Though Cleveland made a big splash on the first day of the MLB draft by drafting 4 times in the first 67 picks, their draft was just getting started. While the Indians emphasized high school players early (each of their first three picks came from the prep ranks), 8 of their next 9 picks were college players.
Round 3, Pick 103: Richie Palacios – 2B
Palacios represents Cleveland’s first college position player of the 2018 draft, but aligns well with the Tribe’s recent draft tendencies. Like Ernie Clement, Tyler Krieger, and Mark Mathias before him, Palacios is an up-the-middle defender with a strong hit tool (career .320 hitter in college) and plate discipline (52 walks to 16 strikeouts as a junior). On top of his hit tool, he’s regarded as a plus-plus runner, which also showed up in his stat line (76 steals in 87 attempts in his college career).
Palacios is undersized, listed around 5’9, 170, and doesn’t project for much power. To boot, he played in a weak conference, bringing some of his excellent numbers into question. Still, the Indians snagged FanGraphs’ 66th rated player with the 103rd pick, so the selection seems like a win for Cleveland.
Round 4, Pick 133: Adam Scott – LHP
As a college senior, Scott will be an easier player to sign–a likely necessity, given the fact that Cleveland drafted prep players with loftier bonus demands with each of their first three picks.
Even then, Scott isn’t a throwaway pick. He’s a 6’4 lefty that has put up outstanding numbers this season, striking out 137 hitters and walking just 18 in 103 innings. MLB Draft scout Jeff Ellis suggested Scott could potentially serve as a match-up lefty for Cleveland, if the Indians wanted to fast-track him to the majors.
Round 5, Pick 163 – Steven Kwan – CF
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Cleveland drafted a collegiate, undersized, athletic, up-the-middle defender with good contact skills and plate discipline, without much power.
Kwan certainly fits Cleveland’s mold, so it isn’t a shock he was selected. His numbers this season for Oregon State are quite impressive: .349/.462/.460, and 46 walks to 13 strikeouts. He has good enough speed to stick in CF, but he’ll need to develop more power (which won’t be easy on his 5’8, 160 frame) if he’ll ever become an MLB regular.
Round 6, Pick 193 – Raynel Delgado – 3B
Calvary Christian Academy (FL)
After selecting college players in rounds 2-5, Cleveland returns to the prep ranks and get an apparent steal in Delgado. While he’ll surely be signed for more than his slot value, the Florida International commit’s ability landed him on some Top-100 lists for the 2018 draft class.
By all accounts, Delgado has the potential to hit and hit for power from both sides of the plate. There have been questions about his overall athleticism, which has caused scouts to think he’d move away from shortstop and play 3B or 2B. However, if the bat can play to it’s potential, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Round 7, Pick 223 – Cody Morris – RHP
University of South Carolina
Unlike the past few years, Cleveland has prioritized power pitchers in their 2018 draft class. A 6’5, 225 righty, Morris is the third pitcher taken by Cleveland with a 95+ mph fastball (joining Ethan Hankins and Lenny Torres).
Of course, you don’t throw 95 and get drafted in the 7th round without some question marks. Morris had Tommy John two years ago, and had better numbers as a redshirt freshman (5.9 K/BB) than as a redshirt sophomore (2.76 K/BB). Still, with a good fastball/curveball combination, Morris has potential in the bullpen if he doesn’t have the command to be a starting pitcher.
Round 8, Pick 253 – Alex Royalty – RHP
Unfortunately, one of the most interesting aspects of this pick is all the pun-potential Royalty’s name has. Name aside, this pick seems to point toward an under-slot signing to compensate for the several over-slot deals Cleveland will be making.
Royalty falls into the Shane Bieber/Aaron Civale/Matt Esparza mold of pitcher that Cleveland has emphasized in recent drafts. Royalty won’t blow you away with velocity, but his command (2.5 BB/9) and decent ability to miss bats (8.7 K/9 for his career) gives him a shot at being a back-end starter one day.
Round 9, Pick 283 – Brian Eichorn – RHP
Eichorn significantly improved between his sophomore and junior year at Georgia Southern, dropping his ERA from 4.33 to 3.15 and increasing his strike outs from 70 in 68.2 IP to 106 in 88.2 this year. His best pitch is his low 90’s fastball that he offsets with a slider and a change. He was a standout in high school, although he went undrafted and has been one of the top players in the Sun Belt since 2016.
Round 10, Pick 313 – Robert Broom – RHP
The Indians wrapped up day two with four straight right handed, college junior pitchers, all from the south-east USA. Broom was a reliever for Mercer, although he regularly pitched multiple innings and in one outing this year, went six scoreless in relief. He has a high 80’s/low 90’s sinking fastball with a solid slider that comes out of a sidearm release. He could be a potential late inning reliever and posted a 1.70 ERA with 111 strike outs in 74 innings in 2018.