The Cleveland Indians had three of the first 41 selections in the MLB Draft on Monday. They went with high school players with each of them.
With three selections in an 11 pick span, the Tribe went rapid fire on high school players, selecting catcher Noah Naylor, and pitchers Ethan Hankins and Lenny Torres.
Noah Naylor, C, St. Joan of Arc (Ont.) HS
Naylor was connected to the Indians a lot over the course of this draft season. He has a power bat and a power arm. We profiled him in our catching position preview and believed he would make an excellent selection.
He has a very similar profile to current Tribe top prospect Francisco Mejia. Naylor hits for a high average with a lot of power, and he has a strong throwing arm. His receiving work needs development behind the plate, but it’s his bat that will carry him.
Naylor is a left handed hitter and he can also play some third base or left field if necessary. The Indians catching depth is ridiculous right now. With Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez at the top, Francisco Mejia, Eric Haase, Logan Ice, and now Naylor are all on the organizational depth chart.
This is a really good pick. A lot of high school pitching that the Tribe wanted fell in the draft, meaning they could take the hitter they wanted here at 29 and one of the pitchers they wanted at 35. Losing Carlos Santana this winter doesn’t seem so bad now after all.
Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central (GA) HS
Well, what do I know? I thought the Cleveland Indians should avoid Hankins because of the injury that kept him out for a decent chunk of the 2018 season. High school pitchers that suffer injuries generally see their draft stock fall and some fall completely off teams’ boards. But not the Indians. They still had him on their board.
Hankins has an 80-grade fastball, the top grade scouts can give. He’s 6’6″ and can hit 98 MPH with his fastball that has a ton of movement. He also possesses a solid changeup with a decent curveball and slider. He’s got the stuff.
I have nothing against the stuff that Hankins has. I think he could end up being a wonderful pick if he stays healthy. But health will always be a question as he develops because of this injury in high school. If he stays healthy, he could be the steal of the draft getting him with the 35th pick.
Lenny Torres, RHP, Beacon (NY) HS
Another high school player that I thought the Indians should avoid. He’s very young and very raw. At 17 years old, Torres is one of, if not, the youngest player in this draft. He only really has two pitches that he uses, making him a future reliever. But his two pitches are pretty good.
Torres is hitting 97 MPH as a 17 year old and has a devastating slider. His changeup is only used in bullpens and not in games, leading some to believe that he’s going to be a reliever.
This is a high risk, high reward type pick. He’s so young and raw that taking him with a future most see as a reliever seems like a reach at 41 overall. The Indians must believe he can start. With four picks on the first day of the draft, the Cleveland Indians must feel they can take some risks, and that’s what they’ve done so far in this draft.
The Indians are going with a lot of young players. None of them figure to make it to the big leagues quickly, but Hankins may be the fastest of the three if he stays healthy.