Reds take pair of potential run-producing OFs
Club adds prep Winker, collegian Gelalich in sandwich round
CINCINNATI -- The Reds leveraged the loss of two free agents into a pair of corner outfielders during the compensation round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
With the 49th overall pick, the Reds selected left-handed-hitting outfielder Jesse Winker, from Olympia High School in Orlando, Fla. Winker is compensation for the loss of catcher Ramon Hernandez, who signed with the Rockies.
Later in the compensation round, Cincinnati used the 57th overall selection on Jeff Gelalich from UCLA, who also bats left. That pick came because reliever Francisco Cordero signed with the Blue Jays.
"Although one is from high school and one is from college, they're kind of similar," said Chris Buckley, the Reds senior director of amateur scouting. "They're corner outfielders, advanced hitters and have solid tools."
Buckley said both players landed right around where the Reds' Draft board had them slotted.
The 18-year-old Winker, who is 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, batted .488 with three home runs and 30 RBIs in 30 games, with 19 extra-base hits. He is currently committed to attend the Univ. of Florida. According to Jonathan Mayo's MLB.com pre-Draft scouting report, Winker's offensive potential stood out.
"Any team interested in Winker on Draft day will be buying the bat," Mayo said. "If his career as an amateur is any indication, it will be worth purchasing. Winker has an advanced idea at the plate, with a terrific approach from the left side. He can hit the ball hard to all fields, with power to the pull side now with more to come. He is the type of left-handed hitter easy to project as a run-producer in the future."
Winker's brother, Joe, is a Minor League outfielder in the Dodgers organization after he was a 28th-round pick in 2011.
"I talk to him every day," Winker told the Orlando Sentinel in February. "And every day it seems like he tells me something new that happens to him in the Minor Leagues."
Winker's high school teammate, pitcher Walker Weickel, was taken by the Padres a few moments later with the 55th pick.
Gelalich, 21, is batting .372 with 11 homers, 46 RBIs and a .462 on-base percentage in 59 games. He still playing out his 2012 season as the Bruins are working to return to the College World Series. A Los Angeles native, he was previously a 41st-round pick of the Phillies in 2009 in high school. He instead chose to attend college, and was rewarded with a call much earlier in the Draft this time around.
"This UCLA outfielder has picked a very good time to figure things out at the plate, allowing him to shoot up Draft boards," the MLB.com scouting report said. "An inconsistent performer in the past, Gelalich has done nothing but hit in his junior season. He makes consistent hard contact and he's starting to grow into what could be Major League-average power."
Last week, Gelalich was named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, presented annually to honor the nation's best college baseball player.
Both Winker and Gelalich were considered good character guys in the organization's vetting process.
"I love their makeup," Buckley said of both players. "It's one thing Walt [Jocketty, the Reds general manager] always talks about. It's what we've tried hard to get. Our scouts got to know both players well."
Earlier in the evening, the Reds used the 14th pick of the first round to take right-handed pitcher Nick Travieso out of Archbishop McCarthy High School in Southwest Ranches, Fla. Travieso and Winker were teammates on Team USA's under 18 national team last fall.
The deadline for the Reds to sign all of their 2012 Draft picks is 5 p.m. ET on July 13.