Does the Reds' stacked farm system allow Cincy to go off script in 2024 MLB Draft?

The Reds are expected to select the best college hitter at No. 2.
Arkansas starting pitcher Hagen Smith pitches
Arkansas starting pitcher Hagen Smith pitches / Gary Cosby Jr.-Tuscaloosa News / USA

The 2024 MLB Draft is still over a month away, but with college baseball entering postseason play, plenty of big-name prospects will soon catch the eye of talent evaluators and fans alike.

The Cincinnati Reds have had a solid track recently when it comes to first-round draft picks. Hunter Greene (2017), Jonathan India (2018), Nick Lodolo (2019), and Matt McLain (2021) are all part of the 40-man roster. And Most scouts expect big things from both Cam Collier (2022) and Rhett Lowder (2023) once they make it to The Show.

The Reds also have a stacked farm system — especially when it comes to position players. Collier, Edwin Arroyo, and Noelvi Marte are three of the Reds' four top-100 prospects per MLB Pipeline, and only three of their top-10 are pitchers. Should the Reds snag another arm atop the 2024 MLB Draft?

Should the Reds select Arkansas LHP Hagen Smith with their first-round pick in the 2024 MLB Draft?

Most mock drafts have the Reds taking one of two players with the second-overall pick in the 2024 MLB Draft — Travis Bazzana (Oregon State) or Charlie Condon (Georgia). Bazzana is an infielder by trade while Condon occupies a number of positions, but it most often used on the outfield grass.

But perhaps the Reds should be thinking outside the box. Arkansas pitcher Hagen Smith, along with Wake Forest right-hander Chase Burns, have been two of the best hurlers in college baseball this season. Both pitchers have frontline stuff, though some scouts see Burns as a potential reliever rather than a starter.

Smith, much like the Reds first-round pick last year (Lowder), is a polished pitcher with repeatable delivery. Smith owns a 1.48 ERA, 0.848 WHIP, and has struck out 17.5 batters per nine innings pitched this season. That's ace-level stuff.

Would selecting Hagen Smith in the 2024 MLB Draft give the Reds too many pitchers in the farm system?

While some Reds fans will point to glut of potential starters currently in the Reds' farm system as a reason to avoid going oft script and selecting Smith in Round 1, the harsh reality is that several of Cincinnati's top pitching prospects are struggling at the upper levels of the minor leagues this season. Lyon Richardson, Connor Phillips, and Chase Petty have all endured some hardship in 2024.

The Reds received quite the gift with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 MLB Draft, and they can't afford to squander it. Without another pick in the top-50, grabbing Smith — who would likely sign an under-slot deal — with the second-overall pick could allow Cincinnati to snag a top-flight high school prospect in the second-round and offer said player added compensation in order to sign with the team.

Many draft experts are curious as to which path the Cleveland Guardians will take with the first-overall pick in the 2024 MLB Draft. But equally as interesting will be the Reds' selection at No. 2.

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