The Indians drafted three high school players, including two right-handed pitchers in the second and third rounds, to start the second day of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday.
The Indians selected Minnesota prep pitcher Mitchell Brown 79th overall in the second round. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-hander went 6-1 with a 0.65 ERA in seven starts this past spring for Rochester Century High near Minneapolis. In 43 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 89.
“With his fastball velocity, he’ll pitch up to 94 and then use his secondary stuff at the same time,” Director of Scouting Brad Grant said. “He’s got a curveball and a slider, both of which can be plus at times. He’s got a good feel for his change-up and he throws a lot of strikes. He has a very good delivery with good arm action, so there’s a lot of ‘now’ stuff with Mitch, but also some upside to him as well with being a high school kid.”
In the third round (110th overall), the Tribe chose right-hander Kieran Lovegrove out of Mission Viejo (Calif.) High School. Lovegrove, 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, was 6-3 with a 1.58 ERA and helped to pitch his team to a Division II state title.
“He’s got a loose, athletic frame, another guy who can touch 95 mph and sit between 89-91,” Grant said. “He has very good life to his fastball and a developing slider, but has the chance to have an average slider and change-up. He’s another guy who throws strikes and has a very good delivery.”
Drafting high school players has been considered a risky proposition, but this year’s new draft rules changed the philosophy of teams like the Tribe and allowed them to focus on drafting talent, instead of solely on the ability to sign the players.
“Under the new rules this year, with having an allotment [of money] for the first 10 picks and then losing that allotment if you don’t sign those picks, that made it more difficult to balance for sure,” Grant said. “You wanted to make sure you had that player signed, make sure that you were taking a player you knew you could sign. Then after that, you balance out taking players through the process down the road.”
So with the aid of the new rules, the Indians were able to take more risks with the amount of young players they drafted high instead of having to play it safe by selecting college players who were more likely to sign.
“What we did today, we felt like we were able to add some high school and junior college arms and mix in some upside high school athletes, high school position players and balance it out with some college juniors and seniors later on,” Grant said. “We’re really excited about the opportunity to draft some of those high upside right-handed starters that we took earlier, then be able to mix in a guy like [high school outfielder] D’Vone McClure [taken in the fourth round] with his athleticism, bat and the secondary tools he brings.”
McClure of Jacksonville High in Arkansas is a 6-foot-3, 190-pounder who batted .412 with 12 doubles, 15 RBI, 28 runs and 26 stolen bases his senior season.
Grant said that he and his staff weren’t necessarily targeting right-handed pitchers on the second day of the draft, but picking seven in the team’s 14 picks Tuesday turned out to be an unexpected bonus.
“It was more a combination of it being the strength of the draft this year and something we certainly wanted to add to our organization,” Grant said. “There was a lot of high school right-handed pitching and not a lot of left-handed pitching in the draft this year.”
In the fifth round, the Indians picked right-handed pitcher Dylan Baker of Western Nevada Community College.
“There’s a lot of ‘now’ stuff with Dylan, a guy who throws 96 mph and sits at 93, a guy with good life [on his pitches] who throws a slider that has a chance to be a plus pitch for him down the road,” Grant said.
The trend of pitchers being the priority on the second day could mean the Indians will focus more on position players in rounds 16 through 40 during the final day of the draft today.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Aeros blog at http://www.ohio.com/aeros. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.