You mentioned in a chat Premium that you keep hearing rumors about Sarasota (Fla.) High two-way star Casey Kelly to the Reds at No. 7, but that he's more of a mid-to-late first-round talent. Do you think Cincinnati might cut a predraft below-slot deal with him after spending $2 million on Juan Duran earlier this spring? That would be a tough blow to Reds fans, especially if they passed on someone like Missouri righthander Aaron Crow.

Greg Kathman

First, a history lesson:

In March 1999, the Reds signed the first player to go through the posting process with a Japanese club, Dominican outfielder Alejandro Diaz. Between his bonus ($1.175 million) and bidding for his rights, Cincinnati spent roughly $2 million. It turned out that Diaz was three years older than believed, and he never advanced past Double-A.

Worse yet, the Diaz signing took a toll on the Reds' budget for signing amateur players. They signed their 1999 first-rounder, Ty Howington, to a 2000 contract so his $1.75 million bonus wouldn't be paid until the following a year. As a result, when Cincinnati had three of the first 46 picks in the 2000 draft, it spent them on two players who agreed to take no upfront bonus (David Espinosa, Dane Sardinha) and another who signed a 2001 contract (Dustin Moseley). Pushing Moseley's $930,000 bonus forward a year led to the Reds' decision to use their 2001 first-rounder on Jeremy Sowers—who had no intention of foregoing a scholarship to Vanderbilt. Cincinnati even went cheap with the sandwich pick it got in 2002 for not signing Sowers, as it played hardball with college senior Mark Schramek.

So Greg may be fearing a repeat of what happened with Diaz. The good news is that there's been no talk of the Reds trying to go cheap with the No. 7 pick, even though that slot last year was worth $2.07 million, roughly what Duran received.

Kelly's father Pat manages the Reds' Rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate, which is one reason Chris has been tied closely to Cincinnati. But other teams think the Reds legitimately are intrigued by Kelly's talent, and he has the type of athletic upside that scouting director Chris Buckley loves. As mentioned in the first Ask BA question above, Kelly's scholarship to play quarterback at Tennessee gives him extra leverage, and he wouldn't be a discount signing.

That said, Kelly would be a bit of a reach at No. 7. If Crow were to fall to the Reds, and there's a strong possibility that may happen, he'd be a perfect fit for them. As one of the top-tier college pitchers, he'd likely command a major league contract, but it still would be tough for Cincinnati to pass him up.