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2013 MLB Draft: Cleveland Indians Overall Review

A review and overall impressions of the 2013 MLB Draft.


Of the four major US professional sports, the MLB Draft is by far the least interesting to a casual fan of the sport. Although will be several players that make the majors within a year, those players are the vast minority of those that will eventually become major leaguers, never mind those who were drafted. Francisco Lindor, who may be the best prospect in baseball by this time next year, probably won't appear in a major-league until at least the tail end of the 2014 season, more than 3 years after he was drafted. In addition, the players selected even at the top of the first round are known only to hardcore draft fanatics. You likely had never seen Mark Appel or Jonathan Gray pitch on TV, and forget about watching the high school prospects. College baseball has been getting more air time recently, but it's still very much a niche sport.

But, even with those drawbacks, you as an Indians fan should take at least a passing interest in what happened last weekend. The Indians will likely sign 20-25 of the players listed below, and although only 3 or 4 of those signees will eventually make a major-league roster, it's still worth your attention. The underlying cause of the 2002-2003 rebuild, the 2008-2009 rebuild, and the bad baseball played since then has been the inability of this organization to draft and develop major-league talent. Yes, the Indians have gotten players to the majors with regularity, but it's been a long time since the Indians have drafted and developed a player that has turned into at least a major-league regular with the Indians. International signings (Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta, Rafael Perez, Fausto Carmona v. 2007) and astute trades (Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Santana, Chris Perez) have helped cover the draft inadequacies to some effect, but when a medium-sized or small-market club isn't drafting well, they can't maintain success at the major-league level for very long.

So although you may never see many of these players in an Indians uniform, it's still a good idea to know where the players that do develop into Cleveland Indians come from.

Day 1 (Rounds 1-2)

The Indians lost their second round and competitive balance round B selection when they signed free agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, so their #5 overall selection would be their only selection on the first day of the draft. The consensus top three prospects (Jonathan Gray, Mark Appel, Kris Bryant) went in the top three picks, so nobody really fell to the Indians. So when they picked, the Georgia high school prospects (Clint Frazier, Austin Meadows) and the polished college third baseball (Colin Moran) were on the board.

Team Pick Player Pos Exp School
Houston 1 Mark Appel RHP College Stanford
Chicago Cubs 2 Kris Bryant 3B/OF College San Diego
Colorado 3 Jonathan Gray RHP College Oklahoma
Minnesota 4 Kohl Stewart RHP High School St. Pius X HS, TX
Cleveland 5 Clint Frazier OF High School Loganville HS, GA

The Indians went with Frazier, and here's what I had to say about the selection just after it happened:

Who is Clint Frazier? He's a high school outfielder from Loganville, Georgia, a player with outstanding bat speed and massive power potential, particularly for someone his size (6'1"). In baseball disparate skill/tool combinations make for stars, and Frazier has that potential for stardom because he combines those hitting skills with physical tools (very good arm, good speed). Because he has the bat for a corner position, it's not going to be a big deal if he has to be moved from center.

Now for the cautionary stuff. Frazier is a high school player, so don't expect him in Cleveland any time soon. For reference, Francisco Lindor, one of the best prospects in the majors, was drafted two years ago, and although he's one of the youngest players in his league, he's still a good year-and-a-half from the majors. But you should be excited about this pick, as the Indians are getting a player who has the potential to be a star.

Had the Indians been picking later in the first round, I wouldn't have minded Moran had he been there, but when you have a chance to take a high-upside player, you need to jump on it. The first round is usually where most of the star major-leaguers come from, and more specifically the first half of the first round. The latest CBA should make that even more of a lock, as no longer will have the Rick Porcellos of the world fall to the bottom of the first round because of bonus demands. So when you're bad enough to pick where the Indians were picking at, you need to go for the potential star, not the sure-thing major-league regular (as I believe Moran will be). Frazier may be a bust, and Moran may turn out to be a 12-year player with a couple All-Star appearance, but I still wouldn't fault the Indians for picking Frazier over Moran.

Day 2 (Rounds 3-10)

These are less sexy picks, but you can still get major-league regulars from these rounds. The Indians have had at least one of their picks in this range make the majors from each draft from 1998 through 2009, and those have generally been considered poor drafts.

There's also some strategy involved on this day, because of the draft rules put into place last year. There is now a de facto hard bonus cap for the first 10 rounds based on where the clubs are picking. So if you want to draft and sign a high school player committed to a top program in Round 5, you'll have to draft a player that will sign for less elsewhere in the first 10 rounds.

Here's what the Indians did:

Round Pick Player Pos. Exp. School Slot Value Actual Bonus
1 5 Clint Frazier OF High School Loganville HS, GA $3,787,000
3 79 Dace Kime RHP College JR
Louisville $692,200
4 111 Kyle Crockett LHP College JR
Virginia $463,600
5 141 Sean Brady LHP High School Ida S Baker HS, FL $347,100
6 171 Shane Casey RHP High School Centennial HS, TX $259,900
7 201 Kenny Matthews LHP Junior College Riverside CC $194,800
8 231 Trevor Frank RHP College SR California - Riverside $158,300
9 261 Thomas Pannone LHP Junior College College of So. Nevada $147,800
10 291 Ross Kivett 2B College JR Kansas State $138,100
Totals $6,188,000

(click on the player's name for a brief overview)

The Indians only selected one position player in Rounds 3-10, and that selection (Ross Kivett) came in the 10th round. Although the Indians said that they picked the best player on their board at the time, the organization weakness in pitching at the lower levels had to have something to do with all the pitchers taken in the middle rounds. Kime (3), Brady (5), Shane (6), Matthews (7), and Pannone (9) will likely be in minor-league rotations, and Crockett (4) and Frank (8) will be the bullpen. The two high school selections (Brady and Casey) will likely take a bonus higher than slot to sign, so the Indians will need to make up that difference somewhere else.

Day 3 (Rounds 11-40)

Starting in the 11th round, players selected have a $100,000 bonus cap in place, and any bonus paid over that will have the margin over $100,000 count against the draft bonus pool. So it will be very difficult to sign high school or junior college players committed to top programs. But you can still get some good players from this part of the draft. For instance, the Indians drafted Cody Allen in the 23rd Round in 2011, and some of the players in 2012 in these have some promise (Michael Peoples, Cody Penny, Logan Vick, Louis Head).

Round Pick Player Pos. Exp. School Bonus Cap Actual Bonus
11 321 Adam Plutko RHP College Junior UCLA $100,000
12 351 Heath Quinn RF High School Oak Mountain HS, AL $100,000
13 381 Sicnarf Loopstok C Junior College Western OK St CC $100,000
14 411 Silento Sayles CF High School Port Gibson HS, MS $100,000
15 441 James Roberts SS College Junior USC $100,000
16 471 Mark Payton OF College Junior Texas $100,000
17 501 Ryan Hendrix RHP High School Cypress Woods HS, TX $100,000
18 531 Paul Hendrix SS College Junior Texas Christian $100,000
19 561 Matt Whitehouse LHP College Junior UC Irvine $100,000
20 591 Shane Rowland C College Junior U of Tampa $100,000
21 621 Paul Young RHP Junior College Central Alabama CC $100,000
22 651 Ben Heller RHP College Senior Olivet Nazarene U $100,000
23 681 Grant Fink 3B College Senior Missouri Western St Col $100,000
24 711 Kerry Doane RHP College Senior East Tennessee State $100,000
25 741 Cole Sulser RHP College Senior Dartmouth $100,000
26 771 Daniel Cogan RHP High School Rocklin HS, CA $100,000
27 801 Juan Gonzalez C High School Puerto Rico BB Academy $100,000
28 831 Steven Kane RHP Junior College Cypress College $100,000
29 861 Ridge Smith 3B High School Germantown HS, TN $100,000
30 891 Aaron Brown LHP College Soph Pepperdine $100,000
31 921 Wil Crowe RHP High School Pigeon Forge HS, TN $100,000
32 951 Cortland Cox RHP Junior College Riverside CC $100,000
33 981 Joe Wise LHP High School Cactus Shadows HS, AZ $100,000
34 1011 Dustin Cook RHP Junior College San Jacinto Coll. North $100,000
35 1041 Jordan Milbrath RHP College Junior Augustana College $100,000
36 1071 Mike Giuffre 2B Junior College Brookdale CC $100,000
37 1101 Garrett Smith 2B College Senior California Lutheran $100,000
38 1131 Justin Garcia RHP Junior College Weatherford College $100,000
39 1161 Frank Duncan RHP College Junior Kansas $100,000
40 1191 Dan Pellinen 3B High School North Woods School, MN $100,000
Totals $3,000,000

Some notes on some of the players selected:

11 RHP Adam Plutko

A starter at UCLA, Plutko would seem to be a candidate to stay in the rotation with the Indians. He pitched with both Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer as a freshman.

12 OF Heath Quinn

Likely to end up at a corner. He's committed to Samford, so he might go to college instead of turning pro.

13 C Sicnarf Loopstok

A native of Aruba, Loopstok is extremely raw, and needs to improve pitch recognition. He could end up at second base.

14 OF Silento Sayles

He isn't committed to a four-year college, so the Indians could sign him. Sayles stole an incredible 103 bases in 104 attempts this spring, and may rate an 80 speed on the scouting scale (with 80 being the highest possible rating). But that's about all he brings to the table now.

15 SS James Roberts

He'll probably end up at third base. His best tool is his arm, the rest (hitting, fielding, running) is below average.

16 OF Mark Payton

He intrigues me. An undersized (5'8") outfielder, he would be a logical second base candidate but for the fact that he throws left-handed. He's not a speedy guy, but is an outstanding hitter for someone his size. The Indians already have Jose Ramirez in their system, so maybe that's why they took a chance on Payton.

30 LHP Aaron Brown

Probably going back to school for his junior season given that he lasted until the 30th round. He made a couple Top 100 prospect lists, and probably would have been rated higher had it not been a hamate bone injury.

31 RHP Wil Crowe

A big guy already (6'3", 235 pounds), Crowe is committed to South Carolina, so there's almost no possibility that he signs.

What's Next?

Another nice component of the current CBA is that the signing deadline has been moved up considerably from where it was in the past. Players selected in the draft have until July 12th to sign, so even those who wait until the last minute to sign will get a good 6 weeks of games under their belts. A lot of the college pitchers may not throw too much this year, but I'd expect Clint Frazier to play quite a bit. The Indians started Lindor in Mahoning Valley, and that's probably where Frazier will go as well.

I'll be posting a catch-all signing post in the next day or so.