Indians 2015 Draft Update
The Cleveland Indians have signed competitive balance pick Triston McKenzie (per Jim Callis). They agreed to a well over slot deal of $2,302,500 (slot was only $1,468,400) according to him, though the Indians have yet to officially confirm this. The Indians also signed 8th round pick Justin Garza last week to a full slot value ($169,900).
McKenzie was a top 60 draft prospect according several rankings, including Baseball America (51st), MLB (53rd), Perfect Game (42nd), and ESPN/Keith Law (46th). McKenzie is a tall, lanky kid at the moment as he stands 6’5” and just 165 lbs. He’s got the frame that teams dream of as it should allow the right-hander to add some muscle and amp up his fastball that already sits in the low-90s. The 17-year old also has a changeup and curveball, which are still developing.
Prior to the draft, there was some talk he could be looking for top 20-25 money to get him out of his Vanderbilt commitment, and given how much the Indians spent this would seem true. This marks the second year in a row the Indians have stolen a Vanderbilt commit from the Commodores as they drafted and signed Justus Sheffield last year. Also with this signing, McKenzie has now received the most money for any High School Right-Handed Pitcher in the entire 2015 MLB Draft. He’s a bit of a boom or bust type guy given how projectable he is and it could take a while before we see him in Cleveland. However, as Perfect Game said, the “sky is the limit” with this kid.
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Justin Garza is a guy the Indians drafted a few years ago out of high school (26th round, 2012 draft). They weren’t able to come to an agreement then, and he chose to go to Cal State Fullerton where he pitched out of their rotation for three years. He ran into some issues as a junior though and had Tommy John surgery this spring. So like 1st round pick Brady Aiken, it will be a little while before we see Garza on the mound again. MLB ranked him as the 155th best prospect in the draft but injury and lack of size (he’s only 5’10”) caused him to slide to the 8th round. Indians were willing to gamble on him though as he has very good stuff despite his stature. Can hit the mid-90s with his fastball and has solid secondary stuff. Indians have obviously done their due diligence on this kid having drafted him twice so we’ll see if their faith in him pays off.
With these two signings, the Cleveland Indians have now signed all 11 of their picks in the top ten rounds. Here’s a breakdown of what each player got:
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The total amount spent by the Cleveland Indians in the top ten rounds was $7,404,380, which is $170,180 over their slot allotment. This means that for the second year in a row the Indians will be fined for spending too much on the draft (75% tax on the overage). However, since they have not gone more than 5% over their slot allotment they will not lose a 2016 1st round pick (same as last year). As of now the Indians are $191,530 under what would make them lose that pick.
There’s still a chance the Indians will use some of that money as they’ve signed several guys in rounds 11-40 and if any of those guys got more than the $100,000 they are allowed it counts against the draft allotment. There’s a very reasonable chance that Daniel Sprinkle may have gotten more, but as of now that’s pure speculation on my part. It is, however, safe to assume that the Indians did not spend so much as to lose a pick. Getting these guys signed is great for the system but none are players you’d want to lose a future 1st round pick over.
There is still a couple of weeks left before the draft signing deadline, so a few more signings could happen for the Indians but don’t expect any more major signings. When all is said and done the Indians will have spent over $7.5M just on the top 10 rounds once the overage tax if factored in. Adding in the guys in rounds 11-40 will likely push it over $8M for the second year in a row. Say what you want about the Indians but they haven’t shied away from spending money in the draft in recent years. They are committed to feeding talent into the system. Now it’s up to the player development to get these guys to the big leagues.