Over the next six weeks, MLB-DI will take a look at each teams draft class, breaking down the best — and most questionable — over the past week.
Next up: The Cleveland Indians. Cleveland broke their long-standing tradition of taking near-ready college players in the first few rounds last year. Was this another upside draft? Or did they fall into old habits?
To the jump!
The Decision Makers
General Manager: Chris Antonetti
Director, Scouting: Brad Grant
Position Players: 20
Corner infielders: 01
Middle infielders: 06
The First Ten Rounds
Steal: Player was selected several rounds — or in the case of the first-round, several picks — earlier than his value indicated.
Solid: Player was taken later than his value indicated.
Average: Player was selected where his value indicated.
Slight-reach: Player was taken slightly earlier than his value indicated.
Reach: Player was drafted several rounds or picks earlier than his value indicated.
|01.15||Tyler Naquin||OF||Texas A&M||Reach|
|02.79||Mitch Brown||RHP||Rochester Century HS (MN)||Solid|
|03.110||Kieran Lovegrove||RHP||Mission Viejo HS (CA)||Steal|
|04.143||D’Vone McClure||OF||Jacksonville HS (AR)||Solid|
|05.173||Dylan Baker||RHP||Western Nevada||Solid|
|06.203||Joseph Windle||2B||West Chester University||Reach|
|07.233||Josh Schubert||OF||Calhoun HS (GA)||Solid|
|08.263||Caleb Hamrick||RHP||Cedar Hill HS (TX)||Average|
|09.293||Jacob Lee||RHP||Arkansas State||Average|
I hated having to list Naquin as a reach, but he was more of a supplemental to second round talent than a middle of the first round pick. He’ll have to stick in center for the bat to play, but I think he’s more of a very good right fielder defensively. He might have the best arm of any collegiate outfielder, and it wasn’t the largest reach of the first-round, but there were many better players available in round one in terms of value.
Many were stunned when Brown wasn’t selected on day one — particularly when the Twins passed at selection 42 — and the Indians had to have been thrilled to see his name still on the board at pick 79. He’s got a major-league ready curve, and the fastball can get as high as 94 with some life. Not an ace, but a solid No.2 who should advance quickly, maybe the quickest of any prep arm selected after Max Fried.
I’m higher than most on Lovegrove, but I thought he was an absolute steal in round three for Cleveland. The right-hander has a wipe out slider — the best of any prep pitcher in the class — with a 90-92 mile per hour heater that has arm side run and sink as well. He’ll need to develop a third pitch, and the mechanics need work, but he’s got a No.2 ceiling and a dominant bullpen arm floor.
McClure will need to improve the swing mechanics — the swing is a bit flat and his feet are all over the place — but he’s an excellent athlete with above average speed and arm strength. He’s as raw as any player in this class, but he’s high reward and outstanding value in the fourth round.
If teams were sure that Baker could start, he would have been off the board on day one, maybe as early as the first-round. As a reliever though, he does have two plus pitches, and a slider that flashes above-average, and should dominate right-handed hitters. If he develops a change or split, he’s got a chance to be a mid-rotation guy, but I expect Cleveland will fast track him in the pen and you could see him contributing as soon as next season.
Want proof that you don’t have to nail the first-round pick to earn high remarks? Look no further. I loved this draft. There’s no ace, and no middle of the order hitter, but there’s two likely big league bats, two potential No.2 starters, and and maybe a future closer. That’s well done for a team that didn’t have any extra picks. Kudos.