Cincinnati. The Queen City (like most American cities). Gateway to the Gateway to the South. Home to youthful itinerant gamblers, Jerry Springer's mayoral legacy, criminally overrated chili-based dishes, and America's oldest professional baseball team. I'm not a Reds fan or follower, but my great-grandmother was born there in 1890, and all the better teams were taken by the time I saw the sign-up thread. Between those two, I might as well be Steve McQueen. Now let's get down to what it's all about.
I won't bore you or myself by rehashing the Reds' recent drafts or combing over the entire organization, but suffice it to say that as presently constituted, the Reds' system is one of extremes. It's incredibly top-heavy, perhaps moreso than any other in baseball. At the risk of painting with slightly-too-wide a brush, going into 2013 it was Billy Hamilton, Robert Stephenson, Tony Cingrani, Daniel Corcino, and a whole lot of wildcards.
With the exception of Stephenson, all the top guys at or beyond the top MiL level, and other than that there's not much on the horizon. And by not much, I mean almost nothing. There is a nice crop of players at the lower levels (led easily by Jesse Winker), but those who aren't fresh out of the draft are mostly hugely green. Long story short, there's shockingly, almost amazingly little in the way of developed minor league depth in the system. The only guy in the middle I'd want to bet on is the wildly under-appreciated Tucker Barnhart.
Fortunately for the Reds, I don't think this relative lack of forthcoming reinforcements is anything to worry about at all. "Pretty good" prospects are seldom missed, the bottom rung has nowhere to go but up, and this is a team with an awful lot of young, or at least entrenched starters. Bodies-wise, they want for little. So what to do?
"Don't draft for need," and "best player available" have become nauseating platitudes at this point. All teams need contributors, but not all teams need the same kind of contributors in the same time frame, and if you could cut through the murkiness of player evaluation, even "best" is a continuum: best ceiling? best at becoming a prospect? best chance of contributing? More than likely, one will quickly find oneself choosing between several if not dozens of players whose values are essentially equal. Which among them is ultimately chosen comes down to need on some level, or simple preference for certain types. he bulk of the Reds' system is sufficiently larval, and the ML team is sufficiently prepared for the next couple of years that I see no hole to fill or pressing need to address, other than the need to continue to accumulate talent. Now there's a platitude I can get behind.
The Reds are fortunate enough to have picks #27 and #38, to be followed by #67, #104, and #135. Like everyone on the internet, I'm not a scout, but I know what I like, and I have a very good but developing idea of who I'll be targeting with at least the first 3, if not beyond. The late first is right around the time things get unpredictable, but I'd be willing to make the wrong move at the right time.
I'm not gonna divulge my targets just yet, but if there are any actual Reds enthusiasts out there, or any other armchair Reds scouting directors who want to chew me out, make some suggestions as to strategy or players who've caught their eye, fire away.