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:

• Doug Gray, Reds Minor Leagues

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.

• John Sickles, SB Nation

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.

• Fueled By Sports

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.”

About The Author

Steve grew up in Cincinnati 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. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce's 2010 homer and Homer Bailey's 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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21 Responses

  1. Patrick Jeter

    I like his answer to the question at the end, there.

    Okey? Okey dokey!

    I had to…

    • ohiojimw

      I can hear that now as a home run call on radio and TV if he makes it to the Reds and cranks out 15-20 a year……

    • lwblogger2

      Good one Patrick!

      I like this kid and as I’m a fan of catchers, I’ll be keeping an eye on him when I can.

    • WVRedlegs

      The Okey from Muskogee. A little tip of the cap to Merle.

  2. Hotto4Votto

    Would a decent Reds comp. be Hanigan with more pop?

    • Patrick Jeter

      From what I’ve read and seen, he’s worse defensively and better all around with the bat, not just with pop.

      But, anything can change during his time in the minors.

      • David

        Getting real intense instruction in your position (especially catching) from real professionals, can get pretty good results. Catching is athleticism, technique and a lot of practice. It is the hardest position to play on a consistent basis, and when you are really good, it just seems natural (Johnny Bench). If the guy has the physical tools and willingness to learn and work, he will become better.

      • Hotto4Votto

        That’s fair, I was probably projecting a little bit. I was thinking solid plate approach who handles the bat well, intangibles as a catcher (handles staff well), but not a defensive stalwart behind the plate. That’s probably how I’d describe Hanigan.

        If we can get anywhere near that production, but with a better all around bat, it’d be a nice feather in the Reds cap.

  3. hof13

    I definitely like this years first day draft better than I liked last years after the first day. I know a draft is always a crap shoot but II’m afraid last years is, shoot, just plain crappy.

    • The Duke

      Don’t sleep on Santillan (last years 2nd rd pick). He won’t even be in full season ball until next year but he’s sitting 93-96 in extended spring training with a nice sharp breaking ball. Fangraph’s had a report on him earlier this spring from EST and said he looked good and his body was improved as well (was 6’3″ 240 lbs when drafted as an 18 year old). I can’t wait for Billings to start with Senzel, Okey, Trammell, Sanitllan, Kahaloa, and likely Moss all playing there.

  4. Steve Schoenbaechler

    While I admire the intangibles, I can’t help thinking it’s a bat and glove that get you up to the bigs. Not so sure why we used a pick this high on a C when we used one last year first round as well as Devin, Burkhart, and Cabrera seem to be doing a decent job in the bigs right now. I guess, like it said, he was the best player available.

    I hope the minor league instructors and development staff have instructions to have the players learn 2 positions down there. For instance, it would have been great if Alonso or Votto would have been able to move to LF.

    • Michael

      Steve we need good catching depth in the ststem. Right now we have no strong prospects except for last year’s 1st round pick.

      Also you don’t make pucks based on the makedge up or mlb depth at the position. He is 3 years away meaning mesaroco is gone, cabrerra is gone and Barnhart is in arbitration years.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        Cabrera probably won’t be gone; he’s only in his second season with the big club. Barnhart is in his third season. He may possibly be gone by then, depending if we can still keep Devin around and if he still plays C. After all, Devin isn’t earning any high value contract extension right now.

      • Michael

        Cabrera is an easily replaceable piece. This guy will be a cheap alternative to the guys you mentioned who will be deep in to arbitration if they are still here.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I wouldn’t say the cupboard is completely bare. Jake Turnbull is a strong prospect, just super young and far away from contributing. He put up .291/.395/.373/.768 slash line last year in RK ball as a 17 year old. One of the international signings that have flown way under the radar as he’s not from Asia or Latin America.

        Wallach also has shown strong plate discipline (.383 OBP) and pop (143 ISO) in AA.

      • Michael

        Valid point. The two best looking prospects imo are at rookie ball and low a with a ton of injuries this year. I personally like the pick.

  5. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Boy, 4th through the 10th has WJ thumbprints on it. Lots of pitchers. I just hope we don’t worry too much about making them starters. We need relievers.

    • asinghoff

      A reliever is just a starter who couldn’t cut it. So I hope they plan on using every single draftee as a starter.

  6. Dan

    I watched the Reds 5th round pick Ryan Hendrix pitch last night. He looked good in that game for an inning. His ERA for the season isn’t good, but he hit 97 on the radar gun last night so hopefully he returns to form from a year ago where they say he was dominant. Struggled at times this year with his velocity according to scouting reports. He looked good last night though like I said hitting 97.

  7. The Duke

    You can never have too much catching. Okey may have his fair share of strikeouts, but he’ll also bring good power from the C spot and take plenty of walks as well. I could easily see a .255/.330/.425 hitter with 15+ HR and plenty of walks to go along with a 20% K rate.