The MLB Draft is on Monday. What to do the Cleveland Indians need to add to this organization during this draft.
The MLB Draft is different than other professional sports drafts because the current major league roster construction has no effect on the draft strategy of the team. None of the players drafted will make an immediate impact for the big league club, making organizational needs harder to read.
Every GM and scouting director will tell you that they don’t draft for need, but simply take who they think is the best player available. And that’s the smart approach. But that approach has also given the Indians four outfielders in the last five years with their first pick. It could simply be the luck of the draw, but there are trends that can be seen with the Indians.
There are strong positions and weak positions in every organization’s farm system. Teams would like to shore up at the positions where they are thin on talent, but don’t want to reach for a player at a certain position.
Nevertheless, here are some needs that the Cleveland Indians need to satisfy in this year’s MLB Draft.
Right Handed Outfielders
This is more of a need of balance for the Tribe. This isn’t just based on the fact that a healthy Indians outfield is comprised entirely of left handed hitters, but that the rest of their organization has an overload of lefty hitting outfielders.
Of the notable outfield farmhands, 11 of the 16 are left handed hitters. There needs to be some kind of balance to this group. It’s the same when positions are too right handed heavy.
Last year, the Tribe selected Quentin Holmes with their first selection, and he’s a right handed hitter. But with the rumors circulating that the Indians are targeting another outfielder in this year’s draft, I think they would want to double dip on right handed hitters.
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There are few notable names at the top of this draft class that fit that bill. Kyler Murray out of Oklahoma and Jordyn Adams of Green Hope (NC) HS are the two right handed options in the realm of possibility for the Tribe.
College pitchers are generally the more polished players in the draft and can work through the minor leagues very quickly. College relievers generally are the best bet to become the first players from a draft class to reach the big leagues. Some are even able to reach the big leagues in the same year they’re drafted. Not too long ago, Brandon Finnegan was pitching for the Royals in the World Series the same year he was drafted.
As enticing as it might be to draft a college reliever and try to bring him up to the big leagues right away to help the team, that’s not necessarily what the Indians should do.
The organization is fairly short on top tier pitching talent in the minor leagues. Of the Tribe’s top 30 prospects, only nine are pitchers, and three of them, Brady Aiken, Triston McKenzie, and Julian Merryweather, have not pitched at all this year. Another two, Ryan Merritt and Shawn Morimando, have been on the disabled list most of the season.
That leaves four healthy, top level pitching prospects in the minor leagues. For an organization that prides itself on developing pitching, that’s a stunningly low number. They need to add to that number with a couple of their early picks in order to stock up this farm system.
Blue Chip Talent
Above all else, the Cleveland Indians just need to add some top talent to this organization. The farm system is desperate for some top end talent. With the Tribe near the end of a championship window and a lot of past and impending departures in major league free agency, stocking the farm with as much talent as possible needs to be the main goal.
If the best player available fits the mold of a college pitcher or a right handed hitting outfielder, then even better. That way, the Tribe can satisfy the best player available approach while addressing the deficiency at one of those positions.
This is the goal for every team going into the draft, and it’s going to be difficult when your earliest selection is at 29 overall. But, remember, Mike Trout wasn’t taken until the 25th pick in the 2009 draft. So it’s possible to find talent that late in the first round.
Prospects that can move quickly through the minor league system are always enticing and could be vital for the Indians to open a new championship window as soon as possible.
With three picks in the 41 overall selections, there’s plenty of opportunities for the Cleveland Indians to add some blue chip talent to their organization.