CLEVELAND -- This was generally regarded as one of the deepest First-Year Player Drafts in recent memory, and the Indians, always looking to be opportunistic this time of year, given their market conditions, were out to pounce on the pool.They did so in a somewhat surprising manner. An organization that often targets advanced colleged arms instead went for a high school shortstop, Francisco Lindor, with its pick at No. 8 overall and high school right-hander Dillon Howard in the second round. In fact, four of the Tribe's first eight picks and 17 of its 50 picks overall in this year's Draft were from the prep ranks. "A little different for us, huh?" amateur scouting director Brad Grant said. "It's a byproduct of the Draft this year. There were a lot of power high school pitchers." Seven of the 17 high school players selected were pitchers, including Howard (Searcy High School in Arkansas), left-handers Stephen Tarpley (Gilbert High School in Arizona), Shawn Morimando (Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia) and Dillon Peters (Cathedral High School in Indiana) and right-handers Jared Ruxer (Lawrence Central High School in Indiana), Cole Pitts (Colquitt County High School in Georgia) and Adam Griffin (West Forsyth High School in North Carolina). Those seven are part of a group of 27 pitchers that the Indians selected.
"We knew it was going to be a deep pitching Draft," Grant said. "There were just not as many position players as in the past. We leaned toward pitching and came out with a lot of it. What we looked to do toward the end was add high school pitchers with power arms and continue to add upside position players at the same time." Because the Draft was so pitching-heavy, the Indians felt comfortable going with the best position player on their board when they took the 17-year-old Lindor at No. 8. They went with just six more position players -- catcher Jake Lowery (fourth round), outfielder Bryson Myles (sixth round), catcher Eric Haase (seventh round), third baseman Jordan Smith (ninth round), infielder Zack Macphee (13th round) and second baseman Todd Hankins (15th round) -- through the 20th round. The Indians have been among the most aggressive teams in baseball over the past two years with regard to their signing bonuses, wooing high-upside players from the later rounds with early round money. It remains to be seen if they'll take a similar approach with this year's haul, though it is already anticipated that Lindor and Howard are each due for a big payday. "We'll go through it," Grant said. "We drafted players with the intention of trying to sign them. It'll be a case-by-case basis, and we'll walk through that as we go. But we definitely want to add talent to the system." The Indians have until midnight the night of Aug. 15 to sign their picks.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.