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Cleveland Indians: Lonnie Chisenhall and some Indians draft history

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(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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Lonnie Chisenhall will be missed by the Cleveland Indians while he’s on the DL.  Longtime Indians fans will miss him for another reason too.

I like Lonnie Chisenhall. He’s a solid No. 6 or No. 7 hitter for the Cleveland Indians.

He won’t hurt you in right field. But there’s more to it than that.

If you want to be a successful major league team you need to get two things right in the draft:

  1. Don’t blow the first-round pick, and/or
  2. Find some value later in the draft

When you do that, you can build your team from within. Plus you have assets to trade when you need a pitcher (see also Andrew Miller).

Cleveland Indians draft – the glory years (1987-1995)

When you draft like that you are going to win a lot of games.

Cleveland Indians draft – the lean years (1999-2007)

With one really big exception (C.C. Sabathia in 1998) the Indians drafts from 1996 to 1999 were bad. Starting in 2000, they were awful. The names are a who’s who of bad first-round draft choices:

Corey Smith, Derek Thompson, Dan Denham, J.D. Martin, Mike Conroy, Jeremy Guthrie, Matt Whitney, Micah Schilling, Michael Aubrey, Bradley Snyder, Jeremy Sowers, Trevor Crowe, John Drennan, David Huff and last (and probably least) Beau Mills.

You are forgiven if you don’t remember all of those names. Or even half of them.

(Guthrie had some major league success, but that came after the Orioles claimed him off waivers in 2007.)

1999 through 2007 coincided with John Mirabelli’s tenure as director of scouting. To say he was less than successful with the draft would be a giant understatement.

Mirabelli’s drafts reminded me of Indians drafts when I was a kid. Tim Glass, Bruce Compton, John Bohnet, Mark Snyder. There were a couple of decent names: Rick Cerone (traded to the Blue Jays) and Kelly Gruber (lost to the Blue Jays in the Rule 5 draft).

At the end of 2007, Mirabelli signed a contract extension. A possible explanation might be giddiness after the near World Series trip.

Whatever the reason, the contract extension moved Mirabelli out of the role of draft guru. Enter Brad Grant – and a new era of success.

Which brings us to 2008 and Lonnie Chisenhall

The first pick Grant made, number 29 overall, was Lonnie Chisenhall. In eight seasons, Lonnie has an OPS of .747. The last two years the OPS numbers have been .881 and .846. Those are nice numbers to have from your number 6 or 7 hitter.

The biggest knock on Lonnie is bad calves. But even with his injury history his numbers are better than every hitter drafted by Mirabelli. Combined.

It just kept getting better for the Indians since then:

Final thoughts on the draft

When you add Trevor Bauer (Round 1, 2011, Diamondbacks) and Mike Clevinger (Round 4, 2001, Angels), it’s safe to say the 2011 draft was very good to the Indians.

Alex White and Drew Pomeranz were traded to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez in 2011. Jimenez didn’t do much until 2013, when he helped pitch the Indians to a one-game playoff against Tampa Bay.

Next: The odd situation surrounding Francisco Mejia

Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield were traded to the Yankees for Andrew Miller in 2016.  And we all know how well that worked out for the Indians.

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