The thirteenth part of my draft preview series focuses on the Cincinnati Reds and their scouting director Chris Buckley.
Owner: Robert Castellini, bought club in 2005
General Manager: Walt Jocketty, promoted in April 2008
Scouting Director: Chris Buckley, first draft was 2006
2006 Draft: $4.8 Million Budget
1. Drew Stubbs, OF, Texas, #8 Overall: Stubbs was a true top ten pick, and this was a solid first pick by scouting director Chris Buckley. Stubbs had plus tools, starting with plus raw power, speed, and the ability to be a plus center fielder. He had contact problems, but he was a solid pick. Following players selected: Bill Rowell, Tim Lincecum, Max Scherzer. Signing bonus: $2,000,000.
2. Sean Watson, RHP, Tennessee, #52 Overall: Watson was a solid second-round arm with promise. He had never really put things together in college, but he showed flashes that he could be a solid Major League arm. He fit well in this range, and this was another solid college pick. Following players selected: Chad Huffman, Brad Furnish, Brett Anderson. Signing bonus: $670,000.
3. Chris Valaika, SS, UC Santa Barbara, #84 Overall: Valaika was seen as a solid college middle infielder expected to go in the third to fifth range as a future utility infielder. He was still recovering from a knee injury, but he was expected to have decent pop and workable middle infield actions as a pro. Following players selected: Zach Britton, Dallas Buck, Cyle Hankerd. Signing bonus: $437,500.
4. Justin Reed, OF, Hillcrest Christian HS (MS), #114 Overall: Reed was expected to go somewhere around here, maybe even higher to a team that believed in his bat. He also played football, and he was a major recruit there, too. He had plus speed and athleticism overall, but the refinement of the bat was below elite prep bats. Following players selected: Blake Davis, Ben Snyder, Bryant Thompson. Signing bonus: $287,000.
5. Josh Ravin, RHP, Chatsworth HS (CA), #144 Overall: Ravin had a pretty bad draft spring, dealing with arm issues that scared plenty of teams away. He had solid-average stuff with normal prep command, but he was supposed to go a few rounds later after the injury scare. Following players selected: Tyler Henson, Mike McBryde, Hector Ambriz. Signing bonus: $200,000.
Other Notable Selections: 2B Justin Turner (7th), Cal State Fullerton, $50K bonus; RHP Josh Roenicke (10th), UCLA, $20K bonus; OF Chris Heisey (17th), Messiah College (PA).
2007 Draft: $4.9 Million Budget
1. Devin Mesoraco, C, Punxsutawney HS (PA), #15 Overall: Mesoraco was a legitimate first-rounder in 2007, and he still stands as the only player I’ve gotten hate mail about when I called him a bust. He had solid tools, but most of his value was on the defensive end. He had big helium during his draft year. Following players selected: Kevin Ahrens, Blake Beavan, Pete Kozma. Signing bonus: $1,400,000.
2. Todd Frazier, 3B, Rutgers, #34 Overall: Frazier was considered a solid supplemental first round to second round college product. He didn’t do anything particularly well, but finding a weakness was pretty hard. He had above-average raw power, and that was what drove many teams to him. Following players selected: Julio Borbon, Clayton Mortensen, Travis d’Arnaud. Signing bonus: $825,000.
3. Kyle Lotzkar, RHP, South Delta SS (BC), #53 Overall: Lotzkar was considered a regular supplemental round arm, but his mechanics issues were well-documented, even back then. He had command that was pretty bad, and this pick was largely about projection. Not a bad pick, just shows you process. Following players selected: Tommy Hunter, Nick Hagadone, Trystan Magnuson. Signing bonus: $594,000.
4. Zack Cozart, SS, Ole Miss, #79 Overall: Cozart was a well-rounded player that was considered a glove-first prospect. There were some rumblings that he was a choice at #34, when the Reds went with Frazier. This was a solid choice of a good college defender with a little upside with the bat. Following players selected: Matt West, Eric Sogard, Jess Todd. Signing bonus: $407,250.
5. Scott Carroll, RHP, Missouri State, #104 Overall: Carroll was a volatile prospect in the draft ranks, as he was a football player in the years of his drafts before 2007. He was a good college pitcher with some upside, but he had been drafted twice and turned down offers for good money, making his desires muddy. Following players selected: Danny Carroll, Jameson Smith, Brandon Workman. Signing bonus: $310,000.
Other Notable Selections: 3B Neftali Soto (3rd), Colegio Marista HS (PR), $279K bonus; 3B Brandon Waring (7th), Wofford, $94K bonus.
2008 Draft: $4.8 Million Budget
1. Yonder Alonso, 1B, Miami, #7 Overall: Alonso was a legitimate top of the first round pick, but he’ll always be remembered for being picked over fellow first baseman Justin Smoak. Alonso had plus raw power, a plus hit tool, and plus plate discipline, making him attractive to almost every team in the draft. Following players selected: Gordon Beckham, Aaron Crow, Jason Castro. Signing bonus: $2,000,000*.
2. Zach Stewart, RHP, Texas Tech, #84 Overall: The Reds got a steal here, as Stewart was a supplemental first round arm to a number of teams. That was after being considered a solid first-rounder earlier in the year. He pitched mainly in relief at Texas Tech, but he showed a pair of plus pitches. Following players selected: Stephen Fife, Brent Morel, Danny Espinosa. Signing bonus: $450,000.
3. Tyler Cline, RHP, Cass HS (GA), #119 Overall: Cline was a big-bodied prep arm that was a little lower on the radar than most fourth-round picks, which is where the Reds took him. He supposedly flashed a heavy fastball, but he wasn’t really projectable. He was more taken for his ability to sign for slot with more upside than a similar college pick. Following players selected: Drew O’Neil, Graham Hicks, T.J. Steele. Signing bonus: $240,000.
4. Clayton Shunick, RHP, NC State, #149 Overall: Shunick was a low-ceiling, high-floor pick in the fifth round, and he was expected to go somewhere from the 4th to 7th rounds. He featured fringe-average stuff, but good competitiveness, making him a good relief option in pro ball. Following players selected: Dan Hudson, Adrian Nieto, David Duncan. Signing bonus: $175,000.
5. Alex Buchholz, 2B, Delaware, #179 Overall: Buchholz was a low-upside college pick at the plate, and he was a third baseman in college. He featured some upside with the bat, but he looked more like a utility infielder to me. He signed quickly for slot, so that was probably the draw. Following players selected: Kenny Williams, Paul Demny, J.B. Shuck. Signing bonus: $125,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Juan Carlos Sulbaran (30th), American Heritage HS (FL), $500K bonus.
2009 Draft: $5.9 Million Budget
1. Mike Leake, RHP, Arizona State, #8 Overall: Leake had a junior season that rivaled #1 pick Stephen Strasburg’s in terms of pure statistics. He had a pro set of pitches that all flashed average or above, and he was expected to go between here and the 20th pick. Solid pick with a chance to move quickly. Following players selected: Jacob Turner, Drew Storen, Tyler Matzek. Signing bonus: $2,270,000.
2. Brad Boxberger, RHP, USC, #43 Overall: Early in the 2009 season, I was a big Boxberger fan, as he showed many of the characteristics that Mike Leake did. He dabbled with three pitches that had good consistency, and his pitches themselves actually had better pure potential than Leake’s. However, Boxberger lacked the precise command of Leake, and he showed he was prone to physical slowdown late in games during the year. Solid pick. Following players selected: Tanner Scheppers, Mike Belfiore, Matt Bashore. Signing bonus: $857,000.
3. Billy Hamilton, SS, Taylorsville HS (MS), #57 Overall: I thought this was a very interesting pick, considering it came after a pair of relatively safe college arms went to the Reds. Hamilton himself wasn’t one of my favorite ballplayers, as he was just so raw. He had blazing speed to go along with great defensive quickness, and his arm was plus at short, too. His hitting and fielding tools were lacking greatly, and he might have to move off short due to that. Following players selected: Andy Oliver, Nolan Arenado, Eric Smith. Signing bonus: $623,600.
4. Donnie Joseph, LHP, Houston, #88 Overall: Joseph was a bit of a polarizing figure in scouting circles, as some said he had the pure stuff to be a late-inning reliever, while others said his lack of a history of command would keep him from getting very far with his stuff. He was expected to go somewhere in this range, and it was a good college upside pick. Following players selected: Wade Gaynor, Ben Paulsen, Wil Myers. Signing bonus: $398,000.
5. Mark Fleury, C, North Carolina, #119 Overall: I liked Fleury’s patience at the plate, but I didn’t like the strikeouts he rang up. I heard mixed reviews about his handling of the pitching staff, and that made me wonder whether he could continue to be a full-time starting catcher. This is about where I thought he’d go, but I didn’t necessarily liken him to fourth round talent. Following players selected: Edwin Gomez, Kent Matthes, Chris Dwyer. Signing bonus: $249,300.
Other Notable Selections: OF Josh Fellhauer (7th), Cal State Fullerton, $125K bonus; OF Juan Silva (8th), Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, $95K bonus.
I was largely complimentary of Chris Buckley’s 2009 draft when I did the Reds’ draft review. I continue to think it’s a solid method of going about things. Mixing solid collegiate players with high floors with high-upside prep players makes a lot of sense. I like what they’ve been doing, and I like the direction this farm system is heading, simply because Buckley has been putting solid players in the system for four years now. A fifth draft figures to be solid, even if it doesn’t make national headlines like signing seven overslot players does. Buckley had previously run drafts for the Toronto Blue Jays from 2001-2003 before being promoted to Special Assistant to GM J.P. Ricciardi. Buckley has a lot of experience, and those Toronto drafts yielded Gabe Gross, Brandon League, Dave Bush, Aaron Hill, Josh Banks, Shaun Marcum, and Tom Mastny, all solid Major League players, with a special player mixed in. Red fans may not like the relative conservative nature of Buckley’s drafts, but it will yield some results. Looking at some trends in the hitters, Buckley seems to like collegiate bats on the whole, and usually they haven’t had a ton of upside, but they haven’t really been bad at anything, either. The prep names mixed in have been toolsy players with big upside and already present defensive tools. Speed has been a big thing in those few prep names. On the pitching side, there’s also a collegiate trend, but with a few more prep names, and usually they’re names that have scared a few teams away for one reason or another. They’re under-scouted one might say. Overall draft trends look like they contain a good balance between hitting and pitching, and risky and safer picks. I like what Buckley’s doing, and I’m sure the trend will continue in 2010.
In terms of draft budgeting, Buckley hasn’t always received the most support. They haven’t been particularly bad, but not good enough, either. Over Buckley’s years as scouting director, the Reds have spent the 20th-highest amount on draft bonuses, and they’re trending up, which is a good thing. The $5.1 million they’ve spent per year while he’s been scouting director has been in the bottom third compared to what other incumbent scouting directors have been given, but like I said, it’s trending up, with the $5.9 million given out in 2009 being the highest that Buckley’s been given, and that number was good enough for 16th-highest on the 2009 list alone. Middle of the road is definitely not as bad as it could be, but it could be better. The Reds own picks 12, 62, 94, 127, and every 30 picks after that, assuming that Rod Barajas signs a Major League contract with another club before the draft. That’s one pick in the natural position in every round. I’d expect the Reds’ budget to be somewhere around $5.5 million in 2010, mainly because of the difference between picks 8 and 12 from 2009 to 2010. That’s a solid amount, and I find that acceptable to how Buckley is building his draft system.
Knowing that the Reds generally prefer college players, but also like prep names with plus defensive tools and speed, I think I can make educated guesses about where they’re looking in 2010. I think they’re definitely looking hard at the good collegiate arms in the 2010 class, and I have them going with lefty Chris Sale in my latest mock draft. Other good names for that slot include Alex Wimmers, Drew Pomeranz, Bryce Brentz, and Brandon Workman. Some of the better prep names available at that slot might cost more than the Reds are willing to spend. Some later names I expect them to consider are JaCoby Jones, Josh Mueller, Brett Weibley, Stephen Harrold, and Steve McKinnon out of Canada. I expect another very solid draft from Chris Buckley, and while it might not contain headline names, years of drafts like 2009 could work out well for the Reds, even if Mike Leake and Brad Boxberger aren’t high-ceiling names that some fans would like to see. This is a solid draft and development team, and I respect their approach quite a bit.
*Bonus information came from BA.
What do you guys think? What will the Reds do?