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Reds make prep pitcher top pick

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

CINCINNATI — The success of the Cincinnati Reds this season is due mainly to strong pitching.

With the organization’s first pick in the 2012 amateur draft on Monday, the plan is to keep it strong.

Reds’ senior director of amateur scouting Chris Buckley announced the team had selected hard-throwing right-handed pitcher Nick Travieso with its first pick and the 14th overall.

“Sometimes you feel you have a little advantage,” Buckley said. “When you have that information, we were hoping we had some information the other scouts didn’t. He’s a very impressive young guy.

“We’ve been following him for a couple of years. He’s been in everything. We saw him pitch at the end of the fall on the USA team. His dad has handled him very well, and that’s important.”

Travieso’s father Danny is a former college pitcher.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Travieso is a senior at Archbishop McCarthy High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Travieso, 18, consistently throws in the 94-95 mile an hour range and has reached between 97-99 miles an hour.

“I’ve hit it (99) a few times, not just once,” said Travieso. “I’ve been blessed by God with the ability to throw that hared. I’m usually sitting in the 93-95 miles-per-hour range.”

Travieso grew up a Yankees fan and fashioned his pitching to that of Roger Clemens.

“I’ve always followed (Clemens) my whole life. He’s been my idol. I feel like I have the same bulldog mentality he does when he pitched on the mound,” said Travieso.

In seven regular season starts this year, Travieso posted a microscopic 0.76 earned run average with 70 strikeouts, 11 walks, a mere 21 hits and only five earned runs in 46.1 innings. He had two complete games and a shutout.

Besides his fastball, Travieso has a slider in the mid-80s range and he also has a changeup.

Travieso is the second consecutive high school right-hander the Reds have chosen in the first round. Last year they picked Robert Stephenson with the 27th pick overall.

Although Travieso had committed to the Miami Hurricanes, he can opt to sign with the Reds.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, the Reds may spend up to $2.375 million on the 14th pick.

“Right now, I’m looking forward to signing professionally and get my career started,” said Travieso. “Hopefully, I will get up to Cincinnati as fast as I can to help the big league team win a World Series.”

The draft will resume Tuesday with rounds 2-15 and Wednesday with rounds 16-40. The Reds also had two supplemental picks on Monday — numbers 49 and 57 — as compensation for the loss of free agents Ramon Hernandez and Francisco Cordero.

NOTE: The Reds released veteran left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis on Monday at his request.

Francis — who threw a complete game shutout on Sunday for Class AAA Louisville — elected to exercise a June 1 opt-out clause in his minor league contract.

In 12 starts this season, the 31-year-old Francis was 3-6 with a 3.72 ERA. He struck out 65 and walked 18 over 77.1 innings.

Francis is 61-66 with a 4.78 ERA in 181 games during his major league career that included stints with Kansas City and Colorado. He was 55-50 in six seasons with Colorado that featured three double-digit win seasons.