Tribe 'couldn't be happier' with SS Tucker

Cleveland selects high schooler with No. 23 overall pick

June 11th, 2020

CLEVELAND -- Days before Carson Tucker’s 11th birthday in 2013, his older brother, Cole Tucker, tweeted a picture of the two of them working in the batting cages well after the sun had gone down. Cole said, “Little man’s gonna go first round.” Seven years later, he was right.

The Indians selected Carson Tucker, an 18-year-old shortstop out of Mountain Pointe High School (Ariz.), with the 23rd overall pick in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft on Wednesday night. With the 36th overall pick in Competitive Balance Round A, the Tribe also selected Tanner Burns, a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher from Auburn University.

“Extremely excited to add Carson to the organization,” Indians amateur scouting director Scott Barnsby said. “He’s an athletic shortstop. ... For us, it’s an above-average offensive profile. Well-above-average runner with a really impressive tool set. Hands, feet, actions to stay at shortstop. Plenty of arm strength to stay there. So there is an awful lot to like.”

At No. 23 overall, Carson Tucker becomes the highest drafted player out of his high school, beating out the record that was set by Cole, who was taken at No. 24 in 2014 -- a year after his tweet. Cole, a shortstop with the Pirates, made his Major League debut last season.

“Carson can definitely play,” Cole Tucker said on MLB Network. “It’s crazy to see the video from last summer, just the translation that’s happened in his game. He’s completely transformed his body. He went from being like 5 [foot] 11 to being 6 [foot] 2. He went from being like 165 [pounds] to 180 and really filling out. But, like, you see him playing defense and the athleticism is still there, the arm strength is still there, the swagger at shortstop is still there.”

According to MLB Pipeline, Tucker has average arm strength, but his throws have good carry and he’s been showing more consistency on the defensive side over the past year. Though he has the feet and hands to play shortstop long-term, it’s his offense that’s caught a bit of attention.

In four years at Mountain Pointe High School, Tucker slashed .390/.455/.574 with 68 RBIs, 20 doubles, nine triples and five home runs in 92 games, according to MaxPreps, and he batted .364 (4-for-11) with a double, two homers and five RBIs in three games before his 2020 senior season was canceled.

“Everyone likes to talk about offense. Carson Tucker can hit,” his older brother said. “When we hit together, man, he hit in the cage with me and my big league friends and kind of shows us up. He has really good barrel control. He can hit the ball really far. ... I think the sky’s the limit for Carson Tucker.”

Since 2011, when Francisco Lindor was Cleveland’s top pick out of Montverde Academy in Florida, the Tribe has taken a high schooler with seven of their 10 picks. But the Indians say the trend is not something that they’re targeting heading into the Draft each year. Barnsby also clarified that, although drafting a shortstop in the first round may cause people to think about Lindor’s future with the club, the All-Star shortstop had no impact on the decision to select an 18-year-old shortstop.

“As we go into every Draft, there’s really no target demographic,” Barnsby said. “Certainly best player available. It just played out that way. There are certainly a few guys we considered with this pick. Landed on Carson and couldn’t be happier to have him.”

Later in the evening, the Indians also added righty Burns, who was coming off a 101-strikeout season with Auburn during his sophomore campaign. He joined 2018’s No. 1 Draft pick, Casey Mize, as the only two Auburn pictures to reach the 100-K mark in a single season in school history. His fastball averages between 92-97 mph, and his breaking ball can be a plus pitch at times, but the 21-year-old dealt with some shoulder tightness last season that limited him during the Tigers’ playoff run. He finished his collegiate career with a 14-9 record, pitching to a 2.86 ERA with 210 strikeouts against just 67 walks.