Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Indians top 100 prospect list - Jan 2014I

It's that time of year.  The time after the Rule 5 draft, after a lot of the major trades, after the free agent signings where you can, at least for a second, take a step back and see what your farm system has in the way of prospects.

A couple of observations:

1. The Indians still have one of the weakest farm systems in baseball and the top prospects in their system, Francisco Lindor (back), Clint Frazier (strikeouts) and Trevor Bauer (headcase) al  have significant warts.

2. There is still very little prospect as most of the high risk/high reward guys are doing badly.

So, when I put this list together, I used 3 criteria:

1. Chances of helping the ML team this year.
2. Projection of best possible performance
3. Injury history

Not too different than most prospect lists except that a lot of people don't look at 1. that much, if at all.  I do. 

So, with all that in mind, here is my Indians' top 100 prospect list.

1. Trevor Bauer - a headcase but a chance to really impact the 2014 ML team
2. Fancisco Lindor - a lock for #1 until he hurt his back.  If healthy is clearly #1 on this list.  IF!
3. Clint Frazier - People said Ks didn't matter with Brad Snyder.  Remember how that turned out!
4. Kyle Crockett - A tall lefty who could have a significant impact on the bullpen this year.
5. Tyler Naquin - He needs another besides his strong arm to avoid being a tweener
6. Francisco Mejia - Catchers who can hit are few and far between
7. Luis Lugo - My pick to zoom up the system ala Mr. Salazar
8. Jesus Aguilar -  I am still not a true believer but this guy is growing on me.  I know everyone may think I am crazy but in my wildest dreams I envision Albert Pujols lite.
9. Cody Anderson
10. CC Lee
11. Ronny Rodriguez
12. Tony Wolters
13. Dorsyss Paulino
14. Carlos Moncrief
15. Bryan Price - A reliever but one with a good chance to impact the big league team this year
16. Jose Ramirez - A top 10 guy in this organization but his serious thumb injury pushes him down
17. TJ House
18.  Austin Adams
19. Joe Wendle
20. Dace Kime
21. Erik Gonzalez
22. Adam Plutko
23. LeVon Washington - I may be the only blogger who still believes in this guy
24. Elvis Araujo
25. Jordan Mibrath
26. Matt Packer
27. Sean Brady
28. Shawn Armstrong
29. Leonardo Linares
30. Dylan Baker
31. Giovanny Urshela
32. Preston Guilmet
33. Enosil Tejada
34. Carlos Melo
35. Nellie Rodriguez
36. Tyler Sturdevant
37. Scott Barnes
38. Luigi Rodriguez
39. Hector Caro
40. Jordan Smith
41. Joseph Colon
42. Shawn Morimando
43. Giovanni Soto
44. Caleb Hamrick
45. Kenny Mathews
46. Jeff Johnson
47. Casey Shane
48. Francisco Valera
49. Benny Suarez
50. Alex Monsalve
51. Louis Head
52. Anthony Santander
53. Colt Hynes
54. trey Haley
55. Matt Whitehouse
56. Luis Gomez
57. D'Vonne McCluer
58. Alex Lavisky
59.Dillon Howard
60. Bryson Miles
61. Johan Puello
62. Mitch Brown
63. Logan Vick
64. Tim Fedroff
65. Juan Diaz
66. Kieran Lovegrove
67. Jacob Lee
68. Rob Nixon
69. Ryan Merritt
70. Yoiber Marquina
71. Chun Chen
72. Roberto Perez
73. Will Roberts
74. Eric Haase
75. Joe Sever
76. Josh McAdams
77. Robbie Aviles
78. Jake Lowery
79. Bryce Stowell
80. Brett Brach
81. Willi Castro
82. Tyler Holt
83. James Roberts
84. Jerrud Sabourin
85. Emmanuel Tapia
86. Jake Sisco
87. Paul Hendriz
88. Cole Sulser
89. Junior Soto
90. Jordan Cooper
91. Thomas Pannone
92. Luis Dejesus
93. Trevor Frank
94. Yu-Cheng Chang
95. Groffi Cruz
96. Felix Starling
97. Mike Rayl
98. Cody Penny
99. Grant Sides
100. DJ Brown

And there you have it.  I know it may sound weird but I could see as many as 70 of these guys making it to AAA and maybe 25-30 at least having cups of coffee in the majors.  For any farm system that is a lot.   Still, this system is weak on star power.  Maybe some of these guys will exceed expectations...or that is the hope of every Indians' fan everywhere!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Draft wrapup part 1: My shadow draft 2013 and previous shadow drafts

I have been doing shadow drafts for years.  For those of you who don't know a shadow draft is one that, based on available players, is done in comparison to who the Indians selected.  You file that away and compare it to the Indians' draft down the road.   Here goes:

Round 1 - My pick was always Clint Frazier and that is the way it remains. 

Round 3 - The Indians signed Dace Kime, who, in my opinion, is a pro reliever but I wanted a more high profile, HS pitcher, preferably a lefthander.  I got my selection down to choose between Chris Kohler and Stephen Gonzalves, both Southern California LHPs.  I decided to go for it here and save money later.   My pick is Gonzalves, who, in my opinion, offered the highest upside of any truly signable HS pitcher left at this poin.

Round 4 -  The Indians selected Kyle Crockett who should sign for around slot.  I, on the other hand, wanted to save money on this pick, choosing to draft the most polished (outside of Mark Appel) college senior pitcher.  Again, he is a lefthander, Matt Boyd from Oregon State. 

Round 5 -  The Indians selected LHP Sean Baker.  I never liked this pick at the time and still don't like it.  I, instead, selected Casey Shane, the Indians' 6th round pick.

Round 6 - The Indians selected Shane in this round but I wanted to get some more LHP and so I selected Daniel Gibson, LHP from the University of Florida.  I think he offers good value at this point.

Round 7 - The Indians selected Kenny Mathews here but I decided to go cheap and select senior LHP Randall Fant from Arkansas.   His upside is less but he offers some hope as a LH relief pitcher, maybe a LOOGY.

Round 8 - The Indians and I agree here.  We both selected Trevor Frank, a senior RHP from UC Riverside who will save even more money

Round 9 - The Indians selected Thomas Pannone, a JC LHP.  Instead I selected another LHP who is two years older and more polished, DJ Shelton, LHP from Minnesota.  I am looking at Shelton as more of a quick rising college reliever who can help us more quickly than Pannone.  Pannone may have more upside but Shelton is the higher ranked player who should get to the majors, and quickly.

Through round 9 my estimate is that my draft is now $1,150,000 under budget.  This money can be used to sign guys above slot in the rest of the draft.

Round 10 - The Indians selected Ross Kivett, a lowly ranked college secondbaseman from a good baseball program at Kansas State.  At the time I said this was an unwise pick for a number of reasons.  He isn't a prime prospect, doesn't play a premium position, is unlikely to sign for less than slot and drafting Adam Plutko here saves you a few thousand dollars as the 11th round slot of $100,000 is smaller than the 10th round slot.  My pick in this round is Adam Plutko, LHP from UCLA.

Round 11 - The Indians selected Plutko here but I want to go for broke and select AJ Puk, the highly rated HS  LHP.  He will be a tough sign but he is my holy grail pick in this draft.  Signing him with monies saved earlier on is possible.   I don't know if $1 million will do it but that is my plan, to offer Puk $1 million.  If he doesn't sign for that I use the money on picks below this one who, while not as highly rated, would still be values (albeit overslot values) later on in the draft.

Round 12 - I pick Dakota Frese, RHP from Des Moines CC in Iowa.  A good value at this point.

Round 13 - I pick Jordan Sheffield, HS RHP from Tennessee.  OK, so I only can sign one of him or Puk and it is likely that I won't sign either.  But I am going for it here. 

Round 14 - The Indians and I agree.  Silento Sayles is our pick.

Round 15 - I select Eric Lauder, HS LHP from Grafton, OH.  First, he is really good value at this point.  Second, if neither Puk or Sheffield signs we have money to sign Lauder and still have some left over for other, Cody Anderson-type signings.

Round 16 - I select Marcus Greene, C New Mexico CC.

Round 17 - I select Julian Ridings, OF, Western Carolinas who offers HUGE value at this point.

Round 18 - I agree again, Paul Hendrix, SS from TCU

 Round 19 - I select Gabe Speier, HS LHP from California.  If I can't get the Puk or Sheffield signed, here is a guy I use some of my excess money on.

Round 20 - I agree with the Indians.  Shane Rowland, C U. of Tampa

Round 21 - I will take a flyer with the Indians: Paul Young RHP from Central Alabama CC

Round 22 - I select Chase Jensen, SS, Oklahoma City

Round 23 - I select Javier Reynoseo, LHP from Middle Georgia CC

Round 24 - I select Marcus Daivs OF, Florida State U

Round 25 - I agree with the Indians - Cole Sulser, RHP Dartmouth

Round 26 - I agree with the Indians - Daniel Cogan HS RHP.  Again, if I have money left over I throw a little of it to this kid.

Round 27 - I select Sherman Lacrus, C, Western Oklahoma CC

Round 28 - I agree with the Indians: Stephan Kane RHP

Round 29 - I agree with the Indians: Ridge Smith HS 3B from Tennessee

Round 30 - I agree with the Indians - Aaron Brown LHP Pepperdine - Again, if I can't sign Puk or Sheffield, I throw some money his way.

Round 31 - I agree with the Indians - Maybe one of Crowe, Puk or Sheffiield sign for $1 million

Round 32 - I select Kyle Webb, RHP Elon

Round 33 - I agree with the Indians: Joe Wise, HS LHP from Arizona.  Again, he is a trickle down guy if money is left in the budget

Round 34 - I agree with the Indians: Dustin Cook RHP, San Jacinto JC

Round 35 - I select Lukas Schiraldi RHP Navarro JC - The 162nd rated player in the nation by BA, he is another trickle down guy who we should have enough money to sign if we don't get one of the big 3 HS pitchers I have selected.

Round 36 - Chandler Eden HS RHP from California - The 70th ranked player by BA - again, a flyer pick who I think is signable for a fraction of the $1.1 million we have left of our budget..

Round 37 - Cody Yount 1B - Virginia Commonwealth

Round 38 - Paul Paez LHP - Rio Hondo (CA) JC

Round 39 - I agree with the Indians:  Frank Duncan, RHP Kansas - Again, a guy who uses only a fraction of our budget excess if we don't sign our stud HS pitcher

Round 40 - Matt Borgschulte CF Drury (MO) University - This is a St. Louis kid I have liked for years.  He is a big kid who played CF in college.  He almost had the OF trifecta, coming close to double digits in OF assists and stolen bases while ranking pretty high in DII with 16 HR.  As a college senior he signs.

That's it.  let's file this away and see how I did.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Now that the dust has settled.... are some thoughts about the Indains 2013 draft.

The Indians drafted Clint Frazier.  In the end that is all that matters.  Clint Frazier is certainly, on paper, the BEST position player the Indians have ever drafted.  EVER.  Yes, Manny Ramirez turned out great but, on draft day, he didn't look nearly as good as Frazier.  Francisco Lindor you say?  Nope, he didn't look as good as Frazier. 

Frazier makes this draft.

But what about the Indians' 2013 draft after Clint Frazier?  Well, here are my thoughts:
  • The first two days of the draft went almost exactly as I projected it would.  So, on paper, I like it.  I don't necessarily like the exact guys Cleveland selected but let's wait to see how these guys do in pro ball. 
  • My feeling is that there are no high ceiling guys we drafted after Frazier.  NONE.  To put things in perspective I don't see a Mitch Brown or a Dillon Howard or a LeVon Washington or a Alex Lavisky among them.  And, given the lack of success of those prospects, I am not sure that is a bad thing.
  • What the Indians got was, on the first two days, unspectacular prospects who have a chance to turn into something.  What else they got is the HOPE, not the certainty, but the HOPE they can piece together the money in the right way to sign all of our top 10 picks and not go over our $6.188 million budget. 
  • On the 3rd day we saw the Indians go against the grain a little.  Of the 30 players drafted by the Indians on the 3rd day only 13 were position players.  In total, the Indians drafted only 15 positions players and 25 pitchers.  Although they drafted more LHP than RHP in the first 10 rounds (4:3), in the end they drafted a more pedestrian 17 RHP compared to 7 LHP.   Last year we drafted 20 position players and 20 pitchers but only 1 LHP! 
  • While most of the guys they drafted after round 9 are likely to be organizational players if they sign, the Indians drafted two 'flyers' after the 9th round, LHP Aaron Brown in round 30 and RHP Wil Crowe in round 31.  They have little chance to sign either of these guys as I doubt that there will be enough budget left to offer these guys anything that will convince them not to attend college in the fall.  Which brings us to the key for this draft after Clint Frazier.
  • The Indians are going to have to be lucky to sign all their draft picks in first 10 rounds.  It will be tight to just sign the guys in the first 10 rounds and not go over budget.   Looking at our budget here is what I see us spending on each of these guys with their slot bonus in parentheses):
    • Frazier - $3.7 million ($3.787 million) (-$87,000)
    • Kime -  $500,000 ($692,200) (-192,300)
    • Crockett - $400,000 ($463,600) (-63,600)
    • Brody - $347,000 ($347,000) (0)
    • Shane - $325,000 ($259,000) (+66,000)
    • Mathews - $250,000 ($194,800) (+55,200)
    • Frank - $10,000 ($158,300) (-148,300)
    • Pannone $200,000 ($147,800) (+52,200)
    • Kivett - $110.000 ($138,100) (-28,100)
  • If you look at the above you will see, best case scenario we could have close to $350,000 to split between guys we really want to sign who we drafted after the 10th round.  However, that only comes to $175,000 additional if we split that money between two guys.  I doubt that $275,000 (savings plus base $100,000 exempt salary) will be enough to sign either Aaron Brown or Wil Crowe, our two flyer picks.  Unfortunately, even if my scenairo above happens, I see us taking this money and spreading it out over a variety of JUCO and HS kids to get more of them to sign.  Not a great use of that money.  I would have rather seen us take a flyer on a highly rated HS guy in round 12 who we thought we could bring in for $500,000 if we ended up having the $$$ left over  in our budget.  That didn't happen so I think we might end up wasting that money or not spending that money.
So, I like the plan especially in this weak draft.  The execution of who to draft is something else.  I see us getting Frazier and mayb 5-8 bit players out of this draft, but not much else. 

Let's hope we can sign 3-4 of the top 10 Latin prospects this summer

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Thoughts after the second day of the draft

The Indians have one of the weakest farm systems in baseball.  They need prospects...bunches of prospects.  So, in this draft budget limiting era how do you do that?  The Indians set the standard last year by saving money where they can in the first 10 rounds and then applying that money to appropriately selected players with talent but with bonus demands that appeared to be excessive for their talent level.  In doing this they may have overspent but they got good prospects in their system, especially pitching prospects.

Looking at this year's draft which appeared weak, there was still some strength in pitching, especially HS pitching and college senior pitching. 

So, in coming up with my draft strategy for the Indians this year I thought they should go for the most high reward player they could in the first round, preferably a HS position player and then go for pitching in their next 9 selections, all of which were on the second day of the draft, especially left handed pitching since their 2012 draft group did not include one left-handed pitcher.  And they should do this bearing in mind that about 60% of their draft budget or more could have to be used to sign Clint Frazier.  This means they have to have SOME economy picks in the first 10 rounds to save some money.  Teams can do this by drafting college seniors who they can sign for $1000 to $10,000.  They can also save money by drafting guys who they know will sign for under-slot bonuses.  This gives them cash to pay for draftees who have slipped in the draft due to their bonus demands.  While you usually overpay these types of guys, you do get better talent than what you should expect for the draft slot in which they are picked.

I think the Indians and I were on the same page.  They executed the strategy I thought they should.  I don't know that they got a lot of high upside guys like they got last year but they got some guys they liked who at least were on the national prospect 'map'.  Let's just hope their scouts see things other teams may have missed in some of these guys. 

Here is my impression of what the Indians did:

3rd round -Dace Kime - RH pitcher, college junior - I see this as an economy pick.  Look for Kime to sign for an under-slot bonus.  He is a converted college reliever who the Indians think can have starter upside.  The question is, with your second pick in the draft do you spend it on a guy who isn't really solid in the role you expect him to fill as a pro?  The answer is, only if you can get him cheap.  So watch to see how much below slot they sign Kime for.  If they get him for a relatively low bonus and use that money to sign other guys, I am good with this pick.

4th round - Kyle Crockett - LHP - college junior, college reliever - This guy has LOOGY written all over him.  Again, you don't draft LOOGYs with setup man upside this early in the draft.  He will probably move quickly up through the system and will likely, if he doesn't stumble in his development, be the first Indians' draftee from this group who gets to the majors.   However, in 2007 the Indians said the same about a college closer they drafted from Tampa U., Jonathon Holt.  Holt never even got a sniff of AAA, let alone the majors.  Again, this HAS to be an economy pick and, if they don't sign him for an underslot bonus, I think they have missed the mark with this pick, going for a safe, low upside guy way too early in the draft. If they get him for a relatively low bonus and use that money to sign other guys later, I am good with this pick.

5th round - Sean Brady - LHP - HS - short guy - The guy is listed as 5'10"!  That is a huge negative right there.  But he is a prospect.  My hope here is that we can sign him at slot or a little below like we signed Dylan Baker last year.  At slot or a little below he is an OK pick.  Again, some upside but not a lot but not a lot of cost either.  So, again, look for his bonus.  Maybe we get some value here for less than slot.

6th round - Shane Casey - RHP - HS - tall guy - Here, to me, is the key to this draft so far beside, of course, Clint Frazier.  I think the Indians believe Casey is undervalued and will use some savings in other rounds to sign him.   Let's hope they are correct.

7th round - Kenny Mathews - LHP - JUCO - The Indians have had some luck with JUCO guys and so it is encouraging to see them draft JUCO guys.  He is also left-handed.  I see him signing for an overslot bonus like Cody Anderson two years ago.  Again, it is all in their scouting and they are good at picking guys in the top 10-14 rounds who end up as decent relievers who make it to the majors.

8th round - Trevor Frank - RHP - College senior - As I said above, one way to save money is to draft college seniors.  Frank was one of the most highly rated college senior pitchers available.  I woud drafted Boyd from Oregon State earlier but this is a cost savings move.  Let's hope Frank has something in the tank that can make him a pro reliever (likely slot for an Indians' college pitcher draftee who doesn't have a whole lot of upside as a starter).  Otherwise, he just is a guy filling a slot saving the Indians some money.

9th round - Thomas Pannone - LHP - JUCO - Another JUCO guy.  Another LHP.  Not a great prospect in most circles but certainly not an unknow guy.  Maybe a guy like Baker they can sign for a slot or under slot bonus, maybe just a tad over slot.

10th round -  Ross Kivett - Second baseman - college junior - This is the most puzzling draft pick so far.  Not even listed in Baseball America's top 500 prospects and ony the 11th ranked prospect in a relatively weak Kansas area draft crop.  Don't be fooled by him being the Big 12 player of the year.  College secondbasemen without power who are juniors are NOT great prospects.  As a junior he has draft leverage and can go back to school.  So, to me, it looks like this was NOT an economy pick as Kivett has leverage.  It was NOT a high upside pick who slipped in the draft that we could use draft savings for.  It was a silly pick.  We should have used this pick to draft Randall Fant LHP, college senior, or another college senior pitcher who we could sign for $1000 and save about $130,000 of our draft budget.

The way the draft works is that the total you spend in the top 10 rounds has to be less than or equal to your draft budget.  If we draft Fant in the 10th round and Kivett in the 11th round and pay Kivett 10th round slot money we would have saved $100,000 on our budget.  Why?  First, college seniors have no leverage.  They are usually given $1000 bonuses.  Second, every pick after the 10th round has a $100,000 cap.  Anything you pay over that cap goes against your draft budget.  So, if Kivett signs in the 10th round and signs for slot it counts $130,000 against our budget.  If Fant is drafted in the 10th round and signs for $1000 then we save $129,000 on our budget ($130,000 slot value minus the $1000 we would have given Fant).  Then had we drafted Kivett in the 11th round and payed him $130,000 (10th round slot money), we would have had to use $30,000 of the $129,000 we saved by drafting Fant in the 10th round to pay Kivett in the 11th round ($130,000 - $100,000 cap = $30,000 overage charged against budget).

So, just by flipflopping the lowly rated Kivett who almost postively would have been there at the beginning of the 11th round, we would have had an extra $100,000 to use to sign other guys.  Significant tactical mistake by the Indians.

Just for grins, here is, for posterity, what I would have done in the first 10 rounds:

1st - Clint Frazier
3rd - Stephen Tarpley - LHP - Scottsdale AZ CC
4th - AJ Puk - LHP - HS - Iowa
5th - Matt Boyd - LHP - Oregon State (senior)
6th -  Casey Shane - RHP - HS - Texas
7th - Daniel Gibson - LHP - Florida
8th - Randall Fant - LHP - Arkansas (senior)
9th -  Trevor Frank - RHP - UC Riverside (senior)
10th - Garrett Williams LHP - Calvary Baptist HS

Let's see how today goes.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Second day of the draft thoughts

OK, Clint Frazier drafted.  Check.  Someone said that me completely agreeing with the Indians selections on the first day of the draft is enough to make your head explode.  LOL.  When it is as much of a no-brainer as this pick was, peoples' heads should have exploded only if we DIDN'T pick Frazier. 

But let's talk about day 2.

Last year the Indians didn't sign a single left-handed pitcher from their 2012 draft.

The LHPs who stand out for me are Garrett Williams and AJ Puk.  Both are HS arms.  I would select Puk in the 3rd round as shades of Jeremy Hellickson comes to mind, as an Iowa kid who wasn't seen much before the draft who was drafted later (in the 4th round) who has turned out pretty good.

So Puk in the 3rd round if he is available and I think he should be.

That should put us at slot or a little bit below, giving us a little more money to work with.

The naturals based on my draft model would be HS RHPs Kyle Serrano and Connor Jones, who are top 40 prospects and, so, good values at our 4th round slot  but both are deemed hard signs.  We have the money to go $1.5 million if Puk signs for slot.  If Williams is there for the 4th round I jump on him although HS LHP such as Stephen Gonsalves, Chris Kohler or Jake Brentz would be fine, too.  I like Kohler because his arm is more fresh than the other guys but Gonsalves was the most highly ranked of any of these guys before the season so I would go with Gonsalves if he is signable.  Note we could do a redraft on LHP Stephen Tarpley (who we drafted two years ago) or we could take a flyer on college RHP Bobby Wahl or LHP Kent Emanuel, both of whom were highly rated before the season and have dropped due to inconsistencies.

So in order in the 4th round I would go, based on who is available, Williams, Gonsaves, Kohler, Tarpley if Jones is unsignable.

In the 5th round I go for Matt Boyd, a senior LHP from Oregon State.

In the 6th round I go for Randall Fant, a senior LHP from Arkansas who we drafted last year. 

,In the 7th round I am looking for pitching value.  If Tarpley is there (doubtful) I pop him and hope I can sign him this time around with savings, if any, from previous rounds.  If he is gone I probably pop Keegan Thompson, HS RHP.  Or I could pop another JC player per my model like Blake Shouse, Eliott Morris, Glenn Freudenberg or some guy the Indians have scouted who hasn't made it to draft boards (like Cody Anderson from our 2011 draft).

In the 8th round I go for another signable JUCO pitcher, like the above or Zach Reninger, Daniel Lietz, Javier Reynoso, Jake Bray.

In the 9th and 10 rounds I originally said I wanted pitching.  However, if LJ Marzilli or Mike Yastremski are there I pop these college senior position players. The value would be just too great to pass up, IMHO.  Otherwise I am sure there are plenty of college senior pitchers who we could get for $1000 in these slots.

There you have it for the first 10 rounds.

After that I make sure that I don't draft anyone who will cost me more than $100,000 to sign.  By our past experience HS players drafted this low by the Indians who sign cheap don't even get out of rookie ball.  So I focus on college seniors and JUCO guys to fill out rookie league rosters at positions up the middle of the diamond. 

So there is my draft.  We will see what happens.  More comments to come after we see what day 2 brings.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It's draft time again

Well,  here we are on the eve of the 2013 draft.  The consensus choice is for the Indians to take Colin Moran, the thirdbaseman from North Carolina in the first round.

Pure hitter?  Check

Some power? Check

Good defense?  Maybe not.

But let's think back to 2007.  The Indians had lost their 2nd and 3rd round picks for the ill-advised signing of David Dellucci and Roberto Hernandez.  Shapiro said he wasn't worried about that but John Mirabelli was.  In an interview with he after the draft he said that he felt he couldn't afford to miss with his first round pick so he took what he considered a sure thing, a hitter named Beau Mills.  The fact that he had a shoulder problem at draft time and had left his D1 college to go to an NAIA school didn't matter.  The fact that he had questionable mechanics at 3rd base didn't matter.  He could hit and hit for power.

But Mills failed.   He was a 1- or 2-tool guy and when those tools didn't play due to poor performance and injuries, we were screwed.    Even more so because we went so safe (Jonathon Holt, a college reliever in the 5th round who they were sure would at least be a 6th/7th inning guy with little chance of failing) in the later rounds.  TJ McFarland (4th round) is the only member of the class that we signed that will get to the majors and he did it with the Orioles and he was overdrafted in Round 4.

Colin Moran IS Beau Mills all over again.  Not enough tools to make him worth this high of a draft pick. 

We have to have a different approach this year.  We need to go for broke in the first round.  It is really the only round we have that ability, given the draft bonus slotting system.  Plus, this draft is so thin that I think we just save money and sign Latin free agents.  But that's another article.

So, in the first round I go for Clint Frazier, OF, Loganville GA HS.  He is simply a baseball player and will be a solid if not spectacular player down the road.

In the 3rd and 4th rounds I would go for broke.  I would draft the best available player who will sign for first round money. 

We have $6.168 million to play with.  If we can 3 guys who will sign for $5.5 million we still have $600,000 or so to sign the next 6 guys.  That gives you 4 college seniors at close to $1000-10,000 and then two guys who sign for $300,000 each (think Cody Anderson types).  I would make those two larger signings college pitchers meaning every pick from rounds 5-10 would be 4-year college players.  I am looking for pitching depth at each of these draft slots meaning that I take 6 4-year college pitchers in rounds 5-10. 

So there is my first 10 rounds.  We should draft 3 high profile (probably HS) players and pay them top dollar.  I would make that Frazier and two HS pitchers.  Then I would draft 6 college pitchers.  Who those guys after Frazier are depends on who is availabel and, in rounds 3-4, who dropped due to some combination of poor spring performance and large bonus demands sprinkled with a huge dose of a good sized bonus.

By the time I get done with the first 10 rounds I have one position player and 8 pitchers.  Then I start adding depth at all positions with only college players.  No flyers later on.  Just solid organizational guys who sign for close to nothing.  So my draft has maybe 3 high school players and 36 college players.   No contingency picks, something most clubs do.  If I do my work I can sign all the guys and just make my budget by going cheap in later rounds in the top 10.  I top load this draft figuring that the guys down at the bottom have no chance of making the majors anyway and I roll the dice on the first three picks hoping I get one stud and one other regular out of that group of 3.

I then take that surplus from going cheap after round 4 and roll it over and go nuts in Latin America.  I would like us to sign 3-4 of the top 10 Latin prospects come this July.

That is my strategy...and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

2013 Predictions - A little late but still hot and juicy!

Cleveland Indians:

Record: 86-76

MVP: Asdrubal Cabrera

Rookie (or young player) of the year: Lonnie Chisenhall.  He will still be a little short on power but, overall, he will establish himself as the Indians’ third baseman for years to come.

Biggest surprise:  Matt Capps will emerge as a quality setup man who will show his closer form, leading to the Indians wanting to re-sign him.  As far as rookies, this will depend on how the season goes.  For me, the natural is Nick Hagadone.  If the season tanks and we trade Chris Perez, look for Preston Guilmet to get a shot at set-up guy and Matt Langwell to get a cup of coffee at 6th/7th inning guy.  For these last two, it will be a surprise that they even make it to the majors and it will be icing on that cake when they are, as they will be, effective.  Cord Phelps will establish himself as a super utility player, as well.

Biggest disappointment: Brett Myers will be in the bullpen by the beginning of May.  For $7 million, this will qualify as the biggest disappointment. Ryan Raburn will be gone by July 1.  Jason Kipnis will struggle mightily early on leading to a demotion.  When he returns to the big leagues in August he will be, from that point on through the rest of his career, the player the Indians thought he could be.  Cody Allen will struggle and spend time in the minors getting more seasoning.

Comments: The Indians will struggle at the 3rd through 5th starters and that will be the key reason they don’t make the playoffs.  Rookies and young players will struggle early but, overall, the future will look a lot brighter as the season moves into its later stages and the reason for multi-year signings of Swisher and Bourn and the one-year signing of Myers will be more clear as the 2014 roster starts to take shape in August/September of 2013.

Columbus Clippers:

Record: 68-76

MVP:  This is a tough one.  My guess is that Tim Fedroff wins by default as I don’t know if anyone else either performs or stays at Columbus long enough.  Fedroff, like Jared Goedert and Russ Canzler in the past, will be there long enough to put up numbers.

Rookie (or young player) of the year:  Preston Guilmet. 

Biggest surprise:  Roberto Perez will get his cup of coffee sometime this year.  Cord Phelps, when he returns, will beat up AAA pitching and be in Cleveland by July 1st.

Biggest disappointment: Giovanni Soto will be back in AA by June as he just can’t get enough innings in.

Comments: The worst team in years in Columbus.  This team has no star power and the veteran presence will quickly evaporate due to call-ups and opt-outs.  

Akron Aeros:

Record: 82-62

MVP: Chun-Hsiu Chen

Rookie (or young player) of the year: Jose Ramirez

Biggest surprise: TJ House being in Columbus before May 15th.   Danny Salazar in Cleveland by the end of the year, although the latter is not a huge surprise if the Indians tank this season.  

Biggest disappointment: Carlos Moncrief.  I want him to break out but I envision him having another in a long line of tantalizing yet not dominating year like last year.  To me, he becomes Jonathan Van Every very quickly if he doesn’t break out this year.  Fabio Martinez will be released by  June.

Comments:  I am going WAY out on a limb on this one.  I am predicting that all of the kids on this team (and this is a homegrown team with only 5 guys who are not homegrown and an average age (23.8 years, almost a year under the average age of the EL) have very good years and guys who are in their second tour here like House, Jesus Aguilar and Chun-Hsiu Chen dominate before their eventual call-ups to AAA in order, being House before Chen before Aguilar (with this one being a question mark).   My feeling is that, if you don’t count AAAA guys on the AAA roster, this Akron roster will have more eventual major leaguers on it than any other team in our farm system and stands a chance of having more eventual major leaguers than ALL the rest of our farm teams combined, if you exclude all guys who have already been in the majors and are now in our farm system.

Carolina Mudcats:

Record: 82-62

MVP: Tyler Naquin

Rookie (or young player) of the year: Francisco Lindor

Biggest surprise: Bryson Miles – He will finally start to live up to the Kirby Puckett hype.   

Biggest disappointment:  Jordan Smith.  He will not be a huge disappointment.  It’s just that a guy like him whose average is his best tool, will be a huge disappointment when he hits .260.

Comments:  Carolina will get a dominant team this year and will win the Carolina League championship.  Considering how suspect their pitching depth is, this is a HUGE gamble of a prediction.  Still, I think the positions players will dominate and, given the strength I hope the AA guys will show, Lindor, Naquin, et al , should stay in Carolina for a lot, if not all, of the season.

Lake County Captains:

Record: 74-71

MVP: Luigi Rodriguez – Frankly, this guy should be outta Lake County in a month. Practically, however, the system is so backed up that I see him staying in LC until middle of July, giving him plenty of ABs to rack up MVP numbers.

Rookie (or young player) of the year: TBD.  The obvious choice is Paulino if someone from the 2013 draft class doesn't bust out.  .

Biggest surprise: I think this one will come from the 2013 draft.  I think one of our top picks will be a seasoned college guy who will be assigned to Lake County and perform well.  Maybe even our first round pick if it is position player like Colin Moran. 

Biggest disappointment: I see three disappointments: Mitch Brown.   I just think he is a little young and a little green (being from a northern state) to be pushed up to full-season ball this year.  Ditto for Nellie Rodriguez.  I don’t know what the Indians are thinking but these two guys were not ready for full-season ball.  LeVon Washington – Not for performance but for lack of health.  He will be the biggest disappointment out of his disappointing draft class.  If he could just stay healthy he would immediately become the second best OF prospect (after Naquin) in the Indians’ farm system. 

Comments:  A solid team and exactly what a Lake County fan would want: more wins than losses and a chance to see future stars and major leaguers in action.  Unfortunately Paulino is the only solid ML star-type prospect on this team (with Luigi Rodriguez being a distant second) but there are lots of guys who have huge upsides who are far away from reaching those projections (i.e., Washington, Brown, Rodriguez, Sisco, Sterling, DeJesus).