The Indians have three picks in the first round, thanks largely for their low level of spending as they earned their first bonus pick for not signing Carlos Santana and their second as a competitive balance pick. Both of these picks are sandwiched between the first and second rounds, giving them three picks between 29 and 41.
Round 1, Pick 29: Noah Naylor – C
St. Joan of Arc Secondary in Mississauga Ontario, Canada
The Indians went about things a bit differently this year, moving from the pitching staff to a catcher for their first, first round pick. Naylor is the brother of the Padres’ Josh Naylor, although he is considered to be more athletic with less power. His athleticism could allow him to move to another position, something the Indians have been very comfortable doing lately with Gavin Collins moving to third and Michael Tinsley to left field.
As a catcher, his arm strength and pop time are among the best 2% in his class while his exit velocity is in the top 3%. While known more as a contact hitter, he did win the high school home run derby in San Diego in 2017 against fellow 1st round draft pick, Nolan Gorman.
Round 1, Pick 35: Ethan Hankins – RHP
Forsyth Central High School, Georgia
At 6’6″ 200 lbs, Hankins is a big right hander and he has the velocity to match, hitting 96 MPH according to Perfect Game. He also has a plus curve and uses deception by pitching out of multiple arm slots. Like many pitchers the Indians have drafted over the last few years, Hankins has a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt. This is really breaking the mold for the Indians, who haven’t taken a high school pitcher in the first ten rounds of any draft since 2015 when they took Brady Aiken, Triston McKenzie and Juan Hillman with their first three picks, all highschool hurlers.
Round 1, Pick 41: Lenny Torres – RHP
Beacon High School, New York
Continuing with the now established trend, the Indians went with another high school pitcher with their final first round pick. He is another hard throwing right handed pitcher and won’t turn 18 until October. A fastball first pitcher, he has a slider as well, but could eventually go into a relief role. He is committed to St. Johns, but will likely forgo that opportunity with a $1.7M signing bonus allotted to his slot. The Indians have also been extremely serious about signing all of their early draft picks in recent years and generally don’t take risks on players they deem unsignable.
Round 2, Pick 67: Nick Sandlin – RHP
Sandlin was originally a reliever, but converted to starter this year for Southern Miss and struck out 144 batters to just 18 walks in 102.1 innings with 1.06 ERA. He has a sidearm bordering on submarine delivery on some pitches with a mid 90’s fastball and is likely to convert back into a relief role in pro ball. He has had some injury issues in the recent past and this could also lead to a relief role.
The Indians next pick will by on Tuesday, Round 3, Pick 103. The draft will restart at 1:05 PM.