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Reds' Draft plans unchanged

Reds' Draft plans unchanged

CINCINNATI -- Upheaval in the general manager's office isn't expected to shake up how the Reds approach their Draft selection decisions.

Shortly after Wayne Krivsky was let go as GM on April 23, new GM and president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty held several days of meetings with the baseball department. That included senior director of scouting Chris Buckley, who was one of Krivsky's first hires in February 2006.

The overall Draft mantra: talent rules. The Reds have the seventh overall selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

"Walt's philosophy is pretty similar to Wayne's," Buckley said. "They're both baseball guys that want us to get the best talent out there. I have not been told to select anybody or stay away from a certain guy. Everybody is in play. We'll go get the best people we can."

MLB.com will carry every pick of the Draft, which takes place June 5-6 at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. Day 1 coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. The remaining rounds on Day 1 will be shown exclusively at MLB.com, with live analysis on site from MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo.

Several of the top amateur prospects are expected to be in attendance in Orlando for Day 1 of the Draft, and each of the 30 Major League Clubs will be represented by front office executives and baseball luminaries. Fans are welcome to attend Day 1 of the Draft, and admission to The Milk House is free with seating limited to a first-come, first-served basis.

Day 2 will get under way at 11:30 am ET and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live at MLB.com.

Here's a glance at what the Reds have in store as the First-Year Player Draft approaches:

In about 50 words
Following several first-round mishaps earlier in the decade (David Espinosa, Chris Gruler), the Reds have built a deep talent pool in their system in a short amount of time under both Krivsky and predecessor Dan O'Brien. The only silver lining to taking a backward step at the big league level is a better Draft position. A 72-win 2007 season has Cincinnati back with a top 10 selection for the third time in five years. The last time that the Reds picked seventh overall was 2004 when they selected pitcher Homer Bailey.

The scoop
Picking seventh clearly gives the Reds more opportunities to get who they want. However, the organization is most interested in having a deep Draft all the way through the later rounds.

"Look at the Cardinals," Buckley said. "They got [Albert] Pujols in the 13th round [in 1999]. Ask anyone what the difference in the division has been in the last few years and it's Pujols. Sometimes, your eighth- or 11th-round guys turn out to be the best guy."

First-round buzz
The Reds could have several options with their top pick and are expected to take the best guy available. Because of the number of years needed to develop someone, they will not select a player based on a current need at the big league level. Even though last year's top pick, Devin Mesoraco, was a catcher, there are two expected top 10 catchers in this year's crop in Buster Posey (Florida State) and Kyle Skipworth (high school, Riverside, Calif.). Left-handed pitcher Brian Mattusz would be a nice get, but he's projected to go higher than seventh.

Shopping list
The Reds are usually looking to bolster the middle of the field positions -- catcher, second base, shortstop and center field. Adding more power hitters would also be a regular priority. Of course, there's always going to be a need for pitching, and more pitching. Quality left-handed pitching is routinely in the shortest supply and the highest demand.

Trend watch
In 2006, 34 of the 50 overall picks were players taken out of colleges. Last year, there were 32 college players taken out of the 50. However, three of the last four first-round selections were picked out of high school -- including Mesoraco (15th overall from Punxsutawney, Pa.) in 2007. In last year's Draft, the Reds also took 31 pitchers, including high schooler Kyle Lotzkar -- a first-round sandwich pick.

Recent top picks
C Devin Mesoraco: On May 7, the catcher was promoted to Class A Dayton from extended spring training. Nagged by two injured thumbs, Mesoraco struggled last year during his pro season with the Gulf Coast League Reds.

OF Drew Stubbs: The eighth overall pick from the University of Texas in 2006, Stubbs is with high Class A Sarasota this season. A high strikeout rate remains an issue with this speedy center fielder.

OF Jay Bruce: Taken 12th overall in 2005, Bruce is considered the top prospect in all of baseball by multiple publications. Currently at Triple-A Louisville, the 21-year-old's ascension to the Majors seems imminent.

Rising fast
Shortstop Todd Frazier, who was taken as a first-round supplemental pick last year, was just promoted to Sarasota after a superlative start of 2008 at Dayton. Last year during his first pro season at rookie-level Billings and Dayton, he batted .319.

Cinderella story
Raymond "Jeff" Jeffords, a 19th-round pick last season, is off to a solid start at Dayton. Through 11 relief appearances, Jeffords is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA. He's walked nine compared to 25 strikeouts over 18 2/3 innings.

In The Show
No one from the past three Reds' Drafts has reached the Majors yet. Clearly, Bruce is the closest. Infielder Adam Rosales (12th round, 2005) was impressive in Spring Training and is at Louisville. Reliever Josh Roenicke (10th round, 2006) turned heads in camp too and is with Double-A Chattanooga.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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