he’s got some of the best stuff in the draft.

Kyle Lewis has been linked to the Reds in numerous mock drafts. The outfielder from Mercer has the best power potential in the draft and he’s been tearing the cover off of the ball this season, hitting .432/.561/.801 with 17 home runs, 54 walks and 37 strikeouts. Coming from a small school the competition level is a bit of a concern, and he’s got some swing-and-miss in his game, but his tools project well.

Nick Senzel has also been linked to the Reds in several mock drafts. The Tennessee infielder has split time between third base and shortstop, though he projects to remain at third base as a professional. He’s arguably the safest bat in the draft and is hitting .339/.440/.593 with 28 extra-base hits, 32 walks and 17 strikeouts this season. His hit tool is among the best, if not the best in the draft and there’s power potential to tap into.

Corey Ray hasn’t been directly linked to the Reds in any mock drafts, but has been on their radar. The Louisville outfielder has plenty of tools and is hitting .322/.391/.595 with 29 extra-base hits, 25 walks and 31 strikeouts. He’s a potential 5-tool player, but as I wrote two weeks ago, there could be a few reasons for concern with Ray.

With a month to go, the top of the draft is still rather uncertain. No player or players have separated themselves from the group and while this group of nine players all have rather high upsides, they all seem to also have some questions to go along with it that make them a little more risky than you may have seen in past drafts at the top.

24 thoughts on “Checking in on the 2016 Draft

  1. Based on the relative scarcity of hitters and abundance of pitchers I hope the Reds take the most certain bat in the draft. I would stay away from anyone with big question marks like Moniak or Ray. High upside is great, but a small gain there isn’t worth taking on a lot of risk on the downside. The Reds can’t afford a flop with this unusually high a pick. From this list that looks like Perez, Rutherford, Lewis or Senzel to me and I’m sure the scouting department and you (Doug) are a lot better prepared to decide between those four than I’ll ever be.

  2. Doug…any thoughts on who goes #1? A quick search of editorials suggest the Phillies will go pitching but that of course is far from certain.

  3. Doug, I recall many past draft pundits claiming that the Reds generally liked “toolsy” high school players. Do you know if that’s still (or maybe ever was) the case and would that boost Delvin Perez to the top of their board?

    • Everyone likes toolsy high school players. Everyone also likes toolsy college players. Scouts like toolsy guys because they tend to be well rounded, assuming they develop.

      It’s tough to peg exactly how this regime will lean as they’ve never had a pick this high before. When they’ve drafted in the top 10 in the past, it’s been college guys (Stubbs, Alonso and Leake), but all of those guys were later in the Top 10. Each draft is different, too, so you can’t just go by what they’ve done in the past.

      What we do know is that Buckley and company love guys up the middle (though, everyone does). They’ve gone with Stubbs, Mesoraco, Alonso, Grandal, Ervin and Stephenson as their 1st picks that weren’t pitchers since Buckley has taken over. Outside of Alonso, all play up the middle. Nick Senzel isn’t playing up the middle. Kyle Lewis isn’t playing up the middle. Delvin Perez is. If there’s something that would lean them towards him, I believe it’s that more than anything else.

  4. Senzel or Lewis seem the most likely to me. Both should be ready quicker than most other players in the draft, both take plenty of walks, both have a plus batting tool (Lewis power, Senzel hit), and I think either would sign for around $5-$6 million and save the Reds a ton of slot money to get a high talent that falls because of signability. I’d be happy with either really. Senzel seems like a Suarez who can take a lot more walks and maybe hit for an even higher average. Lewis is a right handed Jay Bruce (from his good years).

    • Duke (or Doug), If Senzel is the pick, would you see Taylor Sparks moving to the outfield where his speed will play and his glove would probably play better?

      • While I’m sure he’s got the tools to play the corner outfield just fine, I’m not entirely sure what they would do with him in regards to a position.

  5. From the brief look I took this morning I really like Senzel and think he would make sense if we are looking for help sooner rather than later. He may not have the highest ceiling but it sounds like he has less risk than the other position prospects.

  6. Given that the Reds have targeted major league-ready talent or near-major league-ready talent in their recent trades, wouldn’t it be safe to assume that the Reds will draft a college player in the first round? It seems the Reds want to contend sooner rather than later.

    • They could trade their competitive balance pick (#35) but there is no good reason that they should.

      • It used to be 1 calendar year from the draft, but now they changed it to where they can be traded at the end of the season they are drafted in. So anyone we draft in June, we can trade them in November.

        • So theoretically, if the mutual trust existed between orgs, the Reds could make a wink and nod arrangement to draft a particular guy for another org at #2 and flip him for a couple of the other org’s more advanced prospects at season’s end.

        • It would be the same as the Trea Turner situation. The Reds could trade, say, Jay Bruce to a team for a PTBNL with the understanding that it would be one of their draft picks. I highly doubt any team is going to be flipping draft picks for prospects, at least not in the current format.

      • It was 1 year, but I don’t think that is the case anymore. But I am not 100% sure what it is now. That Trea Turner deal from SD to Wash., I think that changed things.

  7. Four of those 5 high schoolers could go at #2. Moniak might be a top 10 pick but not a top 2.
    If the draft were today, I’d go with Riley Pint here. Even though he is RH, selecting him would allow for a trade of 2-3 RHers for a nice MLB-ready bat. That is, if you think you can get a better bat via trade than what Lewis or Senzel could bring 2-3 years down the road.

    • If not Riley, I think the SS, Perez, will be the pick. He is listed at 6’3″, but there are reports that he has grown over the winter and spring to 6’5″. He may have outgrown the SS position and could possibly be a 3B going forward. That might outweigh the consideration for Senzel.

      • If Perez isn’t going to stick at SS, that devalues him quite a bit. His bat is very very raw.

        Senzel has maybe the best hit tool in the draft, has maybe the best plate discipline in the draft, and some think he has 20+ HR power as well. Senzel has answered the questions about his athleticism and being a good enough defender at 3B. Those were questions at the beginning of the college season that aren’t getting asked any more.

        Perez is a plus runner (maybe plus plus), and a very good defender as a prep. If someone thinks he’s going to outgrow SS, that becomes a little problematic. I haven’t read that anywhere, but if a GM thinks that, it would lower his value. Perez has some raw power, but no one is quite sure how much and a plus arm. The big question is if he is going to hit. At #2 overall, I want someone we know (as much as we can know) is going to hit. Senzel is going to hit. Lewis is going to hit (he’s going to strike out a lot too, but he’ll bring power, solid average, and plenty of walks). Rutherford and Moniak are harder to project as high schoolers, but they are expected to hit.

  8. I just read a mock draft at MLB.com and they have the Phillies picking Lewis and the Reds picking Puk. I really hope they go for hitting instead.

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