MLB Draft 2011: Ranking the Cleveland Indians Best Picks from Day 2
For the second year in a row, it looks like the Cleveland Indians are putting together one of the best draft classes.
Scouting Director Brad Grant has had an aggressive approach to the First-Year Player Draft, especially this year and the last where Cleveland spent $9,381,500 on 27 draft picks.
Grant promised for very much of the same this year, and through 30 picks that holds true.
On most scouting reports for the 29 selections the Indians made on day two you hear "high upside," "athletic player" and "sign-ability issues."
Cleveland has selected a large amount of JUCO and high school players as opposed to established college stars like many figured they would select.
With the success the Tribe has found at the major league level, the front office has taken much more risks in the draft this year, with very few of their picks being considered an easy sign.
After reading over scouting reports on Cleveland's picks in day two, I compiled a list of the 15 best picks Grant and the scouting department made. I determined the order based largely on potential and factored in where they were drafted according to their talent level.
Many of the players on this list will probably not sign, but if Grant and General Manager Chris Antonetti are as aggressive in the signing process as they were drafting, expect to see most of these budding stars in a minor league city near you.
15. CF Cody Elliott, Ball State University, 21st Round
Cody Elliott played both center field and pitched for Ball State, but he will enter the Indians organization as an outfielder.
One of his best tools is his outfield arm—he had seven outfield assists in his sophomore year in 2010—but it's not his only plus trait.
Elliott led his team in virtually every offensive category with a .325 BA, .428 slugging percentage and 14 SB.
The speedy outfielder has the ability to play all over the outfield, so putting him into the lineup should not be an issue as he goes through the minor league system. His flexibility, great defense and speed should make him at the very least a good fourth outfielder if he reaches the major leagues.
14. RHP Kevin Brady, Clemson University, 17th Round
A 44th-round selection by the Baltimore Orioles in 2008 out of high school, Kevin Brady looked poised to become one of the better college pitchers in the draft.
Unfortunately, a forearm injury changed that. Brady missed two months and returned in a bullpen role where he struggled a bit.
Prior to the injury Brady pitched like a top draft pick. Though it was only in 19 innings, Brady still had a 23/1 K/BB ratio and a 1.10 ERA.
Brady has good size and bulk to start in the majors at 6'3" and 200 lbs.
The 20-year-old has the ability to rise into a good prospect for the Indians if he can become fully healthy. They'll give him his first look as a starter, but he could very well switch to the bullpen down the road.
13. CF Austin Diemer, Rocklin High School (CA), 26th Round
Austin Diemer is the first high schooler on this list, but one of many the Tribe has selected thus far.
Diemer has good size at 6'1" and 180 lbs and could have the potential to be a five-tool player in a perfect world. He has a plus arm in the outfield, plus speed with 26 SBs his senior year and a plus bat with plus power.
A Cal State Fullerton recruit, he obviously has potential, but he was not mentioned as one of the top high school outfielders in this draft.
It could take some money to sign him away from one of the top baseball programs at Cal State, but the fact that he is not a big name entering the draft if the Indians go slightly over slot they might be able to get a future steal in Diemer.
12. SS Evan Frazar, Galveston College (TX), 27th Round
JUCO position players were a theme for the Indians on day two, but Frazar was originally at Ole Miss before being kicked off the team his freshman year after violating team rules.
Frazar transferred to Galveston College and stood out batting .352 with six HRs and 32 SBs.
He played shortstop in college and looks to stay at that position throughout his pro career. Frazar can play plus defense, so getting a good shortstop this late is a great pickup by Grant.
With good bat speed he has shown some flashes of producing more power down the road. Frazar has the potential to be a top of the lineup hitter with solid power and plus speed at a premium position and might not be too tough of a sign.
11. RHP Will Roberts, Virginia University, 5th Round
Anytime you can pick up a guy who threw one of only eight nine-inning perfect games in the fifth round, you're doing something right.
Will Roberts won't overpower you with his stuff—he has a below average fastball that only reaches 90 miles per hour—but he makes up for it with great command.
Roberts had a solid slider, but what he can do well is pinpoint his pitches and hit the glove to put hitters behind in the count.
Josh Tomlin is a great comparison for him, and Tomlin has had a great year so far in Cleveland.
Roberts' upside is limited, but getting a solid pitcher and an easy sign for the Indians since he has already graduated from college.
In a draft where the Tribe went with a lot of tough signs, having a good pitcher that could sign quickly was great for balancing out the class.
10. LHP Stephen Tarpley, Gilbert High School (AZ), 8th Round
Stephen Tarpley is arguable the best high school arm out of Arizona.
His fastball currently sits in the low 90s, but many scouts believe he can add on velocity as he matures.
Tarpley has solid size at 6'1" and 180 lbs and also holds a plus breaking ball.
An overall great athlete, Tarpley also excelled as an outfielder in high school when he wasn't on the mound.
Tarpley has a scholarship to play at USC, but the chance to nab a left-handed prep arm that could throw a fastball in the mid-90s once he gets older might be enticing enough for the Indians to sign him over-slot.
9. RHP Grant Sides, Samford College, 12th Round
A reliever in college, Grant Sides has intriguing upside as a 12th-round pick.
He had Tommy John surgery in 2010, leading to control issues this past year. Sides walked 13 batters while only allowing 12 hits and striking out 29 in 25.1 innings pitched.
Sides lacks a secondary pitch, so his future is in the bullpen only. If he can develop a good breaking ball to pair with his 97 miles per hour heat, he can be a dominating late inning reliever.
As Sides gets further removed from his surgery and fills out his 6'5" 214 lbs frame, some scouts think he could hit 100 miles per hour.
8. 3B Kevin Kramer, Turlock High School (CA), 25th Round
A high school shortstop with great upside, Kevin Kramer will switch over to third base if he signs with the Indians.
Kramer was tremendous value in the 25th-round since he was graded as a fifth-round talent entering the draft. He went at pick number 758 when Perfect Game ranked him as the 223rd best prospect.
So why did he drop?
Kramer has a strong commitment to UCLA and reportedly it would take first-round money to get him to not go to school. There is almost no chance the Indians will offer that type of money, but it should be interesting to see how the negotiation goes.
From a scouting perspective, Kramer has plus power good speed for a corner infielder. The high school quarterback also has a good arm to make throws across the diamond.
He should be a tough sign, but maybe the Indians could bargain him down a bit and get him into the system.
7. C Jake Lowery, James Madison University, 4th Round
Jake Lowery shot up draft boards this past year, culminating in the Indians selecting him in the fourth round.
Lowery's bat is legit: .359 BA, 24 HRs and 91 RBIs in only 61 games earning him first team All-American honors.
The question though, is where will he play defensively? Many think he would not cut it as a catcher defensively despite his plus arm. I could see him switching over to first base and playing DH a lot, but the Indians will want to find him a spot defensively early in his pro career.
Baseball America's Jim Callis praised the pick via Twitter saying: "Lowery is another guy with [questions] about D, but no one has reservations with the bat. At least a big league backup."
Pretty good pickup by Grant when a guy's worst-case scenario is still making it to the majors.
6. C Eric Haase, Divine Child High School (MI), 7th Round
Coming out of a cold weather state like Michigan, Eric Haase did not get much of a chance for scouts to notice him. When scouts were around, he did impress.
Haase has the potential to be a five-tool player and still stay at catcher for his pro career. Think Russell Martin, perhaps with more power.
Haase's bat can play at almost any position on the field, with great bat speed and contact potential.
He has a commitment to Ohio State University, but the player considered the best talent in the state of Michigan could be persuaded to go pro if Cleveland offers him enough money.
5. RHP Jake Sisco, Merced Junior College (CA), 3rd Round
Jake Sisco is another guy that shot up draft boards this past year with an increase in velocity—95 miles per hour—and already held a deep arsenal
The 19-year-old has a curve, slider and changeup that are all considered at least above average.
Sisco has great size at 6'3" and 185 lbs, and he could add velocity as he bulks up and matures.
Many scouts pegged him as a popular sleeper pick in the 2011 Draft.
Sisco is one of those rare pitchers that gets better as the game goes on. Solid value in the third round by the Tribe and he has the potential to become a great starter for the Indians once he's major league ready.
4. 3B Taylor Sparks, St. John Bosco High School (CA), 24th Round
One of my favorite picks by the Indians, Taylor Sparks is a big, 6'3" third baseman out of California.
Despite going to the Indians with the 728th pick, Sparks was listed as the 133rd best prospect by Baseball America.
Sparks has huge upside with plus power and plus bat speed to go along with his above average running speed.
A commitment to UC Irvine was mostly to blame for his fall, but a good over slot offer from the Indians could make him one of the Tribe's better bats in the farm system.
Sparks has great power and is a right-handed batter, and Cleveland has always been searching for a right-handed power bat.
Since he's only 18, it will take him awhile to reach the major leagues, but he can be a true impact bat once he breaks into the bigs. If the Indians fail to sign on of their top picks, a lot of attention should be paid to Sparks as Cleveland should offer him a lot of money to become the next Indian.
3. LF Bryson Myles, Stephen F. Austin College (TX), 6th Round
Another great athletic upside pick by the Tribe, Bryson Myles could be the next Carl Crawford if he develops more power.
Myles is small at 5'11", but is able to pack in 230 lbs to his short frame. Somebody with that kind of height/weight ratio would seem like just a power bat, but Myles's best attribute is actually his speed. Myles led the entire nation with 53 SBs this past year.
Football was Myles's first love, which explains his stocky build, but his focus has turned to baseball after he transferred from TCU.
Myles's tools make him one to watch as the signing deadline nears, but I have a gut feeling he'll turn pro and could develop into a top prospect if he capitalizes on some of his sky-high potential.
2. LHP Dillon Peters, Cathedral High School (IN), 20th Round
If the Indians are able to sign him, Dillon Peters could be one of the best steals in awhile.
Peters was rated as the 104th best prospect by Baseball America, but fell into the Tribe's lap with the 608th pick.
Considered the best prospect in the State of Indiana, Peters fell for two reasons. First, he will command a lot of money to sign, and falling into the 20th round could make him want to go to Texas where he's committed.
The other reason is because of his size: Peters is only 5'9".
Despite his height limitations, Peters still won the Gatorade Indiana Baseball Player of the Year Award and put up eye-popping numbers.
His record throughout high school included 447 Ks in 258 innings over four years. He only suffered three losses as compared to 36 wins in his career.
Peters's velocity sits in the low 90s, but he is certain to gain velocity as he matures. He also holds a plus curveball and changeup.
Size be damned, Peters is just an excellent pitcher and should have gone in the first three rounds. Picking him up in round 20 was a ridiculous steal for the Tribe, and while it will take a lot of money to sign him, he could very well be worth every penny.
1. RHP Dillon Howard, Searcy High School (AK), 2nd Round
Can you imagine a rotation featuring two guys named Dillon? I want to secure that T-shirt deal ASAP if the Indians sign both of these guys.
Howard is a first-round talent that slipped because of, you guessed it, sign-ability.
He has a mid-90s fastball and a great sinker. His curveball and changeup all should develop into plus pitches.
Many consider him the best high school pitcher to come out of Arkansas ever, and Baseball America ranked him as the 18th best talent in the entire draft.
Howard is drooling of ace potential and will immediately become a top-10 prospect in the Indians system if he elects to sign.
Howard fanned 118 batters in only 58 innings his senior year and had 92 Ks in 54 innings his junior year.
Arkansas has signed him to become a Razorback next year, but Howard could easily be persuaded to go pro if enough zeroes are thrown his way. That will just have to be a lot of zeroes, since he's being advised by the dreaded Scott Boras.