It’s draft time again, but before the Indians upgrade their minor league system with an influx of talent, let’s take a look back. It’s extremely hard to judge a draft class immediately after the draft takes place (you don’t even know for sure who will sign) and even a year or two later results generally aren’t clear. Instead, every year we travel back five years to see where that draft class is now. This is enough time that most players who will reach the Majors are nearing that level or have already arrived.
In general, it’s not good when you draft 40 players and only two have made their Major League debut for the team within five years and no others looking particularly close. Naquin remains a solid first rounder (although multiple better options were picked later in the round including Lucas Giolito, Corey Seager and Marcus Stroman), although he still doesn’t project as a Major League starter. He’s a solid bench and left handed platoon option and should be for years to come.
Wendle was traded to Oakland for Brandon Moss, who in turn was traded to St. Louis for Rob Kaminsky, who was a 2013 draft pick and currently a better prospect than anyone the Indians picked up in 2012.
Nellie Rodriguez (15)
It is extremely generous to call Nellie a top prospect at this point, but he’s the best out of this Indians draft class and still the 2nd best Tribe 1B prospect behind Bobby Bradley. Drafted as a catcher, Rodriguez played all of three games behind the plate before a permanent move to first. He’s a hulk of a man and has true power, with 20 or more home runs in each of the last three minor league seasons. Unfortunately, he isn’t even a AAAA player like Jesus Aguilar was and it wouldn’t be surprising if he never played in the Majors at this point.
If calling Rodriguez a top prospect was outlandish, calling these guys prospects at all could be a crime. Head was an interesting reliever back in 2014 for Carolina and Akron, but a poor 2015 saw him play his third season in Akron in 2016 and he’s 27, playing poorly in Columbus during what should have been the peak of his MLB career.
Last season in the five year review, Lucas was named as a potential top player from the 2012 draft. Now, he still ranks among the Indians top minor league catchers by default, but he’s been surpassed offensively and defensively by Francisco Mejia and with both Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez under long term deals, it’s unlikely he will ever play for the Indians.
Brown hit a major snag in the transition from low to high A and is still only in AA at 23 years old. Martin is in his second season in Columbus at 27. As a right handed reliever, he gives up far too many hits and walks for him to be interesting to the Major League club, especially considering how many other options they have.
Of them all, Baker has the best chance of breaking through. He’s had three surgeries in the past two years, so it’s not talent keeping him back, but health. He’s healthy and throwing now, however, and has shown decent potential in the past. If he can break through to the Majors at some point, it would make this draft seem better than a complete and total failure.
These players deserve to be included simply by lasting this long, but expecting anything would be too much. Even so, they can’t really be called busts. All except Lovegrove were late round picks with little to no expectations to begin with. Lovegrove could be the most disappointing, although at 22 he’s also the youngest with the best chance of making it. He had a great story as the first player drafted from South Africa and there was intrigue around his shift to closer last year for the Captains. At this point, however, he’s as far from the bigs as ever, so he’ll remain on the backburner. At least he isn’t over 25 like many from this draft.
D’vone McClure (4), Josh McAdams (7), Caleb Hamrick (8), Jacob Lee (9), Logan Vick (11)
Before mentioning any of the real busts, the Indians had two other cool story players from the 2012 draft. First, Indians radio announcer Tom Hamilton‘s son Nick Hamilton was drafted in the 35th round and stuck around through part of 2014. He was drafted as a short stop, but played all over the place and even got into a Major League Spring Training game that his dad was calling for a pretty cool moment. Secondly, Tyler Booth was taken in the 13th round. Booth went to high school in Goodyear, Arizona, where the Indians play Spring Training and the home of the AZL team that he started his pro career with. He didn’t stick around long, but the games he played in the AZL were the only ones that drew a real crowd in the last seven years.
Speaking of Arizona, McClure seemed like he was a yo-yo and the person holding the string lived in Goodyear. He was released after the 2015 season and made appearances in the AZL every season he was with the team. Neither he nor McAdams ever had anything remotely resembling a decent season for Cleveland.
The two pitchers, Hamrick and Lee, each started off their careers well, but Hamrick was cut after not moving past Lake County after four seasons and Lee after struggling in Akron in 2015. Vick was cut a season earlier and, while he could never hit, he had one great asset. He stole 26 bases in 2013, then 13 the next year before moving on to independent ball in 2015 where he stole 38 while hitting .410.
The preference in choosing a five year mark to look back on matches greatly with the Indians, because they don’t seem interested in giving most borderline players a sixth season. Early in 2017 there were a few cuts from the 2011 class including Bryson Myles and Yhoxian Medina. Of those who haven’t debuted yet or been cut, catcher Eric Haase has slight interest thanks to his strong arm, Todd Hankins is a potential super utility guy and Jeff Johnson could be a decent reliever, but
Up & Comers
The first splash from 2013 came in 2014 when left handed reliever Kyle Crockett (4) made his debut. Adam Plutko also has made his MLB debut from this class, as a reliever in 2016, and he could be a decent back end starter at some point. The best player to come from the 2013 draft for the Indians, however, is unquestionably Andrew Miller, who was obtained by trading the first round pick (Clint Frazier) and the 22nd round pick (Ben Heller) along with 2014 first round pick Justus Sheffield, to the Yankees.
2012 Draft Notes
- This was the first draft to drop from 50 rounds to 40 rounds, so there were many fewer late round picks who generally either don’t sign or don’t pan out.
- 14 of the 40 players drafted by the Indians didn’t sign, most notably Paul Hendrix (32), Justin Garza (26) and Andrew Calica (17) who were each drafted a second time by Cleveland, Hendrix in 2013, Garza in 2015 and Calica in 2016.
- Of the 26 players who signed:
- Two have made MLB debuts.
- 10 have reached AAA.
- 12 are still with the Indians.
- 20 had at least some college experience, a reason for the lack of high potential prospects and their collective old age.
- Three players, James Stokes (22), Richard Stock (23) and Benny Suarez (36), were active in leagues outside of MLB as recently as 2016. Suarez has built up a decent career as a reliever in Mexico.