This article is late. Normally I try to get it out a little before the signing deadline or just after. Instead, life happened and I was unable to get out my yearly shadow draft piece on time.
I am not taking advantage of the extra time. I didn’t check out how guys did in the minors or save extra funds for TJ Friedl who after going undrafted burst on the scene for Team USA and got a big deal from the Reds.
No, this is based on who I thought the top talents were and who I would have taken. After the year is done I plan to start revisiting this shadow drafts for articles and seeing how I have done, so keep your eyes peeled for those.
Lastly, I need to give Baseball America a big shout out. Their draft database was an invaluable source to look at for figuring out the money for my shadow draft. I went there to look over the costs of players and make sure that my shadow draft was one that made sense monetarily as well.
Round 1, pick 14 overall
So the debate for me with this draft was right at the top with who do I take. Will Benson is a great kid with a high ceiling but I have pretty major concerns about if he will ever be able to hit enough. So he was never going to be my pick here. Yet at the same time my number one player, Blake Rutherford, was on the board. The problem if I take Rutherford here is I need to make up a $782,000 dollar difference in the signing bonus between he and Benson.
This would be a huge sum to make up and would affect several picks. I knew I could cut about $40,000 off the top with money that the Indians had under the spending cap, so it give me a very small head start.
If I did not take him, then I was looking at Delvin Perez here - the talented but troubled shortstop. If he had been a plus character guy he would have been the top pick in the draft, and he signed for $2.2 million dollars which was less than Benson. So while Perez might be a risk he gives me more money to spend.
After much debate, Blake Rutherford was too good for me to turn down. I would trim money from other deals and add the supremely talented hitter. I think his ceiling is very similar to Michael Brantley. He would slot in as the number two prospect in the whole organization to me.
Of course, now I have to shave $742,000 dollars off this draft, which is not an easy task.
Selection: Blake Rutherford, OF - Chaminade HS
Round 2, pick 55
Here is my debate. The clear cut top player on my board is Nolan Jones who the Indians selected. Jones got the second highest bonus in the second round, only behind Kyle Mueller, the left-handed prep pitcher from Texas.
I could cut the deficit entirely here and take players I was known to like. For example JB Woodman, Sheldon Neuse, and Nick Solak all signed for under a million. I could save almost $1.5 million and then have another $750K to upgrade some later picks. It is tempting, but in the end I said no.
Nolan Jones was a top 15 talent in this draft. He is a great player with plus power potential. I loved his athleticism and approach at the plate. He is too good a talent to pass on, even if I could have split the money on others.
Selection: Nolan Jones, SS/3B - Holy Ghost HS
Round 2.5 (Competitive Balance), pick 72
It was right around this pick that the run on catchers began. I liked Logan Ice quite a bit, but he was not the top college catcher on my board.
So I will still grab a catcher but instead will go with Sean Murphy from Wright State. I saw him in person this year. He was the most impressive player I saw in person in terms of tools. The raw power from the right side is there. He should be an elite defender as well. His arm was one of the best tools in this class. There is a floor of a backup catcher if he doesn’t hit enough which is a pretty good value here.
If not for an injury he would be long gone. The other bonus is that Murphy allows me to save $47,000 dollars which means I now just need to cut another $695,000. There was some temptation to take a senior sign here to save cash. The upside of Murphy at such a need position in the organization was too good to pass on.
By grabbing Murphy here I have been able to take three of my top 50 players in this class.
Selection: Sean Murphy, C - Wright State
Round 3, pick 92
I have to change this pick, at this point it is starting to get late in the process and I have to clear a lot of money yet. Aaron Civale is a nice pick, but very similar to a few other pitchers the Indians took.
I scan through the players taken in the third round and there is a player who stands out in terms of stuff and money savings.
Zach Jackson is a player who had been as high as ten on my big board in the summer before the draft. He has two potential plus pitches and a usable third. His curveball is one of the best pitches in this draft.
I also thought he could have started this year, but got mishandled at Arkansas. He got a handful of starts then was thrown back in the pen. His command and control have been issues. I know how much I preach on avoiding these types of arms, yet here is an electric arm who could benefit from a coaching change and a defined role.
There is an upside of a mid-rotation starter with a good chance at a backend reliever as well. If you trust your staff he is a very interesting arm. On top of that he saves me $350,000 right here which cuts my deficit in half.
Selection: Zach Jackson, RHP - Arkansas
Round 4, pick 122
I looked around the fourth round a bit here to see if I would change the pick from Shane Bieber. Most of the players I had rated higher signed for twice what Bieber got. Josh Palacios from Auburn I really liked, but he signed for a little more. I can’t afford to increase the deficit.
I talked to a lot of California people. It’s a state in which I have many great connections. They all were fans of Bieber.
I trust these people and like what I saw from Bieber so I am keeping this pick.
Selection: Shane Bieber, RHP - UCSB
Round 5, pick 152
Conner Capel was a guy who made my top 100. I thought he was an excellent value here and was one of my favorite picks in the draft. I talked with a scout who was all over him early in the process.
I was shocked to see him not only slide but sign for slot here. I am not changing this one. I like the speed, work ethic, and bloodlines.
Selection: Conner Capel, OF - Seven Lakes HS
Round 6, pick 182
I had to pick one player from the last three picks to change up to save cash. Of the three I have the least faith in Cantu. This is not to say I dislike this pick. I liked it as he has a good bat and some pop. I have to save money though.
I considered two players here. Boomer White was the SEC Player of the Year. He much like Cantu is a great hitter with a limited defensive profile. The other issue with White is that at the time of the draft no one was sure if he would sign. He could technically be a fifth year senior. He was living out a lifelong dream playing for Texas A&M. I could not deal with that uncertainty. I need this money or I am going to lose a first rounder next year.
So instead I look at Duncan Robinson a 6’6” right-handed pitcher from Dartmouth. He doesn’t throw very hard which is an issue, but one has to wonder if there might be a bit more velocity in that arm. He posted very low walk rates in the Ivy League with a high K rate.
I think there is a lot value here in a small school guy with size and a walk rate under one.
We know the Indians used to love to mine the Ivy Leagues, so why not a guy whose name makes him sound like what would happen if one combined the front court of the late 90’s Spurs.
Selection: Duncan Robinson, RHP - Dartmouth
Round 7, pick 212
The Indians need catching depth in the system. It is clearly where they are the weakest. I am fine with taking Michael Tinsley here. He was a highly productive bat in college. I am a big fan of hitters with high BABIP and who walk nearly twice as much as they strikeout.
I was a bit tempted by Jordan Zimmerman from Michigan State, but decided to stick with the Indians pick as it met a bigger system need.
Selection: Michael Tinsley, C - Kansas
Round 8, pick 242
There were some fun picks here in the 8th round to consider. I saw Troy Montgomery a few times with Ohio State. He is a plus defender with average on base skills, but he cost too much for my current situation. Chris DeVito is a big strong red head power hitter, which is a need for the Indians system now. The issue is he has a slow bat and no defined position.
In the end I decided to go off board here a bit in an effort to save a lot of money, and to try and finagle something later.
Andrew Lantrip was tempting to keep with his plus command, but I am not sure he has so much as an average pitch in his arsenal. After keeping Bieber and Duncan who are similar arms I decided to flip the script here.
Kevin LaChance signed for $2.5K in the 10th round. He is a shortstop whose best skill is his plus speed. His contact numbers in college were good, but I would say he has well below average power. The upside here is purely as a utility guy. Still though, for his price tag, he is a great value because of the skills he has shown in four years of school. More importantly though, with this pick I am under 5% threshold for the pool limit. This means no penalties for me to worry about. I am free and clear for my next two picks.
Selection Kevin LaChance, SS - University of Maryland Baltimore County
Round 9, pick 272
Hosea Nelson is the type of player who often intrigues me. He put up huge numbers at a small school and the question becomes was it the environment or is there more there. The Indians certainly thought there was more there to sign him for the entire pool amount for the pick.
Right now he looks like a future left fielder who can run and hit. I am going to stick with the pick. Nelson won’t be 20 till November so he is closer in age to a high school player than your typical college player.
Selection: Hosea Nelson, OF - Clarendon College
Round 10, pick 302
This was another pick where I had some debate. I knew I had to get a senior sign with one of the picks in rounds 8-10, so the question was which player I would swap out. It came down to Taylor against Lantrip.
I chose to keep Taylor because he is an up the middle talent, likely second base. He has plus speed and was really impressive at the Area Code Game a year ago making a name for himself. He is undersized, but the ceiling is just a lot higher here than with Lantrip.
Of course the fun thing would be if they could have convinced either player to slide to the 12th round. I was a big fan of Andrew Calica who they took in the 11th so I would not want to mess around there. As of this point if I was the Indians I could spend $24,979 over slot without losing a first rounder. Lantrip signed for $125K and so did Taylor.
If one of those players did slide, I could offer them $124,979, just $21 less than they signed for. Heck, I could offer $124,979.99 if that made it better. This would have been very possible with the way teams make deals with players on draft day. So with this approach I take Taylor here and try and work a deal to still get Lantrip later.
Selection: Samad Taylor, 2B/SS - Corona HS
So, in this draft, I land four of my top 100 players. I end up with two of my top 20 and three of my top 50. I use every dime possible to land all but four of the players the Indians originally selected.
Most importantly I add the top player in the draft to the Indians minors, so not a bad day at the office for this fake Director of Scouting.