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Cincinnati Reds 2021 MLB Draft Report Card

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Best Pure Hitter: Shortstop Matt McLain (1) bet on himself in a big way after declining to sign in the first round out of high school and instead attending UCLA. His move paid off, as McLain was drafted eight picks higher out of college after hitting .279/.360/.478 over three years with the Bruins and becoming one of the better pure hitters in the 2021 college class.

Best Power Hitter: In his longest collegiate season this spring, first baseman Ruben Ibarra (4) homered 14 times in 35 games for San Jose State. His power is driven more by strength (6-foot-5, 290 pounds) than bat speed, but there’s a lot of raw power in the tank here.

Fastest Runner: After making a bit of noise for himself in junior college, North Carolina outfielder Justice Thompson (6) was one of the bigger helium players in the class thanks to a strong year with the Tar Heels in the ACC. He’s a double-plus runner who stole 15 bags in 17 tries (88.2%) in college this spring.

Best Defensive Player: Scouts raved about Thompson’s defensive ability, athleticism and instincts in center field this spring, but it’s hard to not give this category to shortstop Jose Torres (3), who was widely seen as the best defensive shortstop in this draft class. Torres covers more ground than his speed would suggest, he has tremendous instincts, reads the ball well, showcases deft footwork and glovework and throws with plus arm strength.

Best Fastball: You would probably be able to tell righthander Hunter Parks (8) throws hard without looking at the readings of a radar gun. He has a tremendously quick arm on the mound and has routinely been in the mid-90s with a chance to throw 100 mph in the future.

Best Secondary Pitch: Righthander Kevin Abel (7) has seen his velocity track up and down throughout his collegiate career, but his changeup has consistently been a real weapon for him, and it’s at least a plus offering and one of the more consistent changeups in the 2021 draft class.

Best Pro Debut: Outfielder Jay Allen (1) showed no issues adjusting to pro pitching in a 19-game Florida Complex League stint. He hit .328/.440/.557 while showing power (three home runs), speed (14-for-15 stolen bases) and plate discipline (eight walks, 12 strikeouts) at a premium, up-the-middle defensive position.

Best Athlete: Thompson is a strong athlete, but Allen is the winner here as a standout high school quarterback and basketball player who seemed to walk off the court and swing the bat well on the diamond without much fuss. Scouting Directors voted Allen as the No. 3 athlete in the prep class on Baseball America’s preseason poll.

Most Intriguing Background: Righthander Owen Holt (16) had a bit of a winding path to professional baseball. He went to Harvard out of high school and played for the school’s football team, before pitching briefly for the baseball team in 2020, and then transferring to Alvin (Texas) JC where he pitched this spring. Holt was dual-enrolled in classes at Harvard and Alvin, while playing baseball this spring.

Closest To The Majors: As one of the most advanced bats in the 2021 class, McClain could be a quick mover and his defensive versatility could open up options for promotion as long as he continues to perform offensively.

Best Late-Round Pick (Or NDFA): Righthander Shawn Guilliams (11) signed for a $272,500 bonus as the first day three pick for the Reds. He performed well in junior college and has a fastball that’s been in the mid-80s with a pair of solid secondary offerings as well.

The One Who Got Away: The Reds signed all 22 of their draft picks this year.

Trent Palmer (Mike Janes Four Seam Images)

Baseball America Prospect Report—September 16, 2021

Trent Palmer throws his second no-hitter of the season, Matt McLain hits his second professional home run and more.

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