T. fleerdon here, alongside the estimable ghanki, to deliver you the nuance-free, unabashedly partisan draft coverage you never asked for in the first place. Click here to see the community's witty and highly relevant live draft reactions.
The team's picks:
29. Lonnie Chisenhall, Oct. '88, INF, 6'1", 200 lbs., JUCO
76. Curtis Haley, June '90, RHP, 6'3", 180 lbs., HS
107. Cord Phelps, Jan. '87, 2B, 6'2", 200 lbs, NCAA
141. David Roberts, Sept. '86, RHP, 6'3", 215, NCAA
171. Steve Putnam, Jul. '87, RHP, 6'2", 215, NCAA
201. Jeremie Tice, Sept. '86, 3B, 6'1", 225, NCAA
Lonnie Chisenhall, INF
With the penultimate first-round pick, and with a number of well-thought-of "first round" talents remaining, the Cleveland Indians selected OH MY GOD THIS GUY'S A THIEF WHO DOESN'T HIT HOME RUNS WHAT BROWNIES ARE THEY EATING??!?!?
Okay, I just took a cold shower and wrote down my TV's serial number; let's continue. The 100 percent awesomely named Lonnie Chisenhall is a 19-year-old, meh-gloved, lefty-hitting, multi-position infielder who was having a good freshman season at South Carolina before he and some other dudes WHOOPS jacked a couple grand's worth of electronics out of a school-owned storage facility. Criminal charges and a year of JUCO in Pitt Co., NC, later, here he is. I don't mean to be dismissive, but I'd rather not be judged on who I was as an 18-year-old, so I'll extend that right to Lonnie. To most commenters' credit (except for ours, of course), the Indians' character sniff test of Chisenhall seems to suffice. At least as to his character. As to his athleticism, on the other hand...
SwerbsBlurbs's (pronounced "SwerbsBlurbziz") Dennis Nosco, a vocal critic of the Tribe's previous drafts, had this to say of the pick:
Not that Chisenhall won't hit. It's just that he is unlikely to perform like a first round pick. He would have to (a) Develop big power (he doesn't have a lot of speed) to be a corner infielder or outfielder or (b) be able to play second base at the pro level and you should NOT be drafting guys in the first round whose success is predicated on them being able to be successful at a middle of the infield position they haven't been trained at and questionably even have the ability to play.
Keith Law and others expressed similar disdain for the pick, albeit with more commas. According to the mock boards at the big media outlets, Chisenhall was taken scores of picks early.
The Indians-are-eating-shroom-brownies-I-would-rather-have-Carlos-Gutierrez crowd did not, however, comprise a totality of the observers. Most notably, BP's Kevin Goldstein saw Chisenhall as a reasonable pick.
He’s not a shortstop, but he gives them a non-1B and he’s a nice pick here. I almost put him at 30 for Boston. Best JUCO hitter in the draft, and could fit at 2B or 3B. He can hit for average, power could end up average.
I had Chisenhall #35. So this is NOT a big reach at all. Among hitters who are not big one dimensional first basemen, Chisenhall is one of the best.
(Hat tip: hans)
I won't pretend that this is my area of expertise, or for that matter, that I have an area of expertise. I will say this. If the Indians were willing to spend their first-round pick on a line-drive hitter with a so-so glove, then (a) they must think more of him than does Keith Law, and (b) they must have been seriously unimpressed with the rest of the talent on the board.
Let's look at that (a). The first point of note there is signability: As with Beau Mills last season, the front office doesn't anticipate any difficulty getting Chisenhall's John Hancock. ghanki notes that the Pirates drafted him out of high school in the 2006's 11th round, but failed to sign him. That segues nicely into this vintage quote from the Pirates' organization the ghankster dug up: "We like his bat, we like his power. But [signing him is] one of those situations." That was then; this is now.
Power, hey? Here's gahnki again: "One thing to note is that [Chisenhall] is only 19 years old. Grady Sizemore had very little power at 19. If he gains some man muscle[TM 2007 Torii Hunter] and retools his swing a bit he could gain some decent pop." That lines up nicely with Tribe scouting director Brad Grant's take:
The bat is a No. 1 tool, his bat is ahead of his power right now. He's a very disciplined hitter; he's got a very patient approach. Right now, he's more of a line-drive, gap hitter, and as he continues to mature, he'll develop power.
That discipline seems like the real draw, though. gahnki's got some thoughts. "It’s pretty obvious that the Indians drafted him because of the low k rate and the very impressive 38BB/8K. Although playing at a JUCO level raises some questions the walk numbers should translate nicely." I'll agree with that. I'm optimistic, as well, that we've got a true tough-out contact hitter here.
Of course, he's no DH. Castrovince tells us that Chisenhall will break into the system at shortstop and transition to the hot corner. If he can stick there, he gives us some long-term depth at a position of need in the system. Apparently he's got just-average range, but a solid arm -- he served as a closer for his JUCO. Aaaand...he's slow. What else is new.
Quick note on (b) -- that the rest of guys weren't anything to write home about. Here's the party line via Tribe scouting director Brad Grant:
This was the best player available. Lonnie's been a guy that we've had targeted from the beginning. Picking at 29, it's really difficult to know who's going to be there. There were no surprises above him, [and] he was the best talent on the board at 29.
Obviously, you expect to hear that from Grant, but doesn't it ring true here? In a first round with a smattering of high school pitchers and a bunch of big-bat, little-glove college guys? I think so.
And gahnki adds that, if the Indians over-drafted, it may have been necessary: "All in all the pick is much better than my original thoughts. If the character issues aren’t relevant any longer I think we took a decent player here. He offers patience at the plate with defensive versatility. Pretty much what every team wants out of a player. I think he may have been a reach, but the Indians were obviously afraid that someone would take him before we drafted again."
Frankly, I'm happy with this pick just because it cheesed so many people off. We must be doing something right. Interesting, too, that for the second straight year the Indians went draft shopping in a less fashionable venue (Mills was from a non-NCAA conference, and Lonnie's from JUCO). Oh, and no word yet on whether he's a sufficiently valuable chip to get Garrett Atkins.
From here, I'll turn it over exclusively to my cohort. Take it away, gahnki.
Curtis Haley, RHP
Haley comes from a small high school in Texas. The competition level he faced is questionable, but he dominated at the level nonetheless. He is 6"3 and 180 pounds. A nice frame for a pitcher.
From everything I have read Haley has two absolutely outstanding pitches. A fastball that touches 95 but averages around 92-93. The pitch that has me intrigued is his curveball which is around 80 mph. He can get people out with this curve. It was absolutely unfair to watch high school kids face him. One of the hitters he faced almost broke his knees trying to avoid getting hit by it only to have it drop right in the middle of the plate. MLB.com also notes that he has a change up but seldom used it. A change up is usually the easiest pitch to improve so it is no big deal.
I have a little concern over his leg placement coming out of his motion. It is inconsistent from pitch to pitch and he points his left foot at odd angles sometimes. This is quite a minor detail, though.
There is a concern that he will not be easy to sign. He is committed to play at Rice University and the rumbling is that he will want first round money. I cannot comment on the legitimacy of those rumblings. Overall, he is a very good pick if we can sign him. Part of me believes that we can sign him because we passed on Tim Melville, who had first round talent but fell because of ridiculous demands. If signability was an issue I think we would have taken the higher talent in Melville. Although, Haley could easily be undervalued or overvalued because of the competition level he faced.
Robert "Cord" Phelps, 2B
I can't really say anything definitive on this pick. He's from Stanford, second basemen, measurables of 6''2 200lbs, and has a cool middle name. That's pretty much enough for me. The Indians must see something that others don't here. I'm watching some video on him and he plays a nice second base. The fundamentals are there, but I can't say anything about him without numbers that are rarely kept at the college level. If someone wants to attempt to make a RZR evaluation, well, good luck.
Cord is a switch hitter who has a .299 (144-482) career batting average with 78 RBI and 95 runs scored in 143 games (126 starts), playing primarily at second base but also at shortstop and third base • Developed a power stroke in his junior season with 10 home runs after not hitting any in his first two years at Stanford.
That last paragraph was taken directly from the Stanford website. I noticed that his slugging % took a dramatic turn up in 2008. He went from a .196 % in his freshman year to a .556 % his junior year. His OPS last year was .985.
I think that the Indians see a player who improved greatly last year and who may have a little more upside than the average college player. It was a definite reach, but if the Indians were targeting him then I have no problem with it. Also, his dad's first name is Cord as well. I really want to meet this family.
David Roberts, RHP
Big time reach. He may have been available in the 7th or 8th round. I hope the Indians have something on this kid that other people don't. I have no idea what to think of this pick. [If, like me, you're using Nosco as a reverse barometer a la Custer's use of Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man, Roberts is going to win multiple Cy Youngs. As a closer. -fleerdon]
Zach Putnam, RHP / OF?
Yuck..the kid's from Michigan. While I hate all things piss and blue it is nice to see a player from the cold north get drafted. He's 6'2", 215lbs and throws with decent velocity on his fastball. It goes from the high 80's to low 90's. What I like is the movement on the fastball. MLB.com actually singles it out as being very noticeable. He also throws an average slider, an unimpressive change up, a pretty good curve, and a splitter that can be considered an out pitch.
He is going to need significant time in the minors. He needs to rework his delivery so he doesn't waste energy and movement. Too often he just "throws" instead of pitches. Interestingly enough he is also a nice hitting prospect. I think that we should keep him as a pitcher, though. He has surprisingly high upside for a 5th round pick.