Cleveland Indians Justus Sheffield Pleads Guilty, Charges Reduced

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Justus Sheffield, one of two Cleveland Indians first-round picks from last season, plead guilty to charges of underage drinking and criminal trespass in a Coffee County Courthouse in Tullahoma, Tennessee. The charges stemmed from an incident on Jan. 12, when he and two former high school teammates broke into a house at 4:30 a.m. Sheffield harassed a man in his bedroom, accusing him of “messing around with his girlfriend”. He admitted to police that he had been drinking.

The original charge was burglary, but with a deferred judgement, he needs only to stay out of trouble for a year and his record will be expunged.

All three of the men were arrested that evening, with Sheffield being released after posting a $5,500 bond.

He was the Gatorade High School Player of the Year last season, and was taken with the 31st overall pick in the draft; a compensation pick from when Ubaldo Jimenez filed for free agency after the 2013 season.

The left-hander turned down a full ride to Vanderbilt to sign with Cleveland. He fared well in the Arizona Fall League, going 3-1 with a 4.79 ERA in eight games (four starts).

While this can somewhat be considered a case of “boys being boys”, when the Indians hand you a $1.6 million signing bonus, you forfeit the right to act like most kids your age. But in the end, the charge is much less severe than some of what we see happening around baseball these days, and as long as he learns his lesson and stays clean for a year all will be well.

Scouting in baseball is a tedious task, as they are expected to get eyes on hundreds of kids a year. Sometimes they have to take a kid at his field value and hope for the best. Yes, they scout “character”, and try to address those issues. But often with kids this young, those issues haven’t shown themselves yet.

Sheffield has talent, so let’s hope he has the sense to match it while he’s with the Tribe.

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