Reds can't allow Christian Encarnacion-Strand's injury to force impromptu draft decision

CES has been M.I.A. this season.

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand (33) reacts to being hit by a pitch
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand (33) reacts to being hit by a pitch / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

When making a selection in the MLB Draft, it can be a foolish endeavor to choose a player based on need. Oftentimes, the best way to approach the draft is take the best player available. However, there are other factors at play from time to time.

The Cincinnati Reds will be picking second during the 2024 MLB Draft and most gurus suggest that Charlie Condon out the University of Georgia will be the selection. While that opinion may hold water, there are others who expect the Reds to go off script on July 14th and find an under-slot player with the No. 2 overall pick.

Condon and Oregon State infielder Travis Bazzana are the consensus top-2 picks according to most draft experts. But there are other players Cincinnati could take with the second-overall pick. Will the current state of the team have any impact on the Reds' draft decision?

Could the Reds select Jac Caglianone with their 1st round pick in the 2024 MLB Draft?

Of late, the Reds have shown a penchant to go with the best player available, so there's every reason to believe that Cincinnati will take one of Condon or Bazzana. But there's been a ton of buzz surrounding JJ Wetherholt of West Virginia lately. In fact, he could go No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Guardians.

Another prospect who's caught the eye of some draft experts has been Jac Caglianone out of the University of Florida. Caglianone's performance in the College World Series opened the eyes of several scouts throughout Major League Baseball, and there's the potential that the Gators' first baseman could be a two-way player at the next level.

Though Caglianone has the ability to toe the rubber, most see him as a future first baseman rather than a pitcher or two-way player. MLB Pipeline views Caglianone as the third-best prospect in this year's draft, so it's not totally outside the realm of possibilities for the Reds to snag the 21-year-old with the second selection.

Will Christian Encarnacion-Strand's struggles impact the Reds' 2024 draft?

The idea of taking Caglianone with the No. 2 overall pick would indicate a change in direction at first base. The Reds had expected to see Christian Encarnacion-Strand standing in for Joey Votto this season, but the slugger's production took a tumble following a power-packed rookie year, and it's unlikely Encarnacion-Strand will return this season after undergoing surgery later this month.

But Caglianone wouldn't be the only player looking to unseat Encarnacion-Strand if the Reds took the UF slugger at No. 2. Two of the Reds top prospects, Cam Collier and Sal Stewart, have been impressive this season in the minor leagues. Both are Top 100 prospects according to MLB Pipeline and can play the corner infield spots.

The Reds may look to select Caglianone in Round 1 of the 2024 MLB Draft, but Encarnacion-Strand's surgery and poor play prior to the injury has nothing to do with it. Cincinnati could, however, look to select Caglianone with the second-overall pick and sign him to an under-slot deal. Such a move could allow the Reds to target a prep pitcher with their second-round pick later in the draft.

More Cincinnati Reds News and Rumors