Indians open Day 2 with infielder Mathias
Tribe stays in college ranks with Clemson's Krieger, Kentucky's Tom
CLEVELAND -- Shortly before his name was called by the Indians in the third round of the 2015 MLB Draft, Cal Poly infielder Mark Mathias received a text from his advisor. He received word that Cleveland was going to select him.
With a host of family members in the room, Mathias kept quiet. He wanted to enjoy seeing their reaction when they heard the news from the Draft stream on his computer.
"I knew beforehand," Mathias said. "But I didn't tell my family, so it was kind of a surprise for them."
That is how Day 2 of the Draft began for the Indians on Tuesday, when clubs made selections through the 10th round of the annual event.
The picks came after Cleveland used its top three selections on Monday night to reel in lefty Brady Aiken (No. 17 in the first round), righty Triston McKenzie (No. 42 in the Competitive Balance A round) and lefty Juan Hillman (No. 59 in the second round).
The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at Noon ET.
Drafting Mathias did not come without some risk, considering he returned from surgery on his right shoulder this past season. The second baseman only missed a handful of games, though, and his offensive production convinced Cleveland to make him the team's first position player added in this summer's Draft class.
"They got a good one in him," said Larry Lee, Cal Poly's head coach. "He's got a chance to be pretty special. He does a lot of things very well. If he'd never had the labrum surgery, I think he'd be a much higher Draft choice."
The 19-year-old Mathias (ranked as the No. 128 draft prospect by MLB.com) hit .356 with 11 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs, 42 runs and nine stolen bases in 47 games during his junior season at Cal Poly. That showing came one year after he hit .386 en route to earning the Big West Conference Field Player of the Year honors. Last summer, he played on USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team alongside Vanderbilt's Dansby Swanson and LSU's Alex Bregman, the top two picks in the Draft, among others.
In December, Mathias underwent a procedure to repair a slight tear in his labrum.
"I was pretty surprised on how quickly my arm got back to 100 percent," Mathias said. "Now, it's getting stronger and I feel like my arm is better than it's ever been now, after the surgery. It's good. ... It definitely made me mentally stronger."
The Indians, who see Mathias as an offensive-minded second baseman, were not overly concerned with the shoulder setback.
"He's battled all the way through it," said Brad Grant, the Indians' director of amateur scouting. "And we really like the upside to the bat and the ability to control the strike zone, and the ability to play multiple positions for us."
Round 4: SS Tyler Krieger, Clemson University
The Indians doubled down on college middle infielders to begin Day 2, selecting the 21-year-old Krieger with the 124th overall pick. Krieger, who was ranked as the 104th-best Draft prospect, also returned from a right labrum procedure this past season. He hit .339 with 16 extra-base hits, 41 RBIs, 41 walks, 45 runs and 14 stolen bases in 61 games in '15.
"Another bat and another guy with versatility," Grant said. "He can play short, play second, play third, move around. ... He was able to play all season and bounce back and forth. He can stay at short, but with him it's the bat. It's the offensive side with him, too."
Round 5: OF Ka'Ai Tom, University of Kentucky
The Indians used the Draft's 154th overall selection on Tom, a native of Hawaii. The 21-year-old center felder hit .375 with five home runs, 16 doubles and 51 RBIs in his junior season with Kentucky, adding 15 stolen bases, 23 walks and 41 runs along the way.
"We went on a roll of college bats first," Grant said. "With Ka'Ai, he's another guy who really controls the strike zone very well. He's a guy that puts the ball in play, uses all the fields. He can play all three outfield spots."