The Cleveland Indians were not picking in the Top 10 this year, not the Top 15 and not the Top 20 yet they were Big Winners in the MLB draft that took place over the last 3 days. While the MLB draft doesn’t have the excitement or immediate impact of the NBA or NFL drafts, it can set the tone for a few years down the road. Players can either be drafted straight out of high school or after 3 years of college. High school players are seen to have the most upside, but tend to have the largest bust potential while college players tend to have come close to their ceilings but should reach the big league club quicker.
Lets take a look at what has been said about some of the Tribe’s picks, first from ESPN:
21. Cleveland Indians: Bradley Zimmer | OF, San Francisco
Until Grant Holmes gets drafted, I think Zimmer going to Cleveland is the steal of the draft. The brother of Royals prospect Kyle, Zimmer has above-average tools across the board, and despite him being 6-foot-5, I think he’s got a chance to play center field. His bat will play wherever he ends up, and if everything goes right and the power develops like so many think it will, he’s got a chance to be a long-term outfielder. He could be an everyday outfielder in Jacobs Field in late 2015.
Zimmer, a 6’5″ player who could play centerfield, is a high upside type pick with the type of tools to be a difference maker all over the Indians outfield. Unlike previous safer picks this is a big swing type pick for the Tribe. Being the “steal of the draft” only lasted 1 pick until Holmes got picked but the Indians got a ton of value for a player that Keith Law thinks could be in MLB by ’15.
31. Cleveland Indians: Justus Sheffield | LHP, Tullahoma (Tenn.) HS
It wasn’t a consistent season for Sheffield in terms of stuff, but in terms of command and feel for pitching he’s as good as any southpaw that isn’t named Aiken. His size concerns many, but with above-average pitches across the board and plus command, he’s got a chance to be a quality mid-rotation starter. Putting him in the Cleveland player-development system could do wonders for the southpaw.
Getting a quality mid rotation starter is a great thing for the Tribe who have struggled to develop pitchers in the past. He isn’t the biggest pitcher in the world but a left hander who can throw strikes is very valuable. He will take time to develop but being the second best lefty in the draft in a couple key categories is huge.
Highest upside: Bobby Bradley, OF, Harrison Central High School (Gulfport, Mississippi)
Cleveland Indians (Round 3)
Bradley reminded some scouts of Bobby Bonilla, and not because of the first name and initials. While that’s probably an absolute best-case scenario, it surprised me that an infielder with an above-average hit tool and power was still on the board here.
Bobby Bonilla? In the 3rd round? Yes please. Bradley could join Zimmer as the OF of the future in Cleveland if he develops properly. He will need more seasoning, as he is coming out of high school, but his tools make him a high profile player in the Indians system very quickly. The Indians lack power hitting players adding a couple players in early rounds that could help in that area is a huge get for the team. And finally ESPN’s overall look at the Indians Day 1 haul has them at the top of the article:
The approved list: Four teams I thought got good value
The Cleveland Indians had my favorite Day 1 batch of picks, landing four players I had in the top 50. They took Brad Zimmer, one of the best college bats in the draft class, who slid to 21; grabbed and have already signed Justus Sheffield, an advanced prep lefty from Tennessee whom area scouts loved, at 31; and took Mike Papi, one of the most patient, advanced hitters in the college crop and a first baseman with emerging power and the tools to play right field, at 38.
In the second round, they opened up again and went for another prep arm, Grant Hockin, grandson of Harmon Killebrew. Hockin’s a right-hander who’s been up to 94 with an above-average slider and a good frame to fill out and add more velocity. I think they had the best Day 1 of any team, sporting a solid mix of floor and ceiling, of pitchers and position players.
Just another great, exciting thing for Cleveland sports. Yet sometimes with drafts it can be that one analyst or site likes a team’s draft while another doesn’t. So we go over to our affiliated site SI.com for their look at the Indians, who they also have as winners of the MLB Draft:
Cleveland made the steal of the draft by selecting Brad Zimmer, an outfielder who is certainly one of the best college hitters in the class, at No. 21. Ten picks later it got high school lefty Justus Sheffield, who may be the most talented southpaw other than Aiken. With their competitive balance pick at No. 38, the Indians took Mike Papi, an outfielder who has emerging power, and at No. 61 they added a righthander with a big fastball and above average slider, Grant Hockin. And how can you not love that Hockin is the grandson of Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew?
So again SI sees nothing but good in the Indians picks. That the Tribe has already signed high schooler Sheffield, who could choose to go to college for 3 years is a great sign as well. Getting one the best college hitters, the second best lefty pitcher, a power hitting outfielder and a right handed pitcher with power all in Day 1? To steal from another local team’s draft legend: “What’s not to like?”
Do you get excited about the MLB draft at all? Does all these positive statements about the Tribe draft get you excited about the long term opportunities for the team?