The 2015 season didn’t go well for the Cincinnati Reds, but their poor record did give them the #2 overall pick in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft. The Reds have only drafted this highly once in their entire history, in 1983 when they selected Kurt Stillwell. Let’s hope they do better this time around, but teams are generally doing so much better at drafting than ever before as a whole.

The guys over at 2080 Baseball have opened up their early candidates for the top of the 2016 draft. They created their list by surveying industry insiders and used an AP style points system to come up with nine names. Here is their list, ranked according to the Industry Insiders:

Player School Pos.
A.J. Puk Univ. of Florida LHP
Jason Groome Barnegat HS (N.J.) LHP
Alec Hansen Univ. of Oklahoma RHP
Corey Ray Univ. of Louisville OF
Blake Rutherford Chaminade Prep. (Calif.) OF
Riley Pint St. Thomas Aquinas (Kan.) RHP
Connor Jones Univ. of Virginia RHP
Buddy Reed Univ. of Florida OF
Kyle Lewis Mercer Univ. OF

Outfielders and pitchers make up the list. Three high schoolers and six college players. While the Cincinnati Reds farm system is tilted more towards pitching than position players, this is way too high in the draft to avoid taking a pitching simply because you have some pitchers you like. There are guys with true Ace upside available here, so don’t avoid them just because you’ve got some minor league arms.

A.J Puk is the top guy on this particular board. The left hander has the size you want to see out of a top of the rotation arm at 6′ 7″ and 225 lbs. The stuff is unquestionable, but he’s not had a dominant season at Florida yet, posting ERA’s of 3.35 and 3.81 in two seasons, but he has had big strikeout numbers and questionable walk rates.

Jason Groome is another tall left hander, standing at 6′ 6″ and a thin 180 lbs. Unlike Puk, Groome is a high schooler who will still be 17-years-old at the time of the draft. He’s got two potential plus pitches at this point, but needs to improve on his change up. As a high schooler, he would likely take longer to reach the big leagues, but also has less wear on his arm.

Alec Hansen is the first right hander on the list. Like Puk, he’s 6′ 7″ tall and he checks in at 235 lbs. With a big fastball that has touched 99 MPH and three average or better offspeed offerings, he’s got big time stuff to work with. He’s posted big strikeout numbers at Oklahoma in two seasons, but like Puk, he’s struggled with his control as well and hasn’t dominated in a season yet.

Corey Ray is the first position player to crack the list. The Louisville center fielder is listed at 5′ 11″ and 185 lbs and brings above-average speed, defense and power to the table. As a sophomore he hit .325/.389/.543 for the Cardinals while stealing 34 bases. He had 24 walks and 60 strikeouts, something you’d like to see an improvement on in what should be his final year in college.

Blake Rutherford rounds out the Top 5. The high school outfielder is listed at 6′ 2″ and 190 lbs. He can currently handle center, but is more likely going to have to slide to the corner in the future. His bat is his calling card, carrying the top stick among prep players in the country as we head towards the high school season. He’s got power potential and an ability to hit. He will be 19 when the draft rolls around, placing him in the same group as college players when it comes to controllable time in the minor leagues (he won’t get the extra year before having to be added to the 40-man roster like most high schoolers are afforded).

When the college baseball season begins, and with the Reds picking so high, I will begin to do updates on the top guys in the country on a weekly basis. For now we’ve got a list of about 10-15 names to really keep an eye on at the top of the draft. There’s plenty of things that will play out as the college and high school seasons play out, but the Reds find themselves in prime position to add an elite level talent when June rolls around.