06/07/2004 5:23 PM ET
Indians make their pitch for arms
Team selects Vanderbilt southpaw Jeremy Sowers
By Justice B. Hill / MLB.com
|Jeremy Sowers was the winning pitcher in Game One of the NCAA Regional last Friday. (Neil Brake/Vanderbilt)
CLEVELAND -- John Mirabelli tried to explain Monday how the first day of the First-Year Player Draft had gone for the Indians.
As its architect, Mirabelli was suited to put some perspective to the process and evaluate what the Indians, who opened with the No. 6 overall selection, had done with the first 20 or so picks.
"I feel we went deep the first day and go some pretty good arms," Mirabelli said.
Wise move. For if this draft had an surplus of anything -- the consensus is it's the weakest pool of talent in a decade -- it was in college arms. Mirabelli swooped in a grabbed as many arms as he could.
His first three picks were college pitchers: left-hander Jeremy Sowers of Vanderbilt; right-hander Justin Hoyman of Florida; and left-hander Scott Lewis of Ohio State. With his fourth pick, Mirabelli took a high school pitcher -- Charles Lofgren, a multi-sport athlete who throws a fastball in the low 90s.
Of the first 15 picks, 13 were arms of various kinds. Outside of Sowers, as highly regarded as any pitcher in the First-Year Player Draft, Lewis might be the most intriguing.
Scouts compare him to Mariners ace Jamie Moyer, which means Lewis fits into the finesse pitcher's mold. His fastball settles at around 86 mph with good movement. As Mirabelli likes to say, Lewis has "pitchability."
Position: LHP B/T: L/L
H: 6-1 W: 165
Born: 1983-05-17 Class: SR
BODY SIMILAR TO TOM GLAVINE. HIGH WINDUP, HIGH 3/4. SHORT ARM. SLIGHT HAND PUMP AT TOP OF JERKY DELIVERY. SLIGHT ACROSS BODY DELIVERY. MOST FB'S 87-89, SLIGHT ARM SIDE RUN. SLURVE-CB TIGHT, FLASHES DOWN ROT. GOOD ARM SPEED FADE CHANGE . LOCATES ALL PITCHES, ESPECIALLY FB. QUICK ARM W/ DECEPTION DELIVERY. CONFIDENT IN A QUIET WAY. GOES AFTER HITTERS.
But he's also coming off arm problems, which cut his production drastically this season for the Buckeyes. Still, Mirabelli saw more upside than anything else, and that goes with the other picks he made Monday.
"Upside presents some risk at times, but I think we wanted to stay away from safe and see if we could get some ceiling," he said. "That was our mantra as we made our first couple of picks."
Among those early picks, right-hander Cody Bunkelman of Itasca Community College looks like the only true power arm in the bunch. Bunkelman (No. 167 overall) throws a heavy, two-seam fastball that sinks. But he's raw, and needs to work on his circle change and his slider.
But he would be no different than anybody else the Indians selected Monday. No Mark Priors are coming out of the Class of '04. It will have more than a few names for baseball fans to track.
Besides the first four and Bunkelman, some of the other Tribe selections included:
Mark Jecmeh of Stanford: Right-hander with extra-large frame. Lean and slender. Well developed. Broad, rounded shoulders and back. Long arms. No windup, high three-quarters delivery. Cross-fire delivery. Some elbow hitch. Easy fastball, 88-99 mph with more there. Good downhill plane with arm side run and occasional heavy sink.
Christopher Neisel of Notre Dame: Stocky, medium build. Wide shoulders. Barrel-chested right-hander. Strong lets; long arms; large hands. Strong, mature look. No windup, three-quarter delivery. Good extention. Medium kick wind, slide step from set. Mostly average fastball, but changes speeds. Moderate sink and tail down in zone. Fair bite downer curveball. Occasional late, small bite slider effective around plate with three pitches. Competes well.
Brian Logan of Varina High School: Athletic build on medium frame. Strong upper body that tapers to firm lower half. Body similar to Mike Hampton's. No windup, high, three-quarter delivery. Fastball tailing life into left-handers. Curveball his best pitch. Gets on top for down, three-quarter type rotation. Late bite in zone. Good command for a high-school pitcher. Also plays outfield. Would rather pitch.
Jordan Chambless of Calallen High School: Large-framed right-hander. Sloped shoulders. Lean, muscular, well-defined, athletic body. Strong overall build. Mature, very slow, deliberate full windup. High three-quarter delivery. Raw arm strength with quickness. Comfort zone 90-91 mph. Occasional run. Changeup with fade. Big, strong, athletic right-hander with arm strength and ability to spin ball.
Jeffrey Sues of Vanderbilt University: Sowers teammate. Body similar to Steve Trachsel. High windup, high three-quarters. No glaring flaws in right-hander. Good arm speed on nasty changeup, good bottom-out life. Throws it anytime. Fastball 86-88 mph with fairly easy delivery. Creates movement by cutting and turning it over. Slurve-slider flashes late bite. A pitcher, but must pick up fastball velocity. Body, arm action and delivery will allow more.
That's a lot of arms to have at the ready, but Mirabelli wasn't surprised by that.
"We had a very sneaking suspension that the first day would look like this," he said. "There's not much you can do about it. That's the way the draft unfolded."
Mirabelli predicted that Day Two might bring more position players, but he wasn't inclined to stray from his draft philosophy, which is to take the best player available.
"I haven't really had a chance to catch my breath and step back and look at it," he said. "But I'll tell you this, as we were going through the rounds and making our decisions, I think we've got some ceiling.
"I think we came out of it with some upside in a lot of different places."
Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.