Reds stockpile catchers in Draft
Cincinnati collects five backstops out of 53 players selected
By Patrick Allergi / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Reds senior director of scouting Chris Buckley didn't set out to stock up on catchers in this year's First-Year Player Draft, just good players. But, it just so happened that many of the good players Buckley and his staff stocked up on wear shin guards.
Including first-round pick Devin Mesoraco, five of the 53 players drafted by the Reds on Thursday and Friday were catchers. In comparison, the organization drafted only four outfielders.
In all, Cincinnati drafted 31 pitchers -- 23 right-handed, eight left-handed -- and 13 infielders along with the five catchers and four outfielders.
Buckley said that more than anything else, he was trying to capitalize on what he viewed as a strong year for a weak position.
"We're excited because the more you do this, for whatever reason, catcher has become a really weak position up here in the Major Leagues and all through professional baseball," he said after the Draft finished late Friday afternoon. "In amateur baseball, for some reason, there's not a lot of kids going back there [behind the plate]. Usually, on your Draft board, it's one of the weakest positions.
"I think we recognized there [were] more [quality catchers] than usual, and it was a bit of an unusual year, so we said, 'Hey, let's get it. Maybe there won't be any [catchers] out there next year.'"
Three of the five catchers selected played in high school this past season. Overall, the Reds drafted 19 high school players, including six of their first 14 picks.
"College kids you know a little bit more about, and many times we've seen them play more at a higher level, like summer league or whatnot," Buckley said. "But many times, it's a high school player [that finds the most success]. I mean, out on the field tonight, you've got [Ken] Griffey, [Josh] Hamilton, [Adam] Dunn, and [Brandon] Phillips [all of whom were drafted out of high school], so I don't think you can go one way or the other. I think you need a blend of both."
Completing all 50 rounds of the Draft is difficult enough, but teams had even more trouble making all their selections in only two days this year, because this was the first year the Draft's first day had been televised. Teams only made it through five rounds on Thursday, leaving another 45 rounds to complete on Friday.
"The second day was quite a bit different [from past years], just because there were so many selections," Buckley said. "As we got a little deeper, it got quicker and quicker. Towards the end, it was going real fast, but a bunch of teams had also dropped out."
Buckley said that while other teams bowed out early, the Reds never considered finishing their picks until the last round was over.
"There's a lot of great players in the big leagues that were picked after the 50th round," he said. "If they give us 50, we want to take 50."
One trend throughout the Draft that applied to the Reds was a preference for tall pitchers. Of the 31 pitchers Cincinnati drafted, five stand 6-foot-5 or taller.
While Buckley said he feels good about the selections he and his staff made, he is quick to remind that a true analysis of this year's Draft is still years away.
"We're happy, my group his happy, and in a couple of years, we'll see how we did," he said with a smile.
Cincinnati's Day 2 Draft selections
RHP Evan Hildenbrandt, Mennonite Educational Institute, British Columbia (199th overall):
Hildenbrandt impressed as a top prospect for the World Wood Bat Association All-Prospect Team in 2006 with pitches reaching 92 mph and what scouts described as a "loose, athletic body."
3B Brandon Waring, Wofford College, S.C. (229th):
Waring, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound junior from West Columbia, S.C., was named a first team Louisville Slugger All-American and was the unanimous pick for Most Outstanding Player of the Southern Conference Tournament. He won two-thirds of the Southern Conference triple crown with a league-best .401 batting average and 27 home runs. He also set Southern Conference records for home runs and total bases (189) in a season.
RHP Andrew O'Neil, Penn State University (259th):
O'Neil, a native of Roswell, Ga., set a new Penn State record for saves with 11 in 12 opportunities while also compiling a 4-2 record. He did not give up a single run in Big Ten play this season.
CF Alexis Oliveras, Puerto Rico BB Academy HS (289th)
RHP Harris Honeycutt, University of South Carolina-Columbia (319th):
Honeycutt was 8-5 with a 3.59 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 90 1/3 innings entering his start against North Carolina in the NCAA Super Regional on Friday night.
C Jordan Wideman, Streetsville HS, Mississauga, Ont. (349th):
SS Scott Gaffney, Penn State University (379th):
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Gaffney spent the last two seasons as Penn State's starting shortstop after playing mostly third base as a freshman. He also made eight starts and nine appearances as a pitcher for the Nittany Lions this past season, compiling a 3.76 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 14 walks in 40 2/3 innings.
OF Brandon Menchaca, University of Delaware (409th):
Menchaca batted .284 and committed only three defensive errors for Delaware this past season. He started in all 55 of the Blue Hens' games.
LHP Joseph Krebs, University of Texas-Austin (439th):
Krebs went 9-1 in 35 appearances for the Longhorns in 2007, compiling a 2.60 ERA in 93 1/3 innings with 86 strikeouts and 19 walks.
RHP Matthew Klinker, Furman University, S.C. (469th):
Klinker, a 6-foot-5, 210 pounder, went 5-6 with a 4.57 ERA in 86 2/3 innings of work for Furman in 2007. He posted a career 16-15 record and 4.52 ERA at Furman.
LHP Charles Snowden, Brandon (Miss.) HS, (499th)
RHP Jesse Craig, Brigham Young University (529th):
Craig was selected to the American Baseball Coaches Association All-Midwest Region Team following the 2007 season after going 10-2 with a 2.94 ERA in 20 starts for BYU. Craig struck out 86 and walked 21 in 125 1/3 innings this past season.
RHP Taylor Jordan, Merritt Island (Fla.) HS (559th):
Jordan finished 12-1 with two saves and a 0.94 ERA in 2007 for Merritt Island High School, striking out 94 batters in 74 1/3 innings.
RHP Raymond Jeffords, University of South Carolina-Columbia (589th):
Jeffords was 6-1 with a 2.87 ERA in 47 innings with five saves as of Friday afternoon before the Gamecocks faced North Carolina in the NCAA Super Regionals.
SS Jacob Kahaulelio, Oral Roberts University (619th):
Kahaulelio earned first-team all Mid-Continent Conference honors after hitting .314 with six home runs and 46 RBIs as a senior for the Golden Eagles this past season. He started all 57 games and compiled a .972 fielding percentage as a second baseman.
LHP Jeremy Horst, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Ga. (649th):
< Horst went 4-0 with a 5.88 ERA in 24 appearances for the Pirates in 2007. He struck out 42 batters in 33 2/3 innings and tallied one save.
RHP Robert Rhoden, Vanderbilt University (679th):
Rhoden compiled a 5.84 ERA in 24 2/3 innings over 12 appearances for Vanderbilt this past season. He struck out 24 batters and walked eight.
C Jason Bour, George Mason University (709th):
Bour, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior, batted .366 with 13 home runs and 50 RBIs before being selected to the first-team All-Colonial Athletic Association this past season.
C Francis Meade, Rutgers University (739th):
Meade set a Rutgers single-season record with 14 home runs in 2006 before his teammate and fellow Reds draftee Todd Frazier broke the mark with 22 in 2007.
1B Eli Rimes, Sonoma State University, Calif.:
The 6-foot, 210-pound left-hander hit .327 with 13 home runs and 45 RBIs for the California Collegiate Athletic Association Champion Seawolves this past season.