Reds go heavy on college talent on Day 2

June 5th, 2019

CINCINNATI -- On Monday night, the Reds only scratched the surface of the 2019 MLB Draft when they made their first- and second-round selections. Tuesday’s Day 2 is when the team’s scouts and baseball operations executives started the deep dive during Rounds 3-10.

“We thought we balanced out the class nicely,” Reds assistant scouting director Joe Katsuka said. “We were able to target a bunch of players and get them to our picks, which was nice. We led off the day with a high school kid that we liked quite a bit and then swung back more towards the college guys. We got a good mix of pitching and hitting throughout 3-10.”

Here is a pick-by-pick look at the Reds' Day 2 Draft selections:

Round 3 (85th overall): 2B Tyler Callihan, 18, Providence School (Jacksonville, Fla.)

A high school senior with a big power potential like second-round pick Rece Hinds, Callihan was projected by some to be a first- or second-round pick. But he was still around on Day 2 and the Reds plucked him.

“Sometimes, funny things happen,” Katsuka said. “We had him evaluated in that range and thought a number of teams would select him. And then he just kind of hung around on the board and we were able to make it happen with our first pick of the day.”

Callihan was a third baseman in school, taken as a second baseman and has played some catcher. This left-handed hitter could profile as someone who if he can continue to hit, the Reds will find a place for him to play.

“It’s not just a power bat; he also has an advanced field to hit,” Katsuka said. “It’s a good combination of the hit and power tools. We saw him against varied competition this year.”

Round 4 (114th overall): 2B Ivan Johnson, 20, Chipola Junior College

Johnson attended Kennesaw Mountain High School in Georgia, which also produced the Reds’ top catching prospect, Tyler Stephenson. Chipola has developed future big leaguers Patrick Corbin, Jose Bautista, Russell Martin and former Reds outfielder Adam Duvall. Johnson, considered one of the top junior college players in the country, began at the Univ. of Georgia but was stuck behind three infielders and transferred to Chipola. A switch-hitter, he has shown he can hit for both average and some power.

“We’ve seen him play both shortstop and second base in the past. We think he’s a second baseman moving forward, but he will play some shortstop as he starts his pro career,” Katsuka said.

Round 5 (144th overall): LHP Evan Kravetz, 22, Rice University

Standing at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, Kravetz was a reliever for most of his college career but was elevated to the Rice rotation in his senior year. It proved to be a successful move as he posted a 3.24 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 14 starts while opponents batted .200. His assistant coach at Rice was former Reds shortstop Paul Janish.

“He’s gotten better every year and moved into the starting rotation this year,” Katsuka said. “We were able to get a good, strong recommendation from Janish on Evan, both on and off the field.”

Round 6 (174th overall): RHP Graham Ashcraft, 21, University of Alabama-Birmingham

Profiling as a reliever, Ashcraft first wowed scouts when he was throwing 99 mph as a high schooler, but he passed on the Dodgers as a 12th round pick to attend Mississippi State. As a freshman, he suffered injuries to both hips that forced him to miss all of 2018 before he transferred to UAB. He still has four-seam fastball that sits at 94-96 mph and a changeup and slider but has no track record of commanding his pitches to throw strikes.

“That’s why you get a guy throwing 98 mph in that spot in the Draft. They’re not all perfect when they get there,” Katsuka said. “But we’ve seen him since he was high school and think there are things that are correctable. You take a gamble on that sort of natural and physical ability.”

Round 7 (204th overall): Catcher Eric Yang, 21, UC-Santa Barbara

It’s been a nice week for Yang. On Monday, he was named a finalist for the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award. He will be up against overall No. 1 pick Adley Rutschman and Georgia Tech junior Kyle McCann. Considered a well-rounded player, he got to start behind the plate for UCSB this season and ended up being his conference’s player of the year.

Round 8 (234th overall): OF Quin Cotton, 21, Grand Canyon University

The first top-10-round pick for Grand Canyon since at least 2012, Cotton’s college coach was former big league infielder Andy Stankiewicz. Ranked as the No. 173 prospect in the Draft by MLB Pipeline, he is known for making contact and rarely striking out, but he lacks a strong throwing arm. Cotton could profile as a potential fourth outfielder. The Reds liked him while tracking him in the Cape Cod League last summer. Cotton played right field at Grand Canyon, but the organization thinks he can also play center field.

Round 9 (264th overall): OF TJ Hopkins, 22, University of South Carolina

According to the Charleston Post and Courier, a fractured vertebrae and a broken hand during his junior year at South Carolina relegated Hopkins to being an undrafted free agent. His father said he turned down a couple of offers to sign for $150,000 and returned for his senior year. Cincinnati’s ninth-round bonus slot is worth $156,100 so his risk to wait didn’t go unrewarded. Healthy this year, Hopkins appeared in all 56 of the Gamecocks’ games.

Round 10 (294th overall): RHP Jake Stevenson, 22, University of Minnesota

An academic all-Big Ten selection, Stevenson also received an excellence in athletic performance award after his 2019 season. The Minnesota native pitched in 20 games (three starts) this season. For each of the past three summers, the right-hander pitched in the wooden-bat Northwoods League in St. Cloud, Minn. Reds scouts saw Stevenson reach 97 mph this season, but similar to Ashcraft, needs to work on his command and control. At school, Stevenson majored in sports management.

The 2019 Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 on beginning at noon ET.