06/03/09 11:00 AM ET
Draft Preview: Lottery a Tribe emphasis
Indians likely to go hard after pitching depth
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
In about 50 words
After the pick at No. 15, the Indians will pick at No. 63 overall in the second round, and they'll have the 14th pick of every ensuing round from there. Recognizing an organizational need and a Draft depth, the Tribe figures to go heavy on pitching talent this year.
"The focus is always on that first-round pick, and that's usually where your impact players come from. There's always pressure, every year, with every first-round pick we take. But picking in the top half, we certainly feel even more pressure to make sure we're successful with that selection." -- scouting director Brad Grant, on the Indians' spot at No. 15.
Grant has reason to feel pressure with that 15th overall pick, because the Indians' history with first-round picks in the last 10 years is shaky at best. Not one first-round pick since CC Sabathia at No. 20 in 1998 has made a sustained, positive impact in the big leagues with the Indians. With that in mind, the Indians will try to take as safe a bet as possible. If they go with an arm -- and it appears they are apt to do so -- they might lean toward a college guy if all else is equal.
In addition to pitching, the Indians have a tendency to place an emphasis on middle-infield and catching depth. The middle infield is an area where the Tribe remains thin. As for catching, Grant said this year's class is weak on collegiate catchers but strong on high school catchers.
Grant believes this year's Draft is deep in pitching at both the high school and collegiate levels. So look for the Indians, who have placed a heavy emphasis on position players in recent years, to place a heavier emphasis on the arms this year. Last year, the Indians paid several players above the slot to ensure they wouldn't remain in school, and they might take a similar approach this year, even with what might be a smaller budget.
Recent top picks
Last year's top pick was shortstop Lonnie Chisenhall at No. 29. He has been converted to third base. He's swung a solid bat at Class A Kinston, but he's also made quite a few errors in the field. ... First baseman Beau Mills, taken with the 13th overall pick in 2007, advanced to Double-A Akron this season and hasn't had a truly impactful presence yet. ... Left-hander David Huff, a sandwich round selection out of UCLA in '06, made his Major League debut this season, going 0-1 with a 10.97 ERA in three starts in May.
Zach Putnam, a fifth-round pick out of Michigan in last year's Draft, has already reached the Double-A level. The right-hander was converted to relief work and had a 2.25 ERA in his first 12 innings of work. He's already a name to watch as a candidate to join the Major League 'pen this season.
Left-hander Tony Sipp, the 1,337th overall selection in the 2004 Draft, made his Major League debut earlier this season in the Tribe's bullpen.
In The Show
At this point, Huff is the only member of the Tribe's last three Draft classes to reach the Major Leagues.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.