While it’s going to be another 10-15 years before we truly know how the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft plays out, it’s barely 10-15 hours before we start seeing what others thought about how the Cincinnati Reds did over the course of the last three days.
Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports has some encouraging words from a rival executive about just how well the Cincinnati Reds did with their draft.
One rival executive didn’t mince words. “Cincinnati won the draft by far,” that executive said.
Not only is No. 2 overall pick Hunter Greene a potential All-Star, so are the Reds’ second and third picks – prep shortstop Jeter Downs and Wake Forest outfielder Stuart Fairchild, that exec asserted.
That executive went on to cite “bad scouting by other organizations” as reasons for the Reds’ haul. He said stars just kept falling into the Reds’ lap.
Later on in that article it notes that Hunter Greene’s signing bonus is expected to be close to slot money. If it’s even remotely close, it will be the highest ever paid to a draft pick since the draft pool began.
Those are some strong words. But for now, they are very good to hear from a Cincinnati Reds fan perspective. While everything that the Reds will say is going to be roses and sunshine about how they feel about their draft, outsiders saying the same things is good confirmation that maybe they were right.
Jim Callis of MLB.com ranked the Reds draft as the second best. He had nice things to say about all five of the Reds first four rounders and notes that if they could pick up a few guys beyond the 10th round it would just be icing on the cake, so-to-speak.
JJ Cooper of Baseball America broke down the National League Central drafts. Here’s what he said about the Reds:
Once the Reds landed SS/RHP Hunter Greene at No. 2, the rest of the draft is a bonus. But it’s a pretty good bonus as Cincy focused on up the middle defenders and college arms, including Miami prep SS Jeter Downs (1s), Wake Forest OF Stuart Fairchild (2) and intriguing high school LHP Jacob Heatherly (3).
Nothing too in depth, but I think that the key point for most drafts is nailed in the first sentence: Get your 1st pick right and anything else is a bonus. History shows that every pick that goes by, the less value you are going to get. In almost every draft, it’s the first two picks that you make that tend to be the ones that make it a ‘good” or a “bad” draft.
How did the Reds actually do in the draft?
Now it’s time to give my opinion on the draft. If you’ve been around the site for a while, and have a good memory, you’ll know that every year I say the same thing: In Chris Buckley I trust. Buckley is the head of Amateur Scouting and has been the head of the drafting efforts for the Cincinnati Reds since February of 2006. In that time he’s done about as good of a job as anyone in the game at turning draft picks into every day big leaguers. From 2006-2013 he’s gotten every first round pick he’s made into the Major Leagues with one exception, Nick Travieso, who is still just 23-years-old. And the year he was taken is the same year that Jesse Winker was taken in the supplemental 1st round, who has been to the Majors.
At the top of the draft the Reds landed the player that was #1 on their board in Hunter Greene. He’s the most athletic player in the entire draft and would have been a mid-1st round pick as a shortstop if he weren’t so highly touted as a pitcher. Terms like “generational talent” and “the LeBron James of baseball” have been thrown around in regards to Greene, though I think that’s incredibly over-the-top at this point. He’s incredibly talented, no doubt, but he’s also a 17-year-old pitcher and that means he’s still years away from even seeing the field in Cincinnati if things go perfect in his development. Every national outlet ranked him as the #1 player in the draft with several suggesting that it wasn’t even close. Baseball America’s JJ Cooper suggested on draft day that he’d rank Greene ahead of Nick Senzel, who is currently the #6 prospect in all of baseball.
As I said above – If you get the 1st pick right, everything else is a bonus. It’s tough to say that the Reds didn’t get their 1st pick right, even if Hunter Greene wasn’t the top guy on my personal draft board. A small personal preference wasn’t much and when looking at pure upside, there’s an easy argument to be made that Hunter Greene is at the top of any list for the 2017 draft by a wide margin. A rival executive said that the Reds also got possible All-Stars with their next two picks as well. With Jeter Downs and Stuart Fairchild the Reds got two very athletic, up-the-middle players who look like they’ve got a chance to have above-average bats. Big time athletes. That’s an overriding theme from Day 1 of the draft.
On Day 2 they got things started with some pitching, taking left hander Jacob Heatherly. He’s got legit stuff, and while there’s some work to do, all of the parts are there for a quality left handed starting pitcher. That was followed up by another athletic middle-infielder with perhaps the best name in the entire draft, Cash Case.
After the 10th round there were some real interesting picks. The key will be whether or not they can get any of the guys signed that fall into that category. Not that any of them will make or break the draft, but signing any of them could certainly give the draft a little bit of a boost.
Overall, there’s not much to dislike about what the team did. They grabbed the consensus top player in the draft at #2 and grabbed plenty of athletic up the middle players early on. Time will tell how things go, but the early returns seem to be about as good as you could expected.