Looking ahead to the June MLB Draft speculation has already begun which direction any number of clubs will go in the draft. The Indians are included in that speculation of course and it is anyone’s guess how it all shakes out at this time.
This isn’t a normal year or a normal draft. What we have seen has essentially been thrown out the window. The Indians model (or philosophy – the words are interchangeable) leans heavily on youth and various other factors. It is doubtful they deviate from what they know and have been relatively successful utilizing.
There are other things their model seems to prefer like positional value, pitchability hitting ability, etc. Another area they could key in on is injured players. Perhaps, they will look at that spectrum a bit closer. That’s where we know they can get value and truly that is what the model is utilized for – getting the most value. In a year with tons of uncertainty perhaps, the most certain thing is the players who you already knew were limited (not unlike their peers) but their prices should be down due to injury (unlike their peers. That may be a bit backward thinking but what that really is is an exploration for unique value.
So, maybe this makes the players in the model that seem most effective those that should cost less financially. That’s where the question: where are the savings or cost-effective players? Where is the most value for the price?
There is a strong possibility we will see a somewhat conservative approach to this draft because of the sheer lack of data. So what should we expect and what should we really expect?
How do they get there, in terms of expectations?
Expect less from a smaller class with greater inherent risk. Let’s consider other factors; which may be the most influential in knowing future behaviors that is to compare previous behaviors as an indicator of future actions. While we have only had 2 years of Scott Barnsby as Director his 2 draft classes show heavy lean on upside and youth. Also, of note is that he has exceeded his draft pool in both of his years as Director. Furthermore, the Indians have exceeded their bonus pool allotments every year but one, the first draft with bonus pool allotments. So, what should we expect this year?
As stated above let’s look at prior behavior but also weigh the current facts with what we know. What we know is money is tight for many of the clubs and losing a draft pick this year may mean adding a pick in another deep class next year. It is doubtful that that will be their play. In fact, the Indians place a heavy emphasis on player development. Furthermore, the draft and International period are the most cost-effective means of acquiring talent for small-mid market clubs like the Tribe. It seems likely they’ll attempt to sign all of their draft picks. Will they do so without exceeding or even meeting their pool?
If they decided to essentially punt a pick is there any guarantee that they will allocate the resources to meet or even exceed their pool next season?
So, what has been their history?
Let’s look at the past three (random number) draft classes to make a conclusion…
The 2017 draft pool was comprised of roughly $3.8 million. The Tribe went with 3 prep players to start the draft selecting Quentin Holmes, Tyler Freeman, and Jonathon Rodriguez. They followed that with seven consecutive college selections before exceeding their draft pool to sign lefty Matt Turner.
The 2018 draft pool was much larger totaling $9.1 million. Again, the Indians went with 3 straight prep picks before turning to college selections over the next four. Then, drafting prep infielder Raynel Delgado in the sixth round. They went college pitching over the next seven selections before going over-slot to sign prep outfielder Korey Holland.
The 2018 draft class brought Bo Naylor, Ethan Hankins, Lenny Torres Jr., Nick Sandlin, Richard Palacios, Adam Scott, Steven Kwan, and a variety of others. With seven selections with pool space allotments totaling around $7.5 million through the first five rounds. The 2018 draft pool, when reduced to five rounds, is nearly parallel to that of the 2020 draft pool ($7.6M). According to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, some clubs will offer signing bonuses for roughly 70% of the slot to college players. For the Indians, this reduces the 2020 draft pool for the Indians to roughly $6.25 million or essentially removing a player like Lenny Torres Jr. (he signed for about $1.3 million) from the draft haul. Coming away with players similar to Naylor, Hankins, Sandlin, Palacios, Scott, and Kwan in terms of talent would be a quality draft class with the six selections and $6.25 million bonus pool the Indians hold for 2020.
The 2019 draft pool was rough $6.1M or a similar number to what the Indians may spend in this draft depending upon the viability and application of Kiley McDaniel’s recent comments on spending to the Indians. While the total pool is commensurate with what the Tribe may spend this year it should be noted the pool allotment was spread across 10 picks. The Indians selected 4 prep players with their first 4 picks and drafted 6 prep players in the first 10 rounds.
What will the Indians do?
Again, at this point, it is anyone’s guess but if they spend their entire draft pool of roughly $7.6 million over all six selections expect a strong prep presence early with a few of those selections. In terms of talent that may look similar to 2018’s draft class with similar talents to Bo Naylor, Ethan Hankins, Lenny Torres Jr., Richard Palacios, Adam Scott, and Steven Kwan (excludes Nick Sandlin to reflect similar spending). However, if they go the opposite direction the draft class could reflect something similar in talent to Bo Naylor, Ethan Hankins, Nick Sandlin, Richard Palacios, Adam Scott, and Steven Kwan (excludes Lenny Torres Jr. to reflect similar spending).
Either way, the Indians go they will likely come away with a handful of quality prospects from this draft class because of the overall depth.