The Reds chose catcher Chris Okey with their second round pick, the #43 selection in the draft.
Okey (21) is from Altamonte Springs, Florida. He attended Eustis High School. Okey just finished his junior year at Clemson University where he led his team to an ACC championship. Some sources list him as 6’0”/185, others have him at 5’11″/195. All sources agree Okey throws and bats right handed.
Over his three years at Clemson, Okey played in 186 games and hit .301/.392 with isolated power of .203. His junior season produced huge, huge numbers, hitting .339/.465 with isolated power of .272, 15 home runs. He walked in 51 of his 297 plate appearances while striking out 54 times.
The advantage of choosing a college position player is you can watch them develop over several years, so your confidence in evaluation is higher than with high school players. They also participate in competitive wood-bat leagues in the summer.
The Reds drafted Clemson’s previous catcher, Garrett Boulware, in the 16th round of the 2013 draft. Boulware is now starting for the AA Daytona Tourtugas.
• Trent Rosecrans talks to Reds senior director of amateur scouting, Chris Buckley about the selection:
Buckley: “We thought he was the best player up there – it’s a tough position to find. This year there was a little more depth to that position. … a very polished catcher, has a chance to be a complete catcher, swing the bat, play solid defense.”
• Okey’s response to being chosen by the Reds:
Wow! Excited for the opportunity! Let's go @Reds !
— Chris Okey (@Chris_Okey_) June 10, 2016
There’s nothing that really jumps off of the page with Chris Okey when you look at his scouting report. Offensively he projects for average power (15-18 HR) at the big league level in the future and he’s got a chance to hit for a solid average in the future. As a catcher he’s not much of a runner, though he will never be expected to be that. On the defensive side of the ball he is athletic behind the plate and very athletic for a catcher. With all of that said, his arm is merely average and he’s only a solid receiver at this point. He’s noted for his ability to handle a pitching staff quite well though.
Every year there are three particular flavors of catcher for the MLB draft. There are guys with excellent gloves but doubtful bats. There are backstops who can hit well but may not be able to stay behind the plate. These are the two most common varieties. The rarest species and the one that goes earliest on draft day is the complete catcher, the one who can do everything. Clemson University catcher Chris Okey may be in the third category. On defense, Okey’s physical tools are all considered average: average arm, average mobility, average quickness. However, his intangibles and catching instincts are considered excellent and help his physical tools play up behind the plate. There’s no question about a position switch here; he’ll stay behind the plate in pro ball and do a good job back there.
Okey is not a great hitter or defender, but makes up for that with a solid work ethic and a very patient approach at the plate. He doesn’t have great bat speed, but understands how to work the count and get on base. Okey knows his position well and should have no problems remaining there throughout his entire career.
• Chris Cotillo of MLB Daly Dish had a recent interview with Okey:
As a player, what’s your biggest strength?
Okey: “For me, it wouldn’t be anything physical. It would be my leadership, my attitude toward the game and my work ethic. It’s something I’ve always kind of fallen back on. You can always go in a slump and you can always have a bad game, but there’s no excuse for not working hard. That’s something I always try to lay back on, to keep working it out and be the best player I can possibly be.”
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.