Cincinnati Reds 2014 Draft Preview

1st rounders doin' their 1st round thing. - Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Reds have chosen wisely of late. They'll hope to continue that success beginning tonight.

If you've been a fan of the Cincinnati Reds long enough to remember the early aughts, you should probably start sending fan mail to Chris Buckley.

Buckley, you may know, is the Senior director of amateur scouting for the Reds, and he's been on board with the club for every draft since 2006.  In that time, the Reds have selected 14 players in either the 1st round or compensation round, and the quality of turnout produced by those picks has been rather remarkable.

Each of the players taken in the 1st round from 2006 to 2010 has spent multiple seasons in the majors already (Drew Stubbs, Devin Mesoraco, Yonder Alonso, Mike Leake, and Yasmani Grandal).  Todd Frazier and Brad Boxberger - comp picks in 2007 and 2009, respectively - have also spent multiple seasons in the big leagues with significant success.  None of the 1st rounders or comp picks taken since 2011 has cracked the 25-man roster yet, but that's more due to age and experience than it is a reflection on their talent.  Robert Stephenson, 2011's 1st rounder, is one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the minors, and both Phillip Ervin & Jesse Winker have cracked multiple Top 100 prospect lists thanks to the hitting prowess they've displayed so far.  Michael Lorenzen, drafted just last year, has made the transition to being a starting pitcher at an absurd development rate and is already mowing through Double-A batters.  Nick Travieso, drafted in the 1st round in 2012, has yet to progress at ludicrous speed, but he's building quite a nice season as a 20 year old in Single-A Dayton right now (6-2, 3.17 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) and still projects as a decent starting pitcher.

Realistically, that means that the only two players who have seemingly not panned out among those 14 are 2007 comp pick Kyle Lotzkar and 2012 comp pick Jeff Gelalich.  Not coincidentally, those are the only two of the 14 that were drafted later than 50th overall, with Lotzkar coming off the board 53rd overall and Gelalich 57th.  And heck, both are still under 25 years old, and if Buckley saw something in them there's still a chance they develop into Shane Victorino and Joe Nathan, or so.

It's hard to truly appreciate how important good drafts have been to the winning on the field in Great American Ball Park, and it hasn't just been the 1st rounders that have made huge impacts.  Billy Hamilton (2nd round, 2009), Zack Cozart (2nd, 2007), and Chris Heisey (17th round, 2006) are all considered cogs on the 25-man roster, and both Sam LeCure (4th round, 2005) and Logan Ondrusek (13th round, 2005) have been counted on heavily out of the bullpen.  Buckley & Co. found Tony Cingrani (3rd round, 2011) as a college closer before turning him into a starter in the minors.  While Homer Bailey (1st round, 2004) and Joey Votto (2nd round, 2002) predate Buckley's time on the job, the importance of them panning out shouldn't be downplayed at all.

So if you head to a bar for a beer & to watch the Reds game, if you don your Reds jersey when you're not even heading to a game, or if you frequently stop by Red Reporter to drop a BOOM BOOM CLAP in the game thread, it's probably because of the job Chris Buckley has done to help build a homegrown team that's massively easy to root for.  Frankly, the guy deserves a hug from us all.

★★★

Thanks to the Collective Bargaining Agreement's Free-Agent signing system, the top of the 2014 MLB Draft reads like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" novel.  Teams lost their top picks in the draft by signing players who had declined extended qualifying offers, teams that extended qualifying offers but had them declined received compensation picks that bumped up the overall order (unless, of course, the pick was protected because the team was so bad the previous year), and if a team signed multiple players attached to compensation they forfeited later picks in the draft.

Follow that?

What's left - and what's important to we Reds faithful - is that Cincinnati will have the 19th and 29th overall picks tonight, the first one based on their 2013 record and a few forfeited picks and the second one based on getting a compensation pick when Shin-Soo Choo declined his qualifying offer.  That provides Buckley, Walt Jocketty, & Eric Davis's awesome earrings with a chance to bring home a pair of top-flight prospects to bolster a system that's thin on developed talent.

There are thousands of players eligible for the MLB Draft, and if you choose to comb through the various mock drafts and projections you'll find a different player taken by the Reds in each of them.  One thing we do know for sure is that the Reds will absolutely take the best player available on their draft board regardless of whether it seems systemically redundant.  They took Yasmani Grandal in 2010 despite the presence of Devin Mesoraco as the "catcher of the future," and Yonder Alonso was similarly drafted despite the then-recent emergence of Joey Votto as Ubermensch the previous year.

Some names, however, have continually been linked to the Reds, so I'll gloss over them briefly thanks to the miracle of people who know about these things having laptops and the internet.

★★★

There you have it.  The Reds are projected to take pitching, pitching, and more pitching, which assuredly makes everyone who has watched the 2014 Cincinnati offense leap with joy.  Remember, though, that these picks won't crack their shell as major leaguers for at least a few years, so there's plenty of time for them to marinate while Brodie Greene, Zach Vincej, and Ryan Wright bring their big-time offense to the Queen City.

If you're interested in watching tonight's draft, it kickstarts at 7 PM EST, and will be televised on MLB Network.  In fact, if you're interested in reading about how to watch tonight's draft, you can further give your pageclicks to SB Nation by clicking here and checking out the where/who/how/why of what's going on this evening.  Thanks, THENICKSTER!

We'll have a live thread of our own up later, too, so just come back here and Draft Party like it's 1999* with us.

*Ty Howington?  Oh good lord.  Party like it's 2005 with us, then.  YAY JAY BRUCE!


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