Cleveland Indians 2021 MLB Draft: Pitchers and more pitchers
The 2021 MLB Draft has come and gone and the Cleveland Indians have added 21 new players to the organization. What might be the most shocking aspect is that of those 21 players added, 19 are pitchers. Cleveland has been called by the Pitching Factory for a few seasons now, but this takes the discussion to a whole new level.
Of the 21 selections, the Tribe spent the last eight on pitchers after having already taken 11 in the first 11 rounds of the draft. The club also took a shortstop in the third round and an outfielder in 12th, but the mass amount of arms is something that seems crazy.
Of the 19 pitchers, 15 are right-handed with only four being left-handed. This is representative of the team’s usual pitching core, including a starting rotation that has frequently been solely right-handed pitchers prior to this year. On top of that, all the left-handed pitchers for the Tribe were selected in the first nine rounds of the draft.
The breakdown of high school versus college is also a bit lopsided. For the two positions players selected by the Tribe, one is from the prep level and the other is collegiate. However, for pitchers the Tribe’s first 15 taken were from the college level. In fact, the team took just one high school pitcher and that was in the 18th round.
Oddly enough, the Cleveland Indians weren’t the only team to really go hard on pitchers in the 2021 MLB Draft. The Los Angeles Angels spent each and every one of their 20 selections on pitchers. Now, they definitely have a need there, but all 20 picks on one position group is still pretty incredible.
In case you didn’t follow along with all 20 rounds of the 2021 MLB Draft, here’s what the Cleveland Indians walked away with after the three days. You can also find a breakdown for some of the picks on MLB.com’s Draft Tracker.
Round 1, Pick 23 – Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina
Round 2, Pick 58 – Doug Nikhazy, LHP, Ole Miss
Round 2 Competitive Balance, Pick 69 – Tommy Mace, RHP, Florida
Round 3, Pick 95 – Jake Fox, SS, Lakeland Christian School (FL)
Round 4, Pick 125 – Ryan Webb, LHP, Georgia
Round 5, Pick 156 – Tanner Bibee, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
Round 6, Pick 189 – Aaron Davenport, RHP, Hawaii
Round 7, Pick 216 – Jack Leftwich, RHP, Florida
Round 8, Pick 246 – Rodney Boone, LHP, UC Santa Barbara
Round 9, Pick 276 – Will Dion, LHP, McNeese State
Round 10, Pick 306 – Franco Aleman, RHP, Florida
Round 11, Pick 336 – Hunter Stanley, RHP, Southern Mississippi
Round 12, Pick 366 – Connor Kokx, OF, Long Beach State
Round 13, Pick 396 – Davis Sharpe, RHP, Clemson
Round 14, Pick 426 – Trenton Denholm, RHP, UC Irvine
Round 15, Pick 456 – Alaska Abney, RHP, Coastal Carolina
Round 16, Pick 486 – Zach Pettway, RHP, UCLA
Round 17, Pick 516 – Tyler Thornton, RHP, Arizona State
Round 18, Pick 546 – Tommy Ventimiglia, RHP, Longwood HS (NY)
Round 19, Pick 576 – Reid Johnston, RHP, NC State
Round 20, Pick 606 – Jake Miller, RHP, San Diego
Now, it still remains to be seen how many of these players will ink deals with the club. By drafting so many players from the college ranks, those numbers should increase. The question that will remain will be how many can contribute at the major league level in some capacity.
For the purpose of the Cleveland Indians, let’s expand that to be how many will be part of a contribution to the major league level. All 19 pitchers taken won’t make it the majors, but how many will be part of a deal that lands a key player for the club?
This is something that Cleveland has almost become known for. While the team is called the Pitching Factory, it isn’t always Cleveland that sees the long-term results of their products. Instead, they are included in trades that keeps the team competing at a high level each season.
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Take the last three years for example. The Tribe traded away Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer and for the most part haven’t missed much of a beat. You could even throw Adam Plutko in there. Go beyond on that and you hit trading away back-to-back Cy Young winners in C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee, sprinkled with players like Jake Westbrook.
That doesn’t even include pitching prospects that were dealt, like first round picks Drew Pomeranz, Alex White and Chris Archer. No matter who the Tribe traded away, from the majors or the minors, there was almost always a next man up. That’s due in large part to classes like this.
We saw a similar approach in the 2016 MLB Draft from the Cleveland Indians. While it wasn’t over 90% of the team’s picks like this year, the Tribe still selected 17 pitchers over the span of 40 rounds. From those 17 emerged the three best starters in the club’s current starting rotation.
You might be thinking that three out of 17 pitchers isn’t great, but that’s just the MLB Draft for you. In fact, it’s really just baseball in general. Out of the 19 pitchers selected, if three are pitching in Cleveland in three years, this strategy will be deemed a success.
Are there other positions that Cleveland has needs for? Sure. Are you going to find them in a draft? Who knows. There’s also the international free agent period in which Cleveland went heavy on the offensive side of the game, making this seem more like evening out the class rather than tipping it almost solely to pitching.