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2012 Indians Draft: Indians got who they wanted

2012 Indians Draft: Indians got who they wanted
July 18, 2012
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Another draft has come and gone with the conclusion of the signing period this past Friday.

In total the Indians signed 26 of their 40 draft picks, including all of their top 16 picks and 22 of their first 24 picks.

“I think under the new basic agreement we had to be creative in how we went about it and use our allotment as effectively as possible, and I think we accomplished that,” Indians Director of Amateur Scouting Brad Grant said in an interview with the IPI yesterday.  “To get a player like Tyler Naquin with the first pick - who is an advanced college hitter - and then to balance it off with some upside picks behind that, it turned out in a very positive way.”

Talent and upside are two key words when talking about the draft. Even though the Indians took a more polished college position player in Naquin with their first pick, they were able to follow him up with several high upside bats and arms for most of the rest of the first eight rounds of the draft.

“To be able to add three upside high school pitchers and a junior college pitcher plus the upside high school position players is something we felt like we managed effectively,” Grant said.  “Also, behind all of that, we were able to get some secondary players to sign.  We will see how it plays out here over the next three or four years, but on paper we are very pleased with what we were able to accomplish.”

The new bonus pool setup limited the amount teams could spend on their draft and was based on a predetermined amount for each pick in the first ten rounds. The limitations were tough for the Indians to work around this year because in recent years they have really been aggressive with signing players in later rounds to large signing bonuses, but were unable to do that this year because they refused to pay a tax of lose a first round pick.

While the limitations were something Grant and his staff had to get used to, they made the best of it and ultimately signed the players they wanted to sign.

“We did what we wanted to do,” Grant said. “We took some players like Andrew Calica and Cameron Cox later on who we wanted to try and sign, and in past drafts we may have been able to sign, but because of the allotment this year and how we had to manage our funds we were not able to come to an agreement with those guys. We definitely pursued them and gave it an effort.”

The inability to sign players like Calica and Cox is a great example of how different the signing process is now with the new bonus pool setup. In years past the Indians signed the likes of Bryce Stowell, T.J. House, Cody Anderson, Shawn Armstrong and others selected after the first ten rounds to large six figure bonuses, but they really had their hands tied this year. They had some wiggle room with some extra bonus pool money after their top ten picks were signed, but not nearly enough to make a huge dollar signing after the tenth round like in past years.

“You always want the ability to do what you want to do and have the freedom to do what you want to do, but it is what it is,” Grant remarked.  “These are the rules we are given and what we have to work within. I think we managed to balance things as effectively as possible and hopefully were able to add a lot of talented players into our organization.”

In addition to bonus pool money availability, another thing that comes into play is having an opportunity for a player. While some players may want to sign right away, it does not always happen as fast as they want since the organization has to find an opportunity for them and make sure they are going to get a fair chance to play. They do not want to just sign a lot of players and bring them in under a false pretense that they will play when in fact they won’t.

“We have to prioritize signings as we run into roster issues, opportunities issues, and release issues,” Grant said.  “It is more of a matter of ‘do we have an opportunity?’ and if we give him the opportunity ‘who do we take the opportunity from?’ That is why it does not happen as fast as some want it to happen at times. If you are taking the ability from them to go to college or go back, and for them to come and get no opportunity here and get released possibly quickly, it is not a fair position to put them into.”

Grant was adamant that he and his staff are always upfront about what kind of opportunity a player will get if they choose to sign.

“We are very clear in what the opportunity is so that they can balance it with what the alternative is, especially with the later picks,” Grant said.  “With the late round picks it is going to be based on what they do. It is going to be ‘here is the opportunity’ and it is what you can make out of the opportunity, but we are very honest on what the opportunity can be. There are certain situations where we feel like they will not get enough of an opportunity to develop and prove what they want to be, so even though sometimes they want to sign it may be a better alternative to come out next year or in three years. What we are very cautious of is taking the opportunity from someone who really wants to play and not being able to have that opportunity for them, so it is a balancing act.”

With the signing process over the book on the 2012 Draft has officially closed, but while that book was open the Indians had already opened the book on the 2013 Draft.

“Right now we are already deep into the high school showcases and deep into the collegiate leagues, the Cape Cod League, the Texas League, and the California League,” Grant said.  “We have already put our 2013 list together. We will continue to scout and finish off the summer and then we will meet again in the fall and begin to prep out 2013.”

Such is the life of the scouting world with regards to the draft. As one draft ends, preparation for the next one has already started. After finishing off their summer scouting they will break for most of the rest of the year before ramping things up again in January.

“From June until September it is seeing all the high school showcases going on and all the collegiate leagues and following Team USA,” Grant said.  “It is just building as much depth to our list as we possibly can and trying to identify as many high school and college players as we possibly can. Once we get to September we will pull back and start to do some scout development stuff, go to Instructional League, plan for next year and plan developmentally how we can get better as a department and then also start to prep out 2013. We start to put in order who the priority guys are, who we want to crosscheck early, who we want to see early and start to identify those guys and be ready in January to start to get going again.”

That revolving year-round process with the draft remains unchanged for the Indians. The only change this year for them was adjusting to the new bonus pool setup and also the earlier signing deadline. While the bonus pool was something that took some getting used to, the signing deadline was something that they and every other team very much embraced.

Previous years saw the Indians scrambling to get players signed on deadline night right up to the midnight deadline in mid-August. This year with the new mid-July deadline and at 5:00pm ET, it made the process a lot easier on the teams, players and agents. It also led to a lot more early signings and less drama on deadline day.

“It was definitely a much different feel this year and developmentally a much better process for everybody involved.”

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

July 18, 2012 - 8:42 PM EDT
From what I have been told before, there is a lot more cost and more things involved with having another minor league team. They sort of had that a few years ago during the transition from the Burlington team to the GCL team in 2006 I believe where they had two rookie teams that year. There was a lot involved with that having to coordinate more trainers, coaches, field staff, etc as well as all the other things involved. Also, the "opportunity" is still an issue whether you have two rookie teams or not because there is still only one short-season A team, one Low-A team, etc. So now you have more bodies being crammed into those spots and more releases, which is exactly what they don't want to do. They want these guys to get a fair opportunity to play and play up a level.
July 18, 2012 - 8:38 PM EDT
Not 100% sure, but he needs time to get back into game shape, which means he likely is going to work out in Arizona and probably get in a few games there eventually before finishing in Mahoning Valley.
July 18, 2012 - 5:52 PM EDT
If "opportunity" is an issue, why not start another Arizona team? It wouldn't cost much more. The facilities are already there.
July 18, 2012 - 4:25 PM EDT
Tony, where will Vick start off in the organization and when?

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