Cincinnati Reds Draft Report Card
By David Rawnsley
Best Debut: OF Ben Broussard (2) terrorized the Rookie-level Pioneer (.407-14-48) and Class A Midwest Leagues (.550-2-6) and reached Double-A Chattanooga less than two months after his pro debut. Overall, he hit 24 home runs. 1B Casey Bookout (9), a college senior draft, also enjoyed a strong first season, hitting .363-13-63 for Billings.
Best Athlete: OF Okorie Barrow (7) is a potential five-tool player with exceptional speed and plus power potential. He must overcome questions about his vision to realize his potential.
Best Hitter: Fatigue and stiffer competition stalled Broussard at Chattanooga, but he has a solid approach and will work counts. His bat speed is excellent.
Best Power: Broussard, who hit 27 home runs for McNeese State this spring, has power to all fields. He had a three-homer, two-double, 11-RBIs game before being promoted from Billings.
Fastest Runner: Barrow has reportedly been timed at faster than 6.4 seconds in the 60. OF Alex LeFlore (6) is a click slower but still has well above-average speed.
Best Defensive Player: Barrow has the range to become a very good center fielder but still must improve his fundamentals. SS B.J. Hawes (19) comes from a small-school background but flashed good ability in the middle infield.
Best Fastball: LHP Ty Howington (1) signed too late to pitch in 1999 but was touching 96 mph during the summer. High school RHPs Brandon Love (3) and Ken Lutz (4) can both hit 93 mph.
Most Intriguing Background: OF Bryan Erstad (42), the brother of Angels OF Darin Erstad, ran track this spring instead of playing baseball and is at Wichita State. LeFlore is the son of former big league stolen-base champ Ron LeFlore.
Closest to the Majors: The Reds outfield depth may stymie Broussard, but not for long, especially if he starts fast against Double-A pitching in 2000.
The One That Got Away: The Reds knew they were gambling with both RHP Mike Esposito (5) and 1B Travis Wong (13) but made each lucrative offers. Esposito chose Arizona State, while Wong picked Texas A&M.
Best Non-Draft Sign: With a $1.9 million bonus, Cincinnati outbid several wealthier suitors for OF Alejandro Diaz, a Dominican who had played in Japan. Diaz, 20, has lightning speed and top defensive ability in center field. Between Double-A Chattanooga and Class A Clinton, he hit .274-13-76.
Summary: The Reds feel they got two potential impact players in Broussard and Howington, plus a first-round equivalent in Diaz. The rest of the class is young and will take longer to develop.
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