The top Reds Draft pick from every season

July 14th, 2021

Although teams select dozens of players each year during the annual MLB Draft, most of the attention is focused on who was taken in the first round. The hits and misses are certainly given more scrutiny.

Cincinnati has selected a Hall of Famer and several mainstay players who became fan favorites over the years. There have also been a fair share of busts.

Here is a look at each year's top pick made by the Reds. Although there used to be multiple amateur Drafts, we are focusing on the annual Rule 4 Draft.

2021: Matt McLain, SS, UCLA (No. 17)
Originally taken with the 25th overall pick by the D-backs three years ago, McLain opted to honor his commitment to UCLA instead of turning professional. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, McLain batted .333 with nine home runs and 36 RBIs in 47 games during his junior year.

2020: Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny (Pa.) HS (No. 12)
Hendrick spent some time at the alternate training site in 2020, and he debuted for Low-A Daytona in '21.

2019: Nick Lodolo, LHP, Texas Christian (No. 7)
The Reds’ No. 1-ranked prospect, Lodolo spent 2020 at the alternate training site, but he has been in big league camp the past two springs. He opened 2021 with Double-A Chattanooga.

2018: Jonathan India, Florida (No. 5)
India earned a spot on the 2021 Opening Day big league roster with a strong camp. In his rookie season as the Reds' second baseman, he’s been off to a solid start and recently moved into the lineup’s leadoff spot.

2017: Hunter Greene, RHP, Notre Dame (Calif.) HS (No. 2)
Greene has wowed with his 100-plus mph velocity since high school. A Tommy John surgery on his elbow delayed his progress, but he’s now one step from the big leagues at Triple-A Louisville.

2016: Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee (No. 2)
Senzel came up as an infielder, but he was moved to center field ahead of his rookie season in the big leagues. He’s shown he can hit and play his adopted position well, but injuries have prevented him from really breaking out.

2015: Tyler Stephenson, C, Kennesaw Mountain (Ga.) HS (No. 11)
Stephenson debuted in the Major Leagues in 2020, and he's enjoying his first full season in ’21. Paired with veteran catcher Tucker Barnhart, he’s become a key offensive contributor already and has rapidly improved defensively.

2014: Nick Howard, RHP, Virginia (No. 19)
Struggles and a shoulder injury led to Howard’s lack of success. He was released in 2019 without reaching the big leagues, but was brought back to the organization in '21.

2013: Phillip Ervin, OF, Samford (No. 27)
Ervin reached the big leagues in 2017 and batted .250/.320/.415 with 17 home runs in 219 games in parts of four seasons with Cincinnati. He was claimed off waivers by the Mariners during the 2020 season.

2012: Nick Travieso, RHP, Archbishop McCarthy (Fla.) HS (No. 14)
Travieso reached Double-A in 2016 before he was doomed by arm injuries. After being let go by the Reds, he is pitching in an independent league this season.

2011: Robert Stephenson, RHP, Alhambra (Calif.) HS (No. 27)
Stephenson debuted as a starting pitcher for the Reds in 2016 before eventually transitioning to the bullpen. Over five seasons in Cincinnati, he was 10-13 with a 5.15 ERA before he was traded to Colorado after the 2020 season.

2010: Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami (No. 12)
Grandal never reached the big leagues with Cincinnati. He was traded in December 2011 to the Padres in the Mat Latos deal. But Grandal has enjoyed a long career with multiple teams and is a two-time All-Star.

2009: Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona State University (No. 8)
Leake signed late in 2009 and went directly to the Major Leagues with the Reds in '10. In 168 games from 2010-15, he was 62-47 with a 3.87 ERA.

2008: Yonder Alonso, 1B, Miami (No. 7)
Alonso was a highly coveted slugger who was blocked by Joey Votto at first base. He played 69 games for the Reds in 2010-11 before he was traded to the Padres with Grandal and Edinson Vólquez in the Latos deal. Alonso had a 10-year big league career.

2007: Devin Mesoraco, C, Punxsutawney (Pa.) HS (No. 15)
Mesoraco reached the big leagues with the Reds in 2011 and played eight seasons. He was a 2014 All-Star with 25 homers and 80 RBIs, but injuries to both hips shortened his career.

2006: Drew Stubbs, OF, Texas (No. 8)
A speedy center fielder, Stubbs played four seasons with the Reds from 2009-12. He owns the franchise’s single-season record of 205 strikeouts in '11.

2005: Jay Bruce, OF, West Brook (Texas) HS (No. 12)
The No. 1 prospect in baseball when he was called up in 2008, Bruce became a cornerstone player for the Reds for nine seasons, along with three playoff appearances. He hit 233 homers for the club, including a celebrated playoff berth-clinching drive in 2010.

2004: Homer Bailey, RHP, La Grange (Texas) HS (No. 7)
Bailey spent 12 seasons with the Reds from 2007-18, and he's best known for throwing two no-hitters in 2012 and ’13. He was 67-77 with a 4.56 ERA in 212 starts.

2003: Ryan Wagner, RHP, Houston (No. 14)
A reliever who debuted the same year he was picked by the Reds, Wagner spent three seasons in Cincinnati with a 4.69 ERA in 108 games.

2002: Chris Gruler, RHP, Liberty (Calif.) HS (No. 3)
Injuries doomed Gruler’s career, and he never got above the Low-A level in the organization. He threw only 92 2/3 innings over four seasons.

2001: Jeremy Sowers, LHP, Ballard (Ky.) HS (No. 20)
Sowers went unsigned, and he was picked sixth overall by Cleveland in 2004. He pitched in the big leagues for four seasons.

2000: David Espinosa, SS, Gulliver Prep (Fla.) HS (No. 23)
Espinosa spent only two seasons in the organization before he was traded to the Tigers. With that organization, he got as high as Triple-A.

1999: Ty Howington, LHP, Hudson’s Bay (Wash.) HS (No. 14)
Howington, who often dealt with injuries, had a 4.08 ERA over five Minor League seasons, but he never got beyond Double-A.

1998: Austin Kearns, OF, Lafayette (Ky.) HS (No. 7)
Kearns became the regular right fielder for Cincinnati from 2002-06, hitting 71 homers over his five seasons.

1997: Brandon Larson, 3B, Louisiana State (No. 14)
Larson slashed .179/.271/.299 with eight homers over 109 games.

1996: Johnny Oliver, OF, Lake-Lehman (Pa.) HS (No. 25)
Oliver could not get above the Class A level after four seasons and batted .208 over his four seasons.

1995: Brett Tomko, RHP, Florida Southern (No. 54)
Tomko spent the first three of his 14 big league seasons with the Reds, compiling a 29-26 record with a 4.35 ERA. He was part of the 2000 trade to the Mariners that brought Ken Griffey Jr. to Cincinnati.

1994: C.J. Nitkowski, LHP, St. John’s (No. 9)
Nitkowski debuted in 1995 and posted a 6.12 ERA in nine games. But he was sent to the Tigers in a Trade Deadline deal for lefty starter David Wells and went on to play for seven more clubs over 10 seasons.

1993: Pat Watkins, OF, East Carolina (No. 32)
Watkins played two seasons for the Reds in 1997-98 and batted .256 with two homers.

1992: Chad Mottola, OF, Central Florida (No. 5)
Mottola batted .215 with three homers over 35 games in his lone season with the Reds in 1996. He is perhaps most known as the player taken just before Derek Jeter went to the Yankees.

1991: Pokey Reese, SS, Lower Richland (S.C.) HS (No. 20)
For five seasons from 1997-2001, Reese was an OK hitter, but he had a reputation for dazzling defense as a second baseman. In his final big league season, 2004, he won a World Series with the Red Sox.

1990: Dan Wilson, C, Minnesota (No. 7)
Wilson played only two of his 14 seasons (48 games) in the Major Leagues with the Reds, while the rest were spent with the Mariners after he was traded for Bret Boone.

1989: Scott Bryant, OF, Texas (No. 20)
Bryant played three of his 10 professional seasons in the organization, but he topped out at Double-A.

1988: Jeff Branson, 2B, West Alabama (No. 45)
Branson played for Cincinnati from 1992-97 and batted .248 with 31 home runs. He had a nine-year big league career.

1987: Jack Armstrong, RHP, Oklahoma (No. 18)
Armstrong had a 4.61 ERA over four seasons with the Reds from 1988-91. But he had a magical first half of the 1990 World Series season that earned him a start in the All-Star Game.

1986: Scott Scudder, RHP, Prairiland (Texas) HS (No. 17)
A reliever and sometimes starter for the 1990 World Series winners, Scudder had a 4.54 ERA over three seasons with Cincinnati.

1985: Barry Larkin, SS, Michigan (No. 4)
Easily the best first-round selection in franchise history and a Cincinnati native, Larkin played all 19 of his big league seasons (1986-2004) with his hometown Reds, and he won the National League MVP Award in 1995. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

1984: Pat Pacillo, RHP, Seton Hall (No. 5)
Pacillo pitched in 18 games with a 5.90 ERA over the 1987-88 seasons. He was part of a five-player trade that sent him to the Expos on July 13, 1988.

1983: Kurt Stillwell, SS, Thousand Oaks (Calif.) HS (No. 2)
He played two seasons for the Reds from 1986-87, but he was moved after the arrival of Larkin. Stillwell had a nine-year big league career and was a 1988 All-Star for the Royals.

1982: Scott Jones, LHP, Hinsdale (Ill.) HS (No. 22)
He posted a 5.91 ERA over three seasons and didn’t get beyond Class A.

1981: Lanell Culver, OF, Palmdale (Calif.) HS (No. 42)
Culver batted .208 over four Minor League seasons, but he did not get past Class A.

1980: Ron Robinson, RHP, Woodlake (Calif.) HS (No. 19)
Robinson pitched seven seasons for the Reds as a starter and reliever and posted a 3.66 ERA. He missed the World Series run because he was traded on June 9, 1990, to the Brewers for Glenn Braggs and Billy Bates.

1979: Danny Lamar, C, Bellaire (Texas) HS (No. 20)
Lamar batted .276 over seven Minor League seasons. He did not get past Double-A.

1978: Nick Esasky, OF Carol City (Fla.) HS (No. 17)
Esasky was primarily a corner infielder for the Reds from 1983-88 and hit 92 homers over his six seasons in Cincinnati.

1977: Tad Venger, 3B, William S. Hart (Calif.) HS (No. 24)
He played four seasons but never above Class A.

1976: Mark King, RHP, Owensboro Senior (Ky.) HS (No. 23)
King went 7-24 with a 5.63 ERA over three Minor League seasons.

1975: Tony Moretto, OF, Harrison (Ind.) HS (No. 22)
Moretto batted .234 over four seasons, none above Double-A.

1974: Steve Reed, RHP, Fort Wayne (Ind.) HS (No. 23)
In 1975, he was 12-8 with a 2.01 ERA for Class A Tampa.

1973: Bradford Kessler, OF, Claremont (Calif.) HS (No. 22)
He batted .235 in four Minor League seasons.

1972: Larry Payne, RHP, Huntsville (Texas) HS (No. 7)
Payne had a 3.54 ERA over seven Minor League seasons and reached Triple-A.

1971: Mike Miley, SS, East Jefferson (La.) HS (No. 24)
Miley did not sign; he was later drafted by the Angels 10th overall in 1974.

1970: Gary Polczynski, SS, Nathan Hale (Wisc.) HS (No. 15)
He batted .193 over four Minor League seasons.

1969: Don Gullett, LHP, McKell (Ky.) HS (No. 14)
Gullett was a phenom starter who won 91 games and recorded a 3.03 ERA over seven seasons. He was a part of four World Series teams, including the back-to-back title clubs in 1975-76.

1968: Timothy Grant, RHP, Riverview (Va.) HS (No. 13)
Grant posted a 3.79 ERA over four Minor League seasons.

1967: Wayne Simpson, RHP, Centennial (Calif.) HS (No. 8)
As a rookie in 1970, Simpson went 14-3 with a 3.02 ERA in 26 starts and went to the All-Star Game. He was traded with Hal McRae to the Royals following the '72 season.

1966: Gary Nolan, RHP, Oroville (Calif.) HS (No. 13)
Nolan was 110-67 with a 3.02 ERA in 10 seasons with the Reds. He had a 1.99 ERA in his 1972 All-Star season and pitched in four World Series, including the title-winning teams in 1975 and '76.

1965: Bernie Carbo, 3B, Livonia (Mich.) HS (No. 16)
Carbo was taken ahead of Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, who went in the second round of the ’65 Draft. He batted .310 with 21 homers as a rookie in 1970 and was traded to the Cardinals during the ’72 season.