Cleveland Indians Mock Draft: Last-Minute Picks and Predictions
That's the question on the minds of Tribe fans as the MLB draft kicks off on June 5. The Indians have a relatively late first-round selection, but the team could go in a number of directions, as some of the top prep position players and college arms may still be on the board when they're on the clock.
Every analyst has a different opinion on each player, and those opinions can become even more divergent when predicting draft slots, with late-first-round picks even more volatile in this respect.
In an effort to help familiarize fans with the thoughts of some of the game's leading prospect minds as well as with the players who make up this year's draft class, I've compiled a list of four mock drafts from around the web.
Following the collection of these mocks, you'll see my own scouting reports on the four different players each mock draft picks for the Indians. I even included a bonus player who, due to some unfortunate circumstances, could be around when the Indians make their pick.
After all of that, I arrived at a final prediction on which one of those four players is most likely to wind up in Cleveland based on the likelihood of his availability, his tools and also his fit with the organization.
Let's get started!
Recent Mock Drafts for Indians' 1st Pick
Bleacher Report: Monte Harrison, OF, Lee's Summit West (HS)
In his most recent mock draft, Featured Columnist Adam Wells has the Indians selecting Harrison with their first pick in the first round. The Missouri high school standout displays outstanding athleticism, which earned him a scholarship to play football at the University of Nebraska starting in the 2014 season.
Whether he can be signed away from his commitment to Nebraska remains to be seen, but it could be worth the gamble if he's on the board when the team makes their first-round selection.
MLB.com: Erick Fedde, RHP, University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Jim Callis has the Indians selecting the UNLV right-hander in his latest mock draft.
The pick seems like a curious one for the Indians to make, as they're not known to be risk-takers in the early rounds. Fedde presents a rather significant risk to any team looking to add to their starting pitching depth, as the young righty underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery earlier this season.
Prior to the surgery, Fedde was in the middle of a breakout campaign with UNLV. However, there are some concerns as to how well he'll rebound from his surgery. If the organization is feeling ambitious this season, they may choose to take the risk and go more conservative when they use their compensatory pick (No. 31 overall).
Baseball America: Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Texas Christian University
Another college arm, Finnegan is projected to go to Cleveland in John Manuel's Mock Draft 4.0.
Finnegan is slight in terms of his frame—5'11", 190 pounds—but the young lefty possesses a plus fastball, an above-average sweeping curve and a changeup that he has the ability to fade away from right-handed hitters.
If he's able to stick in the rotation—Bleacher Report's Mike Rosenbaum has some doubts (displayed in the video above)—then Finnegan can be a top-of-the-rotation talent. If not, he could still be a top-tier closer with nearly triple-digit velocity and the potential for a plus curve.
CBS Sports: Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Wichita State University
Gillaspie is the type of player the Cleveland Indians would normally spring for: a college-tested bat with little need for projection.
If they revert to their pre-2011 draft strategy, then CBS Sports' Jon Heyman probably nailed their pick in his recent mock.
This 21-year-old switch-hitter possesses a ton of raw power from both sides of the plate and would provide the Indians' farm system with a much-needed boost. The system is top-heavy and loaded with middle infielders, so a power-hitting corner infielder would be a welcome addition.
Monte Harrison, OF, Lee's Summit West (HS)
Height/Weight: 6'3", 200 lbs
As Wells astutely noted in his mock referenced in the previous slide, the Indians have begun to lean more toward drafting upside. If they continue this trend, then Harrison could have the biggest upside of any player left on the board when they select at No. 21.
Harrison is slightly raw due to his focus on both baseball and football, but the Missouri prep product has the physical gifts to change that rather quickly and become a superstar outfielder, should he choose to give up football.
Harrison has plus speed and a stellar arm. He could easily stick as a center fielder, but his plus-plus arm strength gives him the ability to lock down both corner outfield spots as well.
At the plate is where Harrison's inexperience shines through. He's got a strong lower half and some of the strongest forearms in the draft, but he's reluctant to fully involve his lower half in his swing, causing some inconsistencies in his quality of contact.
This is a somewhat minor concern though, as it can easily be corrected through some work with a professional hitting coach.
With arguably the best raw athleticism and bat speed in the draft, Harrison would make for an interesting selection, with 2013 selection Clint Frazier currently working his way through the Tribe's system.
Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Texas Christian University
Height/Weight: 5'11", 190 lbs
Brandon Finnegan possesses some of the highest upside of any left-handed starter in this year's draft class. The TCU junior possesses a three-pitch arsenal including a plus fastball, an above-average curveball and an average changeup with solid but inconsistent fading action.
Finnegan's fastball plays up a grade based strictly on the fact that he's left-handed and hides the ball well throughout his delivery. Lefties with mid-90s heaters don't come around all that often, and Finnegan's secondary offerings suggest that he has the ability to stick as a starter long-term.
Finnegan was a stud of the highest order this season, registering a 2.07 ERA, 122 strikeouts and just 25 walks over 91.1 innings. Finnegan's peripheral stats—12.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 4.88 K/BB—suggest that he's improved his command and control over his 2012 and 2013 seasons—4.0 BB/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
Finnegan, as Rosenbaum notes in his video in Slide 1, could wind up in the bullpen as he works his way through the minor league ranks. While this wouldn't be the ideal career path for the Fort Worth, Texas native, he has the fastball and breaking ball to do some serious damage as a closer or high-leverage reliever.
Erick Fedde, RHP, University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Height/Weight: 6'4", 180 lbs
Erick Fedde presents the Indians with another chance at a polished college arm. Unfortunately, any team selecting the 21-year-old righty will have to wait some time before getting to work with him on the mound, as he's currently recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The All-American starter has good stuff, including a low-mid 90s fastball, a wipeout slider and an improving changeup. Fedde's three-quarter arm slot helps him create great tilt on his slider, and the pitch already operates as a plus offering.
Fedde has some wasted motion in his delivery and moves his hands a lot throughout. Fedde has a rather undesirable arm action for a player who just had Tommy John surgery, but if the Indians feel comfortable with his progress over the last month and also with their projection for the rest of his recovery, then he could be a tough talent to pass up.
I'm not a fan of slotting him to the Indians, and ultimately I think they'll pass on him given the other, safer bets they could make.
Casey Gillaspie, 1B, Wichita State University
Height/Weight: 6'4", 238 lbs
The younger brother of Chicago White Sox third baseman Conor, Casey Gillaspie has a shot to easily supplant his older brother as the best professional player in the family.
The 21-year-old is a first baseman and will likely stay at the position for the entirety of his career due to below-average athleticism. Even so, Gillaspie possesses above-average power from both sides of the plate as well as an above-average hit tool.
Gillaspie doesn't run well at all but has developed well enough as a first baseman to stick at the big league level. In a worst-case scenario regarding his position on the field, Gillaspie could slot in as a Billy Butler-type designated hitter.
There's really no physical projection necessary when assessing Gillaspie, and given his already filled-out frame, what you see now is pretty much what you'll get. However, what you'll get is a big power bat, of which there are very few in the first round of this draft.
As previously mentioned, the Indians have a top-heavy system with a lot of middle infield prospects. Selecting a corner infielder with power could go a long way toward helping even out their unbalanced system.
Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Eastern Carolina University
Height/Weight: 6'4", 192 lbs
Jeff Hoffman may not slide to the Indians at No. 21. Wells has the 21-year-old going to the Washington Nationals at No. 18 overall, but it's close enough in proximity where a discussion about this gifted right-hander is warranted.
Hoffman is the type of starting pitcher who could have easily gone in the top five, possibly even first overall, if not for a torn UCL which required season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Though I downplayed the possibility of selecting Fedde for similar reasons, Hoffman is as close of a sure thing to return to his pre-surgery form as anybody. The Latham, New York product has a solid frame with room to put on a little more clean weight.
His fastball sits comfortably in the mid-90s, reaching 96-97 with regularity. Beyond his primary offering, Hoffman also throws a plus curve which has the potential for an 80 grade at maturity.
His changeup is significantly less developed than his fastball and curve. However, working with a professional pitching coach should help develop the pitch into at least an above-average offering.
Hoffman is a gifted pitcher and athlete, earning himself a comparison to Justin Verlander in Rosenbaum's pre-draft video above.
Though I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see him slide off the board prior to the Indians selecting at No. 21, Monte Harrison looks like the pick.
It's completely possible that Harrison is on the board with the Indians are on the clock, and his player profile fits the Indians' recent draft strategy. Harrison would provide the Indians' with a legitimate five-tool prospect at a position where their minor league depth is less than ideal.
Though he'll require a bit of work due to his having functioned as a two-sport athlete in high school, it's a small price to pay for someone who could wind up as one of the best players selected in this year's draft.
Harrison and his raw athleticism will be fun to watch, as he could look to challenge 2013 first-rounder Clint Frazier as the top prospect in the system once Francisco Lindor graduates out.