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Indians Indians Archive Previewing the MLB Draft: Part Two
Written by Al Ciammiachella

Al Ciammiachella

draftWelcome to Part Two of our draft preview, where we will look at some of the high school options for the Indians first round selection. After the scouting reports, I’ll tell you who I think the Indians will pick, and then unveil my own personal draft board based on the prospects we’ve previewed here on TCF.

If you missed Part One of our preview, click here to catch up on the college talent that the Indians will be considering with the #8 pick.

The High School Arms

There are a number of high upside high school arms in this year’s draft, but really only three that are in the mix for the Indians at #8. Interestingly, the top two HS arms play in the same Oklahoma conference and play for the same summer league squad. 

Dylan-BundyDylan Bundy, RHP-Owasso HS (Oklahoma): Seen as the top prep pitcher in the draft, Bundy has made it known that he is looking for a signing bonus in the range of $30 million. That’s a steep price to pay for a high school arm, no matter how talented. For reference, the highest bonus ever recorded was Stephen Strasburg’s $15.1 million after going 1st overall two years ago. But Bundy is no typical high school arm. In addition to a big-time fastball that sits between 95-97 and has touched triple digits, he throws a plus curveball and plus cutter, which is not a pitch that many high schoolers have in their arsenal. Just for fun, he also has an above average changeup.

He’s polished and has a good feel for pitching, and will likely move quickly through the system for whichever team is fortunate enough to sign him. He has a smooth, effortless delivery that is easily repeatable and his clean mechanics help him get the most out of his extraordinary arm. If you really want to pick nits, he’s just 6’1”, 205lbs so he isn’t as big as some of the college guys.

He makes a lot of sense for Baltimore at #4, and I can’t see him falling past #6, so we probably won’t have a chance to draft him. But despite the high price tag, he’s exactly the kind of arm that the Indians covet, and I think they’d probably have to take him if he’s available. For the record, there's no chance he actually gets close to $30 million, it's just posturing by his agent to try and squeeze as much money out of the processa as possible. He’s got true #1 starter potential, and is nowhere near as raw as most of the top high school arms you generally see in the draft. He would slot in nicely over Drew Pomeranz and Alex White in a future Indians rotation. 

Chance he’ll be there when the Indians pick: 25%

Chance the Indians will take him if he’s there: 75%

Archie Bradley, RHP-Broken Arrow HS (Oklahoma): Bradley is asking for a smaller bonus than his Oklahoma neighbor Bundy…he wants just $20 million to sign him away from a full ride to play QB at Oklahoma. Bradley is bigger than Bundy at 6’4”, 215lbs and throws just as hard, but he doesn’t have the deep arsenal of pitches that his fellow prepster boasts. His fastball was a little off early in the 2011 season, but by the time the state championship game rolled around, Bradley was sitting consistently 92-95 and touched 101. He pitched a complete game, two-hit shutout against Bundy’s Owasso squad in the championship game, and it was a clutch performance under intense pressure. Not only was it for the state title, but there were dozens of scouts in attendance and Bradley did not let them down.

In addition to the plus fastball, Bradley has an outstanding curveball and a below average changeup that he needs to refine at the next level. That’s not at all unusual for a high school arm, and really nothing to worry about at this point in his young career. Bradley is seen as a top-10 talent, and no one thinks he will get past Houston at #11 if he makes it that far. He’s not the type of player that the Indians have taken in the first round lately, but he’s certainly talented enough to go #8 overall.

Chance he’ll be there when the Indians pick: 75%

Chance the Indians will take him if he’s there: 30%

Taylor Guerrieri, RHP-Spring Valley HS (South Carolina): Seen as a mid to late 1st round guy coming into this spring, Guerrieri came out and lit up the radar gun early in the 2011 season and started steadily moving up the draft ladder. His fastball sits between 92-94 MPH and has touched 97. He has a plus curveball, a cutter and a solid changeup that should continue to develop as he refines his grip. He went from a circle change to more of a three-finger grip, so he’s still perfecting that pitch. He rarely shows the cutter or change in his high school outings, because his fastball/curveball mix did a good enough job getting prep hitters out.

Guerrieri pitched in the high-80’s to low-90’s in 2010, and credits his workout regimen for his substantial jump in velocity.  He’s committed to the University of South Carolina, but the chances of him ever becoming a Gamecock dropped with every dominant start that he turned in. He finished his senior season with a 6-1 record with a 1.10 ERA and 72 K in 51 innings. 

Guerrieri suddenly switched high schools just prior to the 2011 baseball season, and there’s some talk that he could have off the field issues and makeup questions. Guerrieri dismisses the contention there was anything that caused him to switch schools. He has himself in consideration for teams in the back half of the top-10, but I’m always a little weary of guys who pick up such a dramatic increase in velocity from one year to the next. Not saying there are performance enhancers involved, but a spike in velo sometimes precedes an arm inury.

Chance he’ll be there when the Indians pick: 90%

Chance the Indians will take him if he’s there: 10%

High School Position Players:

This year’s draft features a number of solid position players coming out of high school, three of which have a chance to go in the top-10 overall.

Bubba Starling, CF-Gardner-Edgerton HS (Kansas): Starling has as much upside as anyone in the draft. The high school CF projects to be a 5-tool player in theStarling pros, with a cannon for an arm to go with a plus hit tool and plus power. The 6’5”, 195lb Starling is considered the best athlete in the draft, and has a full scholarship to go to Nebraska and play QB. He’s going to use that scholarship offer to extort whoever drafts him into giving him a huge signing bonus, as he’s said that he wants Bryce Harper-type money. He’ll get a big bonus, but I don’t see him getting Harper dollars. He’s been linked to pretty much every team in the top-10 at one point or another, but most experts have him going in the top-5. He would seem to be a slam dunk pick for nearby Kansas City, but it’s possible that the Royals want a college arm that will be ready sooner rather than later to augment their crop of top prospects already on the cusp of the major leagues. He missed some time this spring with a minor quad injury, then came out and hit 2 HR in his first game back. He’s a special talent who is still a dark horse candidate for the #1 overall pick.  

The big question is whether or not the Indians would take Starling if he makes it to the #8 slot in the draft. Keith Law and other experts are saying that is unlikely, mainly because he would blow the entire draft budget and it would be difficult to go over slot later in the draft. Personally, I doubt he makes it to #8 and if so, I don’t see the Indians taking him because it’s just not consistent with their draft philosophy. They haven’t selected a high school player in the 1st round since 2001, when the immortal Dan Denham was chosen out of Deer Valley HS in California. Starling is a risky pick, as he hasn’t had very much experience against elite competition so he’s more of a “tools” pick than anything. But his ceiling is almost unlimited. He’s a dynamic player who would be the best athlete in the Indians system the moment he signed the contract. 

Chance he’ll be there when the Indians pick: 30%

Chance the Indians will take him if he’s there: 30%

Francisco Lindor, SS-Monteverde Academy (Florida): Lindor is far and away the top SS prospect in the draft, and scouts are almost unanimous in their belief that he has the defensive tools to stick at SS long term. He’s a plus defender with soft hands and a strong arm, and he isn’t a big guy who will outgrow the position down the road. Lindor has a solid hit tool and below-average raw power. He’s both quick and fast, and should be at least a four-tool player in the majors someday.  He’s impressed scouts every time he steps on the field, including in last year’s elite Area Code Games where he surprised everyone by winning the Home Run Derby. He’s a switch hitter, and won’t turn 18 until November of this year so it’s still possible that he will develop some more pop in his bat. He projects to be a gold glove caliber defender at short, and has enough speed to steal 20+ bases in the majors.

He’s seen as a natural leader, and has been the captain of virtually every team that he’s been on including some of the national teams. He’s been described as a “baseball rat” and is a hard worker on and off the field. When you combine his outstanding makeup with his outstanding tools at the plate and in the field, you have a really special prospect.

Several mock drafts have Lindor going to the Indians, and every one I’ve see has him going in the top 10. He’s a rare prospect that will both hit and be able to play SS, and the Indians really don’t have much at short behind Asdrubal Cabrera. You don’t draft for need in the MLB draft, but Lindor would make a lot of sense position-wise and wouldn’t be a reach at #8 overall.

Chance he’ll be there when the Indians pick: 50%

Chance the Indians will take him if he’s there: 60%

Javier Baez, 3B-Arlington Country Day School (Florida): Baez is playing SS in high school, but most scouts think he will outgrow the position and move to 3B. He has plus raw power, but a big swing that will need some tinkering before he can hit professional pitching. He has a plus arm, and should be an above-average defensive 3B if (when) he makes that move. He’s already a pretty big kid at 6’1”, 205lbs and should continue to fill out and get bigger. Several scouts have indicated that they think Baez may have the fastest bat in the draft.

In a stark contrast to Lindor, scouts have questioned his makeup in the past, and he’s been seen as a guy who cares more about how he looks than how he plays. Still, he projects as an impact bat and a plus defender at 3B, and for a team that needs hitting prospects, he’ll be awfully tempting at #8. His name has been linked to the Indians in a couple of pre-draft reports, but that could just be a smoke screen. He’s seen more as an early-teen’s to early-20’s guy, but has been linked to Chicago at 9 in addition to the Indians, so there’s some potential for a top-10 selection for Baez.

Chance he’ll be there when the Indians pick: 95%

Chance the Indians will take him if he’s there: 20%

LindorWith all that being said, I think the Indians end up taking….drumroll please…Florida high school shortstop Francisco Lindor. I think that Bauer and Bundy will be gone, and none of the other college arms really excite me enough that they are a slam dunk pick if they’re on the board. If Starling is gone, Lindor will easily be the top position player left on the board when the Indians pick, and he’ll be too tempting to pass up. He’s a high talent, high character guy who should be an impact player on offense and at a premium defensive position. The Indians have tremendous pitching depth throughout the system right now, and a dearth of shortstop prospects. Getting the top SS prospect in the draft without having to reach sounds too good to be true, but there’s a good chance that he’ll be sitting there ripe for the picking. Scouting Director Brad Grant has publicly stated that he's looking for the best player availaibe at #8, and there's a good chance that Lindor will be that guy. He followed up an outstanding high school career with some impressive pre-draft workouts that solidified his top-10 status. I just hope he's still on the board when our pick rolls around on Monday night.

If I had to stack my own personal board with the names above, here’s what it would look like:

1. Trevor Bauer

2. Bubba Starling

3. Dylan Bundy

4. Francisco Lindor

5. Archie Bradley

6. Taylor Jungmann

7. Javier Baez

8. Alex Meyer

9. Matt Barnes

10. Taylor Guerrieri

11. Sonny Gray

12. Jed Bradley

13. George Springer

14. Mikie Mahtook

15. Levi Michael

So come draft day, when the #8 pick rolls around, I’d like the Indians to take the highest rated player available on that list. But honestly, I’d be happy with anyone between Bauer and Baez. The high school arms are high risk, high reward. Starling with cost a fortune. Lindor might never hit 10 HR in the majors. Bauer’s arm might fall off. Everyone above has plenty of things going both for and against them. The bottom line is that the Indians drafts over the past three years have earned them the benefit of the doubt (at least in my mind), and I’m confident that whoever they take will be the right pick based on talent and cost.  Considering the incredible depth in the system, I’d love to see them take Starling if he’s there, but would be thrilled with Lindor. We’ll see what happens next Monday…

-Got draft or prospect questions? Ask Al on twitter, @Gotribe31

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