The Ultimate Indians Draft: Rounds 10-1
It is time to look deep into the Indians draft history again and wrap up the Indians Ultimate Draft series. This time the series takes us from picks 10-1.
The top ten rounds have always been the most important ones in the draft. These are the picks teams have scouted the most and spend the most time trying to sign. In the new CBA these are the only picks which add to the bonus pool allotment, so they have even greater value. With this posting all 51 rounds are in the books and we will have the definitive Indians draft (see below).
For those that missed the first part covering rounds 51 to 41 and with the setup of this piece, the way I went about this piece was to try and figure out who were the greatest players selected by the Indians in their entire draft history. I settled on using the June selection since it is the only one still around, so this does leave out some players of note such as Chris Chambliss and Duane Kuiper.
When it came to judging the top player, I kept it simple. If a player was drafted and signed by the Indians, then he would rank higher than a great talent who never signed with the Indians. The best picks are the ones who helped the Indians. In many cases, especially with these late picks, the best player is often the one who got away.
10. Fernando Cabrera, RHP
Drafted in 1999, High School
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 10th round and six of them have made the majors. The total WAR value for the 10th round is -0.2 and would be -1.8 if not for Pete Redfern who the Indians failed to sign. In other words this round has been a disaster for the Indians. Cabrera was viewed as the closer of the future for the Indians. At the age of 23 he dominated AAA, but walks had always been an issue in his minor league career. He bounced around the majors for seven years appearing in 132 games. As for the closer of the future he managed to get one total save over those seven years. Still, thanks to longevity, Cabrera is a relative bright spot for the Indians in the 10th round.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Pete Redfern (1972) spent seven years in the majors with the Twins and appeared in 170 games, left-handed pitcher Dennis Kinney (1970) spent five years in the majors and appeared in 97 games, right-handed pitcher Greg Washburn (1965) appeared in nine games for the Angels in 1969, and left-handed pitcher Dave Schuler (1975) appeared in 18 games over three years in the majors with the Angels and Braves.
9. Luke Scott, OF
Drafted in 2001, Oklahoma State
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 9th round and 13 of them have made it to the majors. This means over 25% of the players selected here have made it to the majors. Luke Scott was part of the horrible Jeriome Robertson deal. Scott was the throw in so the Astros could keep Willy Taveras who had been selected in the Rule 5 Draft. The Indians turned 12 years of player control into one season of Roberston. Scott had a short peak but was worth about 25 home runs a year at his peak and has a career .821 OPS. He did not debut in the majors until the age of 27, so his career was shorter. He had always preformed in the minors, but was never considered a top prospect. He had a typical age peak and saw a major decline around 33. He had a solid four year peak where he was an under-rated but above average offensive outfielder.
Honorable Mentions: Outfielder Dustan Mohr (1997) spent seven years in the majors appearing in 504 games with a career .745 OPS, third baseman Mike Edwards (1995) was released by the Indians and went on to appear in 106 games with three different teams, outfielder Tommy Gregg (1981) was twice drafted by the Indians and never signed though spent nine years in the majors appearing in 446 games, right-handed pitcher Mike Armstrong(1972) had an eight-year pro career with four teams and finished his career with the Indians where he appeared in 197 games, and catcher Vic Correll (1967) was released by the Indians and went on to play in 410 games over an eight-year career.
8. Curt Leskanic, RHP
Drafted in 1989, LSU
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 8th round and six of them have made it to the majors. Leskanic is another member of the 1989 draft which might be the greatest draft in Indians history. This was a close contest between Leskanic and Steve Kline. I was tempted to go with Kline just because he is a lefty and this makes him slightly more valuable in the end, but I went for the player with the higher WAR even though both players are similar right down to having 11-year careers where at peaks they were one of the top pen arms in their league. Both were also traded before they could reach the majors with the Indians. Leskanic was able to stick it out for years in Colorado pre-humidor. He was their go to rubber arm as an expansion team. He had his best years in his mid 30’s after he was able to escape Colorado. It makes one wonder just how good he could have been if he hadn’t spent his peak years stuck in Colorado.
Honorable Mentions: Left-handed pitcher Steve Kline (1993) appeared in 796 games over 11 years and three times led the league in appearances, infielder/outfielder Joe Inglett (2000) had a six-year major league career appearing in 333 games as a utility guy, right-handed pitcher Cory Burns (2009) has appeared in 27 games over two years in his career so far, right-handed pitcher Rich Thompson (1980) appeared in 77 games over three years in the majors, and shortstop Rob Belloir appeared in 81 games over four years with the Braves.
7. Von Hayes, OF
Drafted in 1979, St. Mary’s College of California
The Indians have selected 49 players in the 7th round and 13 have made it to the majors. This has been a pretty successful round for the Indians in terms of finding players who went on to be solid regulars. The total WAR for this round is almost 86. The last player from this pick to make the majors was Russell Branyan in 1994 which ended a stretch from 90-94 where every player picked in the 7th round made the majors. Von Hayes was a player I knew about growing up, mostly as it related to the Von Hayes trade in which the Indians got five major leaguers, most notably Julio Franco. Hayes was a solid regular for near 12 years, but never turned into the star many thought he could be. He made one all-star team in his career, but was a solid 3-4 win player for a long time. Hayes will always be more famous for the trade he was a part of rather than his actual performance.
Honorable Mentions: Third baseman David Bell (1990) was a solid third baseman for several teams played 12 years appearing in 1403 games, third baseman Russell Branyan (1994) would have a better career today in a non-batting average obsessed world but in his 14-year career posted excellent OPS numbers in his early years, right-handed pitcher Greg McMichael (1988) was the closer for the Braves in the early 90’s and went on to pitch in the majors for eight years but never matched his rookie success, right-handed pitcher Larry Andersen (1971) was most famous for being traded for Jeff Bagwell and had a 17-year career though almost none of it was in Cleveland, and outfielder Mike Young (1978) became a first round pick of the Orioles and played eight years before ending his career in Cleveland.
6. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B
Drafted in 2003, University of Nevada-Las Vegas
The Indians have selected 49 players in the 6th round and eight of them have made it to the majors. This pick is the Indians second least successful in the top ten, but I hope the last three picks there Casey Shane, Joey Wendle, and Byrson Myles can help fix this. Kouzmanoff had a huge year in the minors in 2006 as he hit .379 with 22 home runs and a 1.093 OPS. The next year he was traded to the Padres in exchange for Josh Barfield, who bombed out as the Indians second baseman of the future. Kouzmanoff was never a good defender, but his first year he hit well enough for everyone to ignore the defense. The problem was every year his production declined, until after only six years and only four full years he was out of the majors. It was a very quick fall for a player who after his first year looked like one of the best young bats in the league.
Honorable Mentions: Outfielder Jeff Liefer (1992) was a future first rounder who would play in 288 games as a part time player, right-handed pitcher Paul Rigdon (1996) pitched for four years appearing in 32 games, catcher Paul Bako (1990) had a 12-year career appearing in 780 games as a backup for 11 different organizations though none with Cleveland, and left-handed pitcher Bill Scherrer (1976) was a future first rounder who had a seven-year career appearing in 228 games.
5. Ryan Drese, RHP
Drafted in 1998, University of California Berkeley
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 5th round and 13 of them have made it to the majors. This was definately a case of quantity over quality case as not a single quality starter came from the group. Ryan Drese was a guy I remember coming up as the expectations were not super high, but most people thought he was going to be a steady backend arm for the Tribe. Drese pitched well when he first came over for nine games in 2001. The next year was a disaster though, but luckily the man who drafted him, John Hart, wanted to get him on his team so he traded Travis Hafner to the Indians for him. Dreese had one season where he was close to league average or better. Yet in spite of being a very bad starter, in his four extended years in the majors he had a negative WAR in all but one. He kept getting chances, starting in 96 games. Drese had one near all-star year and was able to turn it into a career. It just boggles my mind how so many guys barely get a chance, but Drese just kept getting put into rotations.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Rod Nichols (1985) pitched in 100 games over five years and is most famous for his glasses, left-handed pitcher Tim Lollar (1977) had a seven-year career and appeared in 199 games, left-handed pitcher Alan Embree (1989) was a top prospect and had a 16-year career appearing in 882 games and was almost the top player for pick five, right-handed pitcher Chris Archer (2006) has great upside after his first extended look this past year, and outfielder Ben Francisco (2002) has spent seven years in the majors in 563 games though his career is nearing an end though.
4. Paul Byrd, RHP
Drafted in 1991, LSU
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 4th round and 10 have made it to the majors. I think in a perfect world Ryan Drese would have had a career like Byrd. Byrd bounced around pitching for seven different teams; he even made an all-star team once. He was a steady backend guy for his 14-year career. Byrd was one of the three arms, all of which made the majors, who the Indians traded for Jeromy Burnitz. In spite of giving up three major league arms, that is a deal that is hard to have any argument with. It took Byrd a few years to find how to be successful, but once he was claimed by the Phillies and made a starter there was no looking back. He would find his way back to the Indians as a solid backend guy, who might have been the team’s top pitcher in the 2007 ALCS.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Danny Graves (1994) saved 182 games for the Reds and even tried to start for a season and ended his 11-year career in Cleveland, catcher Jesse Levis (1989) is another of the many solid backup catchers the Indians drafted and had a nine-year career appearing in over 300 games, right-handed pitcher Rudy Seanez (1986) had a 17-year career appearing in 544 games, right-handed pitcher Doug Drabek(1980) three years later went in the 11th round to the White Sox and won a Cy Young, and right-handed pitcherTravis Driskill (1993) appeared in 57 games in a five-year MLB career.
3. Dennis Eckersley, RHP
Drafted in 1972, High School
The Indians have selected 50 players in the 3rd round and 16 have made it to the majors. Far and away the top player is the Eck. A player who won a Cy Young, an MVP,and is in the Hall of Fame. Three years after being drafted he was not only in the majors, but was very good at the age of 20. After three excellent years he was traded, the reason was his wife had an affair with Rick Manning, who the Eckersley’s had graciously taken in after Manning had back surgery. So the Indians kept the villain, and with that there is no greater proof that Karma exists. Eckersley would make the all-star game the next year and would pitch in the majors for 24 years. As for the Indians return, well, they got one good year each out of Bo Diaz and Mike Paxton. I remember my father telling me this story as a child, when I wished we had Eck on our team, and since then have never really been able to listen to Rick Manning on television without a degree of rage that this guy cost Indians fans years of Eck enjoyment.
Honorable Mentions: Catcher Alan Ashby (1969) had a 17-year career appearing in 1370 games and was known for his defense, right-handed pitcher Jerry Dipoto (1989) had an eight-year career appearing in 390 games before going to work in Colorado’s front office, right-handed pitcher Chad Ogea (1991) is most known for his World Series heroics and had a six-year career appearing in 129 games, outfielder Jon Nunnally (1992) had a six-year career as a fourth outfielder and appeared in 364 games, and catcher/first baseman Ryan Garko (2003) saw his offense get a little worse every year and played in 463 games over a six-year career.
2. Albert Belle, OF
Drafted in 1987, LSU
The Indians have drafted 52 players in the 2nd round and 21 have made the majors. This is the third player from the late 80’s and early 90’s from LSU in this top 10. Belle at his prime was one of the top hitters in the game. He should have had a few MVP’s along with his five all-star appearances. His career ended at 33, thanks to a degenerative hip disorder. He really only got to play 10 full seasons, but for that decade he put up Hall of Fame numbers though he was never considered for the Hall because he played in a small market and was a jerk. Jim Rice put up very similar numbers but made it to the Hall because he played for Boston, was a nice guy, and the clutch narrative that was added to his career. In 1994 and 1995 Belle put up two of the greatest seasons in Indians history, and someday I hope to see his name somewhere inside Indians stadium.
Honorable Mentions: Second baseman Jason Kipnis (2009) has a chance to eclipse Belle for the top pick with elite production for his position if he continues his showing over a decade, first baseman Sean Casey (1995) started to unravel at age 30 but still was an all-star and had a 12-year career, first baseman Herbert Perry (1991) played nine years appearing in 529 games, right-handed pitcher John Farrell (1984) had an eight-year career pitching in 116 games though lost two years to injuries, and left-handed pitcher Neal Heaton (1981) pitched in 382 games over 12 years and ended his career in the pen.
1. Manny Ramirez, OF
Drafted in 1991, High School
The Indinas have drafted 60 players in the first round and 33 have made it to the majors. This means over 50 percent have made it which is amazing because from 2000-2002 the Indians made eight first round picks and only two made the majors. There was another bad stretch from 93-97 where the Indians had seven first rounders and only two made the majors. So the worst stretch of drafting in the first round were under Shapiro and Hart. Ramirez was the last pick under Hank Peters, and was very quickly a top prospect. Since Baseball America started doing top 100 lists the only prospect to rank higher than Manny’s 7th in 1994 was Sandy Alomar’s 5th ranked position in 1990. Ramirez was one of the most reliable hitters in baseball for about a decade. He went to 11 straight all-star games and had six straight years with an OPS over 1.000. He would be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but there are the steroid issues. Still, he takes the top spot for the Indians, though if Sabathia can rebound from last year he has a chance to steal it.
Honorable Mentions: Third baseman Kelly Gruber (1980) never got a chance with the Indians and became an all-star for the Blue Jays who took him in the Rule 5 Draft, right-handed pitcher Jeremy Guthrie (2002) has the fifth best WAR of any Indians 1st rounder and has turned from a bust into a solid player, right-handed pitcher Charles Nagy (1988) was a three time all-star and pitched 13 of his 14 seasons in Cleveland, left-handed pitcher Greg Swindell (1986) has the third best WAR of any Indians pitcher and pitched 17 years in his major league career finishing as a solid pen arm, and left-handed pitcher CC Sabathia (1998) is a six time all-star who won a Cy Young in Cleveland and last year looked to be a shell of himself though already has pitched 13 seasons in the majors and has started in 415 games.
So there it is, all 51 rounds with the best players in Indians history for each pick. The next series will take the picks and figure out which general manager has been the best, but to review the 51 rounds and the top picks from this Ultimate Indians Draft series, here they are:
51. Carlos Crawford (1990), RHP
50. John Gall (1999), 1B
49. Burch Smith (2009), RHP
48. Vidal Nuno (2009), LHP
47. Dave Roberts (1993), OF
46. Blake Davis (2005), SS
45. Tony Sipp (2004), LHP
44. Damian Jackson (1991), SS
43. Cody Ransom (1995), SS
42. Tim Lincecum (2005), RHP
41. Eric Crozier (2000), 1B
40. Randy Keisler (1995), LHP
39. Danny Ardoin (1994), C
38. Tom McGraw (1986), LHP
37. Chip Glass (1994), OF
36. Rick Langford (1972), RHP
35. Chris Cooper (2001), LHP
34. Jack Brohamer (1967), SS
33. Jensen Lewis (2002), RHP
32. James Hurst (1989), LHP
31. Bill Wertz (1989), RHP
30. Bruce Aven (1994), OF
29. Jack Fimple (1980), SS
28. Rick Prieto (1993), 2B
27. Billy Harris (1966), SS
26. Kyle Denney (1999), RHP
25. Robert Person (1989), SS
24. Richie Sexson (1993), 1B
23. Cody Allen (2011), RHP
22. Kevin Bearse (1987), LHP
21. Jason Davis (1999), RHP
20. Vinnie Pestano (2006), RHP
19. Josh Tomlin (2006), RHP
18. Ron Hassey (1976), C
17. Brian Giles (1989), OF
16. Buddy Bell (1969), 3B
15. Jerry Dybzinski (1977), SS
14. Ryan Church (2000), OF
13. Jim Thome (1989), 3B/1B
12. John McDonald (1996), SS
11. Tom Lampkin (1986), C
10. Fernando Cabrera (1999), RHP
9. Luke Scott (2001), OF
8. Curt Leskanic (1989), RHP
7. Von Hayes (1979), OF
6. Kevin Kouzmanoff (2003), 3B
5. Ryan Drese (1998), RHP
4. Paul Byrd (1991), RHP
3. Dennis Eckersley (1972), RHP
2. Albert Belle (1987), OF
1. Manny Ramirez (1991), OF
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
And people love to rip on Shaprio/Antonetti/MIrabelli for picking White over Trout, Pomeranz over Sale, and Naquin over Wacha...
But Paul Shuey (a RELIEVER) over Derek Jeter (and others) was way worse. I don't care what you thought of Jeter at the time, but the Tribe turned Shuey into a reliever in his first full minor league season. You don't take a guy 2nd overall if you believe his ceiling a relief pitcher, you just don't. That was Hart's first pick as GM....really set the stage for what was to come there...
Shapiro has made some horrible errors on judgement but this one gets over looked.
And I agree that Hank Peters should be in the Indians Hall of Fame. Without him, the Indians arguably don't become what they did in the 90s. Most of that was the draft picks, but there were some important trades too (Alomar, Baerga).
I'd also mention first rounders like Ray Fosse, Rick Manning and Cory Snyder.
In spite of the results, great piece Jeff, thanks!