Will the Reds take a quarterback in Round 1 of the MLB Draft?

North Oconee's Bubba Chandler throws a pitch.
News Joshua L Jones
North Oconee's Bubba Chandler throws a pitch. News Joshua L Jones /

No, this is not a misprint; the Cincinnati Reds may very well consider taking Clemson quarterback Bubba Chandler in Round 1 of the 2021 MLB Draft. Chandler is a two-sport athlete and a two-way baseball player who can pitch and play shortstop. Might the Reds take a gamble and elect to take Chandler with the 17th overall pick on Sunday?

Chandler ranks 21st among all draft-eligible players according to MLB.com and is one of the top prep arms in the country. Only Jackson Jobe, Anthony Solometo, and Andrew Painter are rated higher than Chandler.

The Reds enormous bonus pool make Bubba Chandler a likely choice.

If you’re going to lure a young player away from their college commitment, you’re going to have pony up. With the fourth-largest bonus pool in the draft thanks to three of the first 35 selections in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Cincinnati Reds have the means to offer Chandler an over-slot deal.

The Reds have $11.9M to spend in the upcoming draft and their No. 17 selection comes with a pick value of $3,609,700. That seven-figure bonus may be too much for Bubba Chandler to pass up, and one could easily see the two-way prep star decommit from Clemson and sign on to play for Cincinnati.

Chandler stands 6-foot-3 and has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. That’s quite impressive for a high school senior. Chandler possesses a plus curveball and is said to working diligently on improving his changeup as well.

There’s also the possibility that Chandler could be a solid option as a switch-hitting shortstop, though most scouts feel he’s a better pitcher than a hitter. While the Reds could certainly use a top-tier shortstop in their farm system, most teams who have their eye on Chandler likely see him as part of their future rotation, not their infield.

The Reds would be taking a risk if they draft Bubba Chandler.

Bubba Chandler had originally committed to play baseball for the University of Georgia, but flipper his commitment to Clemson University after Tigers’ head coach Dabo Sweeney offered the right-hander an opportunity to play quarterback for one of the best college football programs in the country.

While suiting up for the Tigers on Saturdays during the fall is quite tempting, all reports suggest that Chandler’s a better baseball player than he is a quarterback. The 18-year-old sounded wise beyond his years, speaking about his upcoming decision with MLB Network. Here’s what Chandler had to say via The State:

"“What we’re talking about is just looking for the best opportunity and best fit for me. Where I’m at now, at Clemson, is the greatest school in the country and I love every bit of it, but I do have a tough decision coming up and I’m just going to let God lead the way. He’s never wrong and I’m just going to follow His plan.”"

With two picks in the Competitive Balance Round A, the Cincinnati Reds could decide to wait and see if Chandler is still available at picks No. 30 or No. 35 and select the Clemson commit at that point in the draft as well. However, Cincinnati would likely have to select an under-slot value player with the No. 17 pick and also hope that Chandler remained past Round 1.

Next. Who do the experts expect the Reds to take in the MLB Draft?

With three of the first 35 picks in the MLB Draft, Cincinnati’s front office has a “go big or go home” opportunity. With so much draft pool bonus money available, the Reds can afford to take a gamble and attempt to lure Bubba Chandler away from Clemson University. DJ Uiagalelei will be the starting signal caller for the Tigers this fall.