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Tribe to go with best-available player

Cleveland's first pick comes in second round on Monday in 2017 MLB Draft
June 8, 2017

The 2017 Draft will take place from Monday through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and at 6 p.m on Monday. MLB Network will broadcast the first 36 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while will stream all 75 picks on Day

The 2017 Draft will take place from Monday through Wednesday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and at 6 p.m on Monday. MLB Network will broadcast the first 36 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while will stream all 75 picks on Day 1. will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, starting at 1 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on on Wednesday, beginning at noon ET.
Go to to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Indians, whose first selection is the 64th overall pick.
:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::
In about 50 words
This marks the first time since 1999 the Indians' top Draft selection will arrive in the second round. By signing free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion, Cleveland's first-round pick (28th overall) went to the Blue Jays as compensation. That makes the best-player-available approach the smart way to operate.
The scoop
Before signing Encarnacion to a three-year contract worth a guaranteed $60 million, the Indians spent a lot of time discussing the impact of forfeiting their first-round pick. In the end, Cleveland felt the opportunity to add a hitter of Encarnacion's caliber made the most sense, especially given the Tribe's current contention window. The decision was not made lightly, but the scouting and player development departments were on board.
"The value to a Draft pick to us is huge. It's substantial," said Brad Grant, the Indians' senior director of amateur scouting. "We can't afford to lose those picks, obviously. So when we go do something like that, we spend a whole lot of time talking through the impact that has on us for the future as well. Those picks are what kind of sustain our success. To do something like that takes a lot of time and a lot of conversation."
First-round buzz
For the first time in a long time, there are no rumblings about the Indians in connection with the group of players expected to go in the first round. With no pick in the opening round, Cleveland had to alter its approach to scouting this Draft class. The no-doubters for the first round only received a handful of looks by Tribe scouts, while some of the players pegged more for the second round and later got more extensive reports from the Indians' evaluators.
"It affects it a little bit," Grant said. "What we did to approach the top 20 players is we tried to get three looks at those guys, and that's it. If you look at the top of the Draft, names like Hunter Greene and Royce Lewis, those types of names, we didn't spend a whole lot of time on those guys. We effectively tried to work down further and spend more time deeper in the Draft and use some of our veteran scouts to see guys who were deeper in the Draft this year instead of the top."
Money matters
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of values of the club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $125,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
This year, the Indians have a pool of $3,829,000 (29th in the Majors) to spend in the first 10 rounds, including $969,900 to spend on their first selection.
Shopping list
The Indians' farm system is in a pretty healthy position, with a solid mix of prospects across positions. Expect Cleveland to continue to take what it deems the best player available -- regardless of position. Over the past six years, the Indians have taken a position player with their top pick. It would be easy to say the Tribe should continue to target pitching, but things can get a little more unpredictable when the first pick arrives at No. 64. The Indians hope that their homework pays off like it did in 2009, when the team used the 63rd overall pick to grab second baseman Jason Kipnis. In franchise history, Kipnis (20.2 career WAR, via Baseball Reference) is the second-best second-round pick for the team. No. 1 on that list is former Tribe slugger Albert Belle (39.9 career WAR), who was selected in the second round in 1987.
Trend watch
Cleveland's Draft class was fairly balanced last June, when the team took 18 players from four-year colleges, 18 from high schools and five from junior colleges. For their first 10 picks, the Indians nabbed six collegiate players and four prep stars. All three pitchers grabbed in the first 10 rounds were four-year college arms. In fact, the Tribe did not pick a high school pitcher until the 22nd round last year. The Indians have shown more of a willingness to take high school position players over prep pitchers in recent years.
"As soon as I say [this Draft class] is deep in high school arms," Grant said, "then we take four college guys and everyone says, 'What happened to the depth of the Draft?' The way we approach it every year is take the best player available for the Cleveland Indians. We're not trying to do all college players or all high school players. We're looking for the best player at each pick."

Rising fast
At only 19 years old, right-hander Triston McKenzie is climbing steadily up the organizational ladder. McKenzie, who was taken in the first round (42nd overall) in the 2015 Draft, has turned in a 1.94 ERA with 192 strikeouts in 153 innings (through 29 professional games). In 10 starts for Class A Advanced Lynchburg, McKenzie had a 2.65 ERA with 71 strikeouts against 23 walks in 57 2/3 innings. There's a chance that the Indians could push McKenzie, Cleveland's No. 3 prospect according to to Double-A Akron later this season.
"We always knew with Triston that nothing rocks him," Grant said. "We're going to keep on pushing him and keep on trying to get him to hit that adversity, but who knows? We'll see. He keeps doing what he's doing, we're in a good spot."
Cinderella story
The Indians took a skinny, control-based left-handed pitcher out of McLennan Community College (Waco, Texas) in the 16th round of the 2011 MLB Draft. Last October, that lefty, Ryan Merritt, took the ball for them in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series in Toronto and pitched the Tribe into the World Series. He instantly became a cult hero among Indians fans. Merritt is currently back with Triple-A Columbus, serving as depth for Cleveland's Major League rotation. Through 11 appearances, the lefty had a 3.97 ERA with 52 strikeouts and 20 walks in 65 2/3 innings.
In the show
The Indians have eight players on their active roster who were drafted and developed by the organization. That list included former first-rounders Francisco Lindor (2011), Lonnie Chisenhall ('08) and Bradley Zimmer ('14). The others are Kipnis, Cody Allen (23rd round in '11), Roberto Perez (33rd round in '08), Josh Tomlin (19th round in '06) and Kyle Crockett (fourth round in '13). Cleveland has 15 players on its 40-man roster who were drafted by the team.
"To walk through the clubhouse right now," Grant said, "and have all those guys and all of them participating, that's really a fun thing to watch. A lot of days on the road and a lot of time away from your family all comes to fruition when you walk in here and see that. It's pretty cool."

The Indians' recent top picks
2016: Will Benson, OF, extended spring camp
2015: Brady Aiken, LHP, Class A Lake County
2014: Zimmer, OF, Indians
2013:Clint Frazier, OF, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees)
2012:Tyler Naquin, OF, Triple-A Columbus (disabled list)

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.