The college baseball season is just getting underway for some teams this week. High school baseball hasn’t started yet for anyone (I don’t think), and for some teams in colder climates it’s not going to actually start for another two months. But none of that matters to everyone talking about, preparing, and looking forward to the Major League Baseball draft, which won’t take place for another four months.

Fangraphs new lead prospect writer Eric Longenhagen (Kiley McDaniel is now the lead guy over at ESPN) began “Prospect Week” by updating the draft rankings for the next THREE years draft classes. Today we’re only going to be worrying about the 2020 Major League Baseball draft because it’s the one that we know the most about when it comes to where the Cincinnati Reds are selecting and what they can spend. But we’ll get back to that in a minute. Let’s jump back to the Fangraphs article. Here’s one of the main takeaways from the early part of the article in reference to this year’s draft:

The prevailing industry opinion is that the 2020 draft is deep, and while I don’t think that’s true of the very top tier of players at this moment, I agree that the totality of the group is very strong. The tier of talent that often wears thin toward the back of the first round (typically the intersection of the 45 FV and 40+ FV tiers here at FanGraphs) is more robust than usual, and stretches well into the second round of this year’s draft.

As with every draft, things can change – and almost certainly do – from the start of baseball up through the day of the draft. Some players will drop, some will rise, some will be injured, and some of them will do everything that was expected of them. It’s just the nature of the beast, so to speak. But working with the idea that Longenhagen suggests, that the draft is very deep outside of the very top, could work in favor of teams with a lot of picks in the first few rounds.

Enter the Cincinnati Reds. They draft 12th, 48th, 66th, and 86th in 2020 over the first three rounds. The very top of the draft doesn’t have that great depth, but the Reds are drafting outside of the Top 10. But they do draft in that prime area where the depth is at, and with an extra compensatory pick, things could play out quite well for Cincinnati if there’s some truth to the depth in this upcoming class.

We don’t know exactly what the draft slot values will be just yet – they’ll come out in about eight weeks – but we can look at what they were last season for the same spots and have a pretty good idea. The pool went up in 2019 by 3.9% from the previous year. We’ll work with that number as an increase for 2020 over 2019, too.

Pick 2019 Value Adjusted 2020 Value
12 $4,366,400 $4,536,690
48 $1,543,600 $1,603,800
66 $1,003,300 $1,042,429
86 $699,700 $726,988

This isn’t exactly all that far from what the Reds had to work with in 2019. Last year they selected 7th, which is where the biggest difference comes from, then 49th, and 85th. They were missing out on that compensation pick, as they traded it to the New York Yankees in the deal for Sonny Gray. Over the course of the first three rounds the Reds had $7,650,700 in pool money. In the upcoming draft, assuming a similar 3.9% increase to each slot, then they will have $7,909,907 in 2020. Of course that also comes with one additional pick.

What we’ve seen most teams do since the slot values came into play is spend a large majority of their pool in the first four or five rounds, and then draft college seniors in the 6th-10th rounds and sign them for very low bonuses. The concept sucks, but it’s how teams make the money work in their favor. With four picks in the first three rounds of a deep draft, the Reds could wind up with a strong haul if things fall their way and they can make the money work. That’s how things played out in 2019 as they landed Nick Lodolo, Rece Hinds, and Tyler Callihan in the first three rounds – signing the latter two to bonuses well above their slot values.


18 Responses

  1. CP

    For this next competitive window to last longer than just a couple years, the draft and development of these players is going to be so crucial. Guys like Rece Hinds and/or Callihan are going to have to pan out and not fizzle out. Guys like Greene/Lodolo need to become significant parts of the rotation and not have to settle for the bullpen (though there is value there, but just not the same value).

    I’ve never been in a place where I actually have more confident in the Reds FO and ability to develop than I do now. Here’s to hoping they are already well on their way to creating “The Reds Way” of doing things throughout the system.

    • Tom

      Good post. I like your point about the last 2 years drafts now under the new system. This will be the year we start hearing from players and seeing their progress. I’d throw India in the conversation as well. I’d expect him to show strong results in AA.

      But this years draft really should restock the farm nicely for the next window. Add in a big international signing too.

      • Oldtimer

        India showed little in 2019 that would result in expecting big numbers at AA level. He may do it but nothing last year showed that he would.

      • Tom

        He had a good year. It wasn’t *great* but it was definitely good. He’s got a lot of talent and a good idea of the K zone. It’s not hard to envision a strong showing.

      • Oldtimer

        He batted .259 with 11 HR and 44 RBI playing in two different leagues. Those are not big numbers. He may do better in 2020 but maybe not.

  2. Tom

    I think they might benefit from a buying a first rounder that slides from top 5 talk due to money. Similar to Grandal. In the 12 range picks tend to expect slot money which means not as much available to pad the 48th pick to pull a Trammell type down. I trust this front office to have everything maximized to the last dollar.

    I just hope that with all the energy going into the mlb team that they keep their eye on the ball with this draft which has the potential to bring in the next star for the franchise that keeps the window open in 2023 when this current roster has almost matured. I’d expect the next 3 years they’ll be picking in the 20’s. At that point maybe they can draft as well as the Dodgers.

    It is fortunate this is a deep draft. It should be fun for scouts to develop their board and even more fun to make that 12th and 48th pick.

  3. Dbfromnva

    As someone who has loved Reds draft talk for over 40 years it is hard to get excited about top draft prospects that may be traded for 1/1.5 year rentals so that they can finish 3rd or 4th instead of last.

  4. Stock

    People should be going to Fangraphs. 4 Reds ranked in the top 100 prospects and Lodolo is #4

    73. Tyler Stephenson
    77. Hunter Greene
    82. Jose Garcia
    92. Nick Lodolo

    • Colt Holt

      All four rated as 50 FV, as are Downs, Gray, and Trammell. That would have been quite a showing if they hadn’t been traded away!

  5. AirborneJayJay

    Right in line to draft high school pitcher Nick Bitsko at that #12 spot.

    • that that had had

      Another Nick?
      Nick Howard
      Nick Travesio
      Nick Senzel
      Nick Lodolo
      And then they sign Nick Castellanos

      Is Nick Krall behind this ?

      Will the drafted players keep getting nicked up?

      • Doug

        And with the insane proposed new playoff schedule the first pitch will be thrown by St Nick (that’s Santa Claus for St Louis fans lol). It is a total conspiracy!!!

  6. DaveCT

    Wouldn’t mind see surplus outfielders traded off for competitive balance picks.

    • AirborneJayJay

      Who are you going to trade with??
      Any of these teams need a “surplus” outfielder? Will any of these teams trade a pick in the 30’s for a “surplus” outfielder? Do you trade Winker or Ervin or Aquino for a pick in the 60’s??

      These are the only picks that can be traded.

      CB-A: 33. Baltimore, 34. Pittsburgh, 32. KC, 33. Arizona, 34. SD, 35. Colorado, 36. Cleveland, 37. Tampa Bay.

      CB-B: 62. Miami, 63. Detroit, 64. St. Louis, 65. Seattle, 66. Cincinnati, 67. Boston (traded from LAD).