As I speculated in my full write-up of first round pick Tyler Naquin, the Indians used the majority of their picks on the second day of the draft on high upside prep players.
Second round pick Mitchell Brown, third rounder Kieran Lovegrove and fourth round selection D’Vone McClure were all selected out of high school. Fifth round pick Dylan Baker was a junior college player. All four are listed in Keith Law’s Top 100 draft prospects.
This means that it is very likely Naquin was willing to sign under slot, opening up money for Cleveland to pounce on high upside prospects like these guys.
Brown, a right handed pitcher, is the best of the bunch. He’s ranked as high as 30th by John Sickels, but settles in at 45th on Law’s list. Brown comes out of Rochester Century High School in Minnesota. Since he hails from a cold weather state, many scouts weren’t able to get a good look at him until late in the season. When they finally did, he started to shoot up draft boards. With a fastball that usually whizzes by at 90-94, he also has a cutter, curve and slider he’s working on. The cutter and slider could be plus pitches for the righty.
Lovegrove, another right hander, was ranked right behind Brown at 46th on Law’s list, but didn’t crack the Top 100 for any other major publication except for 95th on Sickels’ list. Lovegrove still has great size at 6’4″ and could definitely add some bulk as he’s only 185 right now. He will probably need to or else durability could become a concern as it has been in the past. His makeup is great, as he already has started a nonprofit organization to help kids play baseball in his native country of South Africa. He’s definitely a smart kid with an interesting arm that throws a low-90s fastball, but should add velocity as he adds muscle. He also has a good slider and developing changeup. Lovegrove could be a great number three or even better depending on how much velocity he adds.
McClure is perhaps the most interesting selection the Indians made on the second day of the draft. While he just barely cracked Law’s (94th) and Baseball America‘s (91st) lists, he has perhaps the most upside of any draft selection thus far. With that, also comes a lot of risk for the right handed outfielder. McClure is a pure athlete that was also an All-State wide receiver and has that football body. McClure has plus speed, and with work could perhaps stay in center, but it’s also likely he ends up in a corner outfield spot. Since he’s so raw, he’ll need a lot of work in the minors, so he might be the last player from this class to make his debut, if at all. McClure was a second team All-American and first team All-Southeast selection by Rawlings and Lousiville Slugger named him to the first team All-American squad. McClure has a strong commitment to play at Arkansas, but if the Indians didn’t take Naquin in the first round, they would not have the money to potentially sign McClure.
Baker was labeled as one of the best JUCO prospects in this draft, and fell to the fifth round where Cleveland picked him up. The right handed pitcher was ranked in the Top 100 for virtually every major publication, as high as 75th on Law’s list. The thing holder Baker back is his lack of a third pitch. He has no real changeup and heavily relies on his fastball and curve, which both should be plus pitches. Baker will most likely end up in the bullpen unless he can develop a third pitch, but he has a lot of upside in the pen. His fastball reaches as high as 97, and should head the next wave of exciting relief prospects for the Tribe.
After these four guys, the Indians started selecting some easier to sign players, by going on a run of college players. While the upside isn’t nearly as high, there were some interesting selections.
Ninth-rounder Jacob Lee is a right-handed pitcher out of Arkansas State. He reminds me a bit of Josh Tomlin as he seems just like an average guy across the board, but he locates his pitches well and has a strong mix with his fastball (that has touched the mid-90s), slider, sinker and changeup. Lee could always be an undervalued guy in the minors, but is certainly one to not forget about as a good back-end rotation option down the road.
At the end of the second day the Indians selected Nelson Rodriguez a catcher out of George Washington High School in New York City in the 15th round. Despite the fact the Indians can only sign guys for $100,000 from the 10th round on, they still went with a high school player here. That’s because Rodriguez is only committed to Community College so he may be easily persuaded to sign. Despite falling so far, he still has some nice tools. Rodriguez will move to first base most likely, but has some nice power there. He won a home run derby at Petco Park of all places and flashed power to all fields. He could develop into a nice bat down the road for the Tribe.
Overall it was an excellent second day for the Indians after many where underwhelmed by Naquin on the first day. I predicted Cleveland would snatch up a lot of prep players with upside that other teams wouldn’t be able to sign as they were one of the few teams to get a guy to sign cheap in the first round. Thus far these seems to hold true. Most fans won’t recognize any of the names selected, but a few years down the road they could be common names on the Indians’ top prospect lists.