A year ago, a Mater Academy (Fla.) outfielder who was committed to play ball at Miami ended up being selected sixth overall in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Like Cubs prospect Albert Almora, outfielder Willie Abreu has established himself as one of the best prospects in South Florida, but it took until the 14th round of the 2013 Draft for the Reds to select the Hurricanes commit with the 435th overall pick.
The two players have often been compared to each other, and Abreu told Pat Hickey of Baseball America that Almora drove him to be better.
"[Almora] was max effort in everything he did, on and off the field," Abreu said. "I try to approach everything the same way."
Abreu's best tool is his power. He creates good loft with his left-handed swing and has the ability to drive the ball to all parts of the ballpark. This spring, Abreu batted .513 (39-for-76) with six home runs and 26 RBIs.
"Willie's a big kid, strong kid," said Chris Buckley, Reds senior director of amateur scouting. "Like most high-school kids, he's probably not totally done growing. He'll probably still get a little bit bigger and stronger, so we would see him more as a corner type guy."
His plus arm profiles well in right field in the pros, but he must improve his hitting ability in order to succeed at the next level. However, Abreu probably will always hit more for power than average.
For Buckley and the Reds, the challenge now will be getting Abreu to sign a professional contract instead of sticking with the Hurricanes.
"We hope [chances] are good," Buckley said. "We've had a lot of conversations with him. My two scouts down there, Miguel Machado and Tony Arias, we've signed a lot of players from down there. We hope he wants to be a Red. Yes, he is signed, and a lot of the kids down there are signed to Miami, so that's certainly nothing we haven't dealt with before."
Reds begin Day 3 by taking prep lefty Boyles
The Reds started Day 3 of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft right where they left off on Day 2, selecting left-handed pitcher Ty Boyles out of Quartz Hills High School (Calif.) in the 11th round.
At 6-foot-3, 270 pounds, Boyles' size makes him stand out among high school pitchers. The imposing lefty dominated during his senior year for the Rebels, winning nine games with a 0.70 ERA. In 70 innings, he registered 120 strikeouts while allowing just 26 hits and 20 walks.
"He's a big, physical guy, which lends itself to being durable," said Chris Buckley, Reds senior director of amateur scouting. "So much of what we do in professional sports is based off your body, your size, your strength. Baseball is a really, really long season, and you have to be big and strong.
Boyles' fastball hovers in the low 90s, and he owns a curveball that he uses sparingly.
Also excelling at the plate for Quartz Hills, Boyles batted .459 (39-for-85) with 32 RBIs and eight home runs to go with four doubles and a triple this season.
In a game in late March this season, Boyles tossed a no-hitter, including 15 strikeouts, while also connecting on a three-run home run to show off his complete game.
Boyles is committed to Cal Poly San Louis Obispo, but Buckley said thinks the powerful pitcher is ready for the professional ranks.
"Our scouts on the West Coast really like him," Buckley said. "We think he has a chance to be a solid starting Major League pitcher."
In the Pipeline
Day 3 of the Draft saw the Reds once again take pitchers throughout, as they try to stock up at the position with the highest attrition rate.
But in the first few rounds of the final day of selections, Cincinnati also added two players who might have a chance to climb the organization's Minor League ranks fairly quickly. Shedric Long (12th round) out of Jacksonville (Ala.) High School and Jarrett Freeland (15th round) from Parkview (Ga.) High School were both drafted as catchers. Freeland, standing at 6-foot-6, could bounce around, though, considering his size and versatility, and Buckley said the club also likes him as a pitcher.
Of MLB.com's top 20 Reds Prospects, none are catchers. When Cincinnati needed a backstop earlier this season, they called up Corky Miller, who was signed as a free agent in 1998.
The Reds also picked up their second outfielder of the Draft in the 14th round, selecting Mater Academy Charter's (Fla.) Willie Abreu. While first-round pick Phillip Ervin is expected to remain in center field, where he'll compete with the likes of Billy Hamilton -- the Reds' No. 1 prospect -- and Ryan LaMarre, Abreu projects to be a quality corner outfielder.
Reds grab prep catcher Long in Round 12
After a run of selecting six straight pitchers in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, the Reds picked catcher Shedric Long out of Jacksonville High School in Alabama in the 12th round.
Long is a left-handed batter who throws right-handed. At various camps, his arm velocity clocked in right around 90 mph.
"A bunch of our scouts have seen Shedric play and felt he has the tools for that position," said Chris Buckley, Reds senior director of amateur scouting. "Very aggressive player, but we think he has a good makeup to be a catcher."
At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, the 18-year-old certainly looks the part, and he was invited to the Power Showcase Home Run Derby last summer, where he hit one wood-bat homer an estimated 418 feet. However, Buckley said Long excels as a line-drive hitter who looks to get on base a lot.
Although Long is committed to play college ball at Northwest Florida State, Buckley said he's expressed an interest in starting his professional career, which is one of the reasons the Reds were drawn to him.
"The game is a lot about your physical tools, but there's also a lot of intangibles here that are very important," Buckley said. "He has a strong desire to get started, so that's something we really like to hear."
Reds get college righty Mitchell in 13th round
Evan Mitchell became the third pitcher selected out of Mississippi State in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft when the Reds took the right-hander in the 13th round on Saturday.
Mitchell was a starter and also threw out of the bullpen during his three years with the Bulldogs, starting seven of his nine appearances as a junior this past season. In those nine outings, Mitchell went 0-1 with a 3.74 ERA, allowing eight hits in 21 2/3 innings.
Command issues limited the 21-year-old this season, as he walked 26 batters and hit another five while striking out 27.
"He has some outstanding stuff," said Chris Buckley, Reds senior director of amateur scouting. "I think there was maybe some impatience on the Mississippi State people because of the walks. But we're hoping in a less stressful environment, he can learn to handle his command a little bitter."
Mitchell has a pitcher's frame at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, and he utilizes a fastball that can touch the mid-90's to go along with a solid slider and curveball.
With that arsenal, Buckley said the Reds are willing to take their time with Mitchell.
"One thing we always remember in professional baseball is we have more patience," Buckley said. "College baseball today, especially at the Division 1 level, they're trying so hard to win, where we're more involved in developing players and making sure they get to the big leagues. Sometimes, we have more patience than your college guys do."
Versatile Freeland is Reds' 15th-round pick
In the 15th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, the Reds picked Jarrett Freeland out of Parkview High School (Ga.) as a catcher. However, that may or may not be the position the 6-foot-6, 206-pound 18-year-old plays at the next level
While in high school, Freeland played first and third base and also took to the mound to go along with his catching duties. Reds senior director of amateur scouting Chris Buckley described Freeland as a "wildcard."
"He's a guy who has caught and also has pitched. We kind of like him at both spots," Buckley said. "He's a very talented guy. As tall as he is and hard as it is to think that he can catch at [6-foot-6], he can do that.
As a junior, Freeland helped lead Parkview to a second straight state title, batting .371 with four homers and 23 RBIs. Baseball America also named the Panthers as national champions that season.
Freeland missed his senior season due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and underwent Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow. He's committed to Georgia, where he likely would be used in various roles.
Buckley and his staff were well aware of Freeland's injury and have been in contact with his family. While he hopes to sign Freeland to a professional deal, Buckley said he's not sure how the injury will affect the process.
"It depends how disappointed he is," Buckley said. "Sometimes kids realize, 'Geez, I've all ready been injured and I have an opportunity here, I better take advantage of this. The next time I get injured, that could be it.' Or some kid could say, 'Geez, I just got injured, I better go get my education.' It's kind of hard to tell."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.