Well, the Tribe didn't get the guy I had hoped for (Drew Storen went 10th to the Nationals), but they did select one of the five pitchers written about earlier today, University of North Carolina's Alex White. The right hander was one of the top high school prospect in 2006, but elected to become a Tar Heel instead of going pro.
Originally drafted by the Dodgers
in the 14th round, White has a six-pitch repertoire, headlined by a mid 90's fastball to go along with his split finger that will allow him to excel quickly. Many drafts sites had him as a possible top five pick, but teams have seemed concerned about his three-quarters delivery and that he is a Scott Boras client.
He is a pretty big dude, going 6'3" 200+ pounds and looks pretty imposing out on the mound. Alex will turn 21 later this year and has a real chance to contribute at the big league level sometime in 2010.
White's electric arm throws a lively, moving low-to-mid 90s fastball from a 3/4 arm slot that can top out at 96 or 97 mph. His slider has been his go-to secondary pitch for awhile and it features good velocity and movement and he can often throw it for strikes. Recently he has begun to augment that with a strong, biting splitter. The splitter helps him deal with left-handed batters as it acts similar to a changeup. He doesn't seem to struggle pitching from the stretch. White is an excellent athlete who was good enough as a HS basketball player to draw mid-major recruiting interest. White has a strong, lean build and a good frame for pitching that could still fill out a small bit. He has really embraced his role this year as staff ace since Robert Woodard departed.
WEAKNESSES:He could stand to be more consistent with his command and overall quality of pitches from start to start, mixing in a dud or two with otherwise brilliant pitching. Even in some dominating starts he got in trouble with walks (example - 5.2 ip, 1 hit, 5 walks, 6 Ks, no runs at Clemson). His arm slot is three-quarters, but it dropped has he fatigued as a freshman but - with some muscle added to his projectable, athletic frame - he has avoided that so-far as a sophomore. The fatigue caused a poor second half and poor postseason to mar a great start to his freshman year. His arm slot will occasionally vary even when (seemingly) rested, so tightening up the muscle memory there could largely eliminate much of his inconsistencies.
In 2009, White has compiled
an 8-4 record with a 4.13 ERA in 15 starts. He has struck out 109 batters in 98 innings while walking 41.
College stats are hard to dissect, though, due to the metal bats and the various ability levels. The Tribe must have liked his total package, because his numbers sure don't jump off the page.
He seems to need to work on his command, but I have a funny feeling that he won't be starting too many games next season down in the minors. With his funky arm angle and multiple pitches, White is definitely headed to the pen in 2010.
The Tribe will probably keep him in a limited starting role for the remainder of 2009 and put a cap on his innings due to his school currently competing in the College World Series. They definitely drafted for an area of need, and with the cost of free agent pitchers nowadays, they really didn't have any other choice.
It seems like a good pick, but remember this: The Indians have not selected an All-Star in the draft since 1999 (CC Sabathia), so I guess they are due.