The Ultimate Indians Draft: Rounds 30-21
It is time for part three of this Ultimate Indians Draft series where I pick the best draft picks in Indians history round by round. From here on in things start to get more interesting. Today we hit rounds 30-21 and finally start to hit a few more familiar names than the previous picks.
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.
So here we go, we continue with rounds 30 to 21. (Here is a link to rounds 40-31)
30. Bruce Aven, OF
Draft in 1994, Lamar University
The Indians have selected 43 players in the 30th round and three have made it the majors. The only one the Indians managed to sign though was Bruce Aven. Aven is criminally underrated as he came up in the wrong era. He put up massive numbers coming up in the minors averaging almost 20 home runs a year in the minors. His worst OPS in the minors was .809, yet he was never a top prospect. In 1997 he got a cup of coffee with the Indians, but injuries caused him to miss most of 1998 and he was let go later that year. In 1999 he got his only shot to play every day and had a .814 OPS with a .370 OBP. In other words he did really well, but he still lost his starting job and returned to being a fourth outfielder. His numbers were still solid with an OPS of .725 that year. He bounced around for a few more years, before spending his final year with the Indians in 2002. Aven is a guy who makes no sense to me as his numbers in the minors were fantastic and he got one chance to start and was great. Yet for some reason he only really got the one chance to start and only two years of extended play in the majors.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Brian Wilson (2000) went on to be an All Star closer for the Giants, left-handed pitcher Chris Nabholz (1985) was a solid starter for the Expos who the Indians eventually signed as a free agent, outfielder Bryce Brentz (2007) is on the cusp of making it to the majors with the Red Sox.
29. Jack Fimple, SS
Drafted in 1980, Humboldt St University
The Indians have drafted 43 players in the 29th round and four of them made it the majors. Of those four picks two of them signed with the Indians, though neither made it to the majors with Cleveland. Fimple was part of the Rick Sutcliffe deal and the other player was Jonathon Van Every who was cut by the Indians. Fimple had the longer career and Sutcliffe was later traded to the Cubs for a ton of players. Fimple played in nearly a hundred games in parts of four years. He was an all defense no hit type of utility player for the Dodgers and Angels.
Honorable Mentions: Outfielder Jonathan Van Every (2000) played three seasons in the majors for the Red Sox, left-handed pitcher Ken Kravec (1969) pitched in the majors for eight years all with the White Sox half as a pen arm half as a starter with a career 4.47 ERA, right-handed pitcher Doug Bird (1968) pitched 11 years in the minors mostly as a pen arm.
28. Rick Prieto, 2B
Drafted in 1993, San Jose City College
The Indians have drafted 44 players in the 28th round and not a single one has made it to the majors. Rick’s brother was taken in the same draft two rounds before him and did make the majors. Rick though spent nine seasons in the minors getting all the way to AAA. He never made it past high A with the Indians, and after a bad season in 1995 he was let go. The Padres signed him and he put up solid numbers, but consistency was the issue. This is a player who either had an OPS under .700 or over .800 almost every year. He had a few excellent years, but never got a shot in the majors. He got the closest to the majors of any player taken in the 28th round.
Honorable Mentions: Third baseman Scott Savastano (2007) is still playing and has spent the last six years in the minors reaching Triple-A, shortstop Brian Whitlock (1996) spent five seasons in the minors making it to Double-A, outfielder Sal Rende (1977) spent seven years in the minors making it to AAA.
27. Billy Harris, SS
Drafted in 1966, UNC
The Indians have drafted 46 players in the 27th round and six players have made the majors. The downside is that the total WAR value of the 27th round is -0.3, so in spite of six players making the majors the value of the picks has not produced many valuable major league players. Billy Harris was one of two players the Indians drafted and signed who made the majors for the Tribe. Harris played in parts of two years for the Indians in over 43 games for the Indians and the Royals. He was a utility guy who couldn’t hit but played solid defense up the middle.
Honorable Mentions: Third baseman Mike Eden (1971) played in 15 games over two years in the majors, right-handed pitcher Dan O’Brien (1972) pitched in thirteen games over two years with the Cardinals, left-handed pitcherKevin Bearse (1987) pitched in three games for the Indians in 1990, right-handed pitcher Christian Parker (1994) pitched in one game for the Yankees in 2001, first baseman Brandon Laird (2005) has played three years in the majors appearing in 53 games so far.
26. Kyle Denney, RHP
Drafted in 1999, University of Oklahoma
The Indians have drafted 48 players in the 26th round and four of them have made the majors. Kyle Denney is the only one who the Indians managed to sign and make the majors with the Indians. Denney is more famous for being shot on the team bus than his major league career. For those who don’t remember, Denney was hit by a stray bullet on the team bus, but was saved from worse damage by the cowboy boots he had been forced to wear as part of a hazing ritual. He pitched in four games for the Indians in 2004, but after the shooting he was never the same. His worst season in the minors was a 3.60 ERA before the shooting; afterwards he only managed to have one season with an ERA under four. He was expected to be a contributor with the Indians but his regression in the minors meant he never got another shot, pun intended.
Honorable Mentions: Left-handed pitcher Billy Brewer (1989) spent seven seasons in the majors appearing in 203 games, outfielder Mike Devereaux (1984) played twelve years in the majors, garnered MVP votes in 1992, and played in 1086 games, catcher Jeff Newman (1970) played nine years mostly as a backup catcher appearing in 735 games and was sold to the Athletics by the Indians.
25. Robert Person, SS
Drafted in 1989, Seminole Community College
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 25th round and five have made in to the majors. Robert Person signed with the Indians, but was traded just two years later for Grady Hall who was a former first round pick stuck in Triple-A who had back to back bad seasons. Hall never made it to the majors and Person would go on to spend nine years in the majors as a pitcher. The Indians converted him to a starter after he was drafted, and during his time in the majors he would start in 135 games and appear in another 69 games. He was a solid backend starter for a few years, which makes him one of the Indians best picks in the 20’s.
Honorable Mentions: Right-handed pitcher Jason Rakers (1995) pitched in 13 games over three years for the Indians and Royals, outfielder Beau Allred (1987) played in 65 games over three years with the Indians, catcher Bill McGuire (1982) appeared in 23 games over two years with the Mariners, outfielder Sam Bowen (1970) appeared in 16 games over three years with the Red Sox.
24. Richie Sexson, 1B
Drafted in 1993, High School
The Indians have selected 49 players in the 24th round and far and away the top player is Sexson. He has a WAR value of almost 14 points higher than any player selected at this spot, and is the top pick of the 20’s. He is arguably the best pick of Hart’s entire time as a general manager; some picks had better careers but none were a better value in terms of when he was selected. He was a huge slugger (6’6”), but like many large players he broke down quickly and his career was done by age 33. His last great year was at 31. In retrospect it is crazy to think the Indians traded him away at 25 years old coming off a 30-home run season for a pair of backend starters and a solid closer. The deal gets even worse as the PTBNL was Marcus Scutaro, a solid player in his own right. It was one of Hart’s last deals and easily one of his worst. Sexson would end his career a two time All Star with over 300 home runs. He twice hit over 40 home runs in a season and was a player who was athletic enough to play outfield and first base.
Honorable Mentions: Catcher Wyatt Toregas (2004) was a great defender who played in 22 games in the majors with the Indians and Pirates, first baseman Steve Randolph (1992) never signed and became a pitcher and pitched in 109 games over three season with the Diamondbacks and the Astros, shortstop Kevin Miller (1981) never signed but played nine years appearing in 465 games mostly as a utility player for the Royals and Mets.
23. Cody Allen, RHP
Drafted in 2011, High Point University
The Indians have selected 49 players in the 23rd round and only two of them made it to the majors. The only one the Indians managed to sign was Allen. Allen is an interesting case because the year before the Indians had drafted him seven rounds higher and he was coming off arm surgery at the time. From reports I got, the Indians broke off talks in the middle of the process. In little more than a year he would go from the draft to the majors, and the next season he was an important part of the Indians bullpen and the most consistent arm all year for the Indians pen. As long as he stays healthy it’s probable Allen will continue to improve. He goes into next season as the favorite to close for the Indians among the Indians internal options.
Honorable Mentions: Catcher John Ramos (1983) never signed and went on to play in 10 games with the Yankees, shortstop Miguel Flores (1989) pitched seven years in the minors making it to Triple-A then went to Mexico to play for 14 more seasons, outfielder JJ Sherrill (1998) played seven years with the Indians making up to Triple-A, left-handed pitcher Todd Heimer (1976) pitched in the Indians minors for five season making it to Triple-A.
22. Kevin Bearse, LHP
Drafted in 1987, Old Dominion
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 22nd round and two have made it to the majors. The Indians signed both of these players but the only one to make it to the majors was Bearse. Bearse was a redraft for the Indians and clearly a player they targeted. He started three games for the Indians in 1990, and after the season was over he was waived by the Indians and joined the Expos and never pitched in the majors again. His first three seasons in the minors he was untouchable with an ERA right around two. His numbers jumped once he got to Triple-A, but in fairness, back then the Triple-A affiliate was in Colorado Springs. He had a bad season in 1990, his fourth with the Tribe and the same year he got to the majors. He would pitch one more year in the minors and that would be the end of his career.
Honorable Mentions: First baseman Mike Glavine (1995) played six games in the majors with the Mets, catcher Clayton McCullough (2002) played four seasons in the Indians minors making to Triple-A and since then has managed seven seasons in the minors, outfielder Jeff Corsaletti (2004) never signed and played six years in the minors making it to Triple-A, right-handed pitcher Bryce Stowell (2008) has pitched five seasons in the minors making it to Triple-A for the Indians.
21. Jason Davis, RHP
Drafted in 1999, Cleveland State Community College
The Indians have drafted 49 players in the 21st round and seven of them made it to the majors. Jason Davis is the only player the Indians signed who managed to have an extended career in the majors. Davis started 56 games and came out of the pen in 88 more in the majors over a seven year career. He looked like he should be a good pitcher, and the Indians had high hopes, but only once in his career was he an above average pitcher and that was in 2006 when he was strictly a pen arm for the Indians. The next year he struggled in his first eight games and was traded for a pitcher who never got above low-A. As for Davis he would be out of baseball after 2008 at the age of 28 never living up to the hype of his first years in the minors.
Honorable Mentions: Second baseman Jed Hansen (1991) played in the majors over three years for the Royals appearing in 176 games, outfielder Chuck Jackson (1981) appeared in 82 games over three years with the Rangers and the Astros, right-handed pitcher Neil Wagner (2005) was solid last year for the Jays and has pitched in 42 games over two years with the Jays and A’s.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org