Cleveland inks top pick among 21 signings

July 24th, 2021

CLEVELAND -- The one thing that Cleveland’s director of amateur scouting Scott Barnsby was confident in at the conclusion of the 2021 MLB Draft was being able to sign as many of its 21 picks as possible. On Saturday, the club announced it had signed 20 of those draftees along with an undrafted free agent.

Among those who were inked was the Indians' first-round pick, right-hander Gavin Williams from East Carolina, on Friday afternoon at their training complex in Goodyear, Ariz. According to MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, Williams signed for $2.25 million (slot value: $2,926,800).

The only member of Cleveland's 2021 Draft class who didn’t sign was 20th-round right-hander Jake Miller from the University of San Diego.

The Indians’ history with Williams dates back to his time at Cape Fear High School in Fayetteville, N.C., as they watched him grow to become a 6-foot-6 flamethrower who comfortably sits in the mid to upper 90s and has routinely hit 100 mph.

At East Carolina, Williams never found a regular rotation spot in his first three seasons, and it didn’t help that the pandemic-shortened 2020 season was cut even shorter for him due to a finger injury that limited him to just three frames in relief. But Cleveland is confident there are no lingering issues.

“He’s been good,” Barnsby said. “He’s taken the ball throughout the season. I think there’s always some bumps and bruises along the way. But one of the things we talked to him about was really understanding his routine in between starts and what he does in the offseason, and he’s committed to taking care of his body. He’s committed to making sure he can stay on the field. He knows that his team relied on him this year. He took the ball every time out, and he’s been healthy. No concerns there.”

It got to the point with Williams that a once-hopeful starter was being labeled as a hard-throwing reliever who lacked a feel for spin. That changed when Williams took the 2021 season by storm, earning American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year honors and placement on six All-America teams and being selected as a finalist for both the Dick Howser Award and the Golden Spikes Award after he went 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 81 1/3 frames.

“The fact that he was there and we were able to select him, we were excited,” Barnsby said after the Draft. “If you guys had the opportunity to see the room and see how our scouts reacted to adding Gavin, that tells you how we feel about him.”

Here’s a look at everyone else the club signed:

LHP Doug Nikhazy: second round, $1.2 million (according to Callis), slot value: $1,214,300

RHP Tommy Mace: Competitive Balance Round B, $1.1 million (according to MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo), slot value: $929,800

SS Jake Fox: third round, $850,000 (per Callis), slot value: $610,800
LHP Ryan Webb: fourth round, $400,00 (per Callis), slot value: $455,600
RHP Tanner Bibee: fifth round, $259,400 (per Mayo), slot value: $336,600
RHP Aaron Davenport: sixth round, $450,000 (per Callis), slot value: $259,400
RHP Jack Leftwich: seventh round, $167,00 (per Mayo), slot value: $203,400
LHP Rodney Boone: eighth round, $167,000 (per Mayo), slot value: $167,000
LHP Will Dion: ninth round, $125,000 (per Callis), slot value: $151,600
RHP Franco Aleman: 10th round, signing bonus unknown, slot value: $143,500
RHP Hunter Stanley: 11th round, $125,000 (per Callis)
RHP Connor Kokx: 12th round, signing bonus unknown
RHP Davis Sharpe: 13th round, signing bonus unknown
RHP Trenton Denholm: 14th round, $150,000 (per Callis)
RHP Alaska Abney: 15th round, $125,000 (per Callis)
RHP Zach Pettway: 16th round, signing bonus unknown
RHP Tyler Thornton: 17th round, signing bonus unknown
RHP Tommy Ventimiglia: 18th round, signing bonus unknown
RHP Reid Johnston: 19th round, signing bonus unknown
C Seth Caddell: Undrafted free agent from East Carolina