After a nearly decade of conservative first round picks, taking collegiate players with their first pick in the draft from 2002 (they took Dan Denham in 2001) through 2010 (Francisco Lindor in 2011), the Indians have continued their run of high risk, high reward high school players on the first day of the 2017 draft. In fact, since 2013 they’ve taken five high school players of seven first round picks (the exceptions being Bradley Zimmer and Mike Papi).
This year, they didn’t have a first round pick, but with the 64th overall pick, they took outfielder Quentin Holmes our of Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School in New York. The six foot right hander is known for his blazing speed and was considered the 33rd best prospect in the draft by MLB.com. He doesn’t have much power as of yet, but is a high contact gap hitter and could build muscle as he grows. After all, he won’t turn 18 until next month. According to perfectgame.org, he’s among the top quarter of prospects in both bat speed and exit velocity.
While his age and first pick status for the Tribe may earn him comparisons to Will Benson, he seems much more like later 2016 picks Hosea Nelson and Conner Capel only with more upside. With a few other speedy outfielders already in the system like Greg Allen and Gabriel Mejia (in addition to Major Leaguers Bradley Zimmer and Tyler Naquin), it appears that the Indians have a real focus on taking outfielders with true speed who can be both a great defensive asset and a threat on the bases.
With their second pick of the night, Cleveland went with another high schooler, short stop Tyler Freeman. Out of Etiwanda High School in California, Freeman has less upside than Holmes, but should still be a well rounded player who can play both middle infield positions. He’s a line drive hitter who provides average defense and slightly above average speed according to MLB.com. Freeman just turned 18.
Freeman is committed to TCU and Holmes to Mississippi State, but the Indians generally won’t draft a player early unless they are 100% certain of them signing and haven’t missed out on signing a first or second round pick since Alan Horne in 2001 (the last second rounder to not sign was Kurt Dempster in 1984). Since both players are 18 (or will be by the time they sign), they would most likely begin their Indians careers in either the Arizona League or Mahoning Valley.
The Indians next pick is 102 overall and they will continue on with the 27th pick each round through 40.