Baseball

Reds draft Tennessee’s Senzel with No. 2 pick; Four Louisville players selected

Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel was drafted with the No. 2 overall pick by the Cincinnati Reds in the Major League Baseball Draft on Thursday night.
Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel was drafted with the No. 2 overall pick by the Cincinnati Reds in the Major League Baseball Draft on Thursday night. Andrew Bruckse/Tennessee Athletics

The Cincinnati Reds chose a bat over an arm.

With the second pick in the Major League Baseball Draft on Thursday night, Cincinnati selected Tennessee third baseman Nick Senzel. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Senzel batted .352 this season with eight home runs, 25 doubles and 59 RBI in 57 games. The junior had a .456 on-base percentage and slugged .595 for the Volunteers.

“We’re really excited, this is the guy we wanted,” Reds director of amateur scouting Chris Buckley told Reds.com. “He’s a very polished player. One of the better hitters, if not the best hitter, in the draft.”

Florida left-hander A.J. Puk was considered the likely pick for the Reds, but they went a different direction. Puk went to the Oakland Athletics with the No. 6 pick.

Louisville standout Corey Ray went No. 5 to the Milwaukee Brewers, the highest MLB Draft selection in Louisville baseball history and the first of three Cardinals selected in the first round. Ray has a .319/.396/.562 slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) this season for the Cards, who will play host to UC Santa Barbara in the NCAA Super Regionals on Saturday.

Louisville teammate Zack Burdi, a junior closer with a fastball that can hit triple digits, was drafted by the Chicago White Sox with the 26th pick of the first round. Burdi has a 2.20 ERA with 46 strikeouts and seven walks in 28 2/3 innings this season.

Burdi’s older brother Nick was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the second round in 2014.

An unprecedented third Louisville player was selected in the first round when catcher Will Smith was chosen by the Los Angeles Dodgers at No. 32. Smith, the first catcher drafted by the Dodgers in the first round since Paul Konerko in 1994, has a .380/.476/.573 slash line this season.

Louisville second baseman Nick Solak was drafted in the second round by the New York Yankees with the 62nd overall pick. Solak is slashing .380/.474/.576 this season with five home runs.

With the No. 1 pick, the Philadelphia Phillies selected Mickey Moniak, a high school outfielder from Carlsbad, Calif. Moniak, a UCLA commitment, batted .476 this season with seven home runs and a .942 slugging percentage at La Costa Canyon High School.

The last outfielder drafted No. 1 overall was Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper in 2010.

“It’s indescribable. It’s always a kid’s dream to get drafted by a major-league team, but being a No. 1 pick is insane,” Moniak told the MLB Network. “I couldn’t be more excited right now.”

The Reds also had the No. 35 overall pick and used it to select high school outfielder Taylor Trammell. The 6-2, 195-pound Trammell batted .463 with six home runs and 22 stolen bases for Mt. Paran Christian in Kennesaw, Ga. Trammell also was a star running back on the football team.

In the second round with the No. 43 pick, the Reds selected Clemson catcher Chris Okey. The 6-foot, 195-pound junior slashed .339/.465/.611 with 15 home runs this season.

Four University of Kentucky players are expected to be drafted this weekend: right-hander Zack Brown, right-hander Kyle Cody, third baseman JaVon Shelby and right-hander Dustin Beggs.

Other expected draftees from Louisville are right-hander Kyle Funkhouser, left-hander Drew Harrington and third baseman Blake Tiberi.

Eastern Kentucky outfielder Kyle Nowlin and EKU third baseman Mandy Alvarez are potential draft picks as well.

Shelby’s younger brother Jaren Shelby, an outfielder at Tates Creek, and high school pitchers Easton McGee (Hopkinsville) and Cameron Planck (Rowan County) are also expected to be selected.

The draft continues Friday with rounds 3-10. Rounds 11-40 are Saturday.

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