Kieran Lovegrove, RP, Akron RubberDucks
A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, the Indians found Kieran Lovegrove in the third round of the 2012 MLB Draft at California’s Mission Viejo High School.
Lovegrove is a prime example of how patient an organization has to be when drafting a high school player.
At 23, Lovegrove opened the season at Class A (Advanced) Lynchburg, where he posted a 1.56 ERA in 10 appearances. He struck out 25 in 17 1/3 innings, earning him a promotion to Class AA Akron.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander has only been able to buy alcoholic beverages for two years, yet Lovegrove might as well be a senior member of the Indians’ organization.
He spent two seasons playing his age 17 and 18 year-old seasons in Rookie Ball before finally getting the nod to pitch in the New York Penn League with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. From there, he pitched with Lake County and Lynchburg in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Only once in his minor league career before 2018 did Lovegrove post an ERA below 4.00. However, the Tribe employed him as a starter before sending him to the pen in 2016.
With the big-league club’s bullpen being downright desperate, Lovegrove could fly through the organization.
In Akron, Lovegrove’s been even better when keeping opposing batting averages down. Opponents hit .188 against him in Lynchburg, and that number’s dipped to .162 with the RubberDucks.