Going After High School Righties
By Jim Ingraham
CLEVELAND--The Indians, who in recent years have had good luck in taking high school pitchers with their first pick in the draft, stuck with that formula again this year.
After taking high school pitchers with their first pick in 1994 (Jaret Wright), 1997 (Tim Drew) and 1998 (C.C. Sabathia), the Indians took that same route again this year, selecting high school pitchers with three of their four first-round picks. Five of the Indians' first seven picks overall were high school righthanders.
"We felt going in that the strength of this draft was high school righthanded pitchers, so we realized this was a scenario that was likely to happen," said Tribe scouting director John Mirabelli.
The Indians are in position to make the 2001 draft an impact draft in that they had several extra picks, thanks to the compensation picks they got for the loss of free agents Manny Ramirez, Sandy Alomar, and David Segui.
With their first pick, the 17th selection overall, the Indians took Dan Denham, from Deer Valley High in Antioch, Calif. With their second, the 27th pick overall, they selected Alan Horne from Marianna (Fla.) High. In the sandwich round between the first and second rounds, the 35th pick overall, the Indians took J.D. Martin, from Burroughs High in Ridgecrest, Calif. They used their second sandwich pick, 43rd overall, on outfielder Mike Conroy from Boston College High in Boston.
Denham, 18, was 8-2, 1.57 in 11 games this spring. In 67 innings, he allowed 34 hits, striking out 121 and walking just 23.
"He's been on our radar screen since his sophomore year," said Mirabelli. "We had as many looks at him as anyone on our board. We targeted him well before he threw his first pitch this spring, and he's been in the mix for us since the beginning."
Mirabelli said Indians scouts clocked Denham's fastball consistently between 90 and 93 mph, but it was more than just his fastball that caught the organization's collective eye.
"We like his secondary stuff just as well," said Mirabelli. "He's a four-pitch guy, with a curve, slider and change, although the change is in the developmental stage and is behind the other two."
Mirabelli said secondary pitches were also contributing factors in the decisions to draft Horne and Martin.
"All three of them (Denham, Horne, and Martin) are the same animal--big strong high school pitchers with power arms," Mirabelli said. "But for us, what separates all three are their secondary stuff, either a curve, slider, or change."
Horne, 18, was 9-1, 0.47 this spring. In 75 innings, he allowed 23 hits, with 143 strikeouts and 13 walks.
"The last two months, we didn't miss many of his starts," said Mirabelli. "He's got some projection to him, but with 'now' stuff. He's a power pitcher with a lot of ability."
Martin, 18, was 9-1, 0.24 in 10 games this spring. In 59 innings he gave up 17 hits, with 111 strikeouts and 11 walks.
Conroy, 18, is a 6-foot-3, 195-pound lefthanded hitter.
"He's a very interesting kid," said Mirabelli. "He's played center field in high school, but we project him as a corner outfielder. He's very athletic, with a tremendous upside. He's been on our charts for a couple of years and has gotten better as the spring has gone on."
Denham has committed to Pepperdine, Horne to Ole Miss and Conroy to Miami, but Mirabelli said the Indians are confident of getting all of their top picks signed.
"We've very confident," he said. "Part of the process for us is that we want players who are anxious to start their pro careers immediately. All of these kids have indicated to us that they are ready to start their pro careers."
Copyright 2001 Baseball America. All rights reserved. |
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.