Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Four early picks give Indians Draft flexibility

May 27, 2018

CLEVELAND -- Walking into the conference room on Draft day is nothing new for Scott Barnsby, but he will do so this year for the first time as the Indians' director of amateur scouting. The Indians have four picks on the first day of the MLB Draft today, and Barnsby's

CLEVELAND -- Walking into the conference room on Draft day is nothing new for Scott Barnsby, but he will do so this year for the first time as the Indians' director of amateur scouting. The Indians have four picks on the first day of the MLB Draft today, and Barnsby's name will forever be linked to this summer's class for Cleveland.
"It's the time of year where there's some nerves, there's some stress," Barnsby said. "We want to make sure we haven't overlooked anything. So every year walking into the Draft room, it's an exciting moment, because we know we have a chance to bring in some additional talent. But this year in particular, having additional picks, it's hard not to get excited about the potential outcomes and some of the players that are out there."
The 2018 Draft will take place today through Wednesday, beginning with today's Draft preview show on MLB Network and at 6 p.m. ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
Go to to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLB Pipeline 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 29th overall pick.
In about 50 words
The Indians' window of contention is open at the Major League level, but it is integral to use the MLB Draft to find building blocks for sustained success. Four picks within the first 100 selections enhances the probability that Cleveland can unearth future MLB talent.
The scoop
The past 10 Drafts were led by Brad Grant, who has assumed a different role in Cleveland's front office. Under Grant's watch, the Indians selected players like Francisco Lindor (2011, first round), Jason Kipnis (2009, second round), Cody Allen ( 2011, 23rd round) and Bradley Zimmer (2014, first round), among others. In Barnsby's first year in charge of the amateur scouting department, the Indians have picks No. 29, No. 35 (compensatory pick for Carlos Santana signing with the Phillies in free agency), No. 41 (Competitive Balance Round A) and No. 67 on Day 1 of the Draft.
"The good thing about us is that we've had the same people in place for a long time," said Barnsby, who was an assistant scouting director over the past three years and is in his 19th season in the organization. "Brad really hasn't gone too far. He's obviously right there whenever we need anything. So, I would say it's been very similar to what I've done the last few years."
First-round buzz
In a recent mock Draft, Callis had the Indians taking prep catcher Noah Naylor out of St. Joan of Arc Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario. Callis also noted that a pair of high school catchers from Georgia, Will Banfield and Anthony Seigler, have been on the Tribe's radar. The Indians have also been closely examining the wealth of prep outfielders who could start coming off the board by the middle of the first round. Names like Alek Thomas, Jordyn Adams, Connor Scott, Parker Meadows, Nick Schnell and Mike Siani fall into that category.

Money matters
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that 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 $9,145,200 (11th highest) to spend in the first 10 rounds, including $2,332,700 to spend on their first selection.
Shopping list
In recent years, the Indians have had success targeting high-upside position players in the Draft and finding their core pitching pieces through trades. Over the past seven Drafts, six of Cleveland's top picks have been position players. Based on the early mock Drafts, it looks like the Indians may continue that approach. That said, having four early picks gives the Tribe flexibility to go in multiple directions. The farm system could benefit from improving the depth of pitching prospects.
Trend watch
The Indians have not shied away from high school players in recent MLB Drafts, especially in the early rounds. Dating back to 2011, when Lindor was Cleveland's top pick out of Montverde Academy, in Florida, the Indians have taken a prep star with four of their seven picks. If you look at the club's top three picks in the past seven Drafts combined, 13 out of 21 players (62 percent) were picked out of high schools. One more, Brady Aiken (2015), was rehabbing a left elbow injury post-high school when he was drafted by the Tribe. Overall, the Indians seem to take a more balanced approach deeper into the Draft -- with a slight tilt toward collegiate athletes in the middle rounds.
Rising fast
In parts of three Minor League seasons, right-hander Shane Bieber has gone 15-6 with a 2.19 ERA, piling up 244 strikeouts with only 15 walks in 262 2/3 innings. Bieber, who was taken in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft, has cruised from Class A Advanced Lynchburg last year to Triple-A Columbus this season and is now firmly on Cleveland's radar as a depth option for the MLB rotation. Through 10 outings in 2018, Bieber was 5-1 with a 1.10 ERA, 61 strikeouts and three walks in 65 1/3 innings between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. Bieber also made his MLB debut, getting a spot start against the Twins on Thursday, allowing four runs with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings of action.

Cinderella story
Adam Plutko was out of the spotlight that was fixed on Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer when they were the dynamic duo for UCLA's 2011 rotation. But it was Plutko who led the Bruins to College World Series glory, while pitching through an injury, in '13. Taken in the 11th round of the '13 Draft, Plutko had a two-game cup of coffee with Cleveland in '16 and spent time in the Majors in '17, but did not pitch due to a hip issue that required offseason surgery. Plutko has gone 3-0 with a 3.93 ERA in three starts this season with the Indians, and also threw a no-hitter at Triple-A on Saturday.

In the show
There are 13 players on the Indians' 40-man roster who were selected by the club in the MLB Draft and two more currently on the 60-day disabled list. Ten of those players, including two on the 10-day DL at the moment, are with the Major League team. That latter group includes: Greg Allen (2014, sixth), Lonnie Chisenhall (2008, first), Tyler Naquin (2012, first), Roberto Perez (2008, 33rd), Plutko (2013, 11th) and Josh Tomlin (2006, 19th), along with Allen, Kipnis, Lindor and Zimmer.
The Indians' recent top picks
2017: Quentin Holmes, OF (Extended Spring Training)
2016: Will Benson, OF (Class A Lake County)
2015: Aiken, LHP (Extended Spring Training)
2014: Zimmer, OF (Indians)
2013:Clint Frazier, OF (Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Yankees)

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.