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Revisiting the 2023 Reds MLB Draft class after the conclusion of the minor league season.
Best Pure Hitter: The Reds invested heavily in pitching in the 2023 draft, with four of their first picks being arms, but shortstop Sammy Stafura (2) has a well-rounded profile and a chance for an average hit tool. He struggled heavily in his pro debut—.071/.212/.191 with a 45.5% miss rate—but is young and will look to rebound in 2024.
Best Power Hitter: First baseman Carter Graham (8) has plus-plus raw power and produced huge exit velocity numbers in college. He homered 15 times this spring with Stanford, though he struggled with contact in a brief pro debut this summer.
Fastest Runner: Outfielder Kyle Henley (14) was Cincinnati’s big signing on the third day of the draft. The team signed him to a $395,000 deal and in Henley they secured one of the fastest players in the class. His 6.20-second 60-yard dash at East Coast Pro in 2022 was the fastest of the event, and he’s a legitimate 80-grade runner.
Best Defensive Player: Catcher Connor Burns (5) was the consensus top defender at the game’s most difficult position in the 2023 class. He does everything well behind the plate and he does it with ease and fluidity that makes his actions look almost slow until you glance down at the stop watch and see he’s just put the ball directly on the bag with sub 1.80-second pop times via elite actions, exchange and a 70-grade arm. He is an elite defensive catcher and his ultimate role and upside will be determined by how much the bat develops.
Best Fastball: When you throw your fastball more than 80% of the time, that’s probably an indication that it’s a pretty good pitch. That was the case with righthander Ty Floyd (1s) in his first year at Louisiana State in 2022, and while he dialed that usage rate back to 70% in 2023, the pitch still sits 94-95, touches 98 and has exceptional riding life at the top of the zone.
Best Secondary Pitch: There were only a few pitchers in the 2023 class with a changeup as good or better than righthander Rhett Lowder’s (1). The big righty has excellent feel for the mid-80s cambio, and uses it near as often as both his fastball and changeup, with excellent deception and tunneling ability that allows all three pitches to play up.
Best Pro Debut: OF Ethan O’Donnell (6) slashed .326/.423/.537 in his pro debut between the Arizona Complex League and Florida State League. He did a nice job controlling the strike zone and made quality swing decisions, homered four times and went 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts.
Best Athlete: Stafura (2) is a quick-twitch athlete who moves around the diamond well and improved his size, strength and speed this spring, without sacrificing the fluidity of his movements or actions. His body control should allow him to stick at shortstop, and he is also now a plus runner.
Most Intriguing Background: Stafura (2) was one of the most notable risers in the 2023 draft class this spring. He had a solid summer and well-rounded toolset, but after showing strength gains and tool jumps this spring, he went from an early day two sort of prospect to a name that was consistently getting linked in the back of the first round.
Closest To The Majors: Lowder (1) always stood out for his polish and advanced pitchabilty on the mound. While some scouts might critique him for his lack of projection, the flip side of that coin is that he doesn’t really need to improve on much more to become an effective big league starter and has one of the safest starter profiles in the class. His well-rounded pitch mix and plus control should help him move quickly.
Best Day Three Pick (Or NDFA): First baseman Jack Moss (11) has always been a productive college hitter, and he translated that ability to his first taste of pro ball. The 21-year-old played in the Arizona Complex League and Florida State League, and between both, he slashed .303/.405/.333 with 14 walks and 20 strikeouts. He has some of the best zone skills and bat-to-ball skills in this Reds class, though he might need to tack on more power given his first base profile.