2012 Baseball Draft – Indians Version
The Indians earned the 15th overall slot in the draft based on their 15th worst record in all of baseball last year. Even with that draft slot their budget for the first 10 rounds is 22nd overall ($4,582,900) as they don’t have as many draft picks in those rounds as some other teams. For any player signed after round 10, if their bonus is greater than $100,000, the difference will be added to their top 10 round total. The Indians will be allowed to go over that slot by 5% ($229,145 to $4,812,045 IF they pay 75% of the amount they go over as a penalty (if they go over 5% this would represent a $171,859 penalty). If they go over their overall budget by more than 5% they lose their first round pick next year and pay a 75% penalty on the overage. If they go over budget by more than 10% they lose their first two picks next year.
Signability will be a HUGE part of this draft. Kids and their ‘advisors’ will quickly figure out how much money is available by looking at the other picks. Teams will try to fit all their signings under their ‘cap’. The draftees will try to wring every penny out of a team as they approach the draft signing deadline which, this year, is 5 pm ET on July 13th. There is a chance that there will be no money left to sign a guy after the 10th round to an over slot (more than $100,000 bonus) so don’t look for a lot of flyers to sign early. You can almost guarantee that every player signed after the first 10 rounds was signed for around $100,000 or less. .
1st round: Pick 15
Analysis: As in my previous article, it makes more sense for the Indians to draft a stud HS pitching prospect than a middling college pitcher who will be quick to the majors like Andrew Heaney. Similar to the year the Braves gambled on high school first baseman/outfielder Jason Heyward right after we took ‘safe' college third baseman Beau Mills (we know how that turned out, don’t we?), the Indians might turn the tables and gamble on a HS pitcher instead of going with the safe pick, Heaney.
NAMES TO WATCH:
Lance McCullers Jr. – 6’2” RHP – The chances of him being there at 15 are slim but he might slide that far if there is any question of him signing for slot. If he is there and signable, he is an easy choice.
Ty Hensley – 6’5” RHP – He has moved up during the season and would be my 2nd choice.
Walker Weickel – 6’6” RHP – He was highly rated at the beginning of the season, fell somewhat and is now making a late push. He is my third choice.
Matt Smoral – 6’8” LHP – He has been hurt all year and teams would have to go off last summer. He was rated 13th at the beginning of the year and would probably, at this point, sign for slot. He will be the biggest gamble of any first round pick made this year, assuming no one makes a real headscratcher so he has to be my 4th choice but I would be happy with him if the first three are gone.
2nd round: Pick 79
Analysis – I think the Indians might go for the best available college hitter and, if available, a quality power hitter. Note that this might not be the best available player on the board at this time but they may draft to fill a need AND save a little cash by getting a guy who will quickly sign for slot AND, in doing this not go TOO far away from the best available player on the board at that moment, if you don’t include guys who won’t sign for slot. The Indians desperately need power hitting in their organization and college power hitters are not always that highly ranked as they tend to be 2-3 tool guys. In the AL, with the DH, that still plays well if two of those tools are OBP and power. Note that there are also likely to be values in this round who are not power hitters. For example, there are a number of college senior hitters who would sign for slot or below and there are guys like RHP Branden Kline from Virginia could be available as could HS third basemen Rio Ruiz and Trey Williams, both of who were first round projection guys earlier in the year.
NAMES TO WATCH:
Adam Brett Walker – 1B – Jacksonville – He probably won’t be available at this point but is best college power hitter who will be available in the second round. He is my lock if he is available at this spot.
Travis Jankowski OF – Stony Brook – Again, a guy who probably will be gone but an outside chance of being available.
James Ramsey OF – Florida State – A college senior who will probably be gone.
Pete O’Brien C – Miami – A college senior who was drafted highly last year and didn’t sign.
Brandon Thomas, OF – Georgia Tech
Dane Phillips, C/1B – Oklahoma City
3rd round: Pick 110
Analysis – In recent years a number of teams have drafted college seniors as early as the 3rd round. This seems odd as college seniors have no leverage and usually sign for small bonuses ($1,000 to $10,000). Drafting a college senior this early means that you are likely to pay him $200,000 to $300,000. Obviously some of these guys are talented, having been high draft picks the year before and not signing. So there are values here and to save money you could use later in the draft I think you might see the Indians pick the best college senior here. Besides James Ramsey and Pete O’Brien who I mentioned above and will be gone most likely by this pick, here are some college seniors who the Indians may go after.
NAMES TO WATCH:
Sam Stafford – RHP – Texas – He hurt his shoulder early in the year and so would be a stretch at this point unless he is willing to sign really cheap but he was the top senior in the class at the beginning of the year.
Matt Price – RHRP – South Carolina – I suggested the Indians draft him in the 6th round last year and he ended up not signing for the Diamondbacks who drafted him in that round..
Kevin Brady – RHP – Clemson – The highest Indians’ 2011 draft choice not signed, Brady has been suffering from a hamstring injury but was highly rated before the season.
Note that, according to Baseball America, these guys would be overdrafts at this point in the draft and that there are many more seniors out there who may be rated higher right now and may be targets. I just think the Indians will go cheap with this pick and picking a college senior or another value pick (e.g., an injured college junior pitcher who has dropped due to injury but wants to sign now and is willing to sign at or below the slot for this pick) is the way they will go.
4th round: Pick 143
I think the Indians now might go for the best available HS player who will sign for under $1.2 million. This strategy could backfire as by drafting a guy like this in the 4th round, if they don’t sign him, they would not get a compensation pick next year. Still, if you are going to get a college senior you want to save money in the 3rd round, the 4th round is where you will get your best guy who has dropped.
5th round: Pick 173, 6th round: Pick 203, 7th round: 233, 8th round: 263, 9th round: 293, 10th round: 323.
I see the Indians drafting almost exclusively college pitchers here although I think they will sprinkle in a college outfielder who projects as a ML 4th outfielder like Ben Francisco who they drafted in the 5th round a while back. They may sprinkle in a HS kid who will sign for slot like they did with Fernando Cabrera a few years ago or an injured college or HS pitcher who was 1st-2nd round material but dropped due to that injury as the Indians did with Robbie Aviles last year and Vinnie Pestano a number of years ago. Remember, the Indians are absolutely fantastic at drafting college pitchers and turning them into very good relief pitchers and are not very good at drafting college bats and turning them into utility or role players in the majors. Look for a LOT of pitchers among these 6 picks.