Reds Draft Preview: What To Do at Two (SP Edition)

LHP Jason Groome of Barnegat H.S. leads the way in most 2016 MLB Mock Drafts, but could he slip to the Reds at #2? (Photo Credit:
LHP Jason Groome of Barnegat H.S. leads the way in most 2016 MLB Mock Drafts, but could he slip to the Reds at #2? (Photo Credit: /

Due to their abysmal 64-98 record last season, the Cincinnati Reds find themselves with the #2 overall pick in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft (which will take place on June 9th).

The world of Mock Drafts has made the NBA and NFL Drafts much less enjoyable over the past few years; however, the MLB Draft seems to see a lot of surprises early on, especially within the first five overall picks, in part to the refusal of picks to sign with certain teams (due to the organization and/or the contract being offered). Of course, in Major League Baseball, they allow players to go back to school if they are unhappy with where they are drafted as well, which doesn’t help the drafting organizations.

Regardless of these politics, the Reds will be in great shape to add a future star with the #2 pick, with an overwhelming chance of the pick being a starting pitcher (as the top four prospects in MLB’s Top 100 as starting pitchers).

Let’s get to know the top three pitchers, in case the draft doesn’t go 1-2-3 as most MLB websites are mocking.

A quick note, the scouting grades shown below the name of each pitcher are graded on the infamous 20-80 scale, with “20” being the lowest and “80” being the highest.

Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat H.S.

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 65, Curve: 60, Changeup: 50, Control: 55, Overall: 60

Groome has been mocked on several websites as the #1 overall pick in the draft; however, there is a debate as to whether he has the best stuff in the draft, or if that describes one of the other starters coming up. What we do know is Groome seems to have much better control than SPs A. J. Puk and Alex Hansen, plus he has great pop on his fastball, especially as a LHP. has the following to say about Groome in their scouting report of him:

Groome has everything to be a top-of-the-rotation left-handed starting pitcher, from his 6-foot-6 frame to the potential to have three above-average to plus offerings. The fastball is already there, as he was up to 96 mph over the summer and sat comfortably in the 92-93 range. Groome features a nasty curve as well, with tight rotation and bite. He doesn’t throw his changeup often, but he’s shown some feel for it, with some sink. Groome is generally around the plate and has clean mechanics, with a pretty good overall feel for pitching.

A. J. Puk, LHP, University of Florida

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 70, Slider: 55, Changeup: 50, Control: 50, Overall: 60

The first thing you will notice about Puk, as compared to Groome, is that he throws harder; however, his secondary pitch (as well as his control) rate out a little lower. Puk, however, does maintain that life on his fastball late into starts, as he’ll touch upper-90s but maintain into the low-to-mid 90s as he works through a lineup a few times.

The Detroit Tigers are the team who got stung by Puk in the 2013 MLB Draft, selecting him in the 35th round, just to see him commit to Florida to play college ball. While he was considered a Top 100 prospect (with signability issues) back then, the team drafting now will receive a much improved player according to

Three years ago, Puk was a two-way player coming from the high school ranks in Iowa who was a Top 100 Draft prospect. The big lefty went on to Florida rather than sign with the Tigers, who had taken him in the 35th round, and he is emerging as one of the top arms in the Class of 2016.

Bigger and stronger than he was in high school, Puk has the chance to have three plus pitches. He’s capable of touching 96-97 mph with his fastball, and he hit 95 mph during Florida’s fall scout day. The heater will sit in the 93-94 mph range, and he can hold his velocity deep into starts. Puk’s power breaking ball is a bit of a slurve, more slider than curve, and gives left-handed hitters fits. His changeup is behind his other two offerings, but it should be a third very effective offering in the future.

Puk’s biggest stumbling block has been his control and command, something that has kept him from dominating college competition consistently. If he can throw more strikes — something he did during an impressive turn with Team USA over the summer — he has a chance to be the No. 1 pick in June.

Alec Hansen, RHP, University of Oklahoma

Scouting Grades: Fastball: 75, Slider: 60, Curveball: 55, Changeup: 50, Control: 50, Overall: 60

Yes, Hansen has a fourth pitch in his arsenal that Groome and Puk do not currently offer, plus he is the hardest thrower and may have the best stuff out of the three throwers. Why then is he ranked at #3 on the Top 100? He struggles with his control, plus a bout with forearm tightness ended his season early, which I believe got into the heads of those scouting him.

Hansen has a rocket arm allowing him to touch 99-100 MPH at times with his fastball, while it regularly sits in the mid-to-upper 90s (95-97). His slider has a good amount of bite to it, while his curveball (throw in the upper 70s) adds a great “change of speed” offering that can keep batters humble. has this to say about the 6’7″ flame-thrower:

Had he been considered signable, Hansen could have been a top-five-rounds pick as a Colorado high schooler in 2013. Instead, he turned down the Rockies as a 25th-rounder and headed to Oklahoma, a move that could pay off with him being selected as high as No. 1 overall in 2016. Hansen has some parallels to former Sooners ace Jon Gray, another big-bodied power pitcher who went third overall to Colorado in the 2013 Draft.

Taller and more athletic than Gray, Hansen sits at 94-97 mph with his fastball and can reach 99. His size and his high three-quarters delivery help him to pitch on a steep downward plane and stay on top of his breaking pitches. Hansen throws both an upper-70s curveball and a mid-80s slider, with the latter more formidable and featuring late tilt.

Hansen also has the makings of an average changeup. His biggest need is to throw more strikes, something that could happen if he takes a more direct path to home plate. Hansen took the summer off and then was shut down in the fall with forearm tightness, but when he’s healthy, he has the look of a true No. 1 starter.

If you were the Reds GM on June 9th and were able to get “your guy” with the #2 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, who would you select?