Cincinnati Reds: Draft Boons and Busts

With the fourteenth pick of the 2012 MLB Draft, the Reds drafted Nick Travieso, a RHP from Archbishop McCarthy HS in Pembroke Pines, FL.  Travieso is a 6’3, 200 lb power pitcher with a big arm.  With a fastball that reaches 98 mph, Travieso has a higher ceiling than a number of the college pitchers that were drafted after him.  Nonetheless, he’s still a high school pitcher. 

Drafting a high school pitcher with your first pick is a risky proposition.  Travieso  is in the process of learning to harness his command and throw his secondary pitches.   In addition to his big fastball, he throws an impressive slider that reaches 86 mph.  Nonetheless, he’s at least a few years away from the big leagues – – if he makes it at all.

With gambling, there are countless games with varying degrees of risk.  The Major League Baseball Draft is more certain than roulette but less certain than cockfighting.  If you think I am overstating the hazards of trying to project the baseball skills and abilities of young men who are 18-22 years of age, take a look at this list of Reds draft busts:

Draft Busts

Year Player Round Selection

2000

David Espinosa

1

23

1999

Ty Howington

1

14

1996

John Oliver

1

25

1992

Chad Mottola

1

5

1989

Scott Bryant

1

20

1984

Pat Pacillo

1

5

1982

Scott Jones

1

22

1979

Dan Lamar

1

20

1977

Tad Venger

1

24

1975

Tony Moretto

1

22

1972

Larry Payne

1

7

1970

Gary Polczynski

1

15

1968

Timothy Grant

1

13

All of these young men were considered to be among the top 30 amateur talents in the U.S.   The Reds’ scouts and front office personnel felt these players stood the best chance of contributing, eventually, to the Big League club.  In fact, Pacillo was selected before Mark McGwire, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine.  Mottola was selected before Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi.  From this list, only Pacillo and Mottola made it to Major League Baseball.

This list contains just thirteen players.  Since the draft began in 1966, however, the Reds have selected 103 players in the first round.  Fifteen of them didn’t sign  Of those 103 players, only 42 made it to Major League Baseball.  Of those 42 players, thirteen (13) came from high school.  Of those 13 high school draftees that made it, only six were pitchers.  They include Gary Nolan (1966), Don Gullett (1969), Ron Robinson (1980), Scott Scudder (1986), Dustin Moseley (2000), and Homer Bailey (2004).

The 1974 draft and the 1996 draft rank among the worst in Reds history.  In 1974, the Reds drafted 43 players.  Only Jay Howell and Gary Lucas made it to Major League Baseball.  Lucas declined to sign with the Reds.

In 1996, the Reds drafted 41 players.  Only Buddy Carlyle (#38), Mike Vento (#300) and Doug DeVore (#1,050) graduated to the big leagues from the 1996 draft class.  Neither Vento nor DeVore signed.

Sometimes, on the other hand, the sun, moon, and stars align themselves.  These players met or exceeded their draft status:

Draft Boons

Year Player Round Selection

2005

Jay Bruce

1

12

2002

Joey Votto

2

44

1998

Adam Dunn

2

50

1994

Aaron Boone

3

72

1989

Trevor Hoffman

11

288

1984

Barry Larkin

1

4

1983

Jeff Montgomery

9

212

1982

Randy Myers

3

76

1982

Tom Browning

9

233

1981

Paul O’Neill

4

93

1980

Eric Davis

8

201

1980

Danny Tartabull

3

71

1974

Ron Oester

9

214

1969

Don Gullett

1

14

1965

Johnny Bench

2

36

Trevor Hoffman is second on MLB’s All-Time Saves List and a likely Hall of Famer.  The Reds drafted Hoffman out of the University of Arizona with the 288th pick in the 1989 draft as a shortstop!  When he failed to hit at Billings (Rk)  in 1989 and Charleston (A) in 1990, he moved from shortstop to the mound.  The Reds lost him to the Florida Marlins in the 1992 expansion draft.  He made his Major League debut in 1993.  After 1,035 games, Hoffman retired with 601 saves.  Only Mariano Rivera has more.

Jeff Montgomery was drafted by the Reds out of Marshall University in the ninth round of the 1983 draft.  Montgomery posted a 6.52 ERA in 14 games for the Reds in 1987.  In 1988, Montgomery was traded to the Royals for Van Snider.  He pitched in thirteen big league seasons and piled up 304 saves in a very solid big league career.

Danny Tartabull was drafted by the Reds with the 71st pick in the 1980 draft.  The Reds lost him to the Mariners in the 1983 player compensation pool draft.  Tartabull went on to hit 262 homeruns over a fourteen year career.

Barry Larkin, Randy Myers, Tom Browning, Eric Davis, and Paul O’Neill were the backbone of the 1990 World Series Champions.

Johnny Bench was the second Reds player selected in the 1965 draft.  Bernie Carbo was selected first.  Bench and Barry Larkin are currently the only Reds draftees to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Perhaps the best draft in Reds history was 1983.  The harvest from that class included Chris Sabo, Kurt Stillwell, Joe Oliver, Lenny Harris, and Jeff Montgomery.  That’s five legitimate major leaguers in one draft class.  Between them, they played 62 years in the big leagues.

The Reds have done extraordinarily well in the last decade.  Joey Votto, Ryan Wagner, Homer Bailey, Travis Wood, Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier, Devin Mesoraco, Yonder Alonso, Mike Leake, and Yasmani Grandal were all players drafted by the Reds in the first two rounds.

Only time will tell if young Nick Travieso will be a boon or a bust.  The odds, however, are not in his favor.

Tags: Jay Bruce Joey Votto Johnny Bench MLB Draft Nick Travieso

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