The Reds had picks 30 and 35 in this year’s draft, and took two hitters to round out their first day.
The Reds got a compensation pick after the Dodgers picked up Trevor Bauer in free agency, and the Reds used that pick to take Jay Allen, a Floridian high school outfielder. Allen is committed to play at the university of Florida, but the Reds will hope he signs with them instead. Allen is a right-handed hitter with a lot of room to grow, and with an athletic 6’3” frame, could develop into a center fielder at the big league level. According to Perfect Game:
Outstanding athletic build with lots of room to continue to get stronger. Didn’t run the sixty but a plus runner on the field. Loose arm in the outfield with good carry and was consistently on top of the ball, accurate one-hop throws, centerfield potential. Right handed hitter, hits from an wide base with a busy front leg trigger, loose and ultra fast hands create easy barrel whip, occasionally out front too early but there will be few fastballs thrown past him, ball comes off the barrel hard, really squared up the ball well in games against high velocity pitching.
With their third pick at #35, the Reds took Florida State catcher Matheu Nelson. Nelson’s strength is his bat, where he hit 23 home runs to lead the NCAA this year, as well as a .330 average and 66 RBI. Here’s his profile from Baseball America;
Nelson ranked squarely in the middle of the BA 500 in the 2020 class, at No. 250, thanks to an all-around profile with a compact swing and solid arm strength, but no obvious carrying tools. A year later, Nelson has dramatically shifted his profile and improved his draft stock, thanks to one of the better offensive seasons of any Power 5 Conference player. Through 52 games, Nelson was tied for the Division I lead with 23 home runs, while putting up a .330/.436/.773 slash line. Nelson has a compact and strong frame, listed at 5-foot-11, 209 pounds, and his homers this season have been scattered from the left-field line to the right-center gap, with a majority of them coming off of fastballs. There is some swing and miss to Nelson’s game, and he also struggled with pitches on the inner third and with spin, but when he’s able to get his hands extended he has shown an ability to do plenty of damage. He has the defensive tools to stick behind the plate, with some scouts saying he is one of the better catch-and-throw backstops in the country in a class where most of the top college backstops are bat-first types. He has easy, plus arm strength and has shown an ability to throw quickly and with good carry from his knees, with solid blocking and receiving ability as well. Nelson is old for the class but has a chance to be an everyday catcher with some power.
He won the (aptly-named) Johnny Bench award for the best catcher in the country, and is the highest catcher drafted out of Florida State since some dude named Buster Posey.
They’ll join Matt McLain as the Reds’ first round selections. The draft resumes at 1PM ET today with rounds 2-10, streamed on mlb.com.