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Indians Indians Archive Draft Notebook: Indians Living Up To Draft Promise
Written by Tony Lastoria

Tony Lastoria

LeVon WashingtonDay 2 of the draft has come and gone.  The Indians made 29 picks yesterday and really seem to have taken an aggressive approach to the draft this year, something that John Mirabelli promised in my conversation with him last week.  This of course is very refreshing, and I will talk about that in more detail below.  As a reminder, capsules for all 30 picks to date are at

Director’s Cuts

Indians Director of Amateur Scouting Brad Grant met with the media yesterday evening to talk about the Day 2 picks, and here is what he said:

On LeVon Washington: “He is an athletic high upside centerfielder, and is a left-handed bat with an advanced approach to hit.  He has very good natural bat speed and a very disciplined approach.  He is a 7 runner on the 2-8 scale, which is a well above average runner.  He is 4.0 to 4.1 down to first base which is well above major league players.  He was a second baseman in high school and transitioned to center field this year in junior college, and we see him as a center fielder.  With his speed and ability to cover gaps, and the ability to track down balls and go back and come in very well on balls he has a chance to be an above average centerfielder in the future.  He also has power too, so [while] he has the leadoff discipline, hitting and running, he also has some ability to pull the ball out of the ballpark and drive the ball into the gaps.  He is a good advanced junior college hitter.  There is a lot of upside to LeVon; that’s what is exciting about him.  He is a very good athlete with two things you can’t teach: above average bat speed and the ability to run.  He had a slight tear to his throwing shoulder which caused him to have to DH sometimes in high school.  This year the shoulder did not have any issues at all, though during the course of the season he did have some hamstring issues which caused him to miss games, but as far as the shoulder goes he has been fine.  We are fine [with the makeup] and I have talked with LeVon in the winter and we have known him since high school.  He is a good kid, and we are very comfortable with him.”

On Tony Wolters:  “He is another very good athlete and another above average runner.  He has the ability to play shortstop, has very good hands, actions, and instincts for the game.  He is a baseball player and a baseball “rat”.  He has a solid average arm and we envision him being a shortstop of the future with offensive and defensive capabilities.”

On Alex Lavisky: “We are happy to have the opportunity to draft him as he is a local kid that we have seen since his junior year in high school.  We saw him last summer play in all the showcases, and he is a right-handed hitting catcher with a power bat and obviously the ability to catch.  He caught Stetson Allie all year this year and had no problems catching him.  He has a plus arm and is a solid catch and throw guy that can stay behind the plate with power.  He has very good makeup and he is a very good kid.  He is a leader on the field and has an excellent mature presence off the field at the same time.”

On Kyle Blair and Cole Cook:  We have known Kyle since high school and he has always been a premium starter.  He had three very successful years at San Diego and comes with a four pitch mix and is a very big durable starter.  He has an average fastball, plus slider, and plus changeup.  He is a strike thrower who has had success everywhere he has gone.  Cole Cook is another big right-hander with a sinker, slider and split who is a strike thrower.  So we were able to add some big arms behind Drew Pomeranz.

Random Notes 

  • The MLB Draft is tough to follow for most since for a high percentage of fans no one has ever seen any of these guys play, and once players get drafted most spend two to five years to the minor leagues if they even make it to the big leagues.  A high percentage don't even get out of A-ball.  That all said, for those who are just a casual follower of the draft for this reason and were wondering just in fact how we are doing in the draft this year, I have to say the Indians approach this year has been extremely refreshing.  They have targeted high quality talent without any apparent consideration of signability.  It turns out Mirabelli was right from that conversation I had with him last week in that they have in fact been very aggressive in the draft.  It definitely is nice to see them taking a lot of high upside high school, junior college, or draft eligible sophomores this year, something not done in recent years.
  • What the Indians have done has not gone unnoticed by other teams as one club official from a rival AL club whom I spoke to last night has been impressed with their draft so far.  "They [have been] extremely aggressive and it will be an accomplishment to sign them all. I will just say they did a fantastic job. They took a different approach this year than most years in the past. They are definitely a club that is trying to get better! You should be very positive about their effort."
  • The Indians approach so far this draft has been to take the best available player and add several athletes into the system.  They not only wanted to add some good, quality arms, but they really wanted to target some premium athletes with good hitting and running skills at several premium positions, and so far have done that.  This is something they have not done in recent years, and assuming they are able to sign some of these guys their system below Double-A should get a big boost this year and next.
  • One interesting thing to note is the Indians are in lockdown mode with regard to talking about contract details with any players.  At the beginning of his press conference yesterday, Grant made it clear that they will not be discussing with anyone contract details on any player until they have been signed.  A lot of this may have to do with the fact they have so many tough signs and don't want anything to take away from any advantage they may have in the process.  This makes sense in that if they are trying to sign several high profile guys they don't want anything leaking saying what one guy is getting which could in turn hinder the progress of other signings.  He also did not specifically address the LeVon Washington signing rumor, but as it was refuted by John Mirabelli earlier in the day yesterday, Grant acknowledged that at this point no one is signed.

  • I've seen a lot of people not like the LeVon Washington pick in the 2nd round, mostly because of his supposed makeup issues and lack of passion to play the game. But considering over the years the Indians have been big on character and makeup, I believe they have done their due dilligence on him, and based on Grant's comments above it is not considered a concern. I happen to like the pick a lot. He adds something this system has lacked for awhile, and that is an athletic player who can run and hit with some pop, but who also carries with him some swagger and cockiness which is good for a change. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Brandon Phillips. Not necessarily because of the alleged makeup issues, but his stance at the plate, his size, his cockiness, and tools.

  • Unlike the past two years when they converted Lonnie Chisenhall from shortstop to third base and Jason Kipnis to second base, there are no plans at the moment to convert any of the drafted guys to another position.

  • Of the first 30 picks in the draft, a whopping ten are out of high school.  In total they have selected 17 pitchers (14 right-handed pitchers) and 13 position players (4 infielders, 7 outfielders, and 2 catchers).
  • Over the past 24 hours I have talked to about two dozen scouts and representatives from about half the Major League franchises, and most clubs are in lockdown mode and not talking about their players they selected or even about players other teams have selected.  However, a few have offered up some of their thoughts on some of the picks the Indians have made so far.  I have pooled together all the comments below on the players from these scouts and executives, some brief and some more detailed.
  • The Indians selected right-handed pitcher Kyle Blair out of the University of San Diego in the 4th round, and according to one AL scout, “I think he's a nice value pick where you got him.  I saw his one-hit, 15 K game vs. Portland.  He showed a feel to pitch and changed speeds.  His curve ball was better than the slider for me, and he located the pitch to both sides of the plate and was his out pitch.  The slider didn't impress me.  He’s a big durable kid who needs to stay on top of his body conditioning.  His control and command were solid for me.”
  • Right-handed pitcher Michael Goodnight was selected in the 13th round out of the University of Houston.  According to an NL scout, "Goodnight is a physical guy with arm strength. His slider is much better than the curveball currently. His best outing was at the Minute Maid Classic against Texas, but he never duplicated that. At times he lacks the touch and feel for pitching."
  • Catcher Diego Seastrunk was taken in the 14th round out of Rice.  According to an AL scout, “Seastrunk was in the second year of being converted to catcher and still has a way to go to be solid defensively. However, he's made progress from last year. He's definitely more of a bat right now, and a pretty good one (with some power) from both sides of the plate."
  • Left-handed pitcher Ben Holmes was selected in the 15th round out of Clackamas High School (OR).  According to an AL scout, “He is a left-handed pitcher signed at Oregon State with a Mark Buehrle build who works quick and throws strikes.”
  • Right-handed pitcher Tony Dischler was taken in the 23rd round out of LSU.  One team executive said, "Tony is out of LSU-Eunice. He is a big, strong physical guy with a fastball around 90-96 MPH.  He needs a better feel for his slider and changeup.  Based off of what I was told they would have to over pay for where they took him. My guess is that he's not signable, but if they can't sign one of their top picks, they can use that money and make a run at him.”
  • The final day of the draft with rounds 31-50 kicks off today at noon.  Unlike yesterday, things will be more streamlined today with the draft coverage since a lot will not be known about the guys taken today until more research is done later.  Plus, a high majority of these final day picks won't even be signed.  With that in mind, the picks will be listed in groups of five and limited if any information will be provided in the capsules for the time being.

  • By the way, thanks to my wing man Jeff Ellis yesterday for the hard work in what was a near 8-hour marathon of draft coverage.  Also, special thanks to Andrew Zajac, Jim Pete, and Charlie Adams for their contributions.

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