A Look Back at the Rookie Performances of the Indians 2019 Draft Picks

A Look Back at the Rookie Performances of the Indians 2019 Draft Picks

Indians

A Look Back at the Rookie Performances of the Indians 2019 Draft Picks

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Round 1, Pick 24: Daniel Espino – RHSP
AZL Indians Red & SS Mahoning Valley

The Indians drafted Espino out of Georgia Premier Academy largely due to his high velocity and the fact that he has regularly hit 98 MPH at 18 years old shows that they weren’t wrong. He had great success in the AZL although he was babied a bit with just over 2 IP per start. In Arizona, he struck out more than 10 per nine and more than three times as many as he walked, warranting a promotion to Mahoning Valley after just six appearances. There, he bumped his K/9 to 16.1, but walked more and allowed more hits with a 6.30 ERA to push his season mark to 3.80. Given his age, this was still an incredible performance and likely means a return to Mahoning Valley next year.

Valdes puts a ball in play for Indians Red against Indians Blue during the 2019 season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 2: Yordys Valdes – SS/2B
AZL Indians Red

Drafted as a defense first short stop, Valdes struggled even with that part of his game early, although he ultimately showed that he is an accomplished short stop who struggles while playing second. Offensively, he picked things up a bit in August, but ultimately had a terrible season. He hits for very little power and often fails to make contact leading to a fairly pitiful batting line. Valdes turned 18 during the season, however, so he is young even for the AZL and would likely benefit from another season in Arizona.

Naranjo fields a pick off attempt during a 2019 AZL Indians Red game. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 3: Joe Naranjo – 1B
AZL Indians Red

The first of two high school first basemen drafted by the Indians in 2019, Naranjo had a solid season at the plate, batting .266/.345/.333. He didn’t hit for much power, but had good plate discipline and hit the ball hard enough to make me think he will hit for more power as he ages. He was also a solid defensive first baseman and will likely stick there throughout his career.

Round 4: Christian Cairo – SS/3B/2B
AZL Indians Red

It may seem like I’m repeating myself, but Cairo was also a high school draft pick with good plate discipline as he walked 25 times in 46 games, good for a .324 OBP despite an average of just .178. He hit for essentially no power, but was a solid defender at both second and third, while he was a bit questionable at short. With other solid defensive options at third and short, Cairo currently fits best at second within the Indians organization.

Gaddis makes a start for AZL Indians Blue during the 2019 season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 5: Hunter Gaddis – RHSP
AZL Indians Blue & SS Mahoning Valley

Gaddis struck out 112 with just 21 walks this year for Georgia State, then continued to have similar success against the youngsters in the AZL, striking out 26 with three walks in 17.1 innings with team Blue. He was then promoted to Mahoning Valley where he was even better, posting a 2.30 with 27 strike outs in 15.2 innings. Gaddis is 6’6″ and a hard thrower with great command. There is a good chance that he will continue in the Indians line of great college pitchers following Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac.

Brown mans third base during the 2019 AZL season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 6: Jordan Brown – 3B/SS
AZL Indians Red

Brown won’t turn 18 until next September 9th, so he should get quite the benefit of the doubt, but he didn’t start his pro career on the right foot. Prior to his first multi-hit game on July 13th, he was hitting .057/.298/.086, although he did pick things up considerably before the season ended. The difference between his average and OBP shows that he had a decent walk rate and his defense was near spectacular at third base (he was a high school short stop), so he has multiple skills to build upon.

Round 7: Xzavion Curry – RHP
Did not play in 2019.

Brennan hits a ball into the air for AZL Indians Blue during the 2019 season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 8: Will Brennan – CF/LF
AZL Indians Blue & SS Mahoning Valley

Brennan brought his great eye at the plate to the Indians during the AZL season, taking 15 walks compared to six strike outs in 140 plate appearances, setting the mark for best K% in the league. After 31 games, he was promoted to Mahoning Valley where that efficiency dropped quite a bit, but he was still an effective hitter. While he played mostly center in Arizona, he doesn’t have the speed of some of the other Indians center fielders and has a great arm, so is likely to be moved permanently to a corner (as he was in Mahoning Valley). While he was used as a part time pitcher at Kansas State, the Indians have yet to experiment with this part of his game. This is likely due to the extreme amount of pitchers on the AZL rosters as they can’t waste innings on position players pitching.

Bartlett heads off the field during a 2019 AZL Indians Red game. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 9: Will Bartlett – 1B/LF
AZL Indians Red

Bartlett had a solid season at the plate, batting .268/.386/.379 with 12 doubles. With Naranjo getting the majority of the starts at first, Bartlett was used semi-regularly in corner outfield positions where he was serviceable, but not exemplary. Out of IMG Academy in Florida, Bartlett has a very advanced approach at the plate for an 18 year old and should progress nicely as he continues through the system.

Hart pitches for the Indians in relief during the 2019 AZL season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 10: Zach Hart
AZL Indians Red & Blue

Hart appeared to be two completely different pitchers this year, starting out with Indians Blue where he had a 12.86 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 9.0 K/9 before he joined the Indians Red and had a 3.44 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 14.2 K/9. A college pitcher out of Franklin Pierce, Hart ended up having good control and swing and miss ability despite the slow start. Unlike many of the Indians relievers taken in the 2019 draft, it appears that Hart will remain in the bullpen.

Round 11: Nick Mikolajchak
AZL Indians Blue & SS Mahoning Valley

Just like in 2018, there were a ton of extremely successful relievers that came out of the 2019 draft and Mikolajchak is the first on this list. He started with four outings without allowing an earned run in Arizona before a quick promotion to Mahoning Valley. There, he continued by allowing a single earned run in 19 innings, good for a 0.36 ERA as a rookie. He struck out 13.0per nine, walked three total and allowed 14 hits in 25 innings.

Hernandes throws a pitch for the Indians during the 2019 AZL season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 12: Allan Hernandez
AZL Indians Red

Hernandez was the last high school pitcher who signed with the Indians out of this draft. He struggled greatly with his command this year, throwing nine wild pitches, hitting four batters and walking 15, but he also showed great ability at times, striking out 16. He was a relief pitcher who will likely remain a reliever and will need to work significantly on his control to be successful at higher levels in the future.

Round 13: Micah Pries – OF
Did not play in 2019.

Freeman mans third base during the 2019 AZL Indians season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 14: Ike Freeman
AZL Indians Blue & A Lake County

Freeman was the only player from the 2019 draft to make it to Lake County in his first season and he was a bit of an odd choice for it. Not particularly adept at the plate or in the field for the AZL Indians, he struggled even more so in A ball before hitting the IL after the first week in August and ending his season. He can play second, third and short, but isn’t particularly good at any and is particularly poor at short. He hit for some power and had a great BB/K ratio in North Carolina, but both aspects were completely missing from his game once he reached the professional ranks.

Round 15: Trey Benton – RHP
Did no play in 2019.

Jones pitches in relief for the AZL Indians during the 2019 season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 16: Jordan Jones – RHRP
AZL Indians Blue

Jones was generally used as a reliever during his first season, but seemed to become more and more dominant as the season progressed and he was stretched out to multiple inning stints. This hit it’s peak on August 17th when he pitched four shut out innings with one hit allowed and nine strike outs. His stats straight down the line were incredibly impressive with a K/9 of 10.4, BB/9 of 2.0 and an ERA of 1.74. Jones could be a huge steal for the Tribe as he never pitched this well while in a full time starter’s role with the University of Washington. In his lone post-season appearance, Jones helped Indians Blue advance to the second round with 4 innings, six strike outs, three hits, one walk and one run allowed.

Escobedo starts towards third during a 2019 AZL Indians Blue game. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 17: Julian Escobedo – CF
AZL Indians Blue & SS Mahoning Valley

Last season, the Indians took Billy Wilson in the 28th round out of a Southern California college and he had a truly outstanding season in the AZL. This year, it was Escobedo who out shined all of the early round picks in the AZL as his .327/.424/.495 batting line lead to a promotion after 28 games. Out of San Diego State, Escobedo had a similar approach to Brennan, but with more speed. He stole eight bases in nine attempts and walked more often than he struck out (27 to 26 in 50 games). Had he stayed in Arizona all year, he would have been on the short list for league MVP, but upon reaching the New York/Penn league he struggled with the more advanced pitching.

Waldron pitches for AZL Indians Red in relief during the 2019 season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 18: Matt Waldron – RHRP
AZL Indians Red & SS Mahoning Valley

Waldron was incredibly dominant in Arizona this year, allowing one run on three hits without a walk while striking out 17 in 10 innings. This warranted a promotion and, once in Mahoning Valley, he struck out 40 more in 35.2 innings with four walks. If you need help with the math, that’s 57 strike outs to four walks in 45.2 innings. His only draw back is that he allowed three home runs leading to a 2.96 overall ERA. Waldron will turn 23 later this month, so he should begin the 2020 season in Lake County.

Kelly throws in relief for the AZL Indians in 2019. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 19: Kevin Kelly – RHRP
AZL Indians Red & Blue

Kelly started the season with Blue, flipped to Red when some players were promoted, then jumped back to Blue for the play-off run. He’s a hard throwing side armer who doesn’t walk anyone (literally two walks in 17.1 IP) and strikes out many (25). He can pitch multiple innings per appearance, but didn’t do it often during 2019 and will almost certainly stay in the bullpen.

Enright winds up for a pitch during the 2019 AZL Indians season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 20: Nic Enright– RHRP
AZL Indians Blue

With a 0.50 ERA, 13.0 K/9 and 5.5 H/9, there’s nothing to dislike about Enright. If you believe in clutch, he exemplified it when he came into the first AZL play-off game with two on and one out and struck out the next two hitters. If he could work on one thing, it would be limiting walks, but he does such a good job both striking out hitters and limiting hard contact that is possible staying near the outside of the zone is a necessity.

Amditis watches a fly ball during the 2019 AZL Indians season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 21: Michael Amditis – C
AZL Indians Blue

Amditis provided everything you could want out of a rookie level catcher. He blocked well behind the plate, threw out about 20% of attempted base stealers, walked a lot and hit for a bit of power (mostly line drive doubles). He did have the advantage of being a college pick against mostly younger players, but that can’t be held against him as it is his rookie year as well. He isn’t quite as advanced as Bryan Lavastida was at this point last year, so he will probably remain a level behind him and start in Mahoning Valley next year.

Pinorini slaps a ball in play during the 2019 AZL Indians season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 22: Austin Pinorini – C
AZL Indians Blue

Pinorini started the AZL season as the back-up for Amditis, but was hurt in late June and didn’t play again. He had just three hits in his seven games, but two of those were doubles. He didn’t play enough this season to really judge anything, but will turn 23 later this year, so will likely move on beyond the AZL in 2020.

Fidel pitches in relief for the Indians during the 2019 AZL season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 23: Chandler Fidel – LHRP
AZL Indians Blue

Fidel was generally used in long relief after being a starter at Arkansas-Little Rock. His 27 strike outs in 27 innings during the regular season were acceptable, but he allowed five home runs as well. This was the most allowed by any pitcher on either Indians teams (tied with Daritzon Feliz) and the most in the AZL by any pitcher with fewer than 30 IP (tied with four others). In his post-season appearance, he allowed one more home run and had trouble defending his position during a relentless attack of bunts by the AZL Rangers.

Gonzalez stands at first after a hit. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 24: Joab Gonzalez – SS
AZL Indians & SS Mahoning Valley

While most of the position players promoted beyond Arizona in this draft struggled at the higher level, Gonzalez was the closest to maintaining his pace. He hit .375/.447/.469 during his first couple weeks in pro-ball, then played the majority of the season in Mahoning Valley where he hit .200/.256/.252. Primarily a short stop in Arizona, he moved to third base in SS where he wasn’t particularly efficient. The biggest problem, however, following his promotion was that he went from a 15% strike out rate to 30% while his walk rate dropped from 10% to 7%.

Mock throws in relief for the AZL Indians during the 2019 season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 25: Eric Mock
AZL Indians Blue & SS Mahoning Valley

Drafted as a starter out of Penn State, Mock was used in long relief for the Indians in 2019, averaging more than two innings per appearance despite not making a start. He struck out 37 in 33.2 innings across both leagues with his strike out rate dropping and his walk rate rising once he reached short season.

Round 26: Armani Sanchez
Did Not Sign

Pena takes his lead off second during the 2019 AZL Indians season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 27: Landy Pena – 2B
AZL Indians Red

Pena was one of the youngest players on the AZL Indians this year as he won’t turn 18 until November, but he showed an advanced knowledge of the strike zone, taking 15 walks in his first 18 games. However, when he put the ball in play it was almost always a weak ground ball. Even as a middle infielder (or center fielder, where he played once), he will have to add significant strength to compete at any level.

Round 28: Serafino Brito – RHRP
AZL Indians Red & SS Mahoning Valley

Brito pitched just six times in the AZL before his promotion to short season and, unlike many on this list, had better traditional stats than peripherals, posting a 1.44 ERA between both levels despite a 7.5 K/9. He was excellent at limiting hard contact once he reached the Scrappers and didn’t allow a home run all year in 31.1 innings.

Ocker stands on the mound for the AZL Indians during the 2019 season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 29: Nate Ocker – RHRP
AZL Indians Blue

A nice reliever out of College of Charleston, Ocker finished his first season with a 1.50 ERA, 15.5 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. He was generally used in short relief, but often as the closer in this role, finishing seven of his 14 games played and earning five saves. Of those that stayed in Arizona for the full season, Ocker is one of four pitchers I think have a good chance of skipping short season next year along with Labaut, Jones and Enright.

Round 30: Jonathan French
Did Not Sign

Janczak pitches during the 2019 AZL Indians season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 31: Jared Janczak – RHRP
AZL Indians Blue

Another hard throwing college right handed reliever, Janczak had great swing and miss stuff although he was only used sparingly during the 2019 season. He struck out 24 in 15.2 innings during the regular season and was even better in the post-season. He walked just six and allowed 16 hits, but gave up a surprising 7 earned runs in addition to ten more unearned. His walk, strike out and hit ratios were all better than his final season at TCU and his overall numbers should look better once he plays on a real field in front of a real defense.

Misiaszek looks to the catcher for the sign during a 2019 AZL Indians game. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 32: Andrew Misiaszek – LHRP
AZL Indians Red & SS Mahoning Valley

Misiaszek was a reliever for Northeastern and has continued in that role, although he has generally been used in long relief rather than the traditional LOOGY role. He struck out 30 in 27.1 innings across two levels, but walked 12 and threw 7 wild pitches.

Coulter pitches for the Indians during the 2019 AZL Indians season. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 33: Kevin Coulter – RHRP
AZL Indians Red

It was a common theme among Indians relievers in the AZL this year, but Coulter struck out a ton of batters, didn’t walk many and limited hits. He ended the season with a 2.45 ERA and 43 strike outs to 13 walks in 33 innings. He had his best night of the season on August 18th when he went 3.1 scoreless innings against the Mariners and struck out eight without a walk and just one hit allowed.

Wisely delivers a pitch in relief for the 2019 AZL Indians. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 34: Alec Wisely – RHRP
AZL Indians Red

Wisely struggled greatly during his first month in the professional ranks, allowing 17 hits and nine runs in 11.2 innings. He was removed due to injury from the game on July 18th after striking out batters for both outs in an inning and didn’t pitch again during the season.

Labaut sets for a pitch during a 2019 AZL Indians game. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 35: Randy Labaut – RHRP
AZL Indians Blue

Labaut was one of the AZL Indians most reliable relievers this year, relying on a dominating fastball to post a 1.74 ERA and 11.3 K/9. He was almost always used in long relief, averaging nearly three innings per appearance, so it is possible that he could be moved to the starting rotation in the future. Labaut was a starter with the University of Arizona and showed even better command in relief for the Indians with 39 strike outs to five walks.

Round 36: Ryan Ramsey
Did Not Sign

Forrester pitches in relief for the AZL Indians in 2019. – Joseph Coblitz, BurningRiverBaseball

Round 37: Jacob Forrester
AZL Indians Red

Forrester didn’t pitch much in the 2019 season and was used in a more prototypical relief role than most, exceeding one inning in just one appearance. He ended up throwing eight innings and striking out 14, going his final five appearances without allowing a run (5.1 IP), allowing three hits, one walk and striking out nine.

The final three picks did not sign.

Round 38: Jake Eissler
Round 39: Jake Harrell
Round 40: Cy Nielson

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