Two months away from another June draft and all appears to be running smoothly in Reds country. What looks like four straight decent drafts and the emergence of Johnny Cueto has everyone excited about the future of a once bleak franchise. Although it may be premature to label the past four drafts as successes or even decent, it would be pretty fair to say that now is a suitable time to look back and determine how the drafts from 2003 and beyond have turned out. As we approach the 5-year anniversary of the 2003 draft, there is only one player left in the Reds system from that draft - Chris Dickerson. There are still nine draftees left in the Reds system from the 2004 draft, so 2003 seems like a logical cut-off to go back and grade. I'll start with the 1998 draft, as it's the oldest draft with current players still in the organization (Dunn and Coffey) and I'll move onto the five subsequent drafts through 2003. As you'll see, the organization hasn't churned out much talent in those six drafts.
DRAFTEES LEFT: Adam Dunn (2-50), Todd Coffey (41-1220).
TRADE BAIT: Austin Kearns (1-7) - traded to Washington for Bill Bray/Gary Majewski. B.J. Ryan (17-500) - traded (w Jacobo Sequea) to Toronto for Juan Guzman.
SUPPLEMENT FROM SAME DRAFT: Corey Patterson (1-3, CHIC), Matt Belisle (2-58, ATL), Gary Majewski (2-59, MTL/WAS), Adam Pettyjohn (2-78, DET), Josh Fogg (3-89, CHIW), David Ross (7-216, LAD), Norris Hopper (8-227, KC)
INTERESTING FACT: Dunn (2-50), Belisle (2-58), and Majewski (2-59) all were drafted within 10 slots of each other in the 2nd round (Majewski and Belisle back to back) and all out of Texas high schools. Josh Fogg (3-89) and David Ross (7-216) were both drafted out of the University of Florida.
DRAFT GRADE: A
BEST: Adam Dunn
VALUE PICK(s): B.J. Ryan (17-500), Todd Coffey (41-1220).
Summary: Anytime you can get two talented players with the first two picks (Kearns and Dunn), it's a successful draft. B.J. Ryan was a great value pick and netted the Reds a critical piece (Guzman) in their 1999 playoff chase. Dunn and Coffey represent the longest tenured players in the Reds system. This draft has also provided the Reds (indirectly) current Reds catcher (Ross), centerfielder (Patterson), 4th/5th outfielder (Hopper) and between Belisle and Fogg, 1/5 to 2/5 of the current rotation. 7 members of the 25-man roster and 8 members of the 40-man roster came to the Reds either directly or indirectly from this draft.
DRAFTEES LEFT: None.
TRADE BAIT: Ben Broussard (2-65) - traded to CLE for Russell Branyan. Scott Dunn (10-308) traded to CHIW for D'Angelo Jimenez. Brad Salmon (21-638) traded to KC for PTNL or cash.
SUPPLEMENT FROM SAME DRAFT: Brandon Phillips (2-57, MTL/WAS), Andy Phillips (2-231, NYY), Justin Lehr (8-243, OAK).
INTERESTING FACT(s): Josh Hamilton, the #1 pick in this draft (TB) would eventually be picked up by the Chicago Cubs (Rule V) and traded to the Reds. He would, in turn, be traded to Texas for Edinson Volquez. Hamilton and Brandon Phillips were born within a month of each other (both born in Raleigh, NC).
DRAFT GRADE: F
BUST: Ty Howington
BEST: Ben Broussard
VALUE PICK: Brad Salmon (21-638)
Summary: The Reds have nothing left from this draft. It was a disaster the moment Howington injured his arm. Broussard did net Branyan and Scott Dunn netted D'Angelo Jimenez, but Branyan and Jimenez both eventually went the way of free agency. It could be said that all that is left from this draft is what cash or player the Reds get from KC in exchange for Brad Salmon. Remember Brandon Love (3-98), Ken Lutz (4-128), Alex LeFlore (6-188), and Okorie Barrow (7-218)? All HS kids that went pretty high, ate 700k in bonus money and never made it past A ball (Lutz, LeFlore, and Barrow never made it past rookie ball). Ouch! That was the theme of this draft. HS kids. And between Howington (1.75 M) and the four mentioned, nearly 2.5 million in bonus money was flushed down the toilet. Although 1999 was not good to the Reds directly, the draft did produce two other (in this case) important HS kids, Josh Hamilton (later traded for Edinson Volquez) and Brandon Phillips (for Jeff Stevens).
DRAFTEES LEFT: None.
TRADE BAIT: David Espinosa (1-23) and Gary "Noochie" Varner (10-303) - traded to DET for Brian Moehler and Matt Boone. Dustin Moseley (1b-34) - traded to ANH for Ramon Ortiz. Ryan Snare (2-63) - traded to FLA (with Wilton Guerrero and Juan Encarnacion) for Ryan Dempster.
SUPPLEMENT FROM SAME DRAFT: Aaron Harang (6-195, OAK), Edwin Encarnacion (9-274, TEX), Andy Green (24-729, ARI).
INTERESTING FACT(s): This was considered to be a pretty strong draft by the Reds on draft day. It would turn out to be another disaster. Like 1999, the 2000 draft did produce a couple future Reds in Harang (for Jose Guillen) and Encarnacion (for Rob Bell) and like Hamilton and Phillips from the previous draft, they were both acquired without trading away any significant prospects. Bell would be considered somewhat of a prospect, but he didn't pan out anyway.
DRAFT GRADE: F
BUST: David Espinosa, Dane Sardinha
BEST: Steve Smitherman
VALUE PICK: Steve Smitherman (23-693)
Summary: The Reds have nothing left from this draft as well. Only Harang and Encarnacion save it from being a disaster altogether.
DRAFTEES LEFT: None.
TRADE BAIT: Bobby Basham (7-217) - traded to SD for David Ross. Alan Moye (3-96) - Traded (w/ Damaso Espino) to KC Jeff Austin and Brian Shackelford. David Shafer (32-967) traded to OAK for Kirk Saarloos.
SUPPLEMENT FROM SAME DRAFT: Jeff Keppinger (4-114, PIT), Bobby Livingston (4-129, SEA), Marcus McBeth (4-131, OAK).
INTERESTING FACT(s): In what was symbolic of the depths this franchise had sunken to, the Reds punted their first pick, Jeremy Sowers (1-20), knowing full well he was going the college route. It was a sneaky, cheap move that didn't hurt all that much in the long run (considering Sowers has been a bust), however they still should have spent the money and drafted someone else with that pick. Jeremy Bonderman (#26), Noah Lowry (#30), and David Wright (#38) were all taken shortly after the Reds "punted". Knowing what this organization was about at this point, there probably was little chance they would stumble into one of these three anyway. The 4th round did supply the Reds indirectly with new fan favorite, Jeff Keppinger (4-114, PIT), who was coming off a sizzling junior year at the University of Georgia, hitting 18 HR, 73 RBI, with a 1.171 OPS. Nick Markakis (32-1057) was taken as a draft and follow.
DRAFT GRADE: F
BUST: Punting on the 1st round pick.
BEST: Steve Kelly, Jesse Gutierrez
VALUE PICK: David Shafer (32-967)
Summary: The Reds have nothing left from this draft. Zip. 2001 was the final topping on the poop sandwich that was the drafts of 1999, 2000, and 2001. It's best that this draft (and those as well) are removed from our collective memories forever.
DRAFTEES LEFT: Joey Votto (2-44), Camilo Vazquez (4-105).
TRADE BAIT: Kevin Howard (5-135) - traded (w/ Ben Himes) to NYY for Tony Womack. Chris Denorfia (19-555) - traded to OAK for Marcus McBeth. Calvin Medlock (39-1155) - traded (w/ Brian Shackleford) for Jorge Cantu and Shaun Cumberland.
SUPPLEMENT FROM SAME DRAFT: Tyler Pelland (10-268, BOS).
INTERESTING FACT(s): Nick Markakis (23-675) was taken for the second straight year as a draft and follow, but failed to be signed before being taken with the 7th pick in the 2003 draft by the Orioles. You'd think there would have been money to sign him, considering the Reds punted their previous 1st round pick (Jeremy Sowers, 2001), but it was obvious money was still a factor as the club drafted Scramek with their supplemental pick. Some things never change. Johnny Bench said after seeing Gruler (1-3) that his curve was better than Tom Seaver's. Other notable 1st round picks taken after Gruler in this draft: Greinke (#6), Fielder (#7), Francis (#9), Hermida (#11), Greene (#13), Kazmir (#15), Swisher (#16), Hamels (#17).
DRAFT GRADE: B-
BUST: Chris Gruler (1-3), Mark Schramek (1b-40).
BEST: Joey Votto
VALUE PICK: Chris Denorfia (19-555), Calvin Medlock (39-1155).
Summary: It remains to be seen whether Votto will be a star, but one thing is clear, he's the top player produced by a Reds draft since 1998 (Dunn and Kearns). The Reds keep up the streak of decent value with later picks taking Denorfia and Medlock late.
DRAFTEES LEFT: Chris Dickerson (16-471).
TRADE BAIT: Ben Himes (9-261) - traded to NYY (w/ Kevin Howard) for Tony Womack. Ryan Wagner (1-14) - traded to WAS as throw in in trade for Bray, Majewski, Thompson, Clayton, and Harris.
SUPPLEMENT FROM SAME DRAFT: Justin James (5-140, TOR), Daryl Thompson (8-237, MTL/WAS), Shaun Cumberland (10-278, TB), Drew T. Anderson (24-699, MIL).
INTERESTING FACT(s): Daryl Thompson may be the best thing to come of "The Trade" when it's all said and done.
DRAFT GRADE: D
BUST: Ryan Wagner (1-14)
BEST: Chris Dickerson, Carlos Guevara
VALUE PICK: None
Summary: Pretty fugly draft. Ryan Wagner, taken for immediate bullpen help (6 picks before Chad Cordero) was a disaster.
Next year we'll be able to look more closely at the draft of 2004. Currently there are nine draftees from that class that remain with the organization - the headline, of course, being Homer Bailey (1-7). The others remaining are: B.J. Syzmanski (2-48), Craig Tatum (3-78), Rafael Gonzalez (4-108), Paul Janish (5-138), Phillippe Valliquette (7-198), Terrel Young (10-288), Cody Strait (12-348), and Drew Anderson (13-378). 17 remain from the 2005 draft and 30 remain from both the 2006 and 2007 drafts.