Tribe taking best-player-available approach in Draft
Cleveland, which has pick No. 17 overall, tends to lean toward college talent
The 2015 Draft will take place from Monday, June 8, through Wednesday, June 10, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,700 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Indians, whose first selection is the 17th overall pick.
In about 50 words
Coming off an 85-win season, the Indians earned the 17th overall pick in the first round of the Draft. Cleveland will follow that up with the 42nd overall pick, during the Competitive Balance A round prior to the second round. The Tribe has two more picks within the Top 100: Nos. 59 and 93.
As has been the case for most of the recent Drafts for the Indians, the club plans on taking a best-player-available approach. With its first pick falling at No. 17, the Tribe will be able to identify a handful of players to potentially select.
"At pick 17, we are in a position to get a player we feel really good about," said Brad Grant, Cleveland's director of amateur scouting. "We feel there is strength to the Draft class as a whole and will focus on selecting the best player available."
In a recent MLB.com mock draft, the Indians were projected to take outfielder Garrett Whitley out of Niskayuna (N.Y.) High School. The general consensus seems to be that Cleveland will lean toward a college player, though. Other names that have been linked to the Tribe lately include Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi, Cincinnati outfielder Ian Happ, Arizona shortstop Kevin Newman, Vanderbilt right-hander Walker Buehler and Virginia lefty Nathan Kirby, among others.
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 $100,000 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.
The Indians have been assigned a pool of $7,234,200, which ranks 15th in the Majors. The value assigned to the Tribe's first-round pick is $2,393,600.
The Indians rarely make selections based on need, especially in the early rounds, but there are a few areas that Cleveland could target later in the Draft. While the Indians have a surplus of middle-infield and outfield prospects, the club still has a ways to go in building up its depth in starting pitching. Cleveland has done well in recent years in identifying strong relief pitchers in the mid to late rounds.
The Indians went with a pair of more polished college bats (Bradley Zimmer at No. 21 and Mike Papi at No. 38) early in last year's Draft, but Cleveland continued to show a willingness to take chances on riskier prep stars. Seven of the first 11 picks by the Tribe last summer were high school stars, though the Indians leaned more toward collegiate players (27) than high schoolers (15) overall. Cleveland has used a similar approach in recent Drafts and is unlikely to drastically alter its model this year.
RECENT DRAFT HISTORY
Zimmer -- selected with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 Draft out of the University of San Francisco -- could find himself in Double-A Akron before the end of the year. Through 211 plate appearances at Class A Advanced Lynchburg, the 22-year-old outfielder hit at a .320 clip with eight homers, 18 extra-base hits, 22 stolen bases, 24 RBIs, 26 walks, 42 runs and a .939 OPS.
"Zimmer's got 20 stolen bases," said manager Terry Francona. "That wasn't really something that he had really done. That was something they were trying to work on. Obviously, he's taken to it."
For six weeks between April and May, catcher Roberto Perez served as the Indians' starting catcher. A few years ago, such a scenario seemed improbable. For starters, Perez was selected in the 33rd round of the 2008 Draft, making him a long shot from the beginning. Then, the catcher dealt with Bell's palsy during the 2013 season. In '14, a healthy Perez experienced a rejuvenated swing and, combined with his plus defense, found himself in the Majors before the end of the year. This season, he filled in as the starter while Yan Gomes was shelved with a knee injury. In Perez, Cleveland has found a sound backup catcher with the ability to serve as a No. 1 option, if needed.
In The Show
At various points, the Indians' Major League roster this season has featured eight players who were drafted by Cleveland. Second baseman Jason Kipnis (second round in 2009) and closer Cody Allen (23rd round in '11) lead that group. Others include Perez, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall (first round in '08), lefty TJ House (16th round in '08), righty Austin Adams (fifth round in '09), outfielder Tyler Holt (10th round in '10) and lefty Kyle Crockett (fourth round in '13).
The Indians' recent top picks
2014: Zimmer, OF, Class A Advanced Lynchburg
2013: Clint Frazier, OF, Class Advanced A Lynchburg
2012: Tyler Naquin, OF, Double-A Akron
2011: Francisco Lindor, SS, Triple-A Columbus
2010: Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Oakland A's