CLEVELAND -- The Indians did their homework on Tyler Freeman. After getting extensive looks at the high school shortstop, Cleveland kept coming back to his advanced ability to hit. The Indians felt that could overcome any other questions that might exist at the moment.So when the 71st pick came up
CLEVELAND -- The Indians did their homework on Tyler Freeman. After getting extensive looks at the high school shortstop, Cleveland kept coming back to his advanced ability to hit. The Indians felt that could overcome any other questions that might exist at the moment.
So when the 71st pick came up in the MLB Draft on Monday night in Competitive Balance Round B, the Indians grabbed Freeman out of Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Once Cleveland signs Freeman -- the club is confident it can, even with him committed to Texas Christian University -- the plan is to start him off as a shortstop in the farm system.
:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::
"We felt like he still has upside left at shortstop," said Brad Grant, the Indians' senior director of amateur scouting. "We can continue to get him better there and continue to advance him there. I think the thing that obviously stands out, though, is the bat. That's the top thing that stands out."
The selection of Freeman came after the Indians took prep outfielder Quentin Holmes -- considered one of the fastest players available in this Draft class -- with the 64th overall pick (second round). Cleveland did not have a first-round pick due to the free-agent signing of slugger Edwin Encarnacion over the offseason.
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET. For the remainder of the Draft, Cleveland will have the 27th pick in each round.
Due to the unpredictability that comes with not having a first-rounder, Grant had his scouts really hone in on players projected for the end of the first round and the rounds that followed.
Mike Bradford, the Indians' area scout for Southern California, spent time getting to know Freeman both on and off the field. John McDonald -- a special assistant to player development and a Minor League infield coordinator for the Indians -- spent time with the high school infielder, too. Their respective reports made it clear that selecting Freeman at No. 71 had upside.
Freeman, 18, led all California high schoolers with a .526 (51-for-97) average during his senior season, amassing four homers, four triples and eight doubles along the way. The right-handed batter is known mostly as a high-contact, line-drive hitter, but there is a belief that he can grow into more power as he develops.
"An unbelievable offensive-oriented player," Grant said. "He brings a lot of offensive tools to the game. He's going to be out and be able to hit and then power should come in the future. We're going to start him off at shortstop and let him play there, and we look forward to getting him out and into our system."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.