Cincinnati Reds: The worst first-round draft pick in the last decade

SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 5: Representatives from all 30 Major League Baseball (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 5: Representatives from all 30 Major League Baseball (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds have had success with first-round picks who are on the club today, but have also missed out on potential stars in the first round.

Every young athlete in baseball someday dreams of being drafted into the Major Leagues. With 40 rounds of picks, many players find their dreams within reach. It isn’t always easy to predict the future of a player, but teams like the Cincinnati Reds have successes and busts.

Many familiar names have been drafted by the Cincinnati Reds over the last decade, specifically in the first round. Jessie Winker (49th, 2012), Phillip Ervin (27th, 2013), Michael Lorenzen (38th, 2013), and Alex Blandino (29th, 2014) have all made impacts for the Reds. Even players such as Mike Leake (8th, 2009) and Yasmani Grandal (12th, 2010), have gone on to have successful careers with other major league teams.

What fans don’t think about though are the draft busts. While there haven’t been many, one player in particular the last decade has not been able to make the jump.

More from Reds History

Selected in the supplemental first round of the 2012 Draft, outfielder Jeff Gelalich (59th overall) was a vital part of the UCLA Bruin baseball team that went to the College World Series in 2010 and 2012. In 159 games, Gelalich slugged 15 home runs, 74 RBI and 106 runs over a .316 batting average. While those aren’t amazing numbers, Gelalich was instrumental in consecutive PAC 12 Conference titles from 2011-12.

In his last season with UCLA, Gelalich secured First-Team All American honors along with all PAC 12 honors. He also led the team in most offensive categories and was Top-10 in the conference offensively. Selected 10 picks after now-starter Jessie Winker, Gelalich seems to have missed the window of opportunity.

A Minor Mishap

Gelalich started his career with the Billings Mustangs and from there has been bouncing around the minors. Gelalich has spent time with the Dayton Dragons, Daytona Tortugas, Bakersfield Blaze, and Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the Reds’ farm system. His most productive season came in 2014 where it was split between Dayton and Bakersfield. Gelalich had a .238 average with 11 home runs, 49 RBI, and .365 slugging.

Other than that 2014 season, Gelalich has played with multiple teams since then and was finally released by the Cincinnati Reds in 2017.  After being picked up by the Chicago White Sox, he only continued to play Minor League ball. He was last assigned to the Winston-Salem Dash during the 2017 season. The farthest he made it was to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights where he only played five games.

His Show is Over

With the success of Winker in the outfield during his rookie season, one can only imagine the potential of Gelalich’s impact on the team. With his struggles in the minors, it reminds us that not every player has the talent or luck to make it in the show. Aside from Winker, the Reds have also struck gold with outfielder Phillip Ervin and star prospect Taylor Trammell, so their track record is pretty good from the draft so far.

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Gelalich isn’t the only draft bust on the Cincinnati Reds, let alone the league. The unfortunate part is that not every draftee rises through the ranks, let alone hits a road-block at their position. His potential out of college was high, but he could never make it to be league-consistent. It is for that reason, among others, that Gelalich is the biggest first-round draft bust for the Reds in the last decade.