Wednesday, June 10, 2009

MLB Player Draft

MLB completed three rounds of the draft, or as it's been known in Cleveland for the last decade, an utter waste of time. This year may be a little different. I'm pretty happy with the first three picks as a whole.

In the first round, the Indians surprised no one. They took a college pitcher. UNC rhp, Alex White, fell 6-8 spots lower than expected, and the Indians grabbed him. White has good size and throws 90-94 pretty consistently. He looks like he can be a strikeout pitcher. His problems...and you knew he had to have some, are that he walks a lot of batters and he really throws only two pitches well. Starters need to have at least 3 solid major league offerings if they're going to prosper. Both of these problems can be fixed, but they require good coaching. In my mind, that's been a deficiency of the organization. If the Indians fix themselves, they'll fix White. If they can't, he may be able to scuffle along and have a solid career. Some baseball people and analysts think that White can pitch in the majors this year. I think those people are nuts.

In the second round, the Indians pounced on Jason Kipnis, an outfielder from baseball factory, Arizona State. Kipnis was a very good college hitter, who controlled the strike zone pretty well. At ASU, he was an on-base machine. That's something that the Tribe has traditionally lacked. He's got moderate power and moderate speed. If this were basketball, he's the kind of guy announcers like to describe as a "gym rat." He hustles his ass off and plays beyond his abilities. His negatives are that he's a little undersized ( 5'11" and 175), doesn't really have the power to play a corner outfield spot, and isn't a classic centerfielder, even though he can play the spot. I'd heard a week or so ago that the Indians had been looking hard at him, but I really don't know why. They must be convinced his on-base ability will translate to the bigs. He looks like a guy with limited upside but who could be a solid part-time role player. I hope I'm wrong. If he can continue to get on base and the Tribe can develop a bopper at some other position, he can help the team.

In the third round, the Indians went pitching again. That was a good move because they took Joseph Gardner, a rhp from UC Santa Barbara. He's a big guy who throws between 89-94. His pitches are all solid, but like White, Gardner throws too many balls. Walks have killed him this year. He needs to work on his control. But, the bottom line is the guy has some talent. He just needs to refine his mechanics.

In sum, I like the draft ok. They took two pitchers who throw hard. For some reason, the Tribe could never figure that out and their drafting in the early rounds has been abysmal. The outfielder is ok and could perhaps develop into a player. Personally, I think his upside is Ben Francisco with better on-base, but if the pitching pans out, I'm ok with that. I'm just thrilled that they didn't draft another slow, one dimensional first baseman/left fielder/DH. Historically, the organization has LOVED those guys. Even though the Indians have been almost barren of any middle infielders or centerfielders of any note in the minors since Jhonny Peralta graduated, the Tribe's deep thinkers never felt it was necessary to waste draft picks on them. Perhaps that's why they're gone. This is a new group picking for the Tribe, and so far (last year and these first three rounds), I'm satisfied.

Since I'll likely know nothing about the guys picked tomorrow, I'm done on this topic.