Will Reds' offensive woes force an accelerated promotion from an unexpected source?

If the Reds' lineup can't get things going soon, a very aggressive move could be on the horizon.

Georgia v Vanderbilt
Georgia v Vanderbilt / Carly Mackler/GettyImages

In a somewhat unexpected twist, the Cincinnati Reds' offense has been a weak point for the team this season. Sure, Elly De La Cruz has been one of the more valuable position players in baseball this season (seventh in fWAR at 3.7 in all of MLB), but the offense overall ranks in the bottom third of the league in WAR, average, home runs, wRC+, and on-base percentage. In short, the bats have been decidedly not great.

A chunk of the Reds' offensive challenges can be blamed on the absence of key pieces. Cincinnati has been without Matt McLain all year long as he recovers from shoulder surgery, and likely will remain without him until at least August. Noelvi Marte was supposed to be a critical cog in the Reds' lineup, but then Marte got suspended for PEDs and only just returned.

If the remaining Reds had just played to their potential, they would be fine. However, multiple hitters have underperformed and/or gotten hurt, and that could mean that the Reds' upcoming draft choice could realistically impact their 2024 season chances.

Could the Reds' 2024 first-round pick debut in the majors this season?

As of this moment in time, it looks like the Reds should have a plethora of choices at No. 2 overall in this year's draft class, an incredible spot to land for a franchise already stacked with young stars. While this class isn't particularly deep, there are impact players on both sides of the ball near the top, which makes getting the second pick in the draft from the lottery feel even sweeter than it already did.

The current consensus that the Reds are going to be picking from some combination of college hitters Travis Bazzana, Charlie Condon, and Jac Caglianone, as well as entertaining college hurlers Chase Burns and Hagen Smith. The flamethrowing Burns seems likely to be their choice if they go the pitching route, but he could use some polish and wouldn't be likely to debut this year if he is the pick. We will ignore that possibility for now.

Teams promoting draftees extremely quickly to the big leagues has been a relatively recent phenomenon, evoking Dave Winfield's extremely quick path to MLB back in the '70s. It's worth noting that the Angels called up Nolan Schanuel in his draft year in 2023 to admittedly mixed results, but just from last year's draft class, Wyatt Langford, Paul Skenes, and Hurston Waldrep have all made it to the big leagues already, showing signs of star power.

If the Reds' offense is still scuffling late in the season, Cincinnati is still in contention for a playoff spot, AND they pick one of Condon, Bazzana, or Caglianone, the Reds could end up being similarly aggressive. All three of those guys are college bats who have experience against high-level college pitching and all three of them can absolutely crush baseballs. There is a real risk that doing so could set their development back and also just not work, but Cincinnati could feel forced to do something that drastic especially, if little help comes from the trade deadline.

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