Reds look to continue first-round Draft pick hot streak
'Rewarding' process has paid off with homegrown mainstays in lineup, rotation
CINCINNATI -- The annual First-Year Player Draft can provide a team's scouting department with both immediate satisfaction, yet also delayed gratification.
When this 2014 Draft is completed and most of the roughly 700 names are selected across all 30 Major League clubs, Reds senior director of amateur scouting Chris Buckley and his group in the "war room" will pause briefly to enjoy the fruits of their year-long labors.
They can enjoy the picks they've made all over again in a few years if a particular selection reaches the Major Leagues.
"We're excited when we make these picks. We've worked a year to research these guys and get all the medical and psychological information," Buckley said. "Thirty teams put a whole lot of time into this process. It's very rewarding. It's exciting. It's always exciting when you see someone you picked get to the big leagues."
Of course, much of the attention for Reds fans will come on who they select with their first-round pick. After several years of notorious misses -- such as pitchers Chris Gruler (2002) and Ty Howington (1999) and shortstop David Espinosa ('00) -- Cincinnati has several of its first-round picks in the Majors and mainstays with the club -- including pitcher Homer Bailey ('04), right fielder Jay Bruce ('05) and catcher Devin Mesoraco ('07).
"We started right after the last one to get ready for this one. We're going to go at the same way we have the last few years," Buckley said. "We have a lot of good scouts. This will be my ninth Draft here in Cincinnati, and I'd like to think each year we get a little better at it. We don't take it for granted."
This year, the Reds have the 19th overall selection in the first round. Once again, special assistant to the general manager Eric Davis will serve as Cincinnati's team representative at MLB Network studios in Secaucus, N.J., where the first round is being held. The club will phone its pick in to Davis and that choice will be relayed to Commissioner Bud Selig, who will announce all first-round selections.
The 2014 Draft will take place today through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network today at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on Friday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here is a closer look at the Reds as they approach the Draft:
In about 50 words
The general feeling about this year's Draft is that it's rich with pitching and thin on position-player talent. That could be a boon for teams like the Reds, who often go heavy on pitching.
Not only do the Reds have the 19th pick, but they also get the 29th overall pick in the compensation round for losing free agent Shin-Soo Choo to the Rangers. These compensation picks can provide some gems -- such as Cincinnati third baseman Todd Frazier, who was the 34th overall pick in 2007.
In recent mock drafts, MLBPipeline.com's Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis have both projected the Reds to take right-handed pitcher Sean Reid-Foley, from Sandlewood High School in Florida. Baseball America has also speculated that Reid-Foley could land with Cincinnati.
Reds bonus pool
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The Reds have 11 picks in the first 10 rounds, for a total bonus pool of $6,973,400 that ranks 14th in the league. That averages $633,945 per pick. Their 19th overall pick has a slot value of $2,090,500 attached to it while the No. 29 pick has a $1,788,000 value.
Especially because of the Draft's unpredictability, Cincinnati always approaches the Draft with the mindset of taking the best available player in each round. The Reds do not select players according to current needs in the Majors or Minors.
But you can expect another Draft where the club goes heavy on pitching. Last year, 21 of the 41 picks were pitchers.
"You always try to do that because you have to take many more just to get a few," Buckley said. "There is the injury factor and always the failure factor. Certain kids aren't as good as you projected or hoped."
The Reds have often gone early on college players over high school players. That's credited, in part, to the cap on bonuses and less money to go around. High school players generally seek higher bonuses than their collegiate counterparts.
* RECENT DRAFT HISTORY *
Pitcher Michael Lorenzen, the 38th overall selection in compensation round A last year, has already reached Double-A Pensacola. Lorenzen, the No. 4 prospect in the organization according to MLBPipeline.com, was invited to big league camp this spring and is thriving in his first full year as a professional starting pitcher after he was a center fielder and reliever at Cal State Fullerton the previous three years.
Right-handed relief pitcher Curtis Partch was a 26th-round pick of Cincinnati in 2007 and reached the Majors for the first time last season. Partch also had a callup earlier this season.
In The Show
For a smaller-market team that's trying to win with largely homegrown talent, the Draft has become vastly more important for the Reds over the past decade. Six of the regular eight position players, three of the five members of the rotation and two relievers were Cincinnati Draft selections over the years.
That group includes second-rounders such as Joey Votto, Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton, and third-rounders such as Sam LeCure and Tony Cingrani.
The Reds' recent top picks
2013: Phil Ervin, OF, Class A Dayton
2012: Nick Travieso, RHP, Class A Dayton
2011: Robert Stephenson, RHP, Double-A Pensacola
2010: Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres (MLB)
2009: Mike Leake, RHP, Reds (MLB)