Reason #2: The Indians front office knows a rebuild is coming
It’s inevitable. As Paul Hoynes recently pointed out and as we mentioned a few months ago, the Indians window to win a World Series is closing soon. Division titles may be for the taking since the AL Central is so weak, but returning to the World Series after this year will be extremely difficult.
Winter is coming on the Tribe’s chances to win the Fall Classic, and preparations need to be made in order to open the next window quickly. A looming round of heavy free agency departures for the second straight year, and a shallow farm system are signs of the rebuild to come.
In order to stay successful as long as possible, a team like the Indians needs to draft well. There could be some extra pressure on this front office to get blue chip talent that can reach the big leagues in short order to keep the impending rebuild as small as possible. This is where the possibility of selecting a few college prospects early on comes into play. College players are more polished and can reach the big leagues in a hurry.
Reason #3: A thin farm system
The Cleveland Indians farm system has a few top tier prospects, but lacks depth beyond that. Francisco Mejia, Triston McKenzie, and Shane Bieber are the crown jewels of a Tribe farm system that has been thinned out by trades in recent years as the organization needed to be competitive in order to make a run at the World Series.
Outside of that trio at the top, there really aren’t many prospects that are capable of helping out the big league club soon. Some may be able to make it, but replicating the production that the players on the current roster are doing appears to be an unlikely scenario at this point.
The Indians front office needs to add depth to this organization without selling off pieces from its big league roster, which is a difficult task. Other teams aren’t willing to give their prospects away if they aren’t getting an immediate impact at the big league level for them. That means that the only way the Tribe can add depth to this farm system without taking away from their big league roster is through the draft.
The Cleveland Indians need to nail this MLB Draft because they don’t want to go through a lengthy rebuilding process. They can’t just tear everything down and stink it up for several years in order to stock the system with talent without alienating a growing fanbase. To keep this team winning as much as possible, it’s vital that the Indians walk away from this draft with several blue chip talents.
Success rates are low in the MLB Draft. If a team can get three big league contributors from a single draft of 40 rounds, it’s seen as a successful draft. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to judge whether this draft was successful or not for a few years.
All eyes will be on the Tigers with the first overall pick on Monday night, but Tribe fans need to be aware of what the Indians do in the draft, as the future of the franchise depends on it.