Stephanie Storm

CLEVELAND: Every year, the major-league baseball draft leaves hundreds of young players across the high school and college landscape hoping for a professional future.

Meanwhile, the league’s scouting directors and their array of scouts do their homework, crisscrossing the country before gambling on the players they believe have the talent and makeup to become the next class of major-league players.

That’s been the life of Indians director of amateur scouting Brad Grant for the past seven seasons as the leader of the department that selects and then develops the organization’s future athletes.

On Thursday, Grant and his staff have four good shots at landing some of this year’s upper-echelon talent. They have four picks on the first day at No. 21, 31, 38 and 61.

The 21st selection is the Indians’ first-round pick based on their record from last season. The 31st pick came as compensation for losing free-agent pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. The 38th is the club’s competitive balance pick and the 61st is their second-round selection.

For a draft that Grant believes is equal in its high school and college talent and heavy in depth overall, having four early selections could be a coup.

“There are a lot of similar players who fall into that range between picks No. 21 and No. 61,” he said. “It’s exciting.”

Exciting now, sure, but not so much in the past six months when it made for a bunch of added preparation that led to the Indians increasing their scouting staff, including three national cross-checkers.

“Last year we had the fifth overall pick and then we didn’t pick again until No. 69 on the second day,” Grant said. “So, we went and saw the best players just once, making the assumption that they wouldn’t get back around to us when it was time for our second pick.

“But this year, we definitely spent more time on those we consider to be the top 150 players in the draft. Our area scouts saw a player four to five times, then we had our cross-checkers seeing those guys three to five times. So the number of looks we’re getting is significant.”

Another factor that’s significant for the Indians in this draft is the team’s increased pool of money ($8 million) available to sign the players they obtain from the three-day (Thursday through Saturday) haul.

“With the eighth-largest bonus pool, we have the ability to be creative,” Grant said.

Stephanie Storm can be reached at sstorm@thebeaconjournal.com.