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2012 Indians 1st Round Pick: OF Tyler Naquin

2012 Indians 1st Round Pick: OF Tyler Naquin
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With the 1st pick in the 2012 Draft the Cleveland Indians selected outfielder Tyler Naquin out of Texas A&M.

Born: 04/24/1991 - Height: 6'2" - Weight: 175 - Bats: Left - Throws: Right 

Pre-draft Ranks:

Baseball America: 25th
John Sickels: 29th
Keith Law: 42nd
Perfect Game: 19th
Jonathan Mayo: 30th
IPI: 22nd

Tony’s Quick take: The Indians made a pretty big reach here, at least according to most of the national draft boards. Naquin is a solid player, but there were better upside players available and more impact quality that it seems the Indians went for an underslot guy here so they could save some money on the pick and then use the saved money so they can be aggressive later in the draft. We will see with that. In any case, he is solid defender with a very good arm, can hit, and runs well. He lacks much power, so for him to go #1 here the Indians have to believe he can handle playing center field.

Jeff Ellis: Naquin might have the best arm in this entire draft and it is his best tool. He can also hit as he has posted high averages in college. More than a few places said he is the best pure hitter in the draft, and he has the potential to be a guy who might end up in the top ten for average. He is also a man without a position. He doesn't have the power for a corner slot, and most think he won't be able to play defensively in centerfield. He doesn't strike out a bunch, but he doesn't walk either. He did get a massive jump in stolen bases this year, and while he is not superfast he is smart on the bases much like Jason Kipnis.  We have to assume the Indians think he can handle centerfield, so they get a guy whose profile is that of an okay centerfielder with a cannon arm who might be an ideal number two hitter.  The first comp that came to mind for me was Michael Brantley if he had a plus-plus hit tool.

Andrew Zajac: Naquin is a guy who I don't believe many of us had on our radars. He has a cannon for an arm and can hit for average. The two problems, in my opinion, are that he lacks true leadoff hitter speed and he has fringe power. The Indians must believe he can stay in center, but I have a few questions about that. Ideally, he can be a solid #2 hitter who can hit around .300 or better. As Jeff noted, he reminds me a bit of a Michael Brantley.

Indians Press Release:

The Cleveland Indians today announced the club has selected OF TYLER NAQUIN with the 15th overall selection in the first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

Naquin, 21, is a junior outfielder at Texas A & M University in College Station, TX.  He batted .380 (92-242) for the Aggies this season with 18 doubles, 6 triples, 3 home runs and 49RBI in 61 games. He also scored 56 runs, stole 21 bases in 26 attempts and posted an OPS of .999 (.458OB/.541SLG). A first-team All-Big 12 selection, he also is a semifinalist for the 2012 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award and received Louisville Slugger third team All-American honors.

As a sophomore in 2011, Naquin led all NCAA Division I batters in hits (104) and hit a Big 12-best .381 (104-273) with 23 2B, 7 3B, 2HR and 44RBI in 68 games.  He was named Big 12 Player of the Year and garnered All-America honors from College Baseball Insider (First Team), American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings (Second Team) and Collegiate Baseball (Second Team) on an Aggie team that advanced to the College World Series in Omaha.  Last summer he was a member of the USA Baseball 2011 Collegiate National Team, batting .321 (17-53) with 4 2B, 1 3B, 2HR & 10 RBI in 12 games.

The 6-3, left-handed hitting outfielder finished his three-year collegiate career with a .348 (238-687) batting average with 49 2B, 13 3B, 7HR, 153RS and 112 RBI in 187 games.  Tyler hails from Spring, TX outside of Houston where he was a two-time all-State selection at Klein Collins High School.  The Aggies’ season ended yesterday after a loss to TCU.  Naquin (NAY-quinn) was drafted out of high school in the 33rd round in 2009 by the Baltimore Orioles.


Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

June 5, 2012 - 8:04 PM EDT
I think one of the keys to the Naquin selection is whether he will stick in CF. If he's got a good bat, gap power, a very good arm, and can play CF, then he should be a solid mid-first round selection. And it will a very good pick if the Indians can sign him for below slot and apply the savings to later round, high leverage high school picks.
June 5, 2012 - 6:12 PM EDT
I think some perspective is needed. I was rooting for Dahl (picked before us) and then Shaffer, and once Wacha was still available I wouldn't have minded him or Stratton. When the pick was made, I was definitely bummed.

But after thinking about it, I think we need to consider what Tony has been saying - this guy has been propped as having the best hit tool of the college players, and was compared to David DeJesus on the MLB broadcast. Now, DeJesus as a corner OF - while definitely an MLB player - is probably not a guy who drives a team to a title. But a DeJesus playing an average or better defensive CF *IS* a heck of an MLB player.

From my understanding, Naquin has been kept out of CF in College Station by one of the better defensive CFs in college ball, so it's not unreasonable to assume he can play a decent CF. Added to that the possibility that the Tribe's scouting staff thinks he may be able to add some power... I can see him being a solid MLB CFer.

(of course, he may wind up not being able to play CF, and may not be able to add power, and may not be a .300 hitter and more a .280 hitter, and that guy doesn't really help).

Also, I'd like to point out that while Kipnis' college numbers look considerably better (and I'm a huge Kipnis fan, so if Naquin can be close to Kipnis I'll be happy) Kipnis played in the silly ball era of college ball, while Naquin's sophomore and junior years were spent with the deadened BBCOR bat, so it's not close to an apples to apples comparison.
June 5, 2012 - 2:33 PM EDT
Rob, not comparing Kipnis to Naquin per se, just the fan reaction when Kipnis got picked. Lots of people saw his size, etc and were stating "4th OF" when he got picked three years ago. Just an example how there is so much more to this and that it is way too early to label guys.
June 5, 2012 - 2:27 PM EDT
Comparison with Kipnis is way off base. In 25 less college games Kipnis leads in homers 36-7, stolen bases 62-33 and had an ops 260 points higher. 7 homers in 700 college at bats!! I hope I'm wrong, but I just don't get the pick.
June 5, 2012 - 10:54 AM EDT
one possitive aspect to naquin is he is listed at 6/3 and only 175 he could add 20 to 25 pounds of weight which should increase his power substantially. he has the speed the contact and the bazooka of an arm to succeed the only missing piece is lack of power and that may come if he grows to the 200 pound range which is realistic sean casey type hitter
June 5, 2012 - 10:51 AM EDT
No problem Troy, I have no issues with people disagreeing. I will say it is interesting how people are already so sold on what Naquin will be considering almost no one has ever seen him play. A lot being based on generalities. Those same generalities that many called Kipnis "another fourth outfielder" when the Indians selected him three years ago. I think it is best to just wait and see before going so far positive/negative on this pick.
June 5, 2012 - 10:20 AM EDT
Sorry Tony, have to disagree. There is no defending of this horrible pick. I am sure you recall the outrage on the forums when Crowe was drafted. Same story here. A fringe corner outfielder with no upside. No logic in taking this guy whatsoever.

The sad part is we have light hitting corner outfield prospects like Naquin throughout the system in the likes of Crowe, Bo Greenwell, Tyler Holt, Tim Fedroff, Anthony Gallas, Jordan Smith, Jordan Henry, Air Jordan..
June 5, 2012 - 9:29 AM EDT
I think expectations are way out of whack here.....there were not many better, if any, bats for the Indians to pick there. I am not saying I like Naquin, but all the jump to conclusion comps to a 4th outfielder and failed Tribe prospects is a bit premature. This is a draft that lacked a lot of elite talent at the top like in previous years, so the alternatives to Naquin had just as many warts. I'm sure had Shaffer/Piscotty been picked people would have been shouting the Indians drafted Casey Blake in the first round....or had Wacha or Stratton been the pick they would have claimed another Kyle Blair...or had Stroman been the guy talk of wasting a pick on a 5'9" reliever. And had Giolito been the guy talk of how they took another high risk high reward guy to add to a stable full of guys already in the lower levels, meanwhile the upper levels of the system remain in shambles.

By the way, I have tons of quotes from Brad Grant and Tyler Naquin in today's update (literally a full page of them) and some quotes/comments from rival scouts. And of course lots of analysis and opinion on the pick and their plan of attack:
June 5, 2012 - 9:22 AM EDT
I really don't mind the under-slot pick here. Should be plenty of cash left to sign the other 39 picks.
June 5, 2012 - 8:20 AM EDT
Naquin might make a serviceable major league player someday, but you don't build winning organizations drafting players like this.
June 5, 2012 - 7:32 AM EDT
Columbus Clipper fans must be thrilled knowing that when Crowe gets released next year that we'll have 4 more exact replicas to replace him. Henry, Holt, Fedroff and now Naquin. Should we expect Naquin to be working at second base next spring or the spring of 2014 when power never shows and speed not there for CF? Tribe front office fails again.
June 5, 2012 - 6:59 AM EDT
I like the pick. Not saying it is the best pick but this guy has skills already and projection. Great floor IMO. Not only reminds me of Brantley in some respects but also Chisenhall. Similar swing mechanics to both. Good bat speed and can pull the right pitch already. Agree with Tony that he will be full season if he signs and can understand why scouts like him better than Cleveland fans.
June 5, 2012 - 5:19 AM EDT
yeah im not sure i like this pick either. i mean i understand the thinking of saving money for later in the draft, but we are so depleted in starting pitching, figured for sure we would go after a frontline starter. eh... like the previous poster, i see another trevor crowe...
June 5, 2012 - 12:29 AM EDT
I actually think if he signs early, he goes right to Lake County, maybe even High-A Carolina.
June 5, 2012 - 12:21 AM EDT
Mirabelli must have made this pick! We just drafted Trevor Crowe again lol. What a bunch of morons! A guy who profiles as a 4th outfielder? Reminds some of another stiff like Michael Brantley? Good lord this organization is a joke. Just what we need another weak hitting lefthanded hitter!
June 5, 2012 - 12:19 AM EDT
I think he should sign quick end up in Mahoning Valley and maybe reach A ball this year. I could see him getting a chance in the majors by next September its not out of the realm of possibilities.

I just want to say again both BA and PG said he is the best pure hitter in the draft. He is not a Trevor Crowe, his hit tool is legit.

He is not who I wanted but there is some potential for a solid MLB player
June 5, 2012 - 12:10 AM EDT
Hey Jeff,
do you see someone like Naquin moving quickly through the system because he's an advanced hitter and could potentially sign early? Do you think its possible he could be in the majors by next year?
June 4, 2012 - 11:08 PM EDT
Isn't this guy already playing at Lake County in the form of Jordan Smith with perhaps a little stronger arm?
June 4, 2012 - 11:04 PM EDT
I don't know about this pick. We already have a million left handed lead off hitters in the system and with the indians strugles against lefties, the focus should be more right hand power hitters. Even Giolito went a pick after us as a risk. Tomorrow has to be key with more power picks.
Matt underwood
June 4, 2012 - 10:59 PM EDT
BA says he reminds of Will Clark... Didn't we go through this years ago with Micah Schilling?
June 4, 2012 - 10:59 PM EDT
Q: Would I take a high average guy with a gun for an arm in LF in Cleveland right now?
A: Yes.
I was rooting for Giolito or Stroman though. Shows you what I know.
June 4, 2012 - 10:36 PM EDT
I love how everyone hates the pick without actually ever seeing him play. Everyone's an armchair GM apparently......
June 4, 2012 - 10:32 PM EDT
Tim Fedroof part 2? Grant is absolutely in love with leadoff type hitters who have no power. It appears the Indians are cornering the market on players who have little to no power potential. Unfortunately, no other team will ever come begging the Indians for one of them.

I really am hoping he doesn't sign but that appears unlikely. Sounds like he'll sign for whatever they throw him. I think this guy projects as a 4th OF'er . Something this team has an absolute abundance of.
June 4, 2012 - 10:32 PM EDT
This guy can hit, he might be able to be some one who ends up having one of the best averages in the league a few teams. His arm is the best in the draft, he might lack power but he does have some skills.

Plus you wonder if he signs under slot, and allows the Indians to take a risk in round 2
June 4, 2012 - 10:22 PM EDT
Me personally, I'm not a huge fan of the pick as it lacks that "sex appeal" you want in a 1st round pick. I would have preferred one of the college arms here, but at the same time I think this certainly fills a need. Anyone looking at the upper levels of the Indians' system and the OF situation there and in Cleveland can see clear as day they need an OF. My hope here is they went underslot here to save a few bucks on this slot to use in order to go overslot on guys later in the draft. I need to see how the rest of the draft plays out before I go overboard on this.

Also, let me say before I post this tomorrow, but the industry really likes Naquin. Guy is viewed highly. May not become a star, but he's well liked by the people I talked to tonight....I will have at least one quote from outside the org maybe a few other if I am given permission.
June 4, 2012 - 10:08 PM EDT
I disagree with the strategy of picking somebody under slot in order to save money for the rest of the draft. The 1st round of the draft is really the only avenue the Indians have to get a blue-chipper in the system.
June 4, 2012 - 10:06 PM EDT
Ugh! I'm sure he is good but seriously, that was like watching us blow a 3 game lead against the Red Sox in the playoffs all over again. I mean miss on Stratton (strike 1), miss on Shaffer (strike 2), Wacha, Giolito, Stroman even Piscotty... Strike 3-4-5-6! If ya reach, reach on Giolito. Someone tell me we didn't just draft a 4th OF
June 4, 2012 - 9:55 PM EDT
Brad Grant has earned a little leeway with the way he's drafted the last few years; he's really done a great job and i fully trust his opinion in prospects-- he's earned that right.
June 4, 2012 - 9:51 PM EDT
Some solid college arms left on the board (Wacha, Stratton, Stroman)

and the Tribe reach for what looks to be a Trevor Crowe esque player?
June 4, 2012 - 9:43 PM EDT
Naquin will be a fine MLBer. I see a Kipnis like "dirtbag" quality in him as his tools play up because of plus makeup and sheer determination. Nobody thought Kipnis would hit for much power either, so i think Naquin will surprise.

Willing to bet the Indians go with an arm in round 2 though.

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