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Race to the Top Spot: A look at the top of the 2016 MLB Draft

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All of these names will change, but let's start mining for prospects.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

With 13 losses in a row, the Reds are in a full blown race to the bottom of the MLB. That stinks.

But what doesn't stink is what comes with being the absolute worst team in any given season: The number one pick in the following draft. While it's not a strategy anyone in the Reds front office would admit to taking (remember, this is a reboot, not a rebuild), the "bottom out/load up on high draft picks" has been fairly popular for bad teams in recent years, and the results have paid out nicely in 2015 for teams like the Astros and Cubs. Their losing efforts returned budding superstars Carlos Correa, George Springer, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Javier Baez, just to name a few.

With that in mind, I began to poke around the internet trying to see if I could find which prep-players we should keep an eye on moving into next years draft. For certain this is a list that will vary wildly; while the 2016 draft prospects seem to be better than 2015's, there's not yet been any consensus on who the number one guy will be. The Reds (whether they pick one, two, three or otherwise) should get a solid contributor, but it doesn't appear that the next Bryce Harper is out there waiting to put on Red.

Let's take a look at few way-too-early names that you should be paying attention to (until they completely fall apart in their college season and fall way down the board)  I'm going to focus on hitters for now, because of the glut of pitching in the Reds minor leagues at the current time. We'll visit pitching prospects at a later date.

Blake Rutherford, OF, Chaminade College Prep (CA)

Baseball America profiled Blake Rutherford back in March and it's a solid read. The 6'3" swings a good bat from the left side, but maybe more encouraging is this passage from BA's article:

He also has a mature approach to the game. He was hitting .565 with three homers through Chaminade’s first 10 games, but, like with many stars in high school, teams hesitate to pitch to him. He drew 13 walks in those 10 games, but that’s fine with Rutherford. He trusts the guys behind him. Plus he likes getting to steal second and third base anyway.

A fantastic high school bat that will take a walk? Swoon. Blake was on the 18U USA Baseball team that just won the gold against Japan. Rutherford went 1-3 in the game and scored the first run. He led Team USA as the best hitter, slashing 345/.444/.552 with nine runs and 11 RBIs. Yes please.

Corey Ray, OF, Louisville Cardinals

Destined to be the jch24 approved pick of the draft, Ray will be a junior this coming season for the Cardinals. Here's an article about Ray's upbringing on the southside of Chicago (along with some nonsense about a hill or something), and the impact that his father had on him at an early age. Perfect Game ranked him as the number one outfielder out of Illinois, and after an up and down freshman year, Ray seized a starting spot in the outfield for Louisville and a spot in the middle of the order. Like any player looking to make the leap, Ray spends a lot of time studying the game and looking for ways to get better:

He came to U of L as a free swinger loaded with potential. Though he knows he's still a work in progress, he's starting to slow down at the plate, taking pitches and waiting for the right moment.

Ray was drafted by the Mariners in the 33rd round out of high school, but Ray obviously chose college instead. This season, he slashed .325/.389/.543 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI.

And, well, it seems that everyone else in the picture are pitchers. A few other names to keep any eye on: high school star Seth Beer (which, come on, he'd be perfect for Red Reporter). Bobby Dalbec, who projects as an INF, but I could totally see the Reds trying him at SP. And Nick Banks, who ranks 5th overall onthis highly scientific mlbcountdown dot wordpress site, but someone that Minor League Ball's cookiedabookie projects as back of the first round.

We'll see if the Reds can out-suck the Phillies during the final series of the year in Pittsburgh. If they can, they'll have the pick of the litter come June.