Cincinnati will select 14th in the 2012 MLB Draft next month, the fifth time the Reds have made a choice from that slot. So far, they're batting .250. That one hit, though, was a grand slam. In 1969, Cincinnati selected McKell (Ky.) High School LHP Don Gullett 14th overall.
Gullett is the best pitcher ever selected in the history of the No. 14 slot, edging Scott McGregor. Gullett won three World Series rings, two with the Reds, and went 109-50 with a 3.11 ERA in an injury shortened nine-year career.
Cincinnati's other three picks at No. 14 were less impressive. In 1997, the Reds passed on Lance Berkman, Jayson Werth and Adam Kennedy to select LSU shortstop Brandon Larson. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but Larson posted a line of 8-37-.179 for his career. In 1999, the year Josh Hamilton was the No. 1 overall pick by Tampa Bay, the Reds went with at No. 14 Hudson's Bay (Wash.) High School RHP Ty Howington, who never reached the big leagues. Pitching-starved Cincinnati opted for Howington over OF Alex Rios. Interestingly, the Howington pick broke a string of 12 straight No. 14s to reach the majors and began a three-year run of players who never got out of the minors.
In 2003 with the 14th pick, the Reds selected Houston RHP Ryan Wagner. Touted as a dominant closer, Wagner ended his career with 0 saves. He was involved in an obscure trade of some sort with Washington that went nearly unnoticed around these parts.
History suggests the Reds have nearly a 75 percent chance of landing a future big leaguer with the 14th overall pick. Don't get too excited. History also suggests the player won't be very good. Of the 43 players picked at No. 14 between the initial draft in 1965 and 2008 (We'll give the last four a little more time to reach the majors), 32 made it to The Show. Most had short-lived, indistinguished careers, but there were exceptions. The best of the hitting lot was Tino Martinez, selected by Seattle in 1988.
Cliff Floyd, Jason Varitek, Derrek Lee, Tom Brunansky, Ron Karkovice, Lee Mazilli, Billy Butler and Jason Heyward were pretty good bats, too. Other hitters who saw time in the majors were Al Gallagher, Rich McKinney, Rich Puig, Ricky Adams, Jody Lansford, John Marzano, Steve Hosey, Reggie Taylor, Dee Brown, Russ Adams, Trevor Crowe and Travis Snider.
Gullett and McGregor were all-star pitchers. Jeff Weaver, Ron Villone and Todd Van Poppel were the only other hurlers to have significant careers. Other pitchers who reached the majors were Bo McLaughlin, Jim "Not the Toy Cannon" Winn (whom the Pirates passed over me for in the 1981 draft), Tommy Greene and Cris Carpenter (no, not that one).
The Great State of Ohio is well represented at No. 14, with Piqua's own McKinney out of Ohio University going to the White Sox in 1968; Charles Maxwell of Zane Trace going to the Senators in 1970; and Springfield South shortstop Tim Glass going to Cleveland in 1976.
Soon, we'll begin looking at prospects the Reds might select at No. 14 and hope for a Gullett or Martinez rather than a Rick Konik or Rich Stoll.