The 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft—also known as the Rule IV Draft—is a little more than two weeks away and the Cleveland Indians will have to be smart with their selection.
The Tribe owns the fifth overall selection this year and it will prove to make or break their draft. After giving up their second-round competitive balance pick because of the signings of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn in the offseason, the Indians will not make their second selection until pick No. 79.
After that, they will select at 111 before falling into the rotation of every 30 picks until the end of the draft.
That puts a lot of pressure on the front office to get this pick right, so don’t be surprised if the Indians go against the grain and pick someone who may be considered a “safe” pick.
In other words, don’t be surprised if the Indians go after a position player instead of a much-needed pitcher. Here are five prospects that could help the Indians in the future if their scouting reports hold true.
That is 'if' their reports hold true.
Height: 6’3” Weight: 195
Kohl Stewart has already committed to Texas A&M to play both baseball and football. If you need a visual aid on this kid, think Ubaldo Jimenez. Tall and lean, Kohl has raw talent that needs some work, but the fact that he is young will only help him.
His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s and will improve with coaching and maturity. Along with his fastball, Stewart throws a slider that looks the same as his fastball until it leaves his hand. The way he disguises the slider makes it exceptionally hard on batters to adjust. However, his changeup is the pitch that he rarely uses in high school and will need the most work.
Stewart is obviously a gifted athlete and would be a great addition to the Indians' organization. Time in the minors could mold this young man into a potential starter in the middle of the rotation. The decision to draft Stewart, however, will rely on two big variables: his commitment to play at Texas A&M and how high the Indians rate the risk involved with drafting him.
Height: 6’3” Weight: 210
With Lonnie Chisenhall looking more like Matt LaPorta lately, the Indians might be looking to add some depth in the infield. Jason Kipnis looks to be staying at second base for quite some time and even though Asdrubal Cabrera may be gone in a couple years, Francisco Lindor will be there to take over for him.
This could leave the door open for Colin Moran to be the future for the Tribe at the hot corner.
Moran can not only hit for average, but he has a lot of power coming from the left side of the plate as well. Arguably the best hitter in the 2013 class, Moran (.369/.612/.496) ranks in the top five in the ACC in batting average, hits, RBI and home runs.
His glove will need more work than his swing, but that is the purpose of the minors. He has a strong arm and his mechanics in the field will fall into place with some big league guidance.
Moran would be considered one of the “safe” picks for the Indians because he has spent time playing at a higher level for the past three years. The only thing the Indians need to decide is whether or not Moran is worthy of the fifth overall selection.
Height: 6’6” Weight: 175
Although Colin Moran could be considered a safe pick, he is only a position player.
What if the Indians could get a young, talented left-handed pitcher who could play outfield just as well as the other first-round prospects?
Enter Trey Ball.
As a pitcher, this tall, lanky kid can hit low-to-mid-90s on the radar gun with his fastball and make batters miss with a nasty slider. Also, while his changeup may be his best pitch, he is still trying to perfect his curveball. That was a pitch he just started throwing last year under orders from his father, who didn’t want him to hurt his arm by throwing the elbow-wrenching pitch too early.
Although most teams will look at Ball as a future starter, the fact that he can fall back on his talents in the outfield and at the plate make him an even more attractive selection. His frame alone gives him a huge advantage over other prospects as a future outfielder.
Even though he is in high school—and committed to Texas—Ball seems to have the upside that a team in the Indians' position would drool over.
Height: 6’5” Weight: 205
Kris Bryant would probably be the closest competition to Colin Moran for the best bat in the 2013 class.
Bryant, like Moran, would have no problem filling the aforementioned whole at third base that will be revealing itself in the coming years. The difference with Bryant—and it’s a big difference—is that he can play right field as well.
Think about that for a second, Tribe fans. Is there anyone in the Indians outfield that is 30 and may need a predecessor in a few years?
Did you think of Michael Bourn?
Good for you! Virtual high five!
Bryant’s versatility in the field and power at the plate make him a top-five selection, no doubt. The problem is the Indians are the fifth pick. If Bryant falls to the Indians, they will be hard-pressed not to take him.
Height: 6’5” Weight: 230
The Cape Cod League could have been renamed the "Sean Manaea League" during the summer of 2012. He dominated opposing batters with a 96 mph fastball and a slider that rarely caught a bat.
Fast forward your DVR’s to this spring and you will feel like you are watching a different program.
Although Manaea’s velocity has sunk a bit to the low-to-mid 90s range, his ceiling is still regarded as one of the highest in the draft. The development of his slider and changeup is also coming along nicely with the slider showing a lot of potential.
In addition to great pitches, Manaea also has a very smooth delivery in which it becomes extremely difficult for the batter to pick up on what pitch is being thrown. By the time a batter can recognize the pitch that is coming, it’s already in the catcher’s mitt.
Because they usually come at a premium, the Indians would be wise to look into this hard-throwing left-hander.