The Cleveland Indians have just two selections in the first three rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft. However, with the fifth overall selection in this year's draft, the Indians could make a big impact on their farm system should they chose wisely.
The Tribe is just far enough away from the top to miss out on the top college arms in the draft—Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray—and too close to the top to take a flyer on a high schooler with a football scholarship like Kohl Stewart.
Their second selection doesn't come until the third round, but there can still be great value found after Round 1. So let's take a look at who the Indians might target with their first two selections in this year's MLB Draft.
Round 1, Pick 5: Colin Moran (3B)
Height/Wt: 6'3"/215 lbs.
Third base is a weak area in the Indians farm system. While teams generally take the best player available in the first round, the Indians could deem that the best player available is a third baseman.
Enter Colin Moran.
Moran is a New York native playing through his junior season at the University of North Carolina. He has plus power and the ability to hit for average. Given his three years playing at such a high level, it seems to reason that Moran could be a quick riser in the Indians system.
Moran is pretty well grown in to his frame. At 6'3" and 215 lbs, there isn't much room for growth physically but he's reached the point where he can provide sufficient power at the big league level.
The 20-year-old is a well-polished hitter and is thriving with the Tar Heels, slashing .351/.478/.560 with 13 HR, 85 RBI and 69 runs scored over 63 games played. Over a 162-game season that translates to 33 HR, 218 RBI and 177 runs scored.
Beyond his impressive numbers is his equally—if not more—impressive approach to hitting. In 248 at-bats this season, Moran has a K/BB ratio of 57:21 (per goheels.com). That alone should help him excel on his way to the big league level.
Keith Law has Moran going to the Astros No. 1 overall (ESPN Insider subscription required). With the new pool system for draft funds, it's possible the fiscally conservative Astros select Moran but most outlets—including Sports Illustrated— have him available when the Indians select at No. 5.
Bleacher Report's prospect guru Mike Rosenbaum has Moran ranked as the second-best corner infielder in the 2013 draft making him a strong possibility for the Indians' first selection.
The Indians could do no wrong with this pick and, should he continue to hit at such a high level, Moran could find himself in Cleveland as soon as mid-late 2015.
After their first round selection, the Indians will have to wait until the 79th slot to make a second selection where they may elect to take a starting pitcher.
Round 3, Pick 79: A.J. Puk (SP)
Height/Wt: 6'7"/225 lbs.
A.J. Puk doesn't rank anywhere in Rosenbaum's top 100, however, he does appear on his top left-handed pitchers list, clocking in at No. 19.
Puk may not be a top 100 prospect, but he has a chance to grow into a great pitcher. According to Perfectgame.org, Puk's throwing motion is effortless, allowing his fastball to sit in the low 90s—92 to be exact. Given his incredible size—6'7" 225 lbs.—it's conceivable that Puk would add 3-5 miles per hour to his fastball velocity.
Beyond his impressive frame and velocity, the Cedar Rapids native has three viable pitches in his arsenal. According to a recent scouting report on Perfectgame.org, Puk's fastball has natural tail—like most lefties—but his curveball and changeup are better than what you'd normally expect from a high school pitcher.
As quoted from the scouting report, "He also throws a 1/7 curveball with tight spin and good shape to it. He also throws a change up with good sink and deception to it" (per Perfectgame.org). Puk could be a fast riser through the Indians big league system given the polish he's put on all three of his pitches.
What's really impressive about Puk is the fact that he could be drafted this year even if he weren't a pitcher. According to the same scouting report referenced above, Puk, "also has soft hands around the bag at first."
Puk has already committed to the University of Florida for the 2014 season. He seems excited about attending college (per Baseballamerica.com) but a big league signing bonus and third round selection could be enough to pry him away from his school of choice.
If Puk is available, the Indians would be crazy to pass on him.