How Reds are approaching No. 2 pick as Draft nears

July 10th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Mark Sheldon’s Reds Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CINCINNATI -- When the 2024 MLB Draft opens on Sunday night, the Reds will have the pick of the board … pretty much.

Despite an 82-win season in which Cincinnati just missed the playoffs, the club has the No. 2 overall selection because of some luck at December's Draft lottery.

"We should have been the 14th pick before the lottery and moved up to No. 2," Reds amateur scouting director Joe Katuska said on Monday. "You’re just talking about a different class of players there, so it’s been an exciting spring. We’re really zeroing in on what that top group looks like, and now we’re getting into the room to really line it all up.”

The 2024 MLB Draft is this Sunday through Tuesday during All-Star Week in Arlington, Texas. It will feature 20 rounds across the three days, with the first two rounds airing on MLB Network and at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday. The Reds will also pick No. 51 overall during the second round and at No. 71 for their Competitive Balance Round B.

Some have noted that this year's Draft class is not as strong as others in recent years. Katuska didn't view it that way.

“You have to look at the good side of things. I don’t think the class is as bad as people have talked about it," he said. "I think it’s lacking in some areas, but it’s counterbalanced by strength in others.”

One area that the top portion of the Draft has depth is college hitters. The Reds have been linked to several, including second baseman Travis Bazzana from Oregon State, third baseman Charlie Condon of Georgia and first baseman/left-handed pitcher Jac Caglianone of Florida.

The Guardians won the lottery and have the No. 1 overall pick ahead of the Reds.

“Cleveland is being very tight-lipped about it, but we’re scouting the same group of players that they are," Katuska said. “It’s going to be interesting having these conversations over this week, figuring out who our guy is."

There isn't a definitive No. 1 and No. 2 projected player by industry consensus or within the Reds' Draft war room.

"We’re still working off of a fairly large group of players. We’re not close to narrowing it down to just the two guys we think should be at the top of the class," Katuska said. "It’s much wider than that. It’s going to be long and hard conversations all week to really determine who our guy is. Then it will be down to Draft day and if our No. 1 on the board is still there at the second pick.”

The Reds have a total bonus pool of $15,842,100 to spend, the third largest in the Major Leagues, with a slot value of $9,785,000 for the second overall pick, $1,804,900 for the 51st pick and $1,110,600 for the 71st selection.

Full details on how the bonus pool and pick values work are in Jim Callis' story here.

Like many clubs, the Reds could go under slot with some players they select in the first 10 rounds.

“We always try to put together the best class, and it always starts with getting the best player at the top of the board," Katuska said. "The money is important in the whole process because it allows you flexibility to do things later in the Draft. But we’re going to go after the best guy.

“They can provide value in so many different ways if they end up on our Major League roster or as a trade piece. You can just never have too many good players."