Here are the players that I'm really high on. I've already done full write-ups on the top two guys, in order, on my list: Chris Sale and Austin Wilson. Obviously, I'd rather have Bryce Harper or a couple of other guys, but these are the top two realistic options on my board. I really like both Sale and Wilson and would be thrilled with either. Unfortunately, Sale is likely to be off the board by then and Wilson will be a tough sign, especially since the Reds are frequently hesitant to exceed Major League Baseball's slot bonus recommendations.
That said, here are a few other guys whose name I'd love to see the Reds call during the draft.
Reggie Golden - OF, Wetumpka High School
I like Reggie Golden.. a lot. He stands only 5-10, but weighs in at a muscular 210 lbs. He bats right and throws right.
Golden is a potential 5-tool talent and, as a result, he has a very high ceiling. He's got strength and speed to spare. His athleticism rivals that of any player in the draft. But, of course, when you are talking about a player with strong athleticism, you frequently are talking about a player who is raw and lacks polish, which is certainly the case with Golden.
Golden is a bit raw at the plate, but I love his swing mechanics. He has a nice, quiet pre-pitch setup, loads up well, and doesn't get cheated at the plate. He fires the hips well and generates significant bat speed, which gives him good power production. He needs to continue refining his pitch recognition, but his swing mechanics are strong and give him significant offensive upside.
In the field, he is likely to be relegated to the corner outfield spots. He has above average speed, but needs to improve his routes to the ball to more effectively use his speed in the field. His arm is solid, but not a big strength to his game. Still, with additional development he could become an asset on defense and certainly wouldn't be a liability.
Here is a look at Golden in action:
Golden fits the profile of a high risk, high reward high school talent. His upside is tremendous, but his downside risk is also substantial, as baseball is not always kind to those with great athleticism.
Golden would be a reach with the #12 overall pick, but if he's there when the Reds pick in round 2, then they should jump all over him. Unfortunately, the Reds second round pick is #62 overall, as there are a substantial number of picks in the Supplemental Round. However, using their first two picks on Austin Wilson and Reggie Golden would give the Reds two toolsy outfielders with massive upside. Golden just needs more experience to improve his impressive tools, but his upside is tremendous.
Ryan LaMarre - OF, University of Michigan
LaMarre is a standout for the Wolverines who is hitting a robust .419/.453/.649 with a 20/5 K/BB ratio and 6 hit by pitches. Obviously, his walk rate leaves something to be desired, but he has flashed better plate disciplined in the past, so this could be a sample size issue. Additionally, LaMarre broke his thumb diving for a flyball, which cost him playing time, as well as hand strength when he finally returned.
He stands 6-2 and weighs in at 206 lbs, bats right, and throws from the left. He also offers some of the best athleticism in the collegiate ranks. He has a quiet set-up and has fluid swing mechanics. He generates good bat speed and gets good extension, which when coupled with the loft he gets on the ball should give him above average power in the future. He also has good plate coverage and hits effectively to all fields. LaMarre has a sweet righthanded swing that makes him an intriguing hitter.
Here is a look at LaMarre in action:
LaMarre also has good speed. He uses a long stride, which limits his first step quickness, but also enables him to chew up the ground when he gets up to speed. He is a strong defensive outfielder who can handle all three spots effectively. He is a legitimate defensive centerfielder and an intriguing overall prospect.
In addition, LaMarre has the type of intangibles that should make his overall game better than the sum of the individual parts. He has plus make-up, a strong work ethic, and a gamer mentality. In the past, the Reds have had a lot of success with University of Michigan Wolverines, including such names as Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo, Hal Morris, and others, so LeMarre could be the next in a long line of Wolverine talent.
Overall, LaMarre is the type of well-rounded prospect that I'd love to see the Reds land in the draft. He's a nice blend of tools and skills, upside and polish. The fact that he also plays a premier defensive position and plays it well gives him nice total value as a prospect.
Josh Sale - OF, Bishop Blanchet High School
While I typically prefer a well-rounded prospect, it's difficult to overlook Sale's "hit tool." Sale offers some of the best bat speed in the entire draft. In fact, it has been compared favorably to that of uber-prospect Travis Snider, who is one of the best young hitting prospects in the majors.
Sale's value is driven largely by his bat, as he lacks foot-speed, his defense is league average at best, and his positional value is negligible, as he'll be relegated to leftfield or rightfield. So, his bat will determine his career path.
At the plate, Sale's set-up reminds me of Brad Fullmer. But, his swing mechanics are strong and his lightening quick bat generates massive power. He has the type of impact bat that any system can use and would look great in the Cincy system. He'll need to tighten up his swing to close some holes. If he can do so, then he'll be able to hit for average as well as power. If not, then he may struggle with contact and may never hit for average.
Here is a look at Sale in action:
Sale also has great intangibles. He has a strong work ethic and make-up, which should allow him to make the most of his impressive hit tool and limit the drag on his value created by his below average speed and defense.
Overall, Sale is very impressive hitter. His other skills are league average at best, but his hitting ability should more than make up for it. Sale would be a great add to the Reds.
Josh Spence - LHP, Arizona State
The finally prospect on my list is a value play. I wrote the following about Spence in last year's draft write up:
Spence is rapidly becoming a personal favorite. He's the kind of guy that is fun to root for and difficult not to like. Spence doesn't project as an early round prospect, but he might be an intriguing pick in the middle rounds.
Spence is an Australian who decided that he wanted to attend Arizona State University in part because of research he did on the internet. He pitched in junior college before joining ASU and helping to pitch them into the 2009 College World Series in Omaha.
Unfortunately, Spence lacks plus velocity. In fact, he lacks even average velocity. His fastball doesn't touch 90, but he has managed to have very good success with good command and a quality array of breaking balls.
Despite his lack of average velocity, his performance at ASU has been stellar.
In 2009, Spence has posted a 2.33 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and a stellar 109/25 K/BB ratio in 88.2 innings. In addition, Spence has given up only 3 homers in 2009. Scouts don't rate him highly because of his poor velocity, but Spence gets the most out of his gifts and could be the type of crafty lefty that defies expectations in the professional ranks. His lack of velocity will leave him with little margin for error in the professional game, but good control and a strong understanding of how to pitch can make up for a lot of sins.
Spence is a bit of a long shot, but he's a fun prospect and could be a sneaky good value.
Unfortunately, Spence hasn't thrown a single pitch in anger in 2010. He was drafted in the third round of the 2009 draft by the Angels, but he decided to turn it down and return to Arizona State. That decision may come back to haunt the Australian, as he suffered "arm soreness." He reportedly has soreness where the elbow and forearm connect, but no structural issues.
At this point, Spence is a real wildcard, but he offers the type of value that *could* make him a sneaky good pick in the middle to later rounds. I love Spence's "pitchability" and would love to see the Reds take a chance on him with a later pick. He lacks dominating stuff, but knows how to pitch and has success doing it.
FINAL THOUGHTSWell, it's about time for draft day, so time for some final thoughts. I'd love to see the Reds land Chris Sale or Austin Wilson (in that order) with the 12th overall pick. If those guys aren't there, then I'd love to get an impact bat like Josh Sale's.
I'm not sure how or if Reggie Golden or Ryan LaMarre will be available to the Reds, but I'm very high on both and would love to see them in the system. It's unfortunate that the Reds didn't churn enough players to generate supplemental round picks. Additionally, a guy like Josh Spence intrigues me in the later rounds.
Anyway, that's how I see it. As always, it should be fun to see how it shakes out. The Reds could use a good draft to continue it's renewed player development efforts.