The Cincinnati Reds have drafted well in recent years. Between 2008 and 2012, the Reds selected players like Yonder Alonso, Dave Sappelt, Mike Leake, Brad Boxberger, Billy Hamilton, Donnie Joseph, Yasmani Grandal, Robert Stephenson and Nick Travieso.
Although they aren't all still members of the Reds' organization, some were used to bring in stars such as Jonathan Broxton, Mat Latos and Sean Marshall.
The MLB Draft is one of the most exciting times of the year for any devoted baseball fan. At the end of the 40th round, 1216 players had been selected. Given the sheer number of draft picks, it stands to reason that the scouting process is an arduous one at best.
The Reds selected five players in the first four rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft. They all bring their own unique skill set and could contribute greatly to the team's plans should they find a niche within the organization.
What exactly can we expect from these players? Well, to help answer that question, I've come up with a bold prediction for the future of each of these five players selected by the Reds.
Height/Weight: 5'10"/205 lbs.
School: Samford University
With their first selection in the 2013 MLB Draft—No. 27 overall—the Reds selected Phillip Ervin out of Samford University. Ervin just completed his junior season and excelled in all facets of the game.
In 54 games, the 20-year-old slashed .337/.459/.597 with 11 HR, 14 doubles, 40 RBI, 58 runs scored and 21 stolen bases. Ervin's season featured 18 multi-hit games, per Samfordsports.com, and five games with multiple stolen bases.
Ervin's speed and instincts in the field allow him to work as a solid outfielder, but he may have a better future as a corner outfielder.
Ervin is small, but stocky, and frankly he's built like a small tank. Whether that build can translate into home run power has yet to be seen. His compact swing and plus-bat speed, however, could very well do the trick.
Bold Prediction: Ervin reaches the majors by 2016 and records three 20-20 seasons in his career.
Height/Weight: 6'3"/195 lbs.
School: Cal-State Fullerton
Michael Lorenzen is a two-way player. The 21-year-old Cal-State Fullerton product plays center field primarily, but he's also functioned as the closer this season.
Offensively, Lorenzen has improved since his previous season. In 2012, he hit .297/.353/.435 with two HR, 20 doubles, 44 RBI and 38 runs scored. This year, Lorenzen hit .336/.414/.520 with seven HR, 12 doubles, 54 RBI, 40 runs scored and 12 stolen bases.
On the hill, Lorenzen is an imposing figure. He is 6'3" and 195 pounds and possesses a prototypical pitchers' build thats shows in the form of a plus-fastball. In 22 appearances this season with Cal-State, Lorenzen, per Fullertontitans.com, recorded 16 saves and a 3-0 record with a 1.99 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and ratios of 7.9 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 5.00 K/BB and 6.7 H/9.
Most of the scouting reports on Lorenzen express concern surrounding his offensive game.
While his statistics profile well on paper, his swing mechanics and free-swinging nature tell a much different tale. According to Matt Garrioch of SB Nation's Minorleagueball.com, "His approach is less than impressive and while he doesn't strike out a lot, he doesn't walk at all and is an aggressive hitter." Garrioch went on to address Lorenzen's swing stating that, "Even though he swings a lot, I don't like the swing. I'm not sure how to describe it but it is weak and inconsistent."
Despite his solid fielding ability and plus speed, Lorenzen may not be able to hit enough to stick at the big league level. If the Reds deem this the case, they may choose to fall back on his ability on the mound.
With a plus-fastball that sits comfortably in the 95-98 mph range and a solid, if not plus, slider, Lorenzen could be a great asset in the back end of the Reds' bullpen.
Bold Prediction: Lorenzen flops as an outfielder and becomes a dominant setup man/closer
Height/Weight: 6'1"/220 lbs.
School: Gahr HS (CAL)
With their second round selection—their third pick—the Reds selected Kevin Franklin, a big third baseman out of Gahr High School in California.
For a high schooler, Franklin can flat out rake. In 30 games this year, Franklin slashed .400/.486/.756 with seven HR, nine doubles, 27 RBI and 27 runs scored (per Maxpreps.com).
Franklin is a big kid and his frame should allow for some good power totals at the major league level. Franklin doesn't appear stiff in the field and he has an above-average arm. He has an opportunity to stick at third base as he progresses through the minor leagues.
The only question surrounding Franklin is if he'll refine his approach at the plate. According to MLB.com, Franklin's free-swinging could be a problem, "With that swing, however, come strikeouts and questions about his ability to make enough contact against elite pitching."
The report goes on to praise Franklin though and commends him on his mental make-up, leading one to believe that if anybody could adjust to the the trials of being a big league hitter, it's Franklin.
Bold Prediction: Franklin will record multiple 20-30 HR/150-180 strikeout seasons with the Reds
Height/Weight: 6'3" 215 lbs.
School: Clarence HS (NY)
Mark Armstrong, out of Clarence High School—just outside of Buffalo—possesses an ideal build for a right-handed pitcher. His big 6'3", 215 lbs frame allows for increased velocity with some mechanical tweaks and strength training.
According to Baseball America, Armstrong's fastball currently ranges from 88-91 mph. With his height, Armstrong has the ability of working downhill giving his curveball added downward break. His curveball sits around 71-74 mph and his changeup falls between 78-80 mph.
Armstrong possesses an arsenal of three pitches—four if you count his two-seam fastball separately—and he knows how to use them.
"My fastball, I try to work downhill and try to work the outside corner with that, mainly," Armstrong said. "My two-seam, I'm developing that and I like to jam the guys inside. My changeup, I like to buckle it at the knees, especially outside or inside when I read the hitter. And then my curveball, I like to break it late and pick the ousted corner on lefties and the inside corner on righties. I like mixing my pitches in and they worked well together." (per Baseballamerica.com)
Armstrong isn't going to wow anybody with his velocity. He does possess three good pitches to work with and should develop extra velocity and command as he works his way through the Reds' system.
Bold Prediction: Armstrong joins the Reds in 2018 and functions as their third starter.
Height/Weight: 6'4"/190 lbs.
School: University of Central Florida
With the 135th overall pick, Ben Lively became the second college arm selected by the Reds in the 2013 MLB Draft. Out of Central Florida, Lively is another big, right-handed pitcher who possesses a four-pitch arsenal including a fastball, slider, cutter and changeup.
Lively, according to MLB.com, "has never wowed scouts with his raw stuff, but he has quietly put together a solid college career. He isn't afraid to attack hitters with his four-pitch arsenal even though he doesn't feature a plus pitch."
Lively's fastball sits in the low 90s but his frame could provide for some added velocity.
What I like most about Lively is the improvement he's shown over his three seasons at UCF. In his first season, Lively went 5-1 with a 5.05 ERA in 16 appearances. In 2012, Lively went 9-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 19 appearances with the Knights.
In 2013, as a junior, Lively worked through 106 innings pitched over 15 appearances. He averaged seven innings per-start and pitched to a 2.04 ERA, with a 1.09 WHIP and ratios of 8.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 3.61 K/BB and 7.5 H/9 (per ucfathletics.com).
Bold Prediction: Lively is traded by the Reds in a package for a shortstop or left fielder during the 2015 season.