Tribe eager to see how '20 Draft class pans out

June 12th, 2020

CLEVELAND -- After five rounds of the 2020 MLB Draft, the Indians walked away with one biological brother of a current big leaguer and the long-lost twin of Tribe pitcher Logan Allen.

The club selected high school shortstop Carson Tucker -- brother of Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker -- in the first round (23rd overall). With their Competitive Balance Round A pick, the Indians took righty Tanner Burns out of Auburn University.

When Cleveland made its second-round pick on Thursday, plenty of Indians fans thought there was some sort of error. It was announced that the Tribe had taken left-hander Logan Allen out of Florida International. With a left-handed Logan Allen already on the 40-man roster, the organization now has a duplicate in its system (though there’s no relation). The team then closed out the Draft with high school outfielder Petey Halpin, another high school shortstop in Milan Tolentino and 6-foot-6 righty Mason Hickman from Vanderbilt.

“We were in a Zoom room for the Draft, and we had the rest of the organization in a room where they were obviously waiting to help with anything we needed,” Indians amateur scouting director Scott Barnsby said. “After each pick, we would jump over and share the highlights. After the final Draft pick, there was clear excitement. There was appreciation for what everybody did, obviously unique circumstances throughout the year. But how everybody came together and how we were able to accomplish what we did, certainly it’s something I know we all take a lot of pride in.”

Now what? The signing deadline this year is Aug. 1.

If a club exceeds its assigned pool, it faces a penalty. Teams that outspend their allotment by 0-5 percent pay a 75 percent tax on the overage. At higher thresholds, clubs lose future picks: a first-rounder and a 75 percent tax for surpassing their pool by more than 5 and up to 10 percent; a first- and a second-rounder and a 100 percent tax for more than 10 and up to 15 percent; and two first-rounders and a 100 percent tax for more than 15 percent.

In eight years with these rules, teams have exceeded their allotments a total of 149 times but never by more than 5 percent. Twenty-one of the 30 teams outspent their pools last year.

The Indians’ bonus pool allotment is $7,662,800. Here’s a quick breakdown of their assigned values for each pick:

First round (Tucker): $2,926,800
Competitive Balance Round A (Burns): $2,045,400
Second round (Allen): $1,276,400
Third round (Halpin): $610,800
Fourth round (Tolentino): $460,000
Fifth round (Hickman): $343,400

The signability of Tucker, Burns, Allen and Hickman is high, but it may be more difficult to pull Halpin away from his commitment to Texas and Tolentino from UCLA. The Indians didn’t specify what they believe the two high schoolers will choose.

Trend wrap: Though Barnsby has stated multiple times that the Indians do not target a specific demographic heading into each year’s Draft, leaving the focus on the best player available, the team has shown much interest in younger prospects in the first round. After the Tribe selected Tucker with the 23rd overall pick this year, the club has now taken a high schooler with seven of its past 10 first-round picks, dating back to 2011 when Francisco Lindor was Cleveland’s top selection.

The Indians took three high school position players and three college pitchers this time around. And while the experience hurlers get with a few years in college certainly helps, Barnsby said that is not a specific trend they were targeting.

“I know we talk about it a lot, but we don't specifically target any specific demographic,” Barnsby said. “We target best player. The fact that Logan and Hickman can throw strikes and they've been effective and they've learned how to pitch over the last [few] years at really competitive programs is certainly a bonus, but in terms of their path, that's not something we've discussed so far.”

First-round fact: Being related to a current Major Leaguer who plays the same position, Tucker likely knows that the comparisons to his older brother will likely not stop any time soon. But leading up to Draft day, he told what he believes are the similarities and differences between he and Cole Tucker.

“I’m more compact and more coordinated and stronger than him,” Carson Tucker said. “I’m a little bit bigger than him. Game-wise, obviously we’re taller, lanky shortstops. I think I’ve got a better hit tool than him, for sure. Defensively, we’re pretty much the same -- good gloves and all that. We’re both consistent. We get the job done. We make the routine plays, make the crazy plays and we’ve got some good speed. I think we have some similarities and some differences, for sure.”

Day 2 name to watch: The Indians showed a lot of excitement for each of their four selections on Thursday, but it’s easy to build the anticipation for a southpaw like Allen, who has some scouts projecting him to be able to move through the farm system rather quickly.

“The highlights here is he’s left-handed,” Barnsby said. “He throws strikes, and he misses a ton of bats, which is a great starting point. We see him as a quality starter. It’s an average fastball that plays up. He’s got an advanced feel for his changeup. It’s effective against righties and lefties. He’s got an effective breaking ball. Logan competes. He has no fear attacking the zone, and he’s a really good athlete as well.”

NDFA strategy: Because the Draft was shortened to five rounds this year due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, teams will have the opportunity to sign as many non-drafted free agents (NDFAs) as they’d like for up to $20,000. Entering this week, the Indians expected to have the funds to approach at least a few non-drafted prospects, but the team had not yet decided as of Thursday night what its plan will be or how many of these free agents it will be able to sign. Teams can begin talking to the NDFAs at 9 a.m. ET Sunday.

“Our expectation is that we'll have a targeted approach here,” Barnsby said. “And if there are players that are out there that have the desire to sign for the $20,000 and potentially join our system and we feel like it's a good fit, then we'll absolutely pursue that. But we don't have a specific number.”

The last word: “I think one of the things that sticks out in terms of our system is, as we've talked to agents and players and families over the last few weeks, it has been very clear the amount of respect they have for the organization and certainly our player-development system. So the excitement of the opportunity to join the system really stands out. … We're looking forward to the opportunity to sign the players we selected [Wednesday and Thursday], but then if there are any other opportunities out there, we'll continue to pursue those as well.” -- Barnsby