MLB Draft: Indians possible targets and more
By Jeff Ellis
April 21, 2012
I know it’s less than a week until the football draft, but we are now less than two months away from the baseball draft. With that in mind, it is a good time to take some stock of players and see who has risen, fallen, and gotten hurt.
Who’s Number One?
The consensus top player in this draft seems to be Bryon Buxton, a toolsy outfielder from Georgia who has been compared to everyone from both Upton’s to Bubba Starling. He might not be a lock to go number one in spite of his talent because he is so far away for helping, and is not necessarily an elite level talent. Some teams prefer closer talent much like last year when Seattle took Hultzen over Starling. If Buxton was in last year’s draft there is a good chance he goes in the 7-9 range. For instance, if Francisco Lindor was in this year’s draft, I think he would be a legit candidate to be the top pick. Even still, Buxton seems to be the odds on favorite to go first this year.
The Walking Wounded
I feel like I should apologize personally to Lucas Giolito. The day after I proclaimed him to make history and be the first high school pitcher taken, it was announced that he was done for the year. It does hurt his stock, but there is a very good chance he still goes in the top 10 in spite of injury. He is one of the few blue chip players, and with the new slotting system it makes more sense for Giolito to sign and then get the best medical attention possible for his injury. I know some Tribe fans hope he falls, but I just can’t see it happening.
Matt Smoral is a local product from Solon who broke his foot and now won’t be visible to a lot of scouts. Since he is from Ohio, being a cold weather player meant that he really hasn’t had the opportunities to show his stuff as other players have. This is why his injury is such a big deal; still he has the stuff that he should be a top 20 pick. The injury is not something that should have an effect on his career, and the only reason he will fall is the lack of exposure. He is actually a name to keep in mind for the Indians since they do like local products. Smoral also fits the high upside players they have targeted of late. If he had been healthy there is no way he is available for the Tribe at 15.
Rio Ruiz had to me the scariest season ending injury of the year, a blood clot in his neck. Ruiz is an extremely raw player because he is a two star athlete who was also his teams' QB, which caused a lot of conflicts and missed games. He is a third baseman for California, who looked like a good hitter before the injury and who could stay at third base. Thanks to injuries he is now a guy who is a candidate for the Indians in round 2, if they continue to look for guys with high upside and no worries about how long it will take them to get there.
Victor Roache was to be one of the more interesting players I mentioned as a possible target for the Indians. With power declining all throughout college baseball he jumped from 8 to 30 home runs last year. He did do it at Georgia Southern which is not one of the big name programs, but still, there was enough of a skill set to make him someone to watch. Well, he broke his wrist and is more than likely done for the year. Some people love him, others hate him but still feel like on pure talent that he will go somewhere in the supplemental picks. If not I would love to see him fall to the mid-second were the Indians could target him.
Possible Indians Targets
No one has had more helium this year than Richie Shaffer; he is putting up insane numbers. He looks like he can play third base in the majors and has the right handed power the Indians lack. I saw a quote for Keith Law where he said that Shaffer might have the best bat speed in the draft. The only problem is that he has possibly played himself into the top 10 of the draft.
In the past I have been a broken record thhat you always take the best player available, but in a draft like this where the talent is weaker and a lot of guys will be very similarly graded, it might not be a bad idea to take someone who fills an organizational need as well as being a top target. Stephen Piscotty is a player who would be a good value at this point, and fills the three biggest holes in this system: he is right handed, has power potential, and looks like an outfielder. As another bonus he is not someone who strikes out often, and should be able to make it to the majors quickly. He has been linked as a possible target of the A’s often because of his approach as a hitter, but thanks to the rise of Shaffer, Piscotty should be there for the Tribe.
In the first mock by PG crosschecker they had the Indians taking Andrew Heaney. Heaney is the top lefty in college baseball this year. He fits the mold of who the Indians drafted under the John Mirabelli years, as the high floor, low upside player who could quickly make it to the majors. He is a guy who does induce a ton of grounders, which the Indians do love. He throws in the low 90’s with good movement and from a variety of arm angles. If the Indians decide to go safe, then Heaney is the obvious pick and should be a mid to back end starter for the Tribe quickly.
If the Indians do decide to just go ahead and draft for upside and tools then they would have to consider Courtney Hawkins, a very intriguing high school player from Texas. He has plus plus right handed power, plus speed, plus arm, and star type of athleticism. He is raw, and does struggle with pitch recognition and can be overly aggressive. The problem would be his floor is so low. The name that struck me as I read about Hawkins, and thought about his floor, was Ryan Harvey. Harvey was a top ten pick for the Cubs almost a decade ago who failed to ever make it to AAA. Yet if he can develop he is a star waiting to happen, a Curtis Granderson or pre injury Grady Sizemore type potential.
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That said, it seems that this system is devoid right hand power hitters. I think that need has to get addressed soon or other prospects, solid & in team plans by there own right will get moved to try & plug this hole.