The Cincinnati Reds made 22 picks in the 2021 Major League Baseball draft. They had three picks in the first round – more than any other team. In theory, that should have given them a leg up on most teams when it comes to the question of “how did the draft look” because the higher you select, the better talent you should get – at least, again, in theory.
It seems that having three picks on the first day did help. But that wasn’t the only reason evaluators liked what the Reds were able to do. Let’s take a look at what some of the national publications had to say about how Cincinnati’s 2021 draft haul looks.
Jim Callis ranked the Reds draft class as the third best over at MLB.com.
The lone club with three picks on the first day, the Reds turned their first-rounder into sweet-swinging UCLA shortstop Matt McLain, a pleasant surprise to find available at No. 17. Then they used their sandwich picks at Nos. 30 and 35 on Florida high school outfielder Jay Allen, a three-sport athlete with the potential for solid power and speed, and Florida State catcher Matheu Nelson, who tied for the NCAA D-I lead with 23 homers.
Carlos Collazo loved what the Cincinnati Reds were able to do with their draft. You will need a subscription to read the entire piece, but the first line of the write up on Cincinnati says this:
Perhaps it’s unsurprising for a team with as many picks as the Reds to make our list of “excitable” draft classes, but I loved seeing the up-the-middle bats the Reds took on Day One, and felt they got several impressive values on Day Two.
Collazo notes within that the team went very college heavy with their picks. The Reds only selected one high school player out of the 22 players that they picked. Jay Allen, their 2nd pick and the 30th overall selection was the lone non-collegiate player that the team selected.
Eric Longenhagen didn’t exactly do a “how did they do” thing at Fangraphs (along with Kevin Goldstein – but Longenhagen had NL Central duties in this one), but did do a quick recap of each player taken in the first two days by the team. There’s more to the write up than what is below, so be sure to read it, but this part seems to be looking at the development team with the hopes that they can improve some guys weaknesses while utilizing their strengths:
After Nelson, they picked Virginia lefty Andrew Abbott (second) who has a vertical fastball/curveball combo but doesn’t throw all that hard, which the new Reds dev group should be able to remedy. Hopefully the same is true of Oregon State College World Series hero Kevin Abel (seventh), who looked amazing the first week of the college season then fell off in a big way. When he’s right, he has two plus weapons in his curve and changeup, but he only sits about 87. South Carolina righty Thomas Farr (fifth) is the opposite. He’s been up to 98 but has inconsistent feel for release, which makes his slider quality pretty variable.
Keith Law thinks that the Reds may have had the best draft in baseball. You’ll need a subscription to The Athletic to read his entire write up, but the first and last sentences of the write up tell a lot about what he thinks about the work done by Cincinnati:
The Reds might have had the strongest draft overall, or at least the strongest of any team drafting outside of the top 10.
This is really a great mixture of probability and ceiling, with some smart gambles after the fifth round on players with good risk/reward profiles.
Who is signing?
Ever since Major League Baseball went to a pool allotment system for signing the days of selecting players who you weren’t sure would sign have been over – at least in the first 10 rounds, and mostly for the 10 that followed that one. With the draft being just 20 rounds this year instead of the normal 40 rounds, that means it’s even more likely that a very large majority of the draft picks wind up signing.
We have a good idea of some of the players that will be signing up already. The Reds plans seem to include getting as many signees to Arizona later this week to take their physicals and actually sign their professional contracts.
Comp A 1st round pick Mat Nelson indicated he would be signing on his conference call with the media following the draft. 4th round pick Ruben Ibarra told Jim Seimas of the Santa Cruz Sentinal that he was going to sign. 7th round pick out of Oregon State, Kevin Abel, seems to be suggesting that he’s going to be signing with the Reds after thanking the school on twitter yesterday. 9th round pick Jack Rogers has indicated he will be signing to The Huntsville Item. 10th round pick Donovan Benoit indicated he is going to sign to Patrick Bernadeau of the Pensacola News Journal. Blake Dunn indicated that he would be signing to Dan D’Addona of the Holland Sentinel.
College seniors Andrew Abbott (2nd round) and Thomas Farr (5th round) are also likely to sign, but haven’t given any public indication yet.