The 2021 MLB lasted all of three days, July 11-13, from Denver, Colorado. With 21 draft picks, Cleveland, among other clubs, made noise for what they did in the draft. That was utilizing 19 of 21 selections on pitchers. The lone two position players selected by the Tribe were shortstop Jake Fox and outfielder Connor Kokx. At the same time, there were rumors the club had an interest in others (James Triantos selected 56 by the Chicago Cubs and Wes Kath picked 57th by the Chicago White Sox) that never materialized.
Over-the-top with pitching?
As mentioned above, Cleveland utilized 90% of their draft capital to add pitching. With multiple picks (Nikhazy, Bibee, Davenport, Boone, Dion, and Stanley), all utilizing the over-the-top delivery. The arm slot creates a rise on the fastball, making it appear to run upward out of the zone. Think of James Karinchak’s delivery for visualization; it offers differentiation with his pitches working north and south. It adds deception and gives a different look than the majority of pitchers.
The mass influx of arms almost certainly required an adjustment to the organizations catching depth. Think of it in terms of pitchers = catchers; after all, someone has to catch the ball. Cleveland responded by signing two non-drafted free agent catchers. The first, Seth Caddell, Gavin Williams’ battery mate at East Carolina. He was a rotational player his first two years and had his third season shortened by Covid before finally have his chance this past season. He responded by smacking a career-high 14 homers. Caddell is regarded for his work with his staff. The second, Zac Fascia of Purdue, is highly regarded for his defensive abilities, but he lacks the offensive prowess to be more than a defensive-oriented backstop. There is value there, and the organization values defense from the catcher’s position up and down the system.
As of this writing, Cleveland has signed 20 of its 21 selections. They are as follows:
- 1.23 RHSP Gavin Williams $2.25 million
- 2.59 LHSP Doug Nikhazy $1.2 million
- CBB.69 RHSP Tommy Mace $1.1 million
- 3.95 SS Jake Fox $850 thousand
- 4.125 LHSP Ryan Webb $400 thousand
- 5.156 RHSP Tanner Bibee $259.4 thousand
- 6.186 RHSP Aaron Davenport $450 thousand
- 7.216 RHRP Jack Leftwich $167 thousand
- 8.246 LHSP Rodney Boone $167 thousand
- 9.276 LHSP Will Dion $125 thousand
- 10.306 RHSP Franco Aleman $175 thousand
- 11.336 RHP Hunter Stanley $125 thousand
- 12.366 CF Connor Kokx $125 thousand
- 13.396 RHSP Davis Sharpe $150 thousand
- 14.426 RHSP Trenton Denholm $150 thousand
- 15.456 RHRP Alaska Abney $125 thousand
- 16.486 RHSP Zach Pettway $75 thousand
- 17.516 RHSP Tyler Thornton $50 thousand
- 18.546 RHSP Tommy Ventimiglia $150 thousand
- 19.576 RHSP Reid Johnston $75 thousand
Unless things turn around significantly, Cleveland could find themselves selecting higher than they have in recent years. Right now, the club appears to be in line for a 2022 draft choice in the mid-teens and with a Competitive Balance Round A selection that would likely fall into the mid-to-late 30’s. These two choices combined could push the organization’s overall draft pool for 2022 into the top 5-10 range. That is significant because the 2022 MLB Draft class is widely regarded for its talent and depth early on.