A look at whom the Cleveland Indians might pick in the 2020 MLB Draft.
For fans of the Cleveland Indians, it’s not easy to get excited for the 2020 MLB Draft. Nobody knows who the players are and many of the prospects won’t sniff the majors for three to five years.
That said, from an organizational standpoint, this time of year is comparable to the fun other teams have spending big in free agency.
Yes, I did write that as if I had been kicked in the stomach, but that’s life. The Indians don’t spend and that puts even more pressure on the Tribe to get it right.
As with every team, there’s misses, and yeah, the Tribe has had some big ones in recent vintage. They took a power pitcher named Alex White, instead of WAR God Mike Trout, but don’t forget, 24 other teams did, too.
The front office gets it right sometimes, too, as Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti tapped Francisco Lindor with the eighth pick in 2011.
Then, there’s striking gold when you don’t even know it. The treasure is still being unearthed on the 2016 draft, but Aaron Civale (third round), Shane Bieber (fourth round) and Zach Plesac (12th round) may make that draft one of the most memorable in franchise history.
Speaking of 2016, the first-round pick that year was Will Benson. He’ll turn 22 June 16, but he’s very undisciplined at the plate. At the rate he’s going, he could single handily be a wind turbine on Lake Erie with the amount of strikeouts he accumulates. He struck out 151 times in 514 plate appearances last season, while hitting .230 with 22 homers and 78 RBIs.
Some notes on the draft…
1. The draft is five rounds this year as negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement last March. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, baseball and been looking to shrink the size of the draft, as owners and front office executives believe they don’t need as minor leaguers hiking up costs in the low level of the minor leagues.
2. With nothing to talk about in baseball besides labor bickering, there’s a lot being written about which players, college or high school, are the safer bet. The Bleacher Report’s Joel Beuter found that college players have the slight edge when it comes to becoming a “future star.”
3. OK, so whom might join the organization? Well, the Internet loves mock drafts, and there’s no dearth of these forecasts scattered throughout the interweb. Hat tip to MLB mock drafters, they’re truly doing God’s work.
But, you’re more likely to have success guessing KENO numbers than nailing MLB Drat picks once the top three to five picks are off the board. Need just doesn’t work like it does in other sports. Since it takes a half decade to reach the majors, you can take a shortstop even if you have a franchise player currently playing the position.
4. CBS Sports said the Indians “have a type.” The organization likes younger players who are even younger than their peers! Well, right handed pitcher Nick Bitsko is essentially a high school junior, so it doesn’t get much younger than that.
The product of Central Bucks East High School in Pennsylvania graduated early and his team didn’t play any games this spring because of the pandemic. The feeling is he’s been underscored and the Indians are primed to scoop him up.
At No. 36, CBS has the Tribe taking a reliever named Burl Carraway out of Dallas Baptist. This pick is slated to earn $2.045 million, but because the Tribe would, in theory, pay more to get Bitsko to sign, they would have to “skimp” on a bonus offer at another spot.
ESPN expert Kiley McDaniel (subscription) predicted the Indians will take Jared Kelly, a right-handed prep flame thrower out of Refugio High School (Texas). He’s committed to the University of Texas and possesses a fastball that sits 95-98 miles per hour. Per McDaniel, teams are souring on his stock because he has “now” stuff and a “now” body. There’s worry there’s been too much stress put on his arm.
To that, I’d say who doesn’t have Tommy John surgery these days?
At No. 36, McDaniel forecasted the selection of J.T. Ginn, a pitcher out of Mississippi State. Speaking of TJ surgery, Ginn’s already had it, going under the knife in March. Before the injury, he was slated to be a top 10 pick. The Indians love this type of project and by the time spring training starts in 2021, Ginn should be able to begin throwing.
With the 23rd pick, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo has the Tribe staying in-state, taking Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler. It’s a surprise in that the Indians just took a catcher two seasons ago in Bo Naylor. Naylor is no sure thing, but he’s still a top prospect at this point of his short career.
Finally, I’ll wrap with Keith Law, who was ESPN’s expert, but is now with The Athletic.
With the 23rd pick, Law has the Tribe picking right-handed pitcher Tanner Witt out of Episcopal High School in Texas.
"“Witt has been up to 95 mph with a very projectable frame and a lightning-quick arm. He’s also still 17 years old as of draft day, which figures heavily in Cleveland’s model for the draft.”"
Three different prominent mock drafts and no consensus on draft picks, other than the adage “Pitching, pitching and more pitching.”
5. The Indians have been saved by the 2016 college pitchers, but they need to start hitting early on. In February, the organization had just one player on MLB’s Top 100 prospects list.
6. The Draft commences tomorrow, Wednesday, June 10 at 7 p.m. and will broadcast on ESPN. Rounds 2-5 will begin at 5 p.m on Tuesday, June 11 and will air on ESPN 2.