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MLB Amateur Draft begins Monday at 7pm ET

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If you’ve spent a lot of time around here, you know that we don’t really cover high school or college baseball, so we’re not going to put on some fake draft expert cap and pretend that we know what the heck we’re talking about when it comes to the MLB Amateur Draft. We are men of action. Lies do not become us.

We do know this much though: The 2018 draft gets underway today and will last through Wednesday. The Tigers pick first thanks to Pablo Sandoval hitting a walkoff dinger on the final game of the 2017 season to push the Giants “ahead” of the Tigers, record-wise. Thanks?

We can also point you to the folks who do make it their business to know what the heck they’re talking about when it comes to the top amateur baseball talent in the land, thereby helping you get ready for the draft. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Rounds one and two will be broadcast on MLB Network starting at 7PM EDT tonight. There’s a preview show at 6PM; Rounds 3-10 will be live-streamed on MLB.com beginning at 1PM tomorrow. Rounds 11-40 — they go fast, folks — will also be on MLB.com, beginning at noon eastern on Wednesday;
  • Baseball America’s draft preview material remains unmatched. Some of it — including their top 500 (yes, 500) prospects list — is paywalled, but don’t let anyone say you didn’t have the option to learn literally everything worth knowing about the draft. If you’re looking for a broader, less-intense overview, here’s MLB.com’s rundown of what to watch for in the draft. Keith Law of ESPN has a mock draft at ESPN.com, also behind a paywall, but premium content sometimes, quite reasonably, costs a premium;
  • Depending on whose mock drafts and previews you look at, Casey Mize, a right-handed pitcher from Auburn, Joey Bart, a catcher from Georgia Tech or Cole Winn, a high school righty from California are top candidates to be picked first and, in any event, will likely go in the top five. Nick Madrigal is a middle infielder from Oregon State who is thought of highly, as is Brady Singer, the righty from Florida pictured above.

Unless you follow college baseball closely those aren’t likely to be household names to you, but such is life in the baseball draft. Unlike football and basketball, Major League Baseball doesn’t have national broadcasters teaming up with colleges to publicize and subsidize their talent development pool. Your introduction to most of these guys will be when the beat writers who cover your team do profiles on the guys who actually got picked. Which is fine. The grind of the minor leagues means that, eventually, you’ll know what your team’s GM got.

Enjoy the draft if it’s your cup of tea. If not: you have anywhere from, oh, 2-6 years to get to know these dudes.

Reds are the frontrunner for Nicholas Castellanos

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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”

The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.

Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.