Reds Draft: 3 below-slot players Cincinnati should target in Round 1

Mississippi State pitcher Will Bednar (24) pitches in relief against Tennessee during the SEC Tournament Thursday, May 27, 2021, in the Hoover Met in Hoover, Alabama. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]
Sec Tournament Tennessee Vs Mississippi State
Mississippi State pitcher Will Bednar (24) pitches in relief against Tennessee during the SEC Tournament Thursday, May 27, 2021, in the Hoover Met in Hoover, Alabama. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.] Sec Tournament Tennessee Vs Mississippi State /
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Wake Forest sophomore Ryan Cusick pitches to Clemson. Might the Reds draft Cusick?
Wake Forest sophomore Ryan Cusick pitches to Clemson during the bottom of the first inning at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson Friday, April 23,2021.Clemson Vs Wake Forest Baseball /

2. The Reds should target Wake Forest pitcher Ryan Cusick in the MLB Draft.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Maybe that’s the strategy the Cincinnati Reds will use in Round 1 of the 2021 MLB Draft. Cincinnati elected to take right-hander Ryan Cusick with their 40th-round pick in 2018, but he decided to honor his commitment to Wake Forest and played three seasons for the Demon Deacons. Perhaps Cusick would be more amenable to a first-round deal.

Cusick has a huge frame (6-foot-6, 235-pounds) and can light up the radar gun. The 21-year-old has been clocked as high as 102-MPH. While the fastball is certainly Cusick’s go-to pitch, his secondary stuff has developed quite well too, as his curveball is rated above-average and sits between 79-82 MPH.

Cusick’s production wasn’t quite what you’d want to see from a potential first-round pick. The right-hander posted a 4.24 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. However, that fastball proved be quite unhittable on many occasions, as Cusick racked up 108 punch outs in 72 innings of work during the 2021 season.

If the Reds took Ryan Cusick back in 2018, chances are good that Cincinnati’s front office still like the potential the right-hander offers. Several mock drafts have Cusick going in the late-teens and even late-20s. Cincinnati might be able to take advantage of the wide-ranging opinions about where Cusick might fall and sign him to a below-slot deal.