After months of hype, speculation, mock drafts, and sleepless nights from the prospects, finally, the Major League Baseball Player Draft has gotten underway.
The Cincinnati Reds made three selections on the opening night, coming at 19th, 29th, and 58th overall. All three were college players, and surprisingly, none were from the state of Texas.
Round 1, #19 overall: Nick Howard – RHP – University of Virginia:
Not quite labeled a “surprise” selection, but Howard certainly fits the mold of pitcher the Redlegs are looking for. At 6’3” and 215 pounds, Howard is a solidly built 21-year-old, who has the potential to make the Reds bullpen nearly immediately, according to scouts.
Word is that the Reds want to try him out as a starter to see if his 95-97 MPH fastball that he displays while in relief can be translated to the rotation. With an above-average fastball and a solid slider, his changeup is apparently a major work in progress.
Drafting a reliever in the first round would be nothing to be ashamed of should Howard not work out in the rotation, especially with his projections to be a solution in the near future.
Round 1, #29 overall: Alex Blandino – SS – Stanford University:
Think of Blandino as a straight-up swap for the services of Shin-Soo Choo. His pick was acquired after Choo left via free agency after refuting a qualifying offer and heading down south to Arlington, Texas.
Listed as a shortstop, it seems highly unlikely he will stick at that position throughout the system. Even with extreme droughts in the organization at the middle of the diamond, scouts are torn on whether he projects better as a third baseman or second baseman.
Coming from the PAC-12 Conference, where there is some serious Major League talent, Blandino will have to adjust to pro ball quickly, as he turns 22 in just five months.
Round 2, #58 overall: Taylor Sparks – 3B – University of California at Irvine:
With his flowing blond locks, Sparks fits the profile of a tall, sweet-swinging California ballplayer.
Leading Team USA in batting last summer, Sparks is talked about as a corner infielder, although both of those spots seem to be taken care of at the Major League level.
A bit awkward looking in the field, Sparks can absolutely rake. He won co-Big West Conference Player of the Year honors this past season, as he now joins an organization more than welcoming of his powerful bat.
Rounds 3-10 will be taking place on Friday, with 11-40 coming on Saturday. Stay tuned here, and check us out on Twitter (@BlogRedMachine), to stay up to the minute with whom the Reds have selected.