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Indians Draft Report Card

Best Pro Debut: OF Ben Francisco (5) hit .349-3-23 with 22 steals, leading the short-season New York-Penn League in batting and runs (55). LHP Keith Ramsey (10) gave the Indians a second NY-P all-star, going 6-3, 2.04 with a 71-10 strikeout-walk ratio in 62 innings. LHP Shea Douglas (32) used his plus-plus changeup to go 3-1, 1.29 with a 51-10 K-BB ratio in 35 innings, and had two scoreless appearances in the low Class A South Atlantic League playoffs.

Best Athlete: Francisco does everything but hit homers and may stay in center field. OF Nathan Panther’s (15) lefthanded bat, speed and arm strength are all intriguing.

Best Pure Hitter: 2B Micah Schilling’s (1) swing evokes memories of another Louisiana high school star, Will Clark. Schilling was bothered by a bone chip in his left elbow after signing and batted .206 in Rookie ball. 3B Matt Whitney (1) also has a nice stroke.

Best Raw Power: OF Jason Cooper (3) never got the most out of his power in three years at Stanford. The Indians are letting him use the leg lift he employed in high school and encouraging him to pull more pitches. Whitney again is the runner-up.

Fastest Runner: Panther, a 6.6-second runner in the 60-yard dash.

Best Defensive Player: Though 3B Pat Osborn (2) had torn the labrum in both his shoulders, the Indians believe his arm is bouncing back. He’s agile at the hot corner.

Best Fastball: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (1) works at 90-95 mph, a tick ahead of RHP Brian Slocum (2).

Best Breaking Ball: LHP Michael Hernandez’ (6) power slider should enable him to move quickly. He also has an 89-91 mph fastball that has touched 94. Ramsey’s slider is his best pitch.

Most Intriguing Background: 1B Bill Peavey’s (11) brother Pat signed with the Astros as a 33rd-rounder, and their great-grandmother Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman won six U.S. singles tennis titles. Ramsey’s great-uncle John Ramsey was a longtime public-address announcer for the Dodgers. Cooper was Stanford’s backup punter as a freshman. C Clayton McCullough’s (22) father Howard scouts for the Diamondbacks.

Closest To The Majors: Guthrie may follow Danys Baez’ path to the majors. Baez spent little more than a year in the minors before reaching Cleveland, and Guthrie has an even better feel for pitching.

Best Late-Round Pick: Panther has a higher ceiling than Ramsey but will need a lot more seasoning.

The One Who Got Away: The Indians signed their first 16 picks. They hoped to steer slugging OF Curt Mendoza (19) to a junior college, but he’s at San Diego State.

Assessment: With four extra picks, Cleveland got two of the best college arms (Guthrie and Slocum) sandwiching two of the best high school bats (Whitney and Schilling). The Indians added plenty of talent deeper in the draft, and got first-round quality in RHP Sean Smith as a draft-and-follow. Combined with all the trades they made for prospects in 2002, the Indians made huge strides in replenishing their farm system.

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