Draft Preview: Lefties atop Reds' list
Cincinnati not shy in taking best player despite needs
CINCINNATI -- When it comes to the player board as the Reds prepare for the First-Year Player Draft, talent will always prevail over need.It's the reason why the Reds selected college first baseman Yonder Alonso with the seventh overall pick last year, even though Joey Votto is young and talented.
"You get into trouble if you try to fill needs," Reds scouting director Chris Buckley said. "It's not like football, where, if you need a left tackle, you just go get one at USC. Big league needs can be different and change. You just keep stacking up as much talent as you can. I keep telling people we took Josh Hamilton in the Rule 5 Draft and turned him into Edinson Volquez. The Brewers took Matt LaPorta when they already had a first baseman in Prince Fielder and got CC Sabathia for him."Alonso was signed to a five-year, $4.55 million Major League contract minutes before the Aug. 15 signing deadline. Does that mean the Reds will be willing to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for another highly touted, but unproven prospect? Predictably, Buckley said such a move would be subject to approval from general manager Walt Jocketty and ownership. "You don't go into it looking to give out a Major League contract, but agents press for it," Buckley said. "A college kid is two to three years away from the big leagues and a high school kid is probably four or five. I'm sure it will come up. Agents know what we did last year. If it happens again, it'd probably be a collegiate player since they are closer to the big leagues." In the 2009 Draft, the Reds will have the eighth overall selection. MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft on June 9-11. MLB Network will broadcast the first round at 6 p.m. ET on June 9 from its Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and those 32 selections also will be simulcast live on MLB.com.
Beginning with the 33rd pick, up-to-the-minute on-air coverage from the remaining rounds will shift exclusively to MLB.com/Live, where host Vinny Micucci will be joined by MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo and Major League Scouting Bureau director Frank Marcos.
Once the first night is done, the Draft will continue with Rounds 4-30, via conference call from MLB headquarters in New York at noon on June 10. Rounds 31-50 will be on June 11, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Here's a glance at what the Reds have in store as the First-Year Player Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
In the span of about three years, the Reds' farm system has gone from a wilderness to one that's become more respected and richer. The organization wants to continue its run of stocking the farm with quality talent who can be used as potential big leaguers or as trade chips that can help bring in veteran help from the outside when needed.
"I like what we're seeing out there. We feel good about where we're picking. It's a solid to average class. The best part of this Draft might be Rounds 2-6. There's good depth there." -- Buckley, on the talent pool for the 2009 Draft
The Reds have been linked to a few players, including a pair of right-handed pitchers who are in independent leagues because they were not signed last year -- Aaron Crow and Tanner Scheppers. Crow skipped signing with the Nationals over a $500,000 difference -- he was seeking $4 million and was offered $3.5 million. If high school lefty Tyler Matzek is still around, the Reds would always love to add left-handed pitching no matter what round it is.
"We're at the mercy of the first seven teams," Buckley said. "Eight's just deep enough where we've got a decent idea, but a lot of things change between now and the Draft. When we do the reports, we look at signability, what their dollar figure might be and Dr. [Tim] Kremchek is looking over potential medical issues."
Left-handed pitching is always a premium that, like many organizations, the Reds want to accumulate as much as possible. Even though they've taken a few catchers the past couple of years, the Reds want more. As far as they are concerned, you can't have enough catchers, lefty pitchers or middle infielders.
More than two-thirds of the players drafted each year have been from college since Buckley came aboard in 2006. Because they often use the international signing period to mine for younger players, like the signing of two 16-year-olds last summer, the Reds feel less need to select high schoolers in the Draft.
Recent top picks
2008: Alonso, taken seventh overall from the University of Miami, started slow but ultimately tore it up at Class A Sarasota in the Florida State League, earning a promotion to Double-A Carolina on Monday.
2007: Catcher Devin Mesoraco, a high school pick, is also at Sarasota, but struggling offensively.
2006: Outfielder Drew Stubbs is on the cusp of reaching the Majors at Triple-A Louisville. Although not a power threat, he's a speedy center fielder who can get on and steal a lot of bases.
Outfielder Chris Heisey, a 17th-round pick in 2006, has been the organization's most productive hitter this season at Double-A Carolina. Entering Monday, he is currently batting .378 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs.
Outfielder/first baseman Danny Dorn, a 32nd-round pick in 2006, has moved steadily up the chain in the past four seasons. Dorn is now at Triple-A Louisville.
In The Show
In the past three Drafts, only reliever Josh Roenicke (10th round, 2006) has reached the Majors. Roenicke was a September callup last season, and he appeared in five games. The right-hander is currently with Triple-A Louisville.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.