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The Sports Daily > Burning River Baseball
Tribe Picks for Day 2 of the 2017 Amateur Draft

Round 3, Pick 102 – Johnathan Rodriguez – OF

The youngest player in the draft, Rodriguez comes out of Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico and is just 17 years old. He won’t turn 18 until November, in fact, but has some incredible upside. Defensively, he’s quick but is best known for his arm according to Perfect Game. His outfield throws average 96 MPH and he’s expected to possibly hit 100 MPH as he matures. His bat is also considered elite with a bat speed and exit velocity among the top 10% of draft eligible players. Rodriguez is listed as a switch hitter, but has been hitting exclusively right handed recently.

Round 4, Pick 132 – Ernie Clement – 2B/CF

The Indians first college pick of the 2017 draft projects to be more of a utility man than a starter, but can play three positions (short stop in addition to second and center) and is solid enough with the bat to have some upside. Over the last three years in Virginia, Clement has hit .306/.345/.376 with 35 to just 31 strike outs in 180 games. While he has little power, there is value in a player with such a high contact and low strike out rate. While he didn’t steal much in his first two seasons, he took 14 bases in 16 attempts in his last so it’s possible there is some burgeoning base stealing talent there. Clement had never previously been drafted.

Round 5, Pick 162 – Austen Wade – CF

The first lefty taken by the Tribe in the 2017 draft, Wade is another college bat, this time a senior rather than a junior like Clement. While his collegiate career started slow, he showed some real power at TCU in 2017, slugging over .500 while batting over .340. In his two seasons as a starter, Wade stole 28 bases and was caught 9 times. In all, his talent was apparent last year, but he didn’t really break out until this year and despite his increased power, he still had a solid BB/K rate. As a senior, he is extremely likely to sign, but is unlikely to have a high ceiling. With such a late break out season, it’s possible he’s just been overlooked as he was never drafted prior to 2017.

Round 6, Pick 192 – Michael Rivera – C

Out of the University of Florida, Rivera is a glove first catcher. While he missed much of 2017 with a hamate bone injury (one the Indians have become very familiar with over the last few years), he returned in time to hit .240/.342/.349 in 39 games. While these aren’t great numbers, he’s hit for more power in the past and appears to have a good eye at the plate with 61 walks to 64 strike outs in his collegiate career. He’s only a junior, so he could return to Florida, but at 21, he’s also probably never going to go higher than the sixth. For the Indians, he would provide a solid option for the lower levels where lack of real catchers has been a problem for years. Rivera was originally selected out of high school by the A’s in the 33rd round of the 2014 draft.

Round 7, Pick 222 – Kirk McCarty – LHP

Incredibly, the Indians lasted until the 7th round before they picked a pitcher and it was a left handed junior out of Southern Mississippi. As seen in the video above, he has a hurky jerky motion and throws out of a 3/4 slot. In college, he’s improved every season so far and now has 223 K’s in 239 innings with similar numbers in club play. His 3.52 junior year ERA was backed by a K/9 above 9.0, a BB/9 below 2.0 and a 1.16 WHIP.

Round 8, Pick 252 – Eli Morgan – RHP

A right handed starter out of Gonzaga, Morgan held a 2.86 ERA in just over 100 innings this year supported by a 12.3 K/9. Morgan wasn’t drafted out of high school and was used in relief in his first season in Gonzaga, but really came through as a power arm in 2017.

Round 9, Pick 282 – James Karinchak – RHP

Another college junior right handed starting pitcher, Karinchak comes out of Bryant University in Rhode Island. He only pitched 56 innings this year thanks to a shoulder injury, but in his best season (2016) he held a 2.00 ERA and struck out 112 in 94.2 innings. He uses a fast ball curve combination and, given his situation, could be a harder player to sign as he’s at a low point coming off the injury. He’s also a greater risk to teams now, so it’s possible the Indians could entice him with guaranteed money and a Major League training staff.

Round 10, Pick 312 – Jesse Berardi – SS

After three straight college pitchers, the Indians finished out day two with a college position player, junior short stop Jesse Berardi. MLB.com’s draft coverage had him possibly being a top 5 round draft pick and ranked 166th overall, so he could be a signing risk. Of course, the last time he was drafted it was in round 40 in 2014, so this is still a pretty big jump. While he struggled in his first season at St. John’s, he has since dominated and batted .356 in his junior year with 10 doubles, 4 home runs and 47 RBI in 55 games. In each of his last two seasons he’s struck out less than he’s walked and has walked 76 times overall in college to 72 K’s.