Reds stock up on young athletic talent
Homegrown players key to organization's success
CINCINNATI -- The Reds won't know for a few years which selections from the 2015 Draft will rise all the way through the organization and reach the Major League club. Based on their track record, there's a good chance several will be part of the lineup and pitching staff.
Small-market teams like the Reds have made drafting and development the key method of competing with larger budget clubs. The evidence is the homegrown talent currently with Cincinnati. Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier, Billy Hamilton, Devin Mesoraco, Mike Leake, Michael Lorenzen, Tony Cingrani Tucker Barnhart, Homer Bailey and Jon Moscot are all on the current big league roster.
"It's important for everyone, certainly no more than the teams that are those mid-to-smaller market clubs, because you have to be able to elevate your own personnel or get young players in trades so they are certainly more affordable in that way," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Whether it was first-round pick Tyler Stephenson or their 40th-round selection, a pitcher or position player, Cincinnati tried to use this year's Draft to load up on more athletic talent.
"We just find the more athletic they are, the better adjustments they make and the better they can handle everything," Reds senior director of scouting Chris Buckley said after the Draft ended Wednesday night.
Stephenson, an 18-year-old catcher taken with 11th overall pick from Kennesaw Mountain High School in Georgia, stood out in a talent pool thin at catching this year.
"It's a really hard position to find, not that we set out to do that," Buckley said. "Most times in the Draft, there's usually five to seven guys up there that might have a chance to be everyday catchers. This year, even less than that."
On Day 3 of the Draft, covering Rounds 11-40, the Reds took two sons of former Major Leaguers and members of the organization. Infielder Brantley Bell, son of bench coach and former All-Star player Jay Bell, was taken in the 11th round. In the 29th round, Cincinnati selected catcher Elih Marrero, the son of Class A Advanced manager Eli Marrero, himself an ex-big league player. Bell played at the same school -- State College of Florida-Manatee - as Buckley's son.
"He's a good prospect," Buckley said of Bell.
As is often the case, the Reds loaded up on pitching and took 21 pitchers over the three days. But they also loaded up players that play up and down the middle of the field. Fifteen picks were either catchers, middle infielders or center fielders.
"We always try to do that," Buckley said. "Todd, Devin and Drew Stubbs were up the middle guys. All are very athletic. A lot of these guys do different things well, and we project them for something else."
The Reds often lean heavily toward college players, but this year split it down the middle. There were 21 high school selections and 20 from colleges.
"A big part of this is continuity. I just finished my 10th Draft year," Buckley said. "This is the best Draft year I've ever had. The guys in the office are so smart, they scare me."
Now, Buckley and his staff move immediately to signing as many players as possible. Then the early process for the 2016 Draft begins in another week. It's truly a year-round endeavor to find and evaluate talent.
"We don't throw darts at that board," Buckley said.