After a busy Day 1 of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft (as our own Kyle Downing wrote about here), the Indians continued being active on Friday, making a total of eight picks from rounds 3-10.
The Tribe added two high school pitchers (lefty Justus Sheffield and righty Grant Hockin) and two college hitters (outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Mike Papi) on Thursday, and continued mixing and matching on Day 2.
Here’s a recap of Cleveland’s activity on Friday:
Round 3 (97th overall): 1B Bobby Bradley, Harrison Central High School (Missouri) – An LSU commit, Bradley was ranked as the 68th overall draft prospect by MLB.com. The 6’1″, 225-pound first baseman is one of the more advanced high school hitters in the draft, and also possesses above average power potential. Bradley has played third base and catcher in the past, but all reports indicate that he’ll likely be a first baseman as a professional. He has an advanced hitting approach, and while he has power, he’s not your typical all-or-nothing hitter. He can use the whole field and he has solid mechanics, which help his power play up in games. He’s a left-handed hitter, but throws right-handed. After hitting .567 in his junior season, Bradley still managed solid numbers his senior year, hitting .340 with 6 homers and 29 walks in just 22 games. Reports indicate that the Indians have already signed Bradley to an over-slot bonus.
Round 4 (128th overall): LHP Sam Hentges, Mounds View High School (Minnesota) – Continuing their special interest in high school pitching in this year’s draft, the Indians selected Hentges, a commit to Arkansas. The young lefty, measuring in a whopping 6’6″ and 235 ponds, doesn’t get as much attention as he should (likely because he pitches in a cold-weather state like Minnesota), but he’s been an electric pitcher over his high school career. Considered by many to be the best high school prospect in Minnesota, Hentges pitched to a 1.00 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 36 innings this year. His control could use a little improvement (he walked 26 in that time), but there’s little doubt that Hentges has loads of potential, and will almost certainly get the chance to prove he can make it in the rotation. He features a fastball that can top out at 94 mph, as well as an intriguing breaking ball. Hentges was also named this season’s Gatorade Minnesota Baseball Player of the Year. His college commitment could make him difficult to sign, but reports say the Indians have already begun negotiations with him, potentially for an over-slot bonus.
Round 5 (158th overall): RHP Julian Merryweather, Oklahoma Baptist University – The 22-year old Merryweather, who is being drafted for the first time, finished his college career by going 12-3 with a 1.07 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 100 2/3 innings. Merryweather is 6’4″ and 200 pounds, and features a solid fastball that typically sits between 90-92 mph (though it can touch 95), as well as a breaking ball and changeup. As a college senior, one would think that Merryweather should be signable (since he basically has no leverage in negotiations), but it will be interesting to see how talks go with him and what his future holds.
Round 6 (188th overall): OF Greg Allen, San Diego State University – The Indians very well may have a steal at this point in the draft with the switch-hitting Allen, ranked as the 81st overall draft prospect by MLB.com. Allen could have a future as a leadoff hitter in the majors, a role he seems to have been tailor-made for. He has next to no power, but he has above average speed and an ability to hit and get on base, in addition to playing terrific defense. Entering the season as a second-team preseason All-American by Baseball America, the 21-year old Allen has posted a slash line of .304/.389/.377 and 61 steals in his three college seasons. He says that he models his game after Cameron Maybin, which experts feel is a solid comparison for Allen. Another common comparison to Allen? His coach at San Diego State…some guy named Tony Gwynn.
Round 7 (218th overall): C Simeon Lucas, Grant Community High School (Illinois) – A commit to Illinois State, Lucas already has solid doubles power, though experts think he could continue to add home run power as he fills out his 6’2″, 195-pound frame. Another left-handed hitter, he has good bat speed, solid mechanics, and a tendency of making solid contact. His defense is still somewhat of a work in progress, though he has a solid arm. The rest of his defensive mechanics could continue to use work, though scouting reports note that he has the talent and potential to become a solid major league catcher if drafted by a team that can be patient with his development behind the plate.
Round 8 (248th overall): RHP Micah Miniard, Boyle County High School (Kentucky) – Miniard is a tall guy. He already measures in at 6’7″, but only weighs 195 pounds. His velocity increased as he gained strength before this season, and his fastball now tops out at 94 mph (though it more consistently hovers between 87 and 90). However, as he adds weight and more strength, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could gain even more velocity as he matures. In addition to his fastball, he has an intriguing curveball, as well as a changeup — though he didn’t use it often. Miniard pitched to a 2.24 ERA while striking out 76 hitters in just 56 1/3 innings as a junior, throwing a no-hitter that year as well. Consequently, he was named an Under Armour High School All-American. Miniard is still very raw, but he possesses plenty of untapped potential that the Indians could work with. A commit to Western Kentucky, Miniard could be a difficult sign, as his sister pitches for the school’s softball team. However, the Indians were able to sign compensation pick Justus Sheffield away from Vanderbilt (where his brother pitches), so I’m sure the Indians aren’t too worried about being able to bring Miniard into the organization.
Round 9 (278th overall): SS Alexis Pantoja, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy – Another intriguing pick by the Indians, the 18-year old Pantoja was ranked as the 176th overall draft prospect by MLB.com. A switch-hitting shortstop, Pantoja is terrific defensively, with a solid arm and range, even though he has less-than-blazing speed. He’s a scrappy player who is known for his aggressive play, instincts, and knowledge of the game. He has a solid approach as a hitter, but scouts have wondered if he’ll hit enough to play every day in the majors. He also has well below average power, and he’ll need to add strength to his extremely frail 5’11”, 150-pound frame. Still, his terrific ability on defense adds value to what should be an interesting prospect to watch. Pantoja is committed to play in college at Alabama State, so it’s not quite clear if he is easily signable or not.
Round 10 (308th overall): 2B Steven Patterson, University of California-Davis – For the second consecutive pick, the Tribe addressed their middle infield, this time with a college senior in Patterson. He’s on the shorter side at 5’9″, but he has a solid build at 205 pounds. He’s a left-handed hitter (notice a theme here?) and doesn’t have a lot of power. However, he’s a decent hitter, knows how to get on base, and is ridiculously hard to strike out — he only struck out 10 times in 204 at-bats as a junior in 2013. He, like Merryweather, shouldn’t be too tough to sign as a college senior, but his ability to manage the strike zone would be a welcome addition to the Indians’ farm system if the Tribe are able to bring him aboard.
After a busy day on Friday, rounds 11-40 will conclude this year’s draft on Saturday at 1:00 pm eastern time. You can follow along with each and every pick on MLB.com.