The MLB Draft is just a few short days away, and teams are carefully considering who they want to draft. The Cleveland Indians should avoid taking these players.
It’s pretty hard to project which draft prospects will turn out to be All-Star caliber players, and which ones will never see a day in the big leagues. That’s what makes the MLB Draft such a crapshoot. No one knows who is going to boom and who is going to bust. Every scout likes to believe in the upside and potential of they players they’ve gotten to know, but anything can happen.
Sure things are hard to find in the MLB Draft. Bryce Harper was seen as a sure thing. Stephen Strasburg and Alex Rodriguez were sure things. But there is no ‘sure thing’ at the top of this year’s draft class. And there’s no chance of finding a ‘sure thing’ with the 29th overall pick where the Cleveland Indians are selecting.
No matter who the Tribe takes, there will be bust potential. But these few players I believe have a fairly high bust potential, and the Indians should avoid drafting these players as the crown jewel of their draft class.
Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central (GA) HS
There is no demographic more volatile and risky than right-handed high school pitching. Hankins is talented, to be sure, but he’s a risk the Cleveland Indians should not take. The 6’6″ Georgia prep star is committed to Vanderbilt and has an 80-grade fastball, the highest grade scouts give. He also has a good changeup but needs his two other offspeed pitches to develop in order to be a top end starter.
There are two main concerns with Hankins. The first is that his fastball has been inconsistent. He can sit mid-90s and hit 98 MPH sometimes. But other times this spring, Hankins is topping out at about 90 MPH without much movement. With inconsistent speeds like that, that could be a problem once he gets into the professional ranks.
The other concern is the injury that Hankins dealt with this spring. He had shoulder tightness in February and kept him out for a month. After his return, he wasn’t as dominant as he was before.
MLB Pipeline’s 21st ranked prospect is seeing his stock fall after a rough spring. Typically, high school pitchers who were injured during their senior season will end up going to college as teams would prefer not to risk an early pick on such a high risk arm. Let the college coaches deal with the development and injury prevention and then revisit him in a couple years.
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Steele Walker, OF, Oklahoma
I know that MLB teams do not draft based on current big league roster construction, but the last thing the Cleveland Indians organization needs is another left handed hitting outfielder. There are a bunch of them, actually, near the top of the draft in range for the Tribe’s first few picks. Jameson Hannah, Trevor Larnach, Connor Scott, Nick Schnell, and Mike Siani are other left handed hitting outfielders that could be late first round picks.
A majority of the outfielders in the Indians farm system are left handed, and it’s a major surplus right now. The argument could be made not to draft any of those left handed hitting outfielders, but Walker is the one that I like the least.
His hit tool has to carry him, and scouts give it a 55-grade, which barely above average, and not as high as you would hope for a carrying tool. I would at least like to see that as a 60-grade tool. He possesses only average power, not much speed, and has fringy arm strength. He’s likely destined for left field in the big leagues, but doesn’t hit for as much power as you would like to see with corner outfielders.
Walker is MLB Pipeline’s 30th ranked prospect, right in range for the Indians first picks, but he would not be a smart selection in my opinion. The Tribe already has too many guys like him.
Lenny Torres, Jr., RHP, Beacon (NY) HS
Torres is getting some Competitive Balance round and second round consideration, and could work his way up into the late first round. He has a big fastball that can hit 97 MPH and a pretty good slider. But he should not go to the Cleveland Indians.
Torres is only 17 years old, young even for this high school draft class. And he’s got many years of development ahead of him. MLB Pipeline’s 47th ranked prospect is committed to St. Johns, and I think he should go to college.
Also, Torres’ third pitch, his changeup, is something he only throws in bullpens and hasn’t brought it into games yet. Many believe his future is as a relief pitcher. And while that may sound enticing to Indians fans given the current state of the Tribe’s bullpen, you generally don’t want to draft a reliever in your first few picks.
If you do take a reliever early in the draft, he needs to be someone that can help out your big league team in a hurry and make a big impact. At 17 years old, Torres is many years away from helping out a big league bullpen. Given his age and raw potential, Torres should go to college in my opinion and not into the professional ranks.
While all three of these prospects have a chance to become quality big league players, I don’t think they’re the right kind of players the Indians should want in their organization right now.