2012 Indians Draft: Q&A with John Mirabelli (Pt. 1)
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With the 2012 MLB Draft now over, the process has moved from selecting players to now negotiating with them and signing them over the next five weeks before the July 13th deadline. Very soon it will also mean getting ready for the 2013 Draft.
I had a chance yesterday to sit down and have a long talk with Indians Vice President of Scouting John Mirabelli about a wide range of topics in relation to the draft. We talked about everything from the strategy the Indians implored with the draft, to how they planned for the new changes to the CBA, and much more. The conversation was lengthy, so today I have posted part one that focuses mostly on the Indians' draft, and tomorrow I will post part two which focuses a lot on the new CBA and other things.
Q: We are early in the process as you have to sign guys, but how do you feel about your draft?
John Mirabelli (JM): I think considering how it was a very thin, weak talent pool, I thought we did pretty well. We got more upside than I anticipated us getting. I am not saying that they are going to be Major Leaguers as there are no guarantees, but I think we came away with more ceiling than I thought we would going into it.
Q: You selected Texas A&M outfielder Tyler Naquin with your first pick. What did you like about him that made you guys select him with your first pick?
JM: We just like his overall skillset. When you look at how the Major League game is played, what it takes to win a Major League game, and just being a multi-dimensional player, he does a lot of those things now. He runs, he throws, he fields, and he hits. I think there is maybe a little bit of development needed on the power side with the bat, but he gets on base. He just does a lot of things at a very high level where we think he can be a very productive Major league player.
Q: Naquin was ranked lower by a lot of the national draft sites going into the draft where it looked like an overdraft. What did you guys see different in him that others did not?
JM: That is the beauty of the draft. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; that’s how scouting is. I know that we scouted him very thoroughly and our process was very detailed. We had a lot of other guys in the mix. There was not a lot of separation in the group of college position players, so at the end of the day we had to make a choice. Some of the other kids that it came down to were actually rated higher by the national media, but at the end of the day we have to go with our evaluations and that is what we did.
Q: A lot has been said about how this draft in general was weak and a big drop off from last year’s draft. Is this correct?
JM: Oh yes, they are much different drafts. In my 22 years of scouting when you start stacking up all the drafts and what all the players have done, I think it is a pretty good guess that this year will have the fewest amount of Major League production. It was a weak draft all the way around. There will be some surprises and some guys that exceed expectations. I don’t think it has been a secret that the professional game has really done a terrific job of signing the high profile high school guys the last few years, and that was really evident in the pool of college position players. A lot of things came into the equation, but in a draft that was a weak draft overall with the picks we had, I really think we made the most of them.
Q: How long do you think it will be before the draft talent pool improves? Is next year’s draft looking better?
JM: It is very hard to tell, but [next year] is going to be very similar on the college side. I think you are going to see that over the next two drafts, and it will all depend on the high school development in the next 11 months. Right now our scouts tell me it is a very similar looking draft.
Q: Looking at your 40 selections, you drafted one left-handed pitcher, and that pitcher was a late round pick and is not a certainty to sign. Do you recall ever going through a draft without drafting and signing one single left-handed pitcher?
JM: I can’t remember that in my 22 years of being involved in the draft. When I looked up at that board, after a couple of the high profile guys like Fried and Heaney, it was a thin crop. Looking at the left-handed pitchers and where we had them rated, we knew going into the draft that could be a potential outcome. We decided we were not going to overdraft a left-handed pitcher just to say we got a left-handed pitcher. That was one of the unique portions of this draft that I have ever seen, just the lack of left-handed pitching.
Q: While you only drafted one left-handed pitcher, you did draft 19 right-handed pitchers which was almost half of your draft. With so many right-handed pitchers taken, I'd say it is fair to say this was the strength of the draft, yes?
JM: There were some athletic outfielders and a decent amount of those guys to choose from, but I think that the high school and college right-handed pitching was where the strength was.
Q: Looking at your picks there were also no true corner infielders selected. Is this a case where you will be moving some players drafted as shortstops or catchers to those positions?
JM: First basemen usually end up coming from a lot of other positions. Unless the guy is a real beast and profiles as a real middle of the order first baseman coming into the draft, we really just let that kind of take its place. [Nelson Rodriguez] does [profile at first base]. We think he can be a first base bat. We will have to see how things go with him over the summer but he could be an upside offensive first baseman.
Q: In addition to the right-handed pitchers, you took a lot of center fielders and shortstops. Your focus in previous drafts has been to take a lot of athletes up the middle, so was this a focus again this year?
JM: I think so. [A lot of it had to do with] the pool of talent, so I think it is always a pretty good bet if you can stay in the middle of the diamond. We think these guys can hit. They are not just one dimensional guys that can play defense. I think that if you build a Major League team where the guys in the middle of the diamond can give you offense you have a chance to be pretty good. I think we work off of that and then we go from there. If they are good enough offensively they can evolve into corner type players.
Check back for part two tomorrow...
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