Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tyler Holt = Moonlight Graham?

Deciding that they couldn't win with Tyler Holt in the OF the Indians:

(a) traded for Chris Dickerson Th

(b) sent Holt to the minors after he appeared in one game..as a 9th inning defensive replacement.  Unlike the movie Moonlight Graham (and his real life counterpart), he actually had a ball hit to him, which he caught to end the game.  Aside from that, his ML experience had to be surrealistically like that of the character from "The Natural".

I guess the Indians thought they had a better chance to win with Dickerson.  They were wrong as they lost to the Yankees last night. 

The Indians and I have disagreed for years on this method of operation and we will continue to disagree.   History has shown me that every time they pull this crap it doesn't help the team and it hurts the morale of the organization.  Holt deserved to get to plate and he could have started and batted 9th last night.   

While the Indians thrash around in losing seasons with minor league free agents dotting their ML roster they diss guys from their own organization who, while probably ending up as 4A players are actually OUR 4A players who are having good seasons and who deserve the shot at the limelight.

So, keep bringing in the minor league free agents like Dickerson and dissing your homegrown guys like Holt.    The Indians have a history of doing that.  As someone who has interviewed minor leaguers for years and heard the tone in their voices when they talk about making 'The Show', it really pains me to see what happened to Holt.

Maybe it will turn out well for him and he will finally get to 'feel the tingle in his hands as he makes contact with the ball, stretching a hit into an extra base hit and hugging the bag as he slides in'.  If he does, I doubt it will be because the Indians feel the need to reward one of their own instead of bringing in 4A guys who have actually had their shot already.

The Indians went with Chris Dickerson...and, in so doing, lost more than just a baseball game.

But that's only my opinion!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Predictions and suggestions

Before the 2013 season I projected that Hector Rondon, as a reliever, would not only survive the entire season with the Cubs but would, if he was pitching well, end 2013 as the Cubs closer.  I was half right:  He made it through the entire season (thus we officially lost him in the Rule 5 draft) but it took him until May of this year to become the Cubs closer.  He is currently 7 for 9 in save opportunities...and he didn't cost the Cubs $6 million (see Axford). 

Before the 2013 season I predicted that there was only a small chance of TJ McFarland making the Orioles and being officially lost to free agency.    I was wrong.  He did make the Orioles and the Indians lost him to the Rule 5.    He is still pitching for the Orioles.

I suggested that instead of drafting Lonnie Chisenhall we draft Conor Gillaspie or Lance Lynn.  Well Chisenhall is playing the best of the three this year but Lynn is still pretty good and the last time I looked Gillaspie was hitting .340.    So, for all those people who I took flack from at the time, well, I just have to laugh.

I projected that Matt Langwell would have more of an impact on 2013 than Jason Kubel.  I was right.  However, Kubel is now having a great impact and Langwell is playing independent ball.  Go figure!

Just sayin'

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2014 Cleveland Indians draft analysis - Part 1 - Analysis of the picks

How is everybody?

Cleveland needs the draft.  Forays into the on-the-cheap free agent market have not worked.  Relief options are more appealing if they are cheap draftees (Cody Allen) than overpaid wishes (John Axford). 

People say that the draft is a crapshoot.  Actually, you have a 1 in 6 chance of rolling 7 in craps.  You have a 65% chance of your first rounder making the majors, higher if you draft in the top 10 slots.  The crapshoot analogy is well, not even an analogy.  It makes it sound like draft success is mostly dumb luck...which works out great if you want to defend your team's dumb picks.  However, except for that use, it is not worth much as an analogy to the baseball draft.

So, with that preface, here is my analysis.

Overall analysis:  Many, if not all, 'experts' pick the success of a team's draft by its overall haul of talent.  They especially value that talent if it fits with their pre-conceived idea of which players are most talented.    So Keith Law loves our draft.  His draft rankings of the prospects we drafted, however, are really off (and much higher) compared to what two other organizations (Baseball America and MLB.com) rate those same players.  So, who is right?  I don't know but I wouldn't necessarily trust Law.  Plus, Baseball America favors drafts that have a lot of picks towards the top end.   

So, Indians' fans should be happy that both Law and Baseball America rate the Indians' draft well.  It is clearly better than the other alternative.

Personally, I rate their draft as above average in terms of overall talent but below average in terms of the talent they could have gotten. 

What does that mean?  In any draft the talent you get is determined, to a large extent, by where you select and how many extra picks you have early in the draft. We had 3 picks in the top 38 which means we SHOULD have gotten better than average talent from this draft since we had more shots at it than most teams.  As far as talent we received vs talent we could have had, this always is in the eye of the beholder.  Still, when you look at the warts on the guys the Indians drafted (e.g., limitation in terms of useable and projectable tools, size limitations, etc.) you have to wonder if the picks we took were the right ones.  Not saying they weren't, just saying, on paper, there are a lot of questions in that regard that I have about this draft.

Let's look, in detail, at the Indians' draft.

1. Bradley Zimmer -  Zimmer, in a vacuum, is a good bargain picking at the #21.  He is a safe left-handed hitting college outfielder without much power who projects as a starter if he can stick in CF but as a 4th outfielder if he has to move to one of the corners.    Does that sound like anyone we know?  It sounds like a carbon copy of Tyler Naquin.    I have no idea why, with Brantley in the majors and Naquin at AA they would invest their first round pick in Zimmer.  While he was a good value, the fit is not there and we are talking about the first round.  Other talented players exist.

Analysis -  Good, safe pick likely to make the majors.  Terrible fit with this organization and, at some point, someone (Brantley, Naquin, Zimmer) will likely be let go to free agency or traded if Zimmer develops.  I don't think you draft guys when you know they will force someone else out of the organization. 

1S. Justus Sheffeld - 

Analysis - Good, solid talent.  However, this guy is swimming up stream.  He is a short, left-handed pitcher.  I thought it was really telling that someone on a message board invoked Ron Guidry.  Really, is that the best you can do, reaching back into ancient history?   So, while Sheffeld is not a bad pick by any means, he has to overcome his height limitations, meaning it is less likely he makes the majors, on average, than a taller pitcher.  Put in another way, you don't really want to draft a guy at or above his talent level when he has a glaring weakness.  Yeah, if teams undervalue him and you can steal him, you take it as his talent would overwhelm his warts if you get him at a much lower slot than where he was rated.  But Sheffeld was draft at or above (depending on which 'expert' you believe) he should have been based on his talent.  That makes this a very risky pick and probably not the best one at this point.

1C - Mike Papi - This guy seems like he has a great hit tool but the power is questionable.  He is also left-handed.  Again, if he can hit for power or play CF he is a decent pick.  However, without increased power he is yet another left-handed hitting 4th outfielder/platoon firstbaseman.  I think this is a very safe pick that will lead to someone being traded as we, once again, drafted to an area of strength even overdrafting this guy a bit to get a redundant prospect.  Let's hope the power develops.

2 - Grant Hockin - The experts agree on this one thing: this guy was overdrafted.  Plus, we overpaid him by about $150,000.  So we have a decent HS pitching prospect who we overdrafted and overpaid for.  You generally overdraft a guy because you can get him on the cheap and use the difference to sign more of your high end draftees whose talent is much better than the round they were drafted.  Here the Indians did the opposite: they overdrafted a guy and overpaid him, even if his talent equaled his draft slot, which, according to the experts, it apparently did not.

3. Bobby Bradley - I actually like this pick.  Bradley has potential as a hitter.  However, the same logic applies.  This guy is likely a DH waiting to happen and he hits left-handed.  I guess, by the time he develops into a ML hitter, our current left-handedness may have disappeared.  Plus, if you are a tools person, the guy does not have a lot of tools.  Still, if he can hit, this will be a good pick.   Good gamble by the Tribe.

4. Sam Hentges -  All I should have to say to Indians' draft gurus is Mitch Brown.  We love our Minnesota HS pitchers, don't we?  However, my history (Bunkelman, Brown) tells me that drafting young arms from Minnesota is not always a good idea.  Hey, I am not saying the guy is not a good prospect, just not at this point.  I see him as a 6th rounder so think he was overdrafted.  Plus, I wonder about his signability.  This leads to me thinking that we will overpay a guy we overdrafted.  Not a good combination.   However, I could be wrong both about his ability and his signability.   One glimmer of hope here: history has shown me that if you are going to overdraft a guy, do it with a guy from a cold weather climate.  The Indians did that.

5.Julian Merryweather - In the old days of the draft this would be a stupid pick.  However, as we look at conserving our budget I like this pick.  The guy has a big arm and, as a college senior, was very cheap.  However, at this point I would have picked the best pitchability college senior pitcher, even if his raw stuff underwhelms.    Just like Bunkelman in the past, there is a reason that guys who throw this hard last this long.  Still, to save money, this guy is not a bad selection.

6.Greg Allen - In a vacuum I would like this pick.  The guy has some talent as a top of the order hitter.  Still, Tyler Naquin, Tim Fedroff, Tyler Holt and company tell me that we are just making the same pick over and over again and, given how the results have turned out so far with Fedroff and Holt looking like AAAA players at best, I don't know if I would have gone this way.  To me, there had to be a college starting pitcher with Josh Tomlin upside left at this point. 

7. Simeon Lucas - Hey, we are down into the 200s at this point in terms of players drafted this year.  At this point it is all guess-work and long-term projection...with an eye on keeping the draft budget under control so we can have a little extra to sign more talent that wants over slot.  This is where the scouts earn their money.  I will trust that the Indians know what they are doing here.

8. Micah Miniard - See Lucas.  Note that the danger at this point is drafting a guy that is totally unsignable.  If the Indians can sign this guy for slot or less, I am on board with this pick.  If they drain their budget by signing this guy, I don't like this pick at all.  And remember, if they don't sign him their budget goes down by his slot amount which is never a good thing.

9. Alex Pantoja -  Look, the guy can pick it.  The question is can he hit.  To me this is like a $150,000 Latin signing except his English is better.  Good risk here, especially if he signs for slot.

10. Steve Patterson - Another college senior drafted to save money, the key is just not to draft organizational players in the 10th round.  This guy looks no different to me than the Roberts kid we drafted last year.   Like Merryweather, I would rather have had a big-armed college senior here.  Same cost, more upside. 

Rounds 11-40 - This is another place where the scouts make their money and Brad Grant makes his.  The key here is to draft pitchers with relief upside and sprinkle in just enough HS/JUCO guys where 1-2 of them may work out.  The Indians have been very good at this for years (see Vinnie Pestano and Cody Allen and, to a lesser extent, guys like Shawn Armstrong, Matt Langwell, Neil Wagner and many others who are either decent or fringe major leaguers).

The one thing the Indians seldom come away with is an impact player in these rounds.  I would like to see that once in a while.  We have had our chances (Tim Lincecum and Desmond Jennings come to mind) but have seldom been able to draft these guys and, when we did, haven't signed them...and that was BEFORE the budget restrictions.  Now it appears the Indians are looking for two things after the 10th round: pitchers projecting as relievers and...a miracle. 

That's it for now.  Next we will have a review of past shadow drafts and how they compare to corresponding Indians' drafts and, of course, the 2014 shadow draft.



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....

...here 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.