2013 MLB Draft: Sleepers, awards, and predictions
Every year after the draft I do a tools piece, and every year it doesn't really generate much interest. As a writer it seemed time to change it up a bit and shake up how I go about this article. I wanted to make it more fun and give some awards and predictions. Make this a little more interesting, and a little less analytical.
First player to the majors is....Kyle Crockett LHP
Crockett is kind of a weird pick, because it is a draft pick which screams need. The Indians have failed to develop a lefty reliever since Rafael Perez, so their biggest need right now might be a left handed reliever. Crockett is a guy who is fully developed, has a track record of success late in games, and really just needs to get some time in the minors for refinement and adjustment. I saw some talk he could make the majors this year which would be shocking, but this is a player who will be in Cleveland next year barring injury or bad performance. Some people whose opinions I trust a lot think Crockett could even become a starter and still move quickly because just how good his pitch mix is.
Player to get the most money after round ten is...Adam Plutko RHP
I am hearing a lot of talk that makes it sound like the Indians are fairly confident they will get Plutko. They are currently 120K under slot. They are certain to bring that number up even higher as only half of the first ten round picks have signed and I predict all will be underslot; Brady was the only player who was going to cost more than slot. The Indians can offer Plutko right now $529K without losing a pick next year, it would only cost them some overage fines. I think the Indians always intended to take Plutko but knew it would cost second round money. I am not sure he would cost a million, but he would be arguably the third best pitching prospect in the system from the moment he signed. He may not be flashy, but he is a near ready innings eater with a great track record.
Player who will get the most money over slot is...Sean Brady LHP
Like many people, I was shocked at the cost to sign Brady. He was a hard commit to Florida and everyone knew he was a hard sign. He might have gone higher if he was not viewed as such a hard sign, as he seemed to gain steam building up to the draft. I was very down on this pick, then it hit me who he reminded me of, Marco Gonzales. Gonzales was the 19th pick by the Cardinals and cost 1.8 million to sign. They are the same height, have near identical velocity, and both have plus secondary offerings. No team evaluates pitching better than the Cardinals, and Gonzales' curve is one of the top pitches in the entire draft. So the fact that I can see a lot of Gonzales in Brady is a very good thing, and I have to admit I did not know him well so he is warming to me. He is older for a high school player, already 19, and pitches at times like a college kid.
Player who will steal the most bases is...Silento Sayles OF
I used the term steal bases very specifically because I think that one could argue who is faster between him and Frazier. Sayles though has put up some amazing numbers as a base stealer. He had an eleven steal game this year and in total stole 103 bases in 104 attempts. Teams knew the moment he got on base he was running, and they could do nothing to stop him. The Indians had some interest in another Mississippi base stealer who started at shortstop then moved to centerfield, Billy Hamilton. Sayles' speed could allow him to cover a ton of ground in centerfield, and while no other tool stands out its hard to argue getting a player with a plus tool in the thirteenth round. Especially when that guy still has a lot of growth left.
Player who is the consensus steal is...Casey Shane RHP
Every write up on the Indians mentioned this pick and how Shane was a good upside pick. Everyone loves his ability and upside, I mean everyone. I did not find one person who knocked this pick. He has excellent size and a solid three pitch mix. He was committed to a major college and shows good velocity. The Indians took him about where he was expected and then somehow got him to sign for underslot. There were conditioning issues at the start of the year, which hurt his stock and caused some scouts to see him perform below expectations. This might be what caused him to sign for so cheap. He has everything you want a young pitcher to have, so this could be the pick that Indians fans are thankful for down the road.
Player who will lead the Indians in homers someday is...Clint Frazier OF
There is a ton of concern about the lack of size with Frazier. Yet, in spite of the size a lot of places graded him out to have 70 grade power. His wrists are so quick and strong that he can just flat turn on pitches and crush them. He might be the best power hitter I have seen in the system since Russell Branyan, who by the way was another Georgia high school kid. Frazier's skill set screams star, so we just have to wait and see how he develops coming up through the minors.
The future first rounder is...Wil Crowe RHP
Crowe has the second highest grade of any player the Indians drafted in this class, to me at least. I love him as a 2/3 pitcher and he reminds me some of Justin Masterson. In three years I believe he will be a successful starter for the Gamecocks, and while he won't be a guy who goes in the top ten picks I could see him being one of those late first round picks where a team is looking for a pretty solid bet. He is a guy a team like the Cardinals always seems to take and then have success with.
Player who could win a Gold Glove is...Shane Rowland C
He might never hit enough to reach the majors as he wasn't even a starter this year because of his hitting. Yet, if he could ever become near a league average hitter for his position, his defense will carry him to the majors. He might already be the best defender at catcher anywhere in the Indians system, though Roberto Perez might argue with that. He is a wall back there with a good arm. I saw one place that gave him 80 grade defense; that is hall of fame level. When you're a catcher and you can defend there is always a place for you, and if nothing else you can be an organizational catcher for the next decade.
Player who could close down the road is...Kerry Doane RHP
I wrote it on draft day and stand by it now, Doane reminds me quite a bit of Austin Adams. They are both 5'11" and both started out as college as shortstops before converting to the mound. Adams throws a lot harder, but I think both end up in the back of the pen. It is harder to teach and refine pitchers who are older, and there is just not as much time to work on it. Doane is raw, but pitched well in his first full season as a starter.
Player who can be the back end lefty reliever is...Thomas Pannone LHP
Pannone is a lot like Doane as he was a hitter and outfielder who took off after switching to the mound. Pannone looks like a guy who should sit in the mid 90's, but the reason I see him more as a pen arm is that his secondary stuff needs a ton of work. Long term I think he ends up in the pen as the rare lefty who can get anyone out, a thing the Indians have sorely missed. He was one of the most intriguing picks of the first ten rounds just because of the velocity still left in that arm.
Player who will cause a lot of confusion is...Juan Gonzales C
I have to be honest, I had no clue who this was on draft day as he wasn't even listed as one of the top three catchers in Puerto Rico. I had to Google his name and of course all I did find was stuff about former Indians outfielder Juan Gonzales. After time I found and posted a video which made the rounds. It is a video meant to make him look good, and it did just that. Sometimes when I watch videos, I like to close my eyes and listen to the sound of the ball off the bat. Sometimes you can just tell a guy is a natural hitter when every time he connects it sounds perfect. I don't know what he will become but he had a nice clean, natural swing and the sound was perfect on almost every swing.
Player who is the farthest away from the Majors...Sicnarf Loopstok C
I almost made him my sleeper, but with all the attention thanks to his name he is hardly flying under the radar. Western Oklahoma State has been known for recruiting out of the Caribbean and the biggest name they have produced of late is Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons. The coach there compared Loopstok's ability to hit to Simmons. Loopstok played all over because he is a great athlete. He played catcher, second base, and third base. He showed big time power, but he also swung at any pitch he could. He has a ton of talent, but he needs a lot of refinement and coaching. I love the potential and was a big fan of this pick. Aruba isn't known for developing players, sorry Sidney Ponson, and Loopstok is more raw than a typical player his age. So it will be a while before fans are yelling LOOOOOOOOOOOO at any games in Cleveland.
My sleeper is...Mark Payton OF
Payton is small at 5'8" and throws with his left hand so he can't play second base; yet every time I looked at his numbers I keep thinking the same name: Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia put up better numbers in college, but he did get to use the old bats. When you consider the change in bats, their numbers are even more similar. The size, production, and general region they both played in school just made it a natural comparison for me. Payton had literally no support in the lineup and he still excelled. Sometimes teams look at size and power, and forget there is more to baseball production than home runs. Payton got on base and showed some gap power. Even if he hits single digits home runs, if he could end up producing a near .800 OPS he will find a starting gig in the majors. I think he is a steal because he is smart and has a plus hit tool. Then again, he could end up being the next player in the Tim Fedroff/Tyler Holt mold for the Indians.
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As for Kyle Crockett, VA did not utilize him as a SP. He has three career starts, is not stretched out and lacks the frame to be a SP over the course of the season. Crockett was clearly drafted to fill a need at the big league level in a hurry. Obviously, the Tribe likes him and he's likely the first player from this draft class to hit the bigs, but I will say he won't be the only.
You'd think they'd have a good chance of keeping these guys together for the next 5-7 years, outside of perhaps Kazmir. Mind you, I really didn't mention anyone from the Farm, including Salazar. If Plutko is only throwing 87 and doesn't have some dynamite off speed stuff and/or command, I'd be doubtful he'd be a viable 5th starter- I hope there's more to him than what I'm reading/hearing so far.
"He is a backend starter, but the odds of him getting there are extremely good. If you can sign him it is much cheaper than paying what it costs to get a fifth starter in free agency. Myers cost the Indians eight million this year. There is always value in a near ready, safe arm. "