The Ultimate Indians Draft: Rounds 20-11
It is time to continue the Indians Ultimate Draft series, this time with the focus on picks 20-11 as we get closer and closer to the Indians Ultimate draft top ten. Some more familiar names appear for both new and older fans, and also some really interesting guys who got away as well. This group might be the most talented grouping of players for this series as it contains multiple All Stars and a Hall of Famer.
For those that missed the first part covering rounds 51 to 41 and with the setup of this piece, the way I went about this piece was to try and figure out who were the greatest players selected by the Indians in their entire draft history. I settled on using the June selection since it is the only one still around, so this does leave out some players of note such as Chris Chambliss and Duane Kuiper.
When it came to judging the top player, I kept it simple. If a player was drafted and signed by the Indians, then he would rank higher than a great talent who never signed with the Indians. The best picks are the ones who helped the Indians. In many cases, especially with these late picks, the best player is often the one who got away.
20. Vinnie Pestano, RHP
Drafted in 2006, Cal State Fullerton
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 20th round and five have made it to the majors. Three of them were signed and made the majors with the Indians. From that group the player with the highest WAR is Pestano. WAR is not very kind to pen arms so the fact he had a higher WAR than two starters whose careers were twice as long as his says a lot about just how good he was heading into last year. His first few years he was one of the top ten relief arms in all of baseball and looked like a future star at the back of the pen. Then he imploded and is now one of the Indians biggest question marks heading into next year. Does he rebound and pitch how he had before 2013, or does he join the long line of talented back end arms that never quite get it together. Either way what he managed in his first two years is enough to make him the greatest 20th round pick in Indians history.
Honorable Mentions: Shortstop Brian Jordan (1985) might have been better at football but a great baseball player as well as he had a 15-year career and was a one time All Star, right-handed pitcher Albie Lopez (1991) threw hard and turned it into an 11-year career appearing in 297 games, left-handed pitcher Mike Paul (1967) played seven years in the majors - four with the Indians - mostly as a starter, right-handed pitcher Burch Smith (2010) made his major league debut last year.
19. Josh Tomlin, RHP
Drafted in 2006, Texas Tech
The Indians have selected 49 players in the 19th round and five have made it to the majors. The Indians managed to sign two of them and the best one is Tomlin. The 2006 draft is an interesting one, as this makes back-to-back best picks in Indians history. The Indians first three picks that year made the majors, and they drafted a player with star potential in Chris Archer. Tomlin is actually the beginning of three straight players who made the majors Tomlin, Pestano, and John Gaub with picks 19-21. Tomlin is a backend starter who on a good team is more of a long man. He had one very good year, but his last year in the majors his WAR was -1.2, so it is hard to say what the future will hold for Tomlin.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Brad Arnsbery (1981) became a future first round pick and pitched six years in the majors before ending his career in Cleveland, outfielder Steve Hosey (1986) went on to become a first rounder and played two years in the majors appearing in 24 games, right-handed pitcher Dan Wright (1996) pitched in the majors for four years appearing in 70 games for the White Sox, catcher Chris Gimenez (2004) has played in the majors for five straight years appearing in 143 games with Cleveland, Seattle, and Tampa Bay.
18. Ron Hassey, C
Drafted in 1976, Arizona
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 18th round and six have made the majors. The Indians managed to sign five of those six players, though the only downside is the one who got away is Desmond Jennings who should end up being the best player of the group. The 18th pick has been one of the better ones for the Indians, and this pick had a few very good choices. In the end Hassey was the best player. He played in the majors for 14 years appearing in over a 1000 games. He had three amazing years with an OPS over .800, but for the most part he was a solid backup playing good defense for six different organizations. He retired at the age of 38, being one of the most successful picks the Indians made in the 70’s.
Honorable Mentions: First baseman Orlando Gonzalez (1974) played three years in the majors appearing in 79 games for three different teams. A fun side note is he was born in Cuba before Castro’s take over. Shortstop John Lowenstein (1968) played in the majors for 16 years for three different teams mostly as a utility player. Right-handed pitcher Steve Gajkowski (1990) was released by the Indians in 1990, but finally made it to the majors in 1998 appearing in nine games. Left-handed pitcher Mike Bacsik (1996) is most known for giving up Barry Bonds' 756th home run and appeared in 51 games over five years in the majors. Outfielder Desmond Jennings (2005) is a major athlete who has been a great defender in center field for the Rays.
17. Brian Giles, OF
Drafted in 1989, High School
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 17th round and four of them made the majors. The Indians managed to draft and sign two of those players and far and away the best was Giles. He was never given much of a chance as a starter with the Indians, who then traded him away in the worst deal of the John Hart era. They gave up Giles for a glorified LOOGY in Ricardo Rincon. Giles would go to become an All Star who averaged over 30 home runs a year while posting an on-base percentage over .400 for his entire prime of his career. If he had been playing outside of Pittsburgh, which was the worst team in the league, he would have been an MVP candidate every year. He was a plus defender in the corners who could play center, he had power, patience, and he rarely struck out. Giles along with Richie Sexson were two players that were traded which probably sped up the collapse of the post 90’s Indians.
Honorable Mentions: Left-handed pitcher Brian Shackelford (1997) played in the majors for two years appearing in 63 games for the Reds. Right-handed pitcher Mark Gardner (1984) pitched 13 years in the majors for four different teams as a backend starter. Right-handed pitcher Dave Mlicki (1990) pitched 10 years in the majors appearing in over 250 games.
16. Buddy Bell, 2B-3B
Drafted in 1969, High School
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 16th round and a whopping 11 have made the majors. This has been a very strong round for the Indians throughout history, with almost 22% of all picks making the majors. The player with the highest WAR of them all is Bell. He debuted for the Indians at age 20 and stuck in the majors for 18 years. He was a five time All Star and a six time Gold Glove winner at third base. Much like Giles, Bell is a very under-rated player. He was excellent at getting on-base and while he never hit a ton of home runs, he was good for 30 plus doubles a year. He was at his peak a 6.0 WAR player a year thanks to his defense and production. He would still be a top five player for his position, and is a guy every Indians fan wishes was still manning third base for the Indians.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Cody Allen (2010) has become an integral part of the Indians pen and has a chance to be the third best pick in thr 16th round. Left-handed pitcher Aaron Laffey (2003) has had a seven year career so far in the majors. Right-handed pitcher Steve Olin (1987) was a good closer before his life was tragically cut short. Right-handed pitcher John Farrell (1983) was a solid pitcher who pitched in the majors for eight seasons. Third baseman Terry Steinbach (1980) was a great offensive catcher and multi time All Star in the '80s for Oakland. Right-handed pitcher Steve Stone (1968) is an Ohio native who pitched in the majors for 11 years and won a Cy Young.
15. Jerry Dybzinski, SS
Drafted in 1977, Cleveland State University
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 15th round and three made it to the majors. The best of the group is Dybzinski who played in the most games, had the highest WAR, and lasted the most years in the majors of any pick at fifteen. He was the first player from Cleveland State to play in the majors and the most successful. Dybzinski was a utility player for six years with the Indians, Pirates, and White Sox. He was offensively challenged, and the defensive metric shows him to be an average defender. The most interesting thing I found on Dybzinski’s in the minors is he went from A ball to AAA to the majors, though never played a game at AA.
Honorable Mentions: Left-handed pitcher Chris Jones (2007) made it to AAA and has a chance to see the majors as a LOOGY, right-handed pitcher Roland DeLaMaza (1993) pitched one game in the majors for the Royals, left-handed pitcher Matt White (1998) pitched in 60 games over two years in the majors with Seattle, Boston, and Washington.
14. Ryan Church, OF
Drafted in 2000, University of Nevada-Reno
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 14th round and five of them have made it to the majors. The only one who became an everyday player was Ryan Church. He was traded along with Maicer Izturis for Scott Stewart in one of the Indians worst deals of the Shapiro era. They turned two starters and over a decade of MLB production in exchange for 23 unproductive bullpen appearances. Church was an interesting player because his success was very unlikely. He didn’t walk, he struck out quite a bit and his power was lacking - yet he played in over 600 games over seven seasons in the majors with an .767 OPS for his career. He was mostly a fourth outfielder outside of a great 2007 season where he posted an OPS north of .800. He was a player who if had been kept could have prevented the David Dellucci years by providing better production at a lot cheaper price.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Scott Winchester (1995) pitched in the majors for four years with the Reds as part of the ill-fated John Smiley deal. Outfielder Jim Paciorek (1981) played in one season appearing in 48 games for the Brewers - both of his brothers also played in the majors. Third baseman Kevin Rhomberg (1977) appeared in 41 games over three years with the Indians. First baseman Russ Nagelson (1966) is an Ohio State graduate who appeared in 62 games over three years in the majors with the Indians and Tigers.
13. Jim Thome, 3B
Drafted in 1989, High School
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 13th round and three of them have made it to the majors. Thome is not just the best player from the 13th round but probably the Indians best draft pick ever. When you combine his later draft position with his Hall of Fame numbers, he arguably would be the greatest pick the Indians have ever made. I don’t need to rehash Thome, as most fans remember his moonshot home runs. He had zero steroid rumors around him and finished 7th all-time in home runs. He had amazing longevity playing 22 years in the majors, and still managed to be productive past the age of 40. Jim Thome goes down as one of the greatest Indians of all time, and frankly one of the greatest players of all time.
Honorable Mentions: Infielder Adam Abraham (2008) could see the majors someday as a utility player. Left-handed pitcher Mike Jeffcoat (1980) pitched in 255 games over 10 years with the Indians, Giants, and Rangers. Right-handed pitcher Jeff Barkley (1982) pitched in 24 games over two years with the Indians.
12. John McDonald, SS
Drafted in 1996, Providence College
The Indians have selected 49 players in the 12th round, and four of them made it to the majors. There is a little humor with the 12th round as the Indians had a voided selection in 1982 because they had not paid close enough attention and picked a player who had already been selected. Of the players the Indians have selected the best one far and away has been McDonald. McDonald has been a solid defensive utility player for his career which has lasted 15 years so far. Just twice did he ever play in more than 100 games in a season. He is a guy who was chosen late and had to prove himself every step of the way who played in over 1000 games in his career - that is a big draft win for any team.
Honorable Mentions: Catcher Mitch Meluskey (1992) played in the majors over five seasons with the Tigers and Astros. Right-handed pitcher Joe Beckwith (1976) played seven years in the majors with the Dodgers and Royals mostly as a pen arm. Right-handed pitcher Chuck Machemehl (1968) pitched in 14 games for the Indians for his career.
11. Tom Lampkin, C
Drafted in 1986, University of Portland
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 11th round and eight of them made it to the majors. Of those eight players the three most successful were all catchers drafted in a four year window by the Tribe from 86-88. Lampkin was the first of the group and the most successful. He played in only four games with the Indians before they traded him for Indians luminaire Alex Cole. Lampkin had a longer career and a better career WAR, so it was a loss by the Indians in value, but not a bad trade looking at the big picture as his addition might have also given the Padres the depth to consider trading Sandy Alomar to the Indians in the Joe Carter deal. Lampkin was a backup for his 13-year career. He played for five different teams and had his best years once he was into his 30’s serving as a veteran backup for several teams.
Honorable Mentions: Catcher Kelly Stinnett (1989) is one of a bunch of solid catchers the Indians found in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and he had a 14-year major league career. Catcher Jorge Fabregas (1988) had a nine year major league career as a backup. Left-handed pitcher Joe Horgan (1996) appeared in 55 games over two years with the Expos/Nationals organization. Right-handed pitcher Matt Langwell (2008) appeared in 13 games last year in the majors. Right-handed pitcher Vince Colbert (1968) appeared in 95 games over three years with the Indians in the early 70’s.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
What proof u have that Giles is a juicer?