2011 MLB Draft: Who Are the Cleveland Indians Targeting?

Geordy BoverouxCorrespondent IIMay 23, 2011

2011 MLB Draft: Who Are the Cleveland Indians Targeting?

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    Things are good in Cleveland.

    Not only do the Tribe hold first place in the AL Central, they also hold the eighth pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. That premium pick is huge considering the 2011 talent pool is considered to be one of the best in years. A smart pick in this year's draft could ensure the Indians' hold the best record in baseball beyond just this year.

    But who could Cleveland be targeting? Pitching is plenty this year, primarily college arms which have been a favorite of former General Manager and current President Mark Shapiro. But with Chris Antonetti at the helm, will he change the trend and opt for a top position player or a high-upside, but risky, high school arm?

    We can only speculate, but here is a list of what could be the top five most likely picks for the Indians on June 6th.

Most Likely: Trevor Bauer, RHP UCLA

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    While most attention has been payed to fellow Bruin Gerrit Cole, whom many expect to go to the Pirates with the top pick, Trevor Bauer has actually out-pitched his teammate thus far.

    Bauer leads the nation with 142 strikeouts in only 91.2 innings. He has only walked 27 batters and given up 45 hits leading to a sparkling 1.47 ERA. Even in his junior year of 2010, he led the nation in strikeouts with 165 in 131.1 innings. This dominance has not gone unnoticed, leading many to compare him to Tim Lincecum. 

    Bauer holds a devastating arsenal. His fastball, curve, slider and changeup all project as plus pitches in the future. He also has a splitter he can play with from time to time.

    The 6'2" Bauer has done little to disprove this comparison, but some scouts still see him as a back of the rotation arm despite his lofty statistics. It all depends on whether the Indians scouts see Tim Lincecum or nothing special in Bauer's young right arm.

Sonny Gray, RHP Vanderbilt

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    Sonny Gray may be small for a pitcher (5'11" and 180 lbs), but he is notorious for his tough demeanor on the mound. 

    Gray has a plus fastball and breaking ball, but his changeup is only average. His arsenal is not as threatening as some other pitching prospects, but Gray knows how to use his pitches well around the zone to get swings and misses.

    The preseason All-American may have some doubters, but Gray definitely has the attitude and drive to prove them wrong in the bigs.

Archie Bradley, RHP Broken Arrow High School (OK)

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    Archie Bradley, coming from high school in Oklahoma, isn't the usual guy the Indians would target at the top of the draft, but Mark Shapiro isn't the GM anymore. Antonetti could be enticed by the 6'1" right hander.

    Bradley's stuff is great, with a mid-90s fastball, hard curve and changeup that all project as plus pitches. Bradley isn't just a strong arm either, as he also has plus command.

    While his stock has dropped a bit, Bradley still projects as a top-10 pick despite his slow start to the season. He has picked up his production as of late and could entice a team, like the Indians, to snatch him up early.

Jed Bradley, LHP Georgia Tech

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    Undrafted out of high school, Bradley has proved many MLB scouts wrong and many now consider him a top-10 pick.

    Bradley has a big frame at 6'4" and 224 pounds, and many think he would not need much time in the minors before he is ready to contribute to a big league squad. His fastball reaches 94 MPH and he also holds a plus changeup with a good slider. Bradley can maintain his velocity deep into games, so he could be that left-handed workhouse many teams covet.

    Bradley was a 2010 Cape Cod League All-Star and Baseball America rated him as the No.4 prospect in the league.

    The Indians took a tall SEC left-hander in Drew Pomeranz with their first-round pick last year, so maybe Antonetti will do the same as Shapiro. 

Least Likely: Bubba Starling, Outfielder Gardner Edgerton High School (KS)

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    Many consider Bubba Starling the most talented player in the 2011 MLB Draft, especially with premium bats lacking in the class. But the issue is sign-ability. Starling is committed to play at Nebraska, not just to prowl the outfield in Lincoln, but to run their offense as their top quarterback recruit as well.

    Many think that Starling would rather play baseball than football, which is why he is still considered a top-10 pick. If he does sign, he is a true five-tool player with plus abilities across the board. Most scouts compare him to Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs with more power potential.

    While Starling going to the Indians with the eighth pick is unlikely, it is an intriguing option. If the Tribe fail to sign the two-sport phenom, they will still receive the ninth pick in next year's draft as compensation. With Cleveland already excelling with their pitching staff at the major league level and already holding arguably the best assortment of pitching talent in the minors, why not take a chance on a superstar outfield talent to really set the franchise over the top?