Baseball

2016 MLB Draft: How, where and what to watch

Florida junior pitcher A.J. Puk is expected to be one of the first selections during the Major League Baseball Draft on Thursday night. The Philadelphia Phillies will draft No. 1 and the Cincinnati Reds No. 2.
Florida junior pitcher A.J. Puk is expected to be one of the first selections during the Major League Baseball Draft on Thursday night. The Philadelphia Phillies will draft No. 1 and the Cincinnati Reds No. 2. AP

It’s been a rough two months for the last-place Cincinnati Reds and their shell-shocked pitching staff, but they can take a big step toward the future in the Major League Baseball Draft, which starts Thursday at 7 p.m. The Philadelphia Phillies own the No. 1 overall pick, and the Reds have the No. 2 pick — their highest draft position since 1983, when they selected shortstop Kurt Stillwell. (Reds fans hope they can do better than Stillwell, a .246 hitter during his two seasons in Cincinnati.) The first two rounds of the draft are Thursday, rounds 3-10 are Friday, and rounds 11-40 are Saturday.

Whether you’re looking for local talent or a future Reds superstar, we have all the bases covered:

Schedule

Thursday

What: Rounds 1-2

When: 7 p.m. (preview show at 6 p.m.)

TV: MLB Network (Time Warner Cable channel 537, DirecTV channel 213, DISH Network channel 152)

Online: MLB.com (live video coverage)

Friday

What: Rounds 3-10

When: 1 p.m. (preview show at 12:30 p.m.)

TV: None

Online: MLB.com (live video coverage)

Saturday

What: Rounds 11-40

When: Noon

TV: None

Online: MLB.com (live video coverage)

Where the Reds will draft in each round (with overall pick)

Thursday

Round 1, Pick 2

Round 1, Pick 35 (Lottery Round A)

Round 2, Pick 43

Friday

Round 3, Pick 79

Rounds 4-10, the No. 2 pick in each round

Saturday

Round 11-40, the No. 2 pick in each round.

Who the Reds will select at No. 2

The leading candidates to hear their name called when Cincinnati makes its first selection (in alphabetical order):

Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat H.S., Barnegat, N.J.: The 6-6, 180-pound Groome, a Vanderbilt commitment, possesses a fastball in the mid-90s and a sweeping curve. The Reds have shown a willingness to draft high school pitchers in the first round under President of Baseball Operations Walt Jocketty, who selected Nick Travieso in 2012 and Robert Stephenson in 2011.

Kyle Lewis, OF, Mercer: The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Lewis posted a .395/.535/.731 slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) with 20 home runs and 72 RBI in 61 games as a junior at Mercer this season. Projected as a power-hitting right fielder.

Mickey Moniak, OF, La Costa Canyon H.S., Carlsbad, Calif.: The 6-2, 190-pound center fielder has made a rapid climb in several mock drafts the past 24 hours. ESPN senior baseball writer Keith Law, MLB.com senior writer Jim Callis and Perfect Game’s Patrick Ebert all have Moniak going No. 1 overall to the Phillies. Law says the Reds are high on Moniak, too.

A.J. Puk, LHP, Florida: The 6-7, 225-pound Puk has a fastball-slider combination that makes baseball scouts drool and hitters swing and miss. In 15 starts as a junior for the Super Regional-bound Gators, Puk is a modest 2-3 with a 3.21 ERA, but he has 95 strikeouts in 70 innings. ESPN’s Keith Law projected Puk to the Reds in his final mock draft Thursday.

Corey Ray, OF, Louisville: The 6-foot, 185-pound Ray has a .319/.396/.562 slash line as a junior for Louisville, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Super Regionals. Ray has 15 home runs in 260 at-bats with 60 RBI and 44 stolen bases in 52 attempts. MLB.com’s Jim Callis has Ray going to the Atlanta Braves at No. 3 overall, and Keith Law’s final mock draft has Ray to the Brewers at No. 5. With this much buzz surrounding Ray, the Reds also have to be in the picture. Louisville has never had a player drafted in the top 10. Two players have gone as high as No. 20: Former Ballard star Jeremy Sowers in 2001 and former Durrett standout Terry Mappin in 1970. Ray could be the first.

Nick Senzel, 3B, Tennessee: The 6-1, 205-pound Senzel had a .352/.456/.595 slash line with 25 doubles, eight homers and 59 RBI during his 57-game junior season at Tennessee. MLB.com’s Jim Callis projects Senzel to the Reds.

Past No. 2 picks of note

These guys should give Reds fans hope:

NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant (2013 to Cubs), three-time All-Star Alex Gordon (2005 to Royals), Former AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP Justin Verlander (2004 to Tigers) and former World Series MVP Josh Beckett (1999 to Marlins).

Draft hopefuls with Kentucky ties:

The other projected first-rounder (in addition to Ray)

Zack Burdi, RHP, Louisville: The 6-3, 209-pound Burdi, whose fastball can hit triple digits, has a 2.20 ERA and 11 saves as a junior for the Cardinals, with 46 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings. He’s been projected anywhere from No. 11 (Mariners) to No. 22 (Pirates). Some scouts think he’ll be pitching out of a major-league bullpen this season.

Other projected draft picks, according to PerfectGame.org:

Easton McGee, RHP, Hopkinsville; Nick Solak, 2B, U of L; Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, U of L; Zack Brown, RHP, UK; Kyle Cody, RHP, UK; Drew Harrington, LHP, U of L; JaVon Shelby, 3B, UK; Jaren Shelby, OF, Tates Creek; Blake Tiberi, 3B, U of L; Kyle Nowlin, OF, EKU; Mandy Alvarez, 3B, EKU; Dustin Beggs, RHP, UK; Cameron Planck, RHP, Rowan County.

Where the Royals (the Lexington Legends’ parent club) will draft in each round (with overall pick):

Thursday

Round 2, Pick 67

Friday

Round 3, Pick 103

Rounds 4-10, the 27th pick in each round

Saturday

Rounds 11-40, the 27th pick in each round.

View the full MLB Draft order here.

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