The MLB Draft wrapped up yesterday with rounds 16-40. Normally these rounds are filled with teams taking waivers on high school talent who instead elect to go to school or picking up college seniors to fill out their minor league ranks. This doesn’t always mean that there aren’t a few intriguing selections, and this year the Indians made a handful of interesting picks.
One of the top selections was actually their last, with 40th round pick Anthony Hawkins. A right-handed outfielder, Hawkins has huge power which makes it strange he fell so far in the draft. He set a career home run record with 35 throughout his high-school career, a number he could potentially hit in a season as a Major Leaguer. He’s a big guy at 5’10” 220 lbs, so he definitely has enough bulk to keep hitting it over the fence. Hawkins is only committed to junior college, so he could go there and improve his stock or he could elect to sign now and start his pro career.
Justin Garza (26th round), a right-handed pitcher and Cal-State Fullerton recruit, could be a tough sign, but very well worth it. He’s only 5’10”, very undersized for a pitcher, but he has the stuff to start. Despite the small stature he’s able to dial up his fastball to the mid-90’s, and has three other pitches in a slider, curveball and changeup. His high school numbers were astounding as he sported a 0.39 ERA and 60/8 strikeout to walk ratio in the California baseball hotbed. Garza will probably end up going to school, but that won’t stop the Indians from pursuing him before the deadline.
Colyn O’Connell (19th round) is the opposite of Garza in terms of size—the right-hander that stands at an impressive 6’5″. O’Connell doesn’t have the Garza’s repertoire, as his slider and changeup still need work. Since he’s so tall O’Connell struggles with his delivery sometimes and his fastball suffers, usually sitting in the high-80s. His size is encouraging though, and with the right coaching he could become another great bullpen prospect for the Tribe.
Another tough sign will be outfielder Andrew Calica (17th round). A UC-Santa Barbara commit, he doesn’t have plus tools, but he has plus-plus makeup. Calica is the kind of guy who gives everything he has on every play, and those are the type of guys that make it to the big leagues. Calica doesn’t have much power regardless of how much effort he gives, but he does have some nice speed in his game. He’s almost like a Tony Wolters type, but Wolters has a higher pedigree than Calica. It would probably cost too much to be worth signing Calica, but he’s an interesting selection if he does elect to start his pro career now.
A few more guys may not make much of an impact on the farm system if they sign, but they come from some interesting backgrounds. The 35th round saw the Indians select shortstop Nick Hamilton out of Kent State. Hamilton is not only deaf, he’s the son of Indians broadcaster Tom Hamilton. That makes it seem pretty likely he signs with the Tribe. He doesn’t have a great tool, but he just started getting his chance to play full-time and could have some projection.
In the 21st round the Indians picked a real winner in Joe Sever, nephew of former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway. Sever is like Calica in the fact that he’s more of an intangible guy who works hard despite the limitations in his physical ability. He’s a college junior so he does have a chance of signing, though it’s not exactly a sure thing.
A few rounds later in the 30th, the Indians took another middle infielder in shortstop Josh Lester. No, he does not have any ties to Jon Lester, the pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but instead made his own name as a part of the Georgia team that won the 2006 Little League World Series. Now that he’s graduating high school he’s set to play at Missouri. He’s pretty big for a shortstop at 6’0″ 189 pounds, but not too big that he has to switch positions now. He added a lot of bulk the past year in hopes of adding more power. He certainly has a winner’s mentality, now it’s time to see if he can bring that to the Indians system if he signs.