Reds 2020 MLB Draft grades: What you need to know about each pick

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 07: Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 07: Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Let’s give an instant reaction and put a grade on the Cincinnati Reds 2020 draft class.

The 2020 MLB Draft came to a conclusion on Thursday night with the Cincinnati Reds grabbing three college pitchers, two prep outfielders and a high school catcher. What grade would give you to the Cincinnati front office following the 2020 MLB Draft? Did they address specific needs or get the best player available? Did they grab players with upside or settle for those with a high floor?

The draft is always a gamble. We’ve seen the Reds use their first-round picks to nab players like Nick Howard (2014) and Nick Travieso (2012); neither of whom panned out. Cincinnati has also taken players in later rounds such as Scott Williamson (1997) who’ve turned out to be solid contributors to the ball club.

So, let’s look at what each draft pick brings and put a grade on it. We’ll look at value, fit and overall talent as a means to had out each grade to Cincinnati’s prospective farmhand. Here we go!

Austin Hendrick, OF (West Allegheny High School)

This was a home run pick for the Reds. Austin Hendrick was taken with the No. 13 pick in the draft and has, perhaps, the most raw power in the draft. Other top picks like Heston Kjerstad and Spencer Torkelson brought big sticks as well, but both are college players. Hendrick’s upside and ability to tap into that power will determine whether this was good or great pick.

Cincinnati hadn’t taken a high schooler in Round 1 of the draft since Hunter Greene went No. 2 in 2017. Hendrick is a left-handed power bat who profiles, most likely, as a right fielder. There is a chance he could stick in center field, but his above-average arm will likely see him moved to a corner outfield spot.

In terms of value, most scouts assumed that Hendrick would land somewhere between No. 12 and No. 20, so there’s no issue there. If Hendrick can cut down on the swings-and-misses, he could be special player in Reds organization for years to come.

Grade: A-

Christian Roa, RHP (Texas A&M)

This is a classic example of the Reds playing it safe. It’s doubtful that Christian Roa would have been available when Cincinnati picked in Round 3, but snagging the right-hander so early in Round 2 seems like a bit of reach. Nick Swiney of NC State and Clayton Beeter from Texas Tech were rated higher than Roa in the eyes of most scouts.

However, you know what you’re getting in Roa. He has prototypical size (6-foot-4, 220-pounds) for a starting pitcher and throws four pitches, all of which are average or above-average. Roa was overlooked oftentimes at Texas A&M due to the presence of Aggies ace Asa Lacy who went in Round 1 to the Kansas City Royals.

Christian Roa throws strikes. His 5.85 ERA with Texas A&M may shock a lot of fans, but this guy nailed down 35 strikeouts in just 20 innings pitched. Roa pounds the strike zone and will be a candidate to be a back-of-the-rotation starter down the road.

Grade: B-

Jackson Miller, C (J.W. Mitchell High School)

This may be one of my favorite picks from this draft. The Reds do not have depth behind the plate in their farm system. Top catching prospect Tyler Stephenson may be on his way to the big leagues  this coming season, leaving a huge void down on the farm. Enter Jackson Miller.

Miller is a hit-first catcher who’s only had one season donning the tools of ignorance. He’s a left-handed batter who lacks power, but makes contact. Catcher is one of those positions where hitting isn’t stressed as much as say a first baseman or corner outfielder.

Miller has a plus arm and tons of athleticism. The key with the 18-year-old will be patience. We saw this pay off with Stephenson, as after five years in the minors, Stephenson is now poised to make his big league debut. The same patience may be required for Miller, who likely won’t be ready for The Show until 2024 or 2025.

Grade: A-

Bryce Bonnin, RHP (Texas Tech)

Bryce Bonnin initially started his college career at Arkansas, but a shoulder injury saw the Razorbacks coaching staff aspire to move the right-hander to the bullpen. Feeling he was worthy to be a starter, Bonnin transferred to Texas Tech. In 2019, Bonnin held opposing batters to a .223 batting average but issued way too many walks; 45 free passes in 64 innings.

Bonnin’s stuff is solid, but some scouts have concern about his crossfire delivery. This, along with his lack of command, lead some scouts to believe that the right-hander is better suited for a relief role. If that’s true, this is still a solid pick.

Bonnin has a plus-fastball and plus-slider. If he utilizes his two pitches to his advantage, Bonnin come become a top arm in the Reds bullpen. The Texas-native could still have a path to being a legitimate starter, but the Reds developmental staff will have to iron out some of the kinks in Bonnin’s game.

Grade: B

Mac Wainwright, OF (Saint Edward High School)

This was one of the more interesting picks the Cincinnati Reds made during the 2020 MLB Draft. Mackenzie “Mac” Wainwright, is an athletic outfielder who is just 17-years old. Selected from their own backyard, Wainwright was on the East Coast Pro team with first-rounder Austin Hendrick.

Wainwright was unable to play in the event due to a leg injury, but profiles as a power-hitting right-handed bat who’s capable of playing all over the outfield. His arm strength may see him in right field as he matriculates his way up through the minors.

Wainwright was not highly-rated, but had he not been injured, some added exposure may have seen him drafted higher. This pick is the Reds trying to make a splash and it could pay off in the long run. Not many people knew of Mac Wainwright before the draft, but if he plays up to his potential, you’ll hear his name a lot in the future.

Grade: B-

Joe Boyle, RHP (Notre Dame)

Joe Boyle is a boom-or-bust prospect. He stands 6-foot-7 and can hit 102-MPH on the radar gun. regards Boyle as having the best arm strength in the 2020 draft class. The question is, can he control it?

Boyle, like Byrce Bonnin, is likely destined for the bullpen. While the Reds would love to run out starter who can throw triple-digits every fifth day, it may be more realistic to see Boyle develop into a late-inning reliever who can wipe out batters with his fastball-slider combination.

For Boyle to be successful in a starter’s role, he’ll have to learn control, as he walked 13 batters in 8.1 innings this past season at Notre Dame. Boyle will also have to figure out how to throw a third pitch, as that’s all but necessary to be a starting pitcher in the big leagues.

Grade: C

Next. Top 10 round-by-round draft picks in Reds history

Overall, the Cincinnati Reds helped themselves out tremendously with the additions of Hendrick and Miller. Roa will be a good developmental starter, while Bonnin and Boyle look to be weapons that can be deployed late in games. Wainwright is a bit of a wild card and will require time to develop, but he could be the steal of the draft for the Reds.