The 2021 MLB First Year Player Draft will take place starting this Sunday, July 11 and finish up on Tuesday. If you remember, due to
the desire to reduce spending in every place and blame it on the Covid-19 pandemic financial restraints from the Covid-19 pandemic, Major League Baseball decided to cut the draft in half from it’s usual 40 rounds to just 20 rounds. They also decided to make more of an event out of it this season, moving it back a month to coincide with the All-Star Break. Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A will take place on Sunday, with rounds 2-10 on Monday and rounds 11-20 on Tuesday.
The Reds go into the weekend’s draft with three picks on day one, the 17th, the 30th (compensatory pick), and the 35th (Competitive Balance Round A). It is going to be interesting to see what approach the Reds take with this draft. Do they take a high school kid first who will take a lot of money to sign and then follow it up with a signable college player, or take the best college player available who can move up the system quickly? Here are a few in each category who the Reds have been rumored to be interested in.
Benny Montgomery - OF, Lewisberry, PA
In the latest Fangraphs mock draft, they projected Pennsylvania high school outfielder Benny Montgomery landing with the Reds at 17. Montgomery has some of the most raw talent in the draft and is one of the best athletes in this draft class. Standing at 6’4” and weighing close to 200 lbs, Montgomery hits for lots of power. He ran a 6.32 60-yard dash this summer, which is near-elite speed. That speed will project well in the outfield, where he is a very good defender.
The main concern with Montgomery is his ability to hit at the next level. He has a pretty choppy swing and he struggled to hit against some of the other top prep pitchers last summer. However, if this is something he can clean up and hit for average, he could have some of the highest star potential in this draft.
Andrew Painter - RHP, Calvary Christian HS (FL)
Andrew Painter is one of the best prep arms in this draft class. He is one of the few guys that mixes great pitches with great command. He has a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s and mixes it with a great change-up. He also throws a curve ball and slider that are both inconsistent right now but have shown some upside. He’s also big and strong, standing at 6’6”, 230 lbs. He is currently committed to Florida, but it’s likely that the Reds will be able to offer enough to sign him.
Bubba Chandler - RHP/SS, North Oconee HS (GA)
Bubba Chandler is one of the more interesting prep athletes in this draft class. He originally committed to the University of Georgia to play baseball but then switched his commitment when Clemson offered him a scholarship to play quarterback. Like Hunter Greene in 2017, Chandler has first round talent at both shortstop and on the mound. On the mound, his fastball has jumped in velocity over the past year. He was sitting upper 80’s/low 90’s before hitting mid-to-upper 90’s this spring. He also has a solid curve ball and a promising changeup and slider.
On the other side of things, he is a switch hitter with solid power and good speed. He also a solid defender with a good arm. His main concern as a position player is his ability to hit consistently at the next level. It will be interesting to see how his football commitment will affect the Reds’ ability to sign him should they take him on Sunday.
Sam Bachman - RHP, Miami University (OH)
Sam Bachman has been one of the college arms linked to the Reds this year. He was one of the top arms in college baseball this season, putting up a 1.81 ERA in 12 starts. He had 93 strike outs against only 17 walks and was 2nd in the NCAA with a WHIP of 0.77. His fastball, which sat in the low-90’s for his first 2 years has jumped up to the upper 90’s in 2021 and he’s even hit 101 MPH this season. He combines it with a killer slider that dominates both righties and lefties. He struggled with command early in his career but that obviously has improved, given his walk total in 2021.
Matt Mikulski - LHP, Fordham
Matt Mikulski is guy you’d most likely see the Reds take with one of their later picks who would sign for less-than slot value. Mikulski is a senior out of Fordham University who really saw his stock rise over the last year. The 6’4”, 205 lb lefty returned to Fordham for his senior season after not being taken in the 5-round 2020 draft. That decision certainly paid off. He dominated the Atlantic-10, earning pitcher of the year honors, and was a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist. His fastball sits in the mid-to-upper 90’s and he combines it with an above-average slider and changeup. He also missed a lot of bats this season, striking out 124 batters while walking only 27 in 68 innings of work.
The hard part about projecting these things in the MLB Draft is that there are so many different strategies, so when you are picking in the middle like the Reds are this year it’s really hard to predict who is actually going to be available. There’s a solid chance that none of these 5 guys end up in the Reds’ system after Sunday, but they are ones that the Red have been rumored to be high on. The Draft starts on Sunday, with the first round airing on MLB Network and ESPN starting at 7:00 PM EDT. Follow along as we find out who is going to be the anchor of the Reds next World Series team.