Brad Meador, the director of amateur scouting for the Reds, calls Brookens an old-school scout who doesn’t often push for the Reds to draft high-school players. When he does, the Reds take notice. Devin Mesoraco, who the Reds drafted in the first round out of Punxsutawney High School in 2007, was one of Brookens’ finds.
The latest player Brookens saw first is Austin Hendrick, an outfielder from West Allegheny High School in Imperial, Pa., who the Reds selected with the 12th pick of the first round of the Major League Baseball draft on Wednesday.
“He’s a big, strong physical kid,” Meador said. “From a physical standpoint, you feel he’s ready to go compete right now.”
The Reds saw Hendrick often the last two years, and he played for a team managed by two other Reds scouts, J.R. Reynolds and Tyler Gibbons, a Lakota East graduate, in the East Coast Pro Showcase last summer in Alabama.
Meador was impressed by Hendrick’s ability to change his swing while playing against top competition with Team USA’s Under-18 squad in Korea last summer. He had one hit in eight appearances, but that didn’t worry the Reds.
“I personally would prefer to take the guy that hits first,” Meador said. “I think the power comes. We didn’t see Austin as a power guy who can’t hit. We wouldn’t have taken him there if that’s what we thought.”
Hendrick was the first of six players the Reds picked in the five rounds of the draft, which was shortened from 40 rounds to five because of the coronavirus pandemic. Here's a glance at the other players:
Christian Roa, second round: The right-handed pitcher from Texas A&M University did his homework on the Reds and learned about the growth of their analytical approach to developing pitchers. He told the Bryan-College Station Eagle newspaper he looked forward to meeting Reds starter Trevor Bauer, who's know for his analytical approach to the game.
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“Trevor is definitely one of the brightest minds in all of baseball at this point,” Roa said. “He’s on the cutting edge of analytics in how he approaches the game and from a scientific, engineer outlook of the way he views pitching. If I’m fortunate to sit down with Trevor and talk pitching, I’m definitely going to take that time to learn and listen and have a good conversation with him.”
Jackson Miller, Competitive Balance Round B: A left-handed hitting catcher from J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Fla., Miller said he didn't start catching until late in his high school career and is still working on perfecting the craft.
Miller visited Great American Ball Park once when he was a kid.
“We had a goal when I was younger to visit all the ballparks,” he said. “We didn’t come close to completing that goal because of all the travel games.”
Bryce Bonnin, third round: A right-handed pitcher from Texas Tech, Bonnin started his career at Arkansas and pitched there in his freshman season. He suffered a shoulder injury and transferred because the Arkansas coaches didn't think he would recover. By the time his sophomore season at Texas Tech started in 2019, he was 100 percent.
“It was just one of those things I had to overcome, Bonnin said. “I’m very grateful for the Texas Tech coaches and all the people over there in Lubbock who helped me get to this point.”
Mac Wainwright, fourth round: An outfielder from St. Edward High School in Cleveland, Wainwright signed to play for Ohio State in November. He wore a Reds hat when he talked to Cincinnati media on a Zoom call on Thursday night.
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Wainwright also was on the roster of the Reds team in the East Coast Pro League last summer, though he didn’t get to play because he had suffered a stress fracture in his tibia. The Reds did get to see him in action at a fall showcase in Jupiter, Fla.
Wainwright met Hendrick at the East Coast Pro League, and they remain friends.
“We were supposed to play in the outfield together,” Wainwright said, “and now we finally get to do it for the Reds.”
Joe Boyle, fifth round: A 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher from Notre Dame, Boyle is from Goshen, Ky., near Louisville. He struck out 57 batters in 36 innings in his college career. He was 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA in a 2020 season shortened by the COVID-19 crisis.
"Joe positioned himself well heading into the unprecedented 2020 draft," Notre Dame coach Link Jarrett said on the university's website. "His skill set and makeup are both outstanding as reflected in being chosen as one of our captains and throwing over 100 miles per hour. (Assistant coach) Chuck (Ristano) has done a great job in developing Joe's talent. Tonight's draft by the Reds is a recognition of talent, development and work ethic. Joe has a lot of good baseball in his future."