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Many predicting Indians go "safe" route with first pick

Many predicting Indians go "safe" route with first pick
May 25, 2012
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The baseball draft is less than two weeks away. Everyone is gearing up for it and the national mock drafts are all coming out. This is interesting, as a lot of picks are pretty much the same from mock to mock. One pick that has stayed the same in most mocks is that of Oklahoma State left hander Andrew Heaney to the Indians.

If the Indians did draft Heaney this would lead to a great trivia question about the two Oklahoma State pitchers drafted by Cleveland sports teams in the first round of 2012 drafts. The other being the Browns selection of quarterback Brandon Weeden, who admittedly never pitched for Oklahoma State but did of course attend school there and also pitched for several years in the minors.

The first thing I expect is that a lot of people would be upset by the thought of the Indians drafting a soft tossing lefty, a Jeremy Sowers type. I just want to remind people that a lot of people said this when Drew Pomeranz was selected as well.  Once again it's not really a fair comparison for Heaney.

Heaney is 6'2", 175, which does match up very similarly to the size of Sowers, and while they also both throw in the high 80s to low 90's that's as far as the comparison goes. He has a slider that I think you could argue is already a plus pitch and his command might be the best of any pitcher in the entire draft. He changes arm angles and slots which keeps batters off balance. Plus his mechanics are also a plus, which is what allows him to make this changes and adjustments without any problems.

I see a guy in Heaney who looks like a three or four starter and could end up a two. He will be in the majors by 2013, and is one of the top canidates to be the first player from this draft to reach the majors. This is why I would not be upset by the pick, but really I don't expect him to make it to the Indians and would be surprised if he is there when they pick.  Arms that are this finished, this ready, and with the command and mechanics he has go high. As any Indian fan has learned the past few years, good mechanics can never be underestimated. I think Heaney could go anywhere in the 9-15 range.

As I said, I would have no problem with Heaney. He is a guy that is going to be underestimated because he doesn't throw hard. He just has amazing command, a plus breaking pitch, and solid mechanics. Yet guys who throw low 90's are labeled as safe and not seen as sexy picks. He doesn't have top of the rotation upside, which is the reason the national media has him going to Cleveland. If you read the mocks, everyone talks about the long history until last year of the Indians taking safe college players. 

The question then becomes, was last year the fluke or was it a change in approach for the Indians?

The media seems to think it was a bit of a fluke, but I think that this is a myopic view by the national media. The last thee years the Indians have drafted players and then paid over slot, in some cases significantly over slot. They took shortstop Francisco Lindor last year because he was the top player when they picked and were not afraid to pay him. The Indians are going to take the top player on the board and there is no guarantee that it will be a safe college player. The shift in the draft approach has been pretty clear, and this is why I think the Indians might take a risk in the first round this year taking a prep player, or a riskier college arm.

One such college arm to consider is Marcus Stroman, the slight righty from Duke that is only 5'8" tall. If he were 6'3" he would be a top five pick because he throws from 95-99 MPH, has a potential plus plus slider, and has shown excellent command (127 SO/24 BB). It should be noted the high 90's are as a reliever as he sits more in the mid 90's as a starter.

A lot of people see Stroman's size and think he could be a reliever who could help a team as soon as this year. Yet if you are a team like the Indians, it might be worth the risk to try him as a starter. Worst case for him is he becomes a potential All Star closer, but I really do think he can start. He is a risk in terms of if he can stay a starter but his arm is so good that the Indians or whichever teams that drafts him would at least have to consider him as a starter.

If the Indians really want to take a risk, to me the ultimate risk in this draft is Joey Gallo, a prep player from Nevada who is considered to have the best pure power in this draft. He is going to end up in the outfield, and he has had a bit of a down year or he would likely be a top ten pick just based on his power. Either way, his power will keep him in the first round. The bonus with him is that if he continues to struggle as a hitter, he also throws in the upper 90's so could maybe be a pitcher.

Gallo is extremely raw and could easily never make it to Triple-A. But if he does develop to even 80% of his potential he would be the best power hitter this system has drafted and developed since Jim Thome.  This is partially due to just how big his power potential is but also due to the fact this team has not drafted and produced a consistent 30 home run threat since Thome and Manny Ramirez.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at

User Comments

May 26, 2012 - 11:59 AM EDT
I had lindor to the Tribe with my first mock last year, then let myself get talked about of it by the national media.

I have to admit I am not a huge Wacha guy would prefer Haney, Wacha strikes me as another Mike Leake. Would not be shocked to see him go to the Tribe because he is a ground ball guy

Stratton I do like he gets a lot of K's in the SEC, actually I think he might have more than Gausman, his slider is a plus pitch. He is also a new pitch which means there is a lot of growth in him.

Beck has been too inconsistent for me, guy who has 3 nice pitches but I for one would not touch in round 1

Johnson also has inconsistency problems this year and I just don't think his stuff is as good as Heaney

Barret has some super interesting tools, mid to high 90's fastball and a nice slider but he is pretty much a reliever with some medical questions that hang over him. I would think he is a 2nd maybe even a 3rd round guy.

Bottom line is I take Heaney over all of them with Stratton second on my list. I don't want to give too much away before my big board.

As for the bats, if you catch the podcast we do on Sunday nights. I love Schaffer. His power and patience are solid tools. I am a believer. I have Piscotty a little bit lower, because he has not shown power in school, but that is mostly because he plays at Stanford, and his walk to strike out rate is fantastic in a player so young.

Naquin has a potential plus hit tool, but that is his only plus tool, just don't see him in the top 15

Barnes is a raw college kid, who shows a nice combo of speed and power. I don't see him as a high pick, but would not be shocked if a team fell in love with the potential

Ramsey made a genius choice going back to school. Seniors are hugely valued and a very good chance he goes in round 1 or2 now. Plus he dominated at the cape with wood bats, which caused scouts to rethink him. I like him as well. He drew a lot of walks, and showed power this year. The real value in Ramsey is that if you draft him in round 2 he might sign under slot for that round which would open a team to paying more for a riskier player in round 1.
May 25, 2012 - 11:02 PM EDT
I don't think anyone will have a true grasp at the Indians draft strategy until draft day. Last year, it was only until draft day did the national pundits figure out that Lindor was the choice. All leading up to the draft, all of the national pundits believed the Indians would once again go with the safe pick. Obviously the draft rules have changed this year and with those changes is the unknown possibilities of changing draft strategies. All i know is that the Indians have had great drafts the last few years and they will make the right choice again this year.
May 25, 2012 - 10:43 PM EDT
How do you see Andrew Heaney compare to some of the other second tier college arms like RH's Michael Wacha, Chris Stratton, Jake Barrett or Chris Beck? How about to LH Brian Johnson?

Another guy that I find pretty interesting is James Ramsey of Florida State. He reminds me a little bit of Jason Kipnis in terms of being a smaller and polished college outfielder who put up some really good numbers. You think he's a 2nd to 3rd round possibility?

Also how do you feel about the college hitters that have been projected around our pick like Stephen Piscotty, Richie Schaffer, Tyler Naquin or Barrett Barnes? I know collegiate bats haven't been talked about too much this year but do you see any of these guys being in the mix?
May 25, 2012 - 7:05 PM EDT
I like Roache and he is a very interesting player, lots of power. I just think he might slide to round 2 because of injury. I don't see him in the top 15.

McCullers, I want no part of, I think he is a little much like Stetson allie.

I like Davis but he reminds me a lot of Indians spec Levon Washington while its a good thing, there was also a reason Washington was not a top 15 pick. He needed more tools to go that high other than speed and a good bat.

Smoral got hurt and it hurt his stock as I am sure you know, he is in play but there has been talk about his mechanics and to me bigger upside arms can be found at 15

As for Giolito he is going in the top ten, I have said that all along.

Brinson is also interesting but not some one I have seen much video on, but he is not in anyone's top 15

Thanks for the comments and I will continue to answer any question presented, this is the beginning will have a mock out soon for round 1 and my own big board which should help give a bunch more sleepers or high risk players.
May 25, 2012 - 6:04 PM EDT
So, this story / posting (including a dull trivialization of past drafts) is essentially a rehashing of the national media telling the rest of the baseball world and Indians fans that an "okay" left handed soft tossing SP from OK St is the project first round pick for the Indians. His ceiling is a middle to back of rotation starter.

YAWN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The other player who you've identified and might be considered a "big risk" is a 3B/RHP who might or might not be able to hit but might or might not be able to pitch..

YAWN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How about Lucas Giolito falling due to concerns about his arm? How about local Solon product Matt Smoral? A 6'8", 250 pound kid, grew up as an Indians fan.. How about Lance McCullers.. High School Prep arm and phenom. D. J. Davis could be the igniter at the top of the lineup a la Kenny Lofton.. Lewis Brinson could be the next Adam Jones.. tremendous upside on all these guys. How about.. ten other names..

Really?.. you have a completely blank sheet of paper and you're offering Andrew Heaney because he's safe and maybe Joey Gallo.. that's it?.. As Clara Peller asked, oh so well, oh so many years ago...

Where's the beef?..(of this article)
May 25, 2012 - 5:24 PM EDT
What do you think about a guy like 1b/OF Victor Roach of Georgia Southern? He showed good power numbers last year even with the NCAA going to bbcor bats and his stock has probably fallen a bit with the wrist injury that ended his season prematurely.

Also another thing to note about Roache is on his Georgia Southern bio he lists Bruce Fields his hitting coach as a major influence in his career. I wonder if its the same Bruce Fields... they both are from the Detroit-Michigan area.

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