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Reds go with strong-armed Armstrong in Round 3

Starting with prep righty, club focuses on pitching on Day 2 of Draft

The red letter C that Mark Armstrong wore on his hat while playing high school baseball at Clarence High School, just outside of Buffalo, N.Y., might have been a piece of foreshadowing.

With their third-round selection in the First Year Player Draft, the Reds, who wear the exact same letter C on their caps, took the strong, athletic right-hander as the 104th pick.

While his present stuff is good, it isn't as enticing as his upside of having three at least Major League-average offerings. Armstrong's fastball sits around 90 mph, and he mixes in a hard, downward curveball and changeup.

Scouts think he has the potential to improve thanks to clean mechanics and his 6-fooot-3, 200-pound frame. Armstrong played football and hockey in addition to baseball and doesn't have as much game experience as his southern counterparts.

"He's a big, physical guy with good stuff," said Reds senior director of amateur scouting Chris Buckley. "He's a northeast guy, so he's not quite really who he is yet. He was a three-sport athlete, so we're obviously excited about how much he can grow."

Armstrong still earns high marks for his pitching ability.

He led his high school team to a section championship with a dominant complete-game performance. Armstrong gave up only three hits over seven innings, and had 10 strikeouts while only walking one batter.

He is committed to Pittsburgh, but Buckley said he feels good about the Reds' ability to sign Armstrong.

Armstrong's selection was the first of six pitchers taken by the Reds on the second day of the Draft. Cincinnati went with a college arm in the fourth round, taking Ben Lively out of the University of Central Florida. After picking Mauldin High School (S.C.) shortstop Cory Thompson in the fifth round, the Reds went with three straight right-handed pitchers: Zack Weiss from UCLA in round six, Tyler Mahle out of Westminster High School (Calif.) in round seven and CSU Bakersfield senior Scott Brattvet in round eight.

In the ninth round, the Reds picked former football player Chad Jones, whose NFL career ended because of a car accident a month after the New York Giants drafted him in 2010. Cincinnati rounded out day two of the Draft by selecting another right-handed pitcher, Daniel Wright from Arkansas State.

In the Pipeline

The Reds went with a slew of pitchers on Day 2 of the Draft. Although there's talent on the mound throughout the organization, stocking up on arms in the Draft is not an uncommon practice.

Of Cincinnati's top 20 prospects, according to, half are pitchers. Right-hander Robert Stephenson leads the way as the No. 2 prospect in the organization, followed by Tony Cingrani, Daniel Corcino and Nicholas Travieso.

Buckley said there's various reasons for drafting a plethora of pitchers, including the fact that the position has the highest attrition rate.

"Every year, the most players that get signed are actually pitchers," Buckley said. "On each [Major and Minor League] pitching staff, we have to have 10 pitchers, so every team does it."

Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for
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