Cleveland Indians Failings in the Draft: A Case Study


With the Minnesota Twins officially ending the Cleveland Indians hopes of earning a Wild Card berth, Factory of Sadness writer Joe Gilbert details how poor drafting is prohibiting the Tribe from reaching expectations.

The truly final series of the season against the Minnesota Twins presented a strong example of the core of the Tribe’s struggles to return to relevancy. Sure, we’ve flirted with the Wild Card the last couple of years, but ultimately, this team has fallen short of expectations time and again in the last decade or so. Why? Complete and utter failures identifying and drafting talent.

Minnesota had been one of the most consistent teams in baseball under Ron Gardenhire. Year in and year out, they were simply a good baseball team from top to bottom. Despite the last couple of seasons after Gardenhire, the Twins have always been a solid franchise. Nothing shows this more than their success in the first round of the draft. Their picks since 2001, when they selected Joe Mauer, have had far more hits than misses. Some of the names they’ve selected?

2001 – Mauer

2002- Denard Span

2004- Trevor Plouffe

2004 Glen Perkins

2005- Matt Garza

2006- Chris Paramlee

2007- Ben Revere

2008- Aaron Hicks

2009- Kyle Gibson

2012- Byron Buston

Out of that group, Buxton, Hicks, and Gibson are still too young to tell how they’ll be in the long run. But the others? Mauer has been one of the better hitting catchers in the American League for a long time. Span, Plouffe, and Revere have all been everyday starters for good teams. Matt Garza has been a highly sought after arm in the trade market it seems like every year and Perkins is a shut down reliever. All told, that’s a tremendous haul in the first round for Minnesota.

For the Indians, the story is far uglier. Despite some horrid records leading to high draft positions, the Indians cannot stay out of their own way when it comes to collecting amateur talent. Instead of trotting out a group like the Twins have been able to, the Tribe’s picks in the same span look like this:

2001- Dan Denham, Alan Horne, J.D. Martin and Mike Conroy

2002- Jeremy Guthrie, Matt Whitney, and Micah Schilling

2003- Michael Aubrey, Brad Snyder, and Adam Miller

2004- Jeremy Sowers

2005- Trevor Crowe and John Drennen

2006- David Huff

2007- Beau Mills

2008- Lonnie Chisenhall

2009- Alex White

2010- Drew Pomeranz

2011- Francisco Lindor

2012- Tyler Naquin

After your head starts hurting, you can see this list has only two players still on the big league roster and only three in the entire system at all. Also take note that there are two separate drafts with three first-round picks and another that had a whopping four picks. There were a couple of serviceable starters in Huff and Sowers, but they didn’t stick for long and first rounders should be more than serviceable.

Chisenhall has been up and down and is now playing his second position. White and Pomeranz were shipped off to Colorado for the Jekyll and Hyde act that was two seasons of Ubaldo Jimenez. Lindor at least looks like the real deal and may actually win the American League Rookie of the Year.

Simply put, the Indians have not been able to develop home grown talent that can perform at a high level. With a shoestring budget that doesn’t look to expand anytime soon, this is the type of mistake that cripples a franchise for long periods of time. As the Twins demonstrated, you can rebound from down years when you draft well enough to have the talent to recover. But like the Indians, you can’t rebound with a roster not built to win. This year has not been any different as the ghost of draft’s past gave fans a limited roster to work with. The Indians need the recent selections of Lindor, Clint Frazier, and Bradley Zimmer to pay off, or it could be more of the same from the front office.

Next: Poor Defense Ultimately The Demise Of The 2015 Tribe

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