This week on the MLBPipeline Podcast, host Tim McMaster and resident prospect gurus Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo are joined by Reds Vice President of Amateur Scouting Chris Buckley. The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's episode of the Pipeline Podcast.
McMaster: "We are excited to have Reds Vice President of Amateur Scouting Chris Buckley with us and Chris, thanks for joining us. I know the dust is still kind of settling on the 2017 Draft, but thanks for taking some time with us."
:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::
Buckley: "Well thanks for having me."
McMaster: "My first question for you, Chris, is you know a lot of people probably think, 'Hey, the Draft is over, those guys can kind of breathe and relax a little bit,' but you've got to get these guys signed and then it's on to next year. Is this as busy right after the Draft as leading up to the Draft?"
Buckley: "Yes, it really is because you have to get all the kids out there, you have to get the physicals done, you have to get them to travel out there. This part, we're not evaluating players, per se, but we do have to get them all signed up so it does takes some time to get them through the physicals and that kind of stuff."
Mayo: "Chris, obviously the guy that everyone probably wants to know about is the guy you took right at the top No. 2 overall, Hunter Greene. Should we expect a signing? Feel free to break the news here on our podcast if you'd like. Once you do get him signed, and everyone knows that will happen at some point, I know the plan is to let him hit a little bit, at least this summer. Can you explain that process?"
Buckley: "Yeah, the plan is to let Hunter hit some because he is an outstanding two-way prospect, and although we like him a little more on the mound, my entire group does think he's a quality prospect as a shortstop. And Hunter has not pitched since early April. So he needs to be tuned up to get him going and get a base of some innings underneath him. Our entire group, our farm director Jeff Graupe, (general manager) Dick Williams and the other people in file think it'd be a good idea to have him hit some for a while."
Video: Price gives reaction to Reds drafting Greene
Jim Callis: "Chris, obviously he gets the lion's share of the attention from your Draft because he was the No. 2 overall pick, but one thing I thought was interesting, I mean, in a Draft that was thought to be kind of light in up-the-middle talent, you guys found some pretty interesting up-the-middle guys in early rounds. You got Jeter Downs in the supplemental first round, shortstop from Florida, you got Wake Forest center fielder Stuart Fairchild in the second round, and then middle infielder Cash Case, another Florida high-schooler in the fourth round. Was that something that you guys targeted or was that just how the Draft board fell and those guys came up? Because it seems like you got a pretty good haul there."
Buckley: "Well, it's something we try and do each Draft, Jim, but you know some are harder than others and it's something the other 29 teams also want. It kind of lined up that way. Jeter was there. He's a guy we've seen quite a bit of. I have a very strong group of some of my very high-up scouts who live in Florida, and we've had some success there in the Dade County area. He's a guy we've seen quite a bit of. We did plan to do it, but we were excited when those guys were there when we came around to pick."
Video: 2017 Draft: Jeter Downs talks being selected by Reds
Mayo: "Chris, it seems that you guys have done a very nice job of using the Draft pool system without necessarily sacrificing anything at the very top. Last year, Nick Senzel was at the top of your boards and you got him and you were still able to get Taylor Trammell. This year you were able to draft Hunter Greene and you were able to get Jacob Heatherly and Cash Case, who already signed for above pick value. Can you talk a little bit about that process about how you manipulate your bonus to the highest benefit for the organization."
Buckley: "Well, Jonathan, I have some really, really smart guys who help me put this thing together and they deserve -- Sam Grossman, Jeff Graupe, Nick Krall, Mark McKnight -- some of the guys that help me with the financial end of it are very, very sharp and have very creative minds. All 30 teams are trying to maximize whatever their budget is and hopefully we're doing that, but I have some really sharp people that put this together."
Callis: "Chris, kind of off that theme, too, you're talking about the bonus pool and moving money around and figuring out who you can sign. I know you've already signed your live-armed junior college pitchers in rounds 11 and 13 in Jared Solomon and Ricky Karcher. Is there going to be room in the budget to maybe make a run at one of the bigger name guys you guys took in the later rounds like a Seth Lonsway or Brady McConnell or are those guys more insurance policies in case something happened with one of your earlier picks?"
Buckley: "Jim, you and Jonathan, have this stuff down pretty good, for sure. We're hopeful. Certainly we have to get Hunter signed up first and that will tell us exactly where we can go. But you know, like all the other clubs, we do pick guys past the 10th round and we are hopeful on a couple of those guys. We've done some good work there, we think we know where we need to be, but we have to pre-up the money up front and get Hunter done and whatnot. But we are hopeful to help finish it off that we could land a couple of those guys after the 10th round."
Mayo: "Chris, at the same time as trying to get all these [picks] signed and figuring out all that stuff, you have to kind of shift gears quickly. The summer showcase circuit is already underway, you've got Perfect Game National, you've got USA Baseball's Prospect Development Pipeline events all this week, Tournament of Stars next week. How difficult is it to shift gears? And I would imagine you're kind of wearing both hats in terms of working of signing the 2017 guys while looking ahead to 2018 at the same time."
Buckley: "Well, you know, yes. I'm actually covering our farm system now. I'm out watching some of our Minor League clubs play. But we will have people at all of those events and every person, Jonathan, no matter what level you work at in the business, the Draft is all time consuming. It's 11 months now. We did have a bunch of scouts at the Perfect Game National and Fort Meyers and whatnot, but everybody, no matter what level you are, you have to take a little breath and step back or else your players start running into each other. You can't stay out on the road for 30 days in a row, and do that. You'd become a nonproductive employee. So for the next few weeks, I'll be watching our farm system and helping the farm people. I still do the international stuff so there's still work there. I'll be at a ballpark somewhere, but it might not quite yet be preparing for the 2018 Draft."
Callis: "Well, Chris, I'll make it easy on you. We also are doing a little bit of looking ahead. They made me project the Top 10 picks in the next year's Draft based on the records and I gave you Joe Gray Jr., the outfielder from Mississippi. Does that work for you? Just take Joe Gray and you guys can move onto the second round. I've already taken care of it for you."
Buckley: "Just guarantee me he's going to play 10 years in the big leagues and make four All-Star teams and we'll sign up for it today."
Callis: "There you go, I'll guarantee that for you. Get that one going."
Buckley: "I'm sure Dick Williams would sign up for it, too. No, it's so far out. Things change so much. Kids get hurt, things come up, there's off-field issues. It's great to start focusing on it, but I think the people who have been at this for a while know how many things can change. Injuries, down performances, off-the-field issues. There's all kinds of stuff that goes into a selection. All 30 teams kind of do it a little bit differently and whatnot, but we're out there, we're active, we're trying to develop that follow list and try and get as many looks at these guys as we can."