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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Mississippi State Bulldogs pitcher Will Bednar (24) throws. Would the Reds draft Bednar in Round 1?
Jun 20, 2021; Omaha, Nebraska, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs pitcher Will Bednar (24) throws against the Texas Longhorns at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports /

3. The Reds should target Mississippi State pitcher Will Bednar in the MLB Draft.

The Southeastern Conference is loaded with talented pitchers. Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker of Vanderbilt, the aforementioned Gunnar Hoglund of Ole Miss, and Tommy Mace of Florida. However, oftentimes lost in the shuffle of the dominant SEC hurlers is Will Bednar of Mississippi State. The right-hander is draft-eligible in just his second year in Starkville.

Bednar, the brother of Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher David Bednar, could have been taken in the 2019 MLB Draft out of high school, but biceps tendinitis scared most teams away and the right-hander wasn’t taken in the draft. Instead, Bednar decided to attend Mississippi State. He threw just 15.1 innings last season, but came onto the scene with his production in 2021.

Bednar has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and his mid-80s slider has developed into a plus pitch. The Bulldogs’ top starter also has a fringy curveball that could be developed into a solid offering as well. Bednar also has the makings of a solid changeup, making the 21-year-old a four-pitch hurler with potential to land a spot in the middle of the rotation.

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Will Bednar is unlikely to come off the board prior to the Cincinnati Reds’ selection at No. 17, and some scouts feel as though Bendar is not a first-round talent. With so many skewed opinions on where the right-hander may end up, it’s a safe bet to assume that Cincinnati could sign Bednar to a below-slot deal at No. 17 and make a big-time selection with the 30th-overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.