Sunday, June 02, 2002

On the farm

Reds' pick depends on many factors

By John Fay,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The jury is still out on whom the Reds will take with the No. 3 overall pick in Tuesday's amateur draft.

        In this case, the jury is the 15 or so scouts and advisers who make up Reds general manager Jim Bowden's inner circle. Most of them have seen all the top prospects, but their opinions vary.

        “We've got a lot of experienced people,” Reds scouting director Kasey McKeon said. “You're always going to have differences of opinion. We'll sit down and try to come up with a consensus.”

        The Reds are focusing on two high school pitchers — left-hander Scott Kazmir and right-hander Chris Gruler — although there are others still on their board.

        Bryan Bullington, a right-hander out of Ball State, remains high on the Reds' list. But the thought now is he's likely to go to Pittsburgh with the No. 1 pick.

        “That's our feeling,” McKeon said.

        It's less clear who Tampa Bay will take with the No. 2 pick.

        But if Bullington goes No. 1, either Gruler or Kazmir will be available when the Reds pick.

        Gruler, from Brentwood, Calif., was in Friday for a workout, physical exam and talks with Reds officials. Kazmir is due in today for the same.

        The conversations are as important as the workouts.

        “Most definitely,” McKeon said. “That's the luxury other sports have. We want to get to know them. That's important.”

        Both Gruler and Kazmir throw in the mid-90s with good breaking balls. It's more difficult to project whether a high school pitcher is going to make it.

        But Gruler and Kazmir could turn out to be No. 1 or 2 starters. The Reds love that.

        The Reds haven't given up on position players altogether. They like Prince Fielder, the son of former big-leaguer Cecil. Prince, a high schooler out of Florida, is built like his father. He's 6 feet, 260 pounds.

        The Reds are on record as saying they will take pitching.

        The Reds also have the 40th pick in the draft.

        KAZMIR CONNECTION: Kazmir is from Houston. His father, Eddie, works for a welding supply company owned by Ed Dunn — Adam's father.

        “Pick him, and I'll handle the negotiations,” Adam Dunn said. Dunn said the Reds needn't worry about makeup with Kazmir.

        “Scottie's a great kid,” Dunn said.

        HOWINGTON RETURNS: Left-hander Ty Howington, the No. 1 pick in 1999, threw 75 pitches off the mound Wednesday at Chattanooga. He'll probably pitch an inning or two in a game shortly. Howington is coming back after rehabbing his throwing shoulder after a bout with tendinitis.

        CO-EXISTING: The Reds' two top shortstop prospects, Gookie Dawkins and Ray Olmedo, are getting along fine sharing the shortstop and second base duties at Chattanooga. “All the reports I've gotten from Phillip Wellman, their manager, is that it's working fine,” said Reds director of player development Tim Naehring. “These guys aren't stupid. They know it's going to help them by learning to play second.”


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