CINCINNATI -- The Reds made a very bold maneuver in December when they parted with two former first-round Draft picks and a former sandwich pick.
First baseman Yonder Alonso, catcher Yasmani Grandal and reliever Brad Boxberger were three of the four players required for the Reds to acquire starting pitcher Mat Latos from the Padres.
The job of reloading with elite prospects belongs to Reds general manager Walt Jocketty and scouting director Chris Buckley. It will start Monday on the first day of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
"We try to do that every year. That's all part of the business," Buckley said.
Cincinnati has the 14th overall pick in the first round, plus supplemental selections that will gave the club the 49th and 57th overall picks due to the departures of free agents Ramon Hernandez and Francisco Cordero.
Live coverage of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on Monday, at 6 p.m. ET on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following@MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Following several first-round miscues in the early 2000s, the Reds had several first-rounders reach the Major Leagues. Starting pitcher Homer Bailey (2004), right fielder Jay Bruce ('05), center fielder Drew Stubbs ('06), catcher Devin Mesoraco ('07) and starting pitcher Mike Leake ('09) are all on the current 25-man roster. Alonso ('08), a first baseman blocked by Joey Votto, reached the Majors in '10 and was with the club much of last season as a left fielder before he was dealt.
"We've worked real hard at this and have an experienced staff," Buckley said. "There are a bunch of good scouts here. We've had good support from the ownership, and both general managers I've worked for -- Walt and Wayne [Krivsky] -- were very supportive. All in all, it is a feather in your cap, because this is what we're trying to do."
Former Reds first baseman Sean Casey will be the club's representative at MLB Network studios in Secaucus, N.J., where the first round is being held. The club will phone its pick to Casey. He will relay that to Commissioner Bud Selig, who will announce all first-round selections.
Here's a glance at what the Reds have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 100 words
The Alonso pick underscores the fundamental Reds Draft philosophy of always taking who they view as the best available player when making selections. If there isn't room in the big leagues, those players can always become valuable trade chips to get Major League talent to fill other needs.
"The guys that we pick are 3-4 years away," Buckley said. "If your big league need is at shortstop, and we pick a shortstop, he's likely four years away. That might be your need four years from now. In my career, the teams that do the best pick the best available player."
Last year was one of the strongest Draft classes Buckley had seen since joining Cincinnati in 2006. This year? Not so much.
"I would say this year, it's kind of average," Buckley said. "Last year was a much deeper draft. The kid we got last year [pitcher Robert Stephenson at No. 27] might go 14th this year, or even in front of that. That's the way the business goes. The talent is different with strengths and weaknesses. I've been doing this a long time, and this isn't one of the stronger ones I have seen."
There are several college arms that the Reds could be targeting, but many of them could be gone by the No. 14 pick. According to MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo, that means the Reds could wind up with Stanford third baseman Stephen Piscotty, who has a strong bat and can hit to all fields. There is also Deven Marrero, a good defensive shortstop out of Arizona State. The Reds previously selected Marerro in the 17th round in 2009, but he opted to attend college.
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
Pitching and more pitching. The highest attrition rate in the Minors is often pitchers that either get injured or don't pan out as expected. Players to fortify the middle of the field (catcher, middle infield, center field) are also popular selections.
The Reds have generally skewed towards the college campuses when making their Draft selections. In 2011, 30 of the club's 50 picks came out of college, including nine of the first 10. The first-round pick, Stephenson, was taken out of high school.
Recent Draft History Rising fast
Class A Bakersfield left-handed pitcher Tony Cingrani, the Reds' third-round pick in 2011 out of Rice University, was named by the organization as its Pitcher of the Month in April. A couple of weeks ago, Cingrani had 12 strikeouts with no walks over six innings. He has more strikeouts than innings pitched this season.
Reds' recent top picks
Extended spring camp
Triple-A Tucson (Padres)
A 34th-round selection out of the University of Florida last year, outfielder Bryson Smith has been one of Class A Bakersfield's best hitters during his first season of pro ball. Smith is batting .340 with five home runs and 27 RBIs in 44 games this season.
In The Show
The Draft has become a primary vehicle for the Reds to build its current club, with a majority of their starters being homegrown. Besides the first-round selections currently on the roster, others drafted and developed by Cincinnati are Votto, Zack Cozart, Chris Heisey, Logan Ondrusek and Sam LeCure.