Indians hope Draft slot is lucky number
Club holding 13th selection in 2007 First-Year Player Draft
John Mirabelli was recently given a three-year contract extension by the Indians, and he joked that he hopes his mind and body will allow him to fulfill that commitment.Because as the Indians' assistant general manager of scouting operations, Mirabelli is never busier than he is this time of year, preparing the Tribe for the annual First-Year Player Draft. Reached by phone last week in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he was taking in the Big East baseball tournament, Mirabelli was in the midst of a week that would also see him visiting with players in California and Texas as well as attending the ACC tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. "It's a hectic, helter-skelter time," Mirabelli said with a laugh. Hectic, yes, but it comes with the chance of a big payoff for the Indians. With the 13th overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, which takes place June 7-8 at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla., the Indians know they have a chance to land a special player. Fans can find out who that player is by tuning into the first round, which will be televised on ESPN2 and simulcast on MLB.com beginning at 2 p.m. ET. Video coverage of the remaining four rounds from Day 1 will air on MLB.com, with live interviews and analysis from Casey Stern, Jonathan Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Dave Rawnsley. Day 2 will begin at 11:30 a.m. ET and continue through round 50, if necessary, with every pick heard live at MLB.com. Every pick of the draft can be followed with MLB.com's live Draft Tracker, a searchable database of every draft-eligible player that includes biographical data, scouting reports and scouting video. Mirabelli believes the Indians have to hit big with the 13th overall pick, because the club lost its second- and third-round picks through the free-agent signings of David Dellucci and Roberto Hernandez last offseason. Additionally, a record number of compensation "sandwich" picks after the first round (35 in all) will make the Indians' fourth-round pick (137th overall) appear to be more of a fifth-round selection. So Mirabelli is hoping 13 is a lucky number. "I think it puts the spotlight on that pick," Mirabelli said of the Tribe's drafting situation. "The focus is on that pick. You have to have a good, deep draft, and we're going to. But that's going to be a key pick for us. It has the chance to make the most impact." It's altogether possible -- perhaps even likely -- that the Indians will use that pick to draft a high school player, because Mirabelli feels the prep pool, particularly with regard to position players, is where the bulk of the high-end talent is this year. "The pool of talent has forced us to take a long, hard look and get involved with a lot of these high school guys," he said. "They are the strength of the draft. We've been involved with some high school guys very intently."
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
Under terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Indians will only have until Aug. 15 to sign their picks, and they won't be able to use the old draft-and-follow process, where teams would select players and send them to junior college to further evaluate them. Last year, the Indians made securing middle-infield and catching talent a priority. But with a dearth of picks in the early going this year, Mirabelli doesn't think the Indians will be able to go into this draft with as firm a strategy. "It's going to limit our flexibility where we've been able to address or look at certain things in the past," he said. "Because we don't have the picks, it's going to make it more difficult." First-Round Picks: 2006: David Huff, LHP, pick No. 39: Huff was said to be an advanced college arm when the Indians took him out of UCLA in the supplemental first round last year, and so far he's lived up to that billing. Through 10 starts at Class A Kinston, he was 4-2 with a 2.10 ERA, with 43 strikeouts and 11 walks in 55 2/3 innings. He hadn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of those outings. "He can really command the ball," Mirabelli said. "He pounds the strike zone. He's an above-average strike-thrower." 2005: Trevor Crowe, OF, No. 14: The Indians' higher-ups are scratching their heads when it comes to Crowe. He was one of the fastest-rising prospects in their system, he tore up the Arizona Fall League and he impressed in big-league Spring Training camp this year. But at Double-A Akron at the end of '06 and the beginning of this season, he's struggled mightily at the plate. "I'm not sure where he is mentally," Mirabelli said of Crowe, who was batting just .174 through 44 games. "Last year, he was simply dealing with the [eventually aborted] transition to second base. To be honest, [this year] I didn't think he'd be in Akron too long. I'm guessing a lot of [Crowe's struggles] are the mental part of it and getting in a rut and trying to get out of it in one day." 2004: Jeremy Sowers, LHP, No. 6: Sowers has also been dealing with the mental pressures that come with professional baseball, but his struggles have come at the big-league level. After bursting onto the scene and proving to be one of the Indians' most consistent starters in the second half of '06, he labored to a 1-4 record and 6.29 ERA in his first nine starts of '07 and looked to be losing his permanent rotation spot to Fausto Carmona. "We believe in him," Mirabelli said of Sowers. "The mental part of the game is his strength. His ability to make adjustments is a strength. He's going through something not uncommon for a lot of pitchers in their first full year in the big leagues. We're not worried at all." Rising Fast: The Indians liked Jared Goedert's plate approach at Kansas State University when they took him in the ninth round last year, but they had no idea he'd have the kind of power he's shown at Class A Lake County this season. Through 45 games, Goedert had hit .366 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs and was on the fast track to high-A Kinston. Defensively, the Indians view Goedert as similar to Casey Blake, in that he's versatile enough to play the corner infield and outfield spots, as well as second base. Cinderella Story: Wyatt Toregas might have been the 707th overall pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, but he's emerged as, perhaps, the top defensive catching prospect in the Indians' system. He has a quick release and does a good job of shutting down the opponents' running game. In the Show: Sowers is the only player from the last three drafts to make it to the Majors, at this point.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.