Many Tribe fans can agree, the Major League Baseball draft is something Indians ownership and scouts haven’t been able to tackle for the majority of the decade. In fact only four players on the current Indians 25-man roster were drafted by the Tribe: Aaron Laffey, Tony Sipp, Trevor Crowe, and Chris Gimenez.
Yes, most of the current Indians have been acquired through trades or as non-drafted free agents, but what if we had hit on more talent in the draft? For how disappointing Indians draft selections have been, here are the Indians first and second round draft picks from 2003-2005:
Michael Aubrey, Adam Miller, Brad Snyder, Javi Herrera, Jeremy Sowers, Justin Hoyman, Crowe, John Drennen, and Stephen Head. Only two of these nine players have had significant time with the Tribe or in the Major Leagues in Crowe and Sowers.
Those Tribe fans who pay close attention to the Indians minor league system though, may in fact say they have seen these draft woes disappear over the past few years. This is due to our top picks in the 2008 and 2009 amateur drafts, where the Tribe drafted and signed three key players: Alex White, Jason Kipnis, and Lonnie Chisenhall. These are players who I believe, will make a name for themselves in the big leagues very soon. All three prospects currently play for the Akron Aeros, the Indians AA affiliate.
Alex White: Starting pitcher
Drafted 15th overall by the Indians in 2009 out of the University of North Carolina
Rated by Baseball America as the 9th best prospect in the Tribe organization
Current stats (in 11 starts at AA): 5-4 record with a 1.50 ERA, 66 innings pitched, 42 strikeouts while only walking 16.
This season with the Kinston Indians (A), White had similar success posting a 2-3 record with a 2.86 ERA in eight starts. He also struck out 41 while only walking 19 in 44 innings.
Arguably the Tribe’s top prospect right now, White has held opponents to a ridiculous .194 batting average at Akron. For this being White’s first professional season it is simply remarkable. When first drafted and signed by the Tribe, there was talk the Indians might turn the former Carolina Tar Heel into a back-end reliever. Judging by his current success this year as a starter in the minor leagues, White looks more like a potential ace in waiting for Cleveland. With a questionable starting rotation next season, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see this kid compete for a spot in the Indians rotation come 2011.
Jason Kipnis: 2nd Baseman
Drafted 63rd overall by the Tribe in 2009 out of Arizona State University
Rated by Baseball America as the 10th best prospect in the Indians organization
Current stats (in 35 games at AA): Hitting .338, 6 home runs, 16 RBI, and slugging 47 hits.
At Kinston this season, Kipnis also played very well, hitting .300 with 6 home runs and 31 RBI in 54 games.
Just one year ago, Kipnis led Arizona State all the way to the semifinals of the 2009 College World Series. Since then, the former Sun Devil hasn’t missed a beat both at the plate and in the field in the Indians farm system. He could in fact end up being the steal of the 2009 draft where the Tribe nabbed him with their first pick in the second round. With his high average and developing power, he can very well become a fan favorite in Cleveland as early as the end of the 2011 season.
Lonnie Chisenhall: 3rd Baseman
Drafted 29th overall by the Indians in 2008 out of Pitt Community College
Rated by Baseball America as the 2nd best prospect in the Indians organization
Current stats (in 73 games at AA): Hitting .271, 9 home runs, 42 RBI, and collecting 80 hits
Last season he slugged 22 home runs between the Kinston and Akron, driving in 92 runs in 123 games.
All signs point to Chisenhall becoming the Indians third baseman of the future, as he even played in the MLB Futures Game a couple weeks ago. With Jhonny Peralta possibly being dealt at the trade deadline (which most Tribe fans hope happens), it’s only a matter of time before Chisenhall is spotted at the hot corner at Progressive Field.