To anyone who follows the team, it's no secret that the Reds ability to choose wisely at the top of the draft has fueled the franchise's resurgence since the breakthrough 2010 season. The everyday eight is filled with former 1st and 2nd round picks in Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton, Todd Frazier, Zack Cozart, Joey Votto, and Devin Mesoraco, and each of Mike Leake, Michael Lorenzen, and Homer Bailey's shredded elbow came as 1st round picks, as well.
Since Chris Buckley took over as the team's scouting director in 2006, his selections Drew Stubbs, Frazier, Mesoraco, Yonder Alonso, Leake, Brad Boxberger, Yasmani Grandal, and Lorenzen have each found their way to the big leagues, and the team's future lies in the continued development and success of their top choices whether they break in with the Reds or get packaged in franchise-altering trades. More recent top picks like Robert Stephenson, Jesse Winker, Phillip Ervin, Nick Howard, and Alex Blandino look to prolong that trend, and it's a continued testament to Buckley and his colleagues to note that those five rank near the top of every 'Reds Top Prospects' list in circulation.
We'll have much more on this year's draft in coming weeks, so stay tuned.
To the links...
Draft season begets Mock Draft season, and Baseball America released their initial version over the weekend. The staff at BA does a remarkable job of not just scouting the top draft-eligible players in the country, they also do their best to match players to teams based on prior draft history, tendencies, and trends. Version 1.0 has the Arizona Diamondbacks taking RHP Dillon Tate with the top overall selection, while they have the Reds selecting UC's own OF Ian Happ with the 11th overall selection. That's a tad interesting. BA notes that the Reds' system is deep with pitching, but I'd add that they're pretty dang deep with outfielders, too. A chance to add a highly touted local prospect would be a smash hit, not that the Dayton Dragons need any sort of attendance boost, or anything.
I'll also add that BA has three Vanderbilt Commodores being selected in their 1st round (Go Dores!), and has last year's #1 overall pick Brady Aiken - who the Houston Astros didn't sign and who subsequently needed Tommy John surgery - going 18th overall to the San Francisco Giants.
As for the real, live, actual Cincinnati Reds, their series loss at the hands of the Chicago White Sox yesterday was the kind that just tends to stick in your crawl. After fighting back from a 2-run deficit with a rally against stout closer David Robertson, the bullpen again imploded to cost the team the game. This time, however, it wasn't one of the usual suspects; rather, it was Aroldis Chapman, and as Mark Sheldon notes at Reds.com, it ended a 28.1 inning scoreless streak. Gordon Beckham's soft single plated the rubber match's winning run, the first such allowed by Chapman in 2015.
That final White Sox run elevated the Reds' bullpen ERA to a ghastly 5.56, which you probably won't be surprised to find is the absolute worst in all of baseball. What is surprising, though, is that there's only one team in all of baseball - the New York Mets - whose bullpen has thrown fewer than the 77.1 IP thrown by Reds relievers, yet the 48 ER they've allowed is tied for the 6th most in the game. Probably the most damning bullpen stat, however, is that they've only managed to leave 62.6% of their runners on base, which is hands down the worst in all of baseball.
The foibles and tribulations of the Cincinnati bullpen is just one reason why the current iteration of the Redlegs has ESPN 1530's Mo Egger bored. I agree with a lot of what Mo has to say here, but I'll add that the general air of inevitability that this group is about to get blown up at either the deadline or at year's end plays a part in this, too. Stagnancy, mediocrity, and inevitable dissolution are three things that make it hard to get amped about anything; add in Kevin Gregg, and, well...hey, the All Star Game is in Cincinnati this year!
Sam LeCure, as you all know, has not been a problem in the Reds bullpen this year, but that's because he's been in the Louisville bullpen all year. At least he's been enjoying himself.
Finally, it looks like I'll be yapping about the Reds on Lexington's ESPN 1300 today at about 6:45 PM ET, so tune in for a few minutes before Mike Leake & the Reds take on the Atlanta Braves, if you're so inclined.