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Cincinnati Reds Draft Profile - Cole Young (SS), North Allegheny High School (PA)

Where will the Reds turn with their first pick in 2022 MLB Draft?

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MLB USA Baseball All-American Game Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

It has only been two drafts, but the idea of the Cincinnati Reds dipping into the Pittsburgh area to take a prep position player with their top draft pick might need a refresher for you. That’s precisely what they did with Austin Hendrick of West Allegheny High School, a player a bit old for his class who turned 19 shortly after draft day and eschewed attending college to sign a professional deal with the Reds.

That story might have a second chapter in 2022, as the Reds continue to be linked with taking shortstop Cole Young of North Allegheny High School (Wexford, PA), a player who, like Hendrick, will turn 19 shortly after draft day - his birthday is July 29th. Young, a Duke University commit, stands 6’0” and has the kind of standout defense up the middle that makes it look like he’ll stick at short for the near future, and Perfect Game mentions in his offensive profile that he “can really hit for both average and power.”

Keith Law of The Athletic has Young going to the Reds with the #18 overall pick in his most recent mock draft, noting that it would be something of a ‘dream scenario’ for the Reds for Young to fall to that point in the draft. However, he does point out that while Young is reportedly quite high on the Reds wish list, there aren’t many other teams picking ahead of them with concrete, public interest at this point.

Law’s colleague at The Athletic, Rob Biertempfel, had a profile of Young that ran last week, in it noting just how close Young has become with Neil Walker, another Pittsburgh-area baseball legend. Walker’s comments on Young’s offensive approach are of particular note, as it’s clear that at just 18 years of age Young has the kind of advanced, analytic approach to hitting that should carry him through the minors. He’s ditched switch-hitting and now only hits from the left side of the plate, but it does appear he’s taken with him some of the experience of being attacked by pitchers while on either side of the plate, something that may benefit him as he continues to develop.

The folks at MLB Pipeline currently have Young rated as the #20 overall draft prospect, tabbing him with a 60 hit grade and giving him comps to recent big leaguers like Stephen Drew and Adam Frazier.

Prospects Live, meanwhile, has Young rated as the #33 overall prospect, but does have him off the board at pick #16 to Cleveland in their latest mock draft.


That last discrepancy is the kind of nuance that probably deserves mention here thanks to teams trying to balance their overall draft pool allocations and the slot bonuses it requires to sign the players that fall to them at certain picks. For instance, while the Reds don’t pick until 18th overall, they have the 7th largest overall draft pool (at just under $10.8 million) in part because they have both a compensation pick for losing Nick Castellanos in free agency after he declined a Qualifying Offer and a Competitive Balance Round B pick, too. So while the Reds could potentially offer the kind of over-slot deal to sign Young away from Duke while selecting him at #18, that would dent their ability to sign anyone at slot (much less over-slot) with pick #32, the one they got from Castellanos leaving.

It’s a scenario the Reds have often faced in recent years thanks to them having held Competitive Balance Round A picks, too. In those years, they’ve opted to go with somewhat high-floor college picks with their actual 1st round pick, saving money by getting them on under-slot deals, and turning that saved money into over-slot deals for high school players with their next picks. That was the case in 2016 with Nick Senzel and Taylor Trammell, and again last year with Matt McLain and Jay Allen II. Taking Young 18th this year would buck that trend, though if they have a college player they like who’s falling they could, in theory, just run it back in inverse fashion to make the overall finances add up.


Here’s video from The Prospect Pipeline of Young at work both in the batting cage and taking infield during the recent Perfect Game All-American Classic:

From back in late April, here’s a look at Young from MLB Pipeline that annoyingly won’t embed. It probably looks like this:

Finally, here’s Prospects Live’s in-depth profile of Young from last fall, when his stock was obviously just as high as it is today. That’s the entire scouting report from September, while I’ve embedded the included video below: