"You start basically 10 days after a Draft. When one Draft ends, you start working on the next one," said Chris Buckley, the Reds' senior director of amateur scouting. "It's a year-long process."
Buckley and his staff spend most of each summer and fall identifying players they want to see. They use the winter accumulating information and background like medical or psychological records. In the spring, scouts watch them play. And then a few new kids not originally on the radar might pop up and get a closer look, too.
"There will always be some kids that just improve significantly," Buckley said. "Maybe a high school player grew two inches over the winter or his fastball [improved] from 89 to 94 mph."
When the 2013 edition of the Draft gets under way on Thursday, the Reds will then have to wait their turn patiently in the first round. This time around, they have the 27th overall pick.
It's the same position they were in during the 2011 Draft, when they were also the defending National League Central champions. That year, high school pitcher Robert Stephenson was selected.
What's in store for the first round this year? It's far less predictable when a team has pick No. 27. Their draft board will see name after name plucked before their first crack.
"It's a challenge, but it's a good thing," Buckley said. "It means you're working for a club that has a very good Major League team and things are going well here. Somebody told me a long time ago that teams that draft the highest worry about the big league team the most. Most of the guys we're going to pick are three, four, sometimes five years from the big leagues. Your big league needs change daily."
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Reds special assistant to the general manager Eric Davis will be the club's representative at MLB Network studios in Secaucus, N.J., where the first round is being held. The club will phone its pick in to Davis and that choice will be relayed to Commissioner Bud Selig, who will announce all first-round selections.
The current Reds roster is littered with several past first-round picks, including starting pitcher Homer Bailey (2004), right fielder Jay Bruce ('05), catcher Devin Mesoraco ('07) and starting pitcher Mike Leake ('09). Others were traded to fill needs like Yonder Alonso ('08), Yasmani Grandal ('10) and Drew Stubbs ('06).
Here's a glance at what the Reds have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
As has been the case in past Drafts, Buckley and general manager Walt Jocketty will always green light the selection of the best available player. Even if it creates a potential logjam, like Alonso and Grandal, those players can be used as trade chips to acquire other talent down the road.
There will be a relatively short wait before the Reds make another choice. They also have the 38th overall selection as a competitive balance pick. That pick shouldn't be overlooked as the Reds used a similar sandwich pick to select Todd Frazier 34th overall in 2007.
In a recent mock draft, MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo predicted the Reds might go for college left-handed pitcher Tom Windle out of the University of Minnesota. Baseball America projected that Cincinnati could take Tennessee high school right-hander Kyle Serrano, who reportedly could wind up playing for his father at the University of Tennessee.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
Cincinnati has a bonus pool sum of $6,046,700 that ranks 21st among the 30 clubs. That includes $1,812,500 for the first-round selection and $1,470,500 for the competitive balance pick.
In a word, it will likely be pitching, pitching and more pitching. A total of 27 pitchers were taken last year, including eight of the final 10 picks. The Reds are likely to do more of the same in 2013.
"There are just so many more injuries to pitchers," Buckley said. "You really do have to sign a lot of pitchers just to get a couple to the big leagues. We'll always strive to add a lot of pitching."
While the Reds have never been shy about loading up on pitching, they are equally open about mining college campuses for talent. In 2011, 30 of the 50 selections were out of colleges and the ratio was 30 of their 42 players taken in 2012 came from college. Buckley has noted that has partly to do with the rules that limit the amount of bonus money available.
"Whenever you have a cap, there are going to be more older players taken. Older players are less expensive," Buckley said. "Your budget always dictates how you draft. The younger you draft, the more money you need. It's four years of college [that's possible] and the parents and agents are going to value that player more."
Recent Draft History
Taken as a supplemental first-round pick (49th overall) last year, outfielder Jesse Winker has been impressive for Class A Dayton. Winker, only 19 years old, is the Dragons' leader in homers, RBIs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage and among the leaders in batting average.
Right-handed relief pitcher Curtis Partch was a 26th round pick of the Reds in 2007 and is now one level away from the Majors. The 26-year-old Partch, who was added to the 40-man roster in November, had a 2.16 ERA and four saves in eight games at Double-A Pensacola before he was promoted to Triple-A Louisville.
In The Show
As a team that often eschews the free agent market for pricey veterans, the Reds have relied on homegrown players from all levels of the Draft for much of the past decade. Besides the past first rounders, several key members of the current roster include Joey Votto, Frazier, Zack Cozart, Chris Heisey, Sam LeCure and Logan Ondrusek.
In the pipeline are the likes of top organization prospect Billy Hamilton, who is currently at Triple-A Louisville.
"It's important, no matter how big your big league payroll is, to scout and develop your own players for cost certainty, cost effectiveness," Buckley said. "It's very important here for sure."
Reds' recent top picks
2012: Nick Travieso, RHP, Class A Dayton
2011: Robert Stephenson, RHP, Class A Dayton
2010: Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres (MLB)
2009: Mike Leake, RHP, Reds (MLB)
2008: Yonder Alonso, 1B, Padres (MLB)