While the Cincinnati Reds will surely have their focus on thumping the San Diego Padres tonight in lieu of their recent sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers, there’ll be eyes from both the front office and the fans on something perhaps of more importance to the team’s overall future. The MLB Draft begins tonight at 7 PM ET, and since the Reds will be picking 2nd overall, they’ll have a chance to add another elite prospect to the future of the franchise.
Much like last year when the Philadelphia Phillies shook things up by taking Mickey Moniak 1st overall, there’s not yet a consensus on what the Minnesota Twins will do this year with the #1 pick. That, of course, has made it a bit hard to pinpoint what the Reds themselves will do a pick later, just one year removed from selecting Nick Senzel 2nd overall in the 2016 draft. However, that hasn’t stopped the hard-workers at Baseball America from rolling out updated mock drafts based on the rumblings they’ve heard in the game, and their latest edition - released just this morning - has the Reds selecting fireballing California high schooler Hunter Greene with their pick.
BA’s John Manuel has the Twins selecting University of Louisville 1B/LHP Brendan McKay 1st overall, which would leave Greene, who many see as the top overall upside talent in the draft, for the Reds at #2. Still just 17 years old, Greene touched 102 mph with a fastball earlier this year, and despite his great talent with the bat and at SS, it’s that fact that has prospect gurus drooling at his potential as a RHP. Of course, no high school RHP has ever been selected 1st overall, and that fact being thrown around as well as Minnesota’s desire to draft a guy they can sign to an under-slot contract might well let Greene fall into Cincinnati’s lap.
Baseball America isn’t alone in envisioning this scenario. The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan mentioned over the weekend that Greene was the likely favorite to go 2nd overall, and mock drafts from both MLB Daily Dish and MLB.com have Greene as Cincinnati’s selection.
On the one hand, it’s a boon to the system to see such a highly regarded talent connected with the Reds. On the other hand, however, it’s tough to envision Greene reaching the big leagues until at least 2021 in a best case scenario, which is a somewhat difficult pill to swallow when the team is in year three of an already existing rebuild. In drafting Senzel out of the University of Tennessee last year, how quickly he’d move through the minors and help the big league club was a point of emphasis, and with a chance to add a college product just a year later in the cards, a completely different strategy may be used.
Of course, that strategy is influenced by two very important factors: 1) a Nick Senzel caliber fast-moving talent is now in the system, and 2) that’s just how good scouts see Hunter Greene eventually being. And both of those are very, very good things.