So, the playoffs are well underway, so the final few spots of the MLB Draft are yet to be determined. But for those teams that, uh, missed the playoffs by a little bit (or, in our fandom, a lot), they’re pretty much locked into the spot they’ll be drafting next summer.
The Reds fall a couple of spots in the draft order this season because, even though the Reds weren’t really better at winning over the sum-total of 162 games, other teams were better at losing. They drafted 5th in 2018, selecting Jonathan India, after selecting consecutive years at number two (Nick Senzel, Hunter Greene).
Which is a little unfortunate for the team, because they actually won one less game in 2018 than in 2017 and 2016, which netted higher draft picks. Tankapolooza is real, friends.
With all of that being known (the most important fact is the Reds are locked in with the 7th pick), let’s take a very early look at what might be available to the Reds, picking outside of the top five for the first time since drafting Tyler Stephenson (10th overall) in 2015.
Hunter Barco, LHP (Bolles HS, Jacksonville, FL)
Barco is a big dude, listed at 6 foot 4 inches and 204 pounds as a high schooler. He’s got a verbal commit to the Florida Gators, but I’m sure top seven draft slot money would make him reconsider things. He was previously committed to Virginia.
Barco was the Class 5A Player of the Year in Florida this season and has piloted his high school to three state championships, winning two. He played in the Under Armour All-American game at Wrigley Field this past July, where he pitched an inning allowing one hit and striking out two.
The big lefty has a low arm slot and works his fastball in the low 90s, which he pairs with a good changeup. He also features a low 80s slider that has room for improvement, but there’s obviously a lot of time to improve.
With his frame at 17 years old, it’s easy to dream upon projection when working with a professional athletic training staff. Given an injury free year of improvement, he may end up the best left handed prep prospect in the draft (if he isn’t already) which may push him above where the Reds are drafting. But, the kid has stuff.
Video via Perfect Game Baseball:
Zack Thompson, LHP (Kentucky)
Another lefty on the list, this time from the college ranks. Thompson will enter his junior year at UK after missing quite a bit of last season with an elbow injury. Still, he returned in May and pitched 31 innings for the Wildcats through the end of the season. All told, he ended up with a 4.94 ERA, but he’ll have this offseason to get healthy and another collegiate season to show the stuff.
The stuff, by the way, is a 6’ 2”, 225lbs lefty with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. He also has three off-speed pitches, a big curve ball being the best of the three. He was rated by Baseball America’s as the best SEC pitching prospect going into the season (and before the injury). At his best, he has three off-speed offerings right now. In this age of guys who “throw, not pitch” that’s something.
Video via 2080 Baseball:
Riley Greene, OF (Hagerty HS, Oviedo, FL)
So, I didn’t book-end this with a Hunter and a Greene on purpose just so placate Reds fans, I promise.
Greene is listed as the seventh best on the Fangraphs board, which I shouldn’t have to explain views and ranks things a bit differently than the mock drafts that you might see (or that I’ve cherry picked above). He actually goes earlier than seventh (as high as number one) in the mock drafts I pick from above (here and here), but a site rates him as the seventh overall talent at this point, so let’s take a look.
Greene is a lefty, but a position player. He, like Barco, is committed to Florida. He’s also a big kid, listed at 6’2” and 190lbs, so the athleticism is easy to project. He’s long and strong with power to all fields and bat speed to match. He was pitched around a lot this past season because he beat the brains in of his competition.
There’s a lot to like here but if he continues to do what he’s done, it’s not all that likely he’s available at number seven.
Video via Baseball America: