The Indians finally got their chance to grab Alex White
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CLEVELAND—Pitching was the main depth in the 2009 Draft and just so happened to be what the Cleveland Indians needed most.
Thus, Tribe operatives plucked a pair of pitchers in the first three rounds of the first day of the draft, including power righthander Alex White with the 15th overall selection.
|The Indians have to be thrilled that RHP Alex White lasted 15 picks when they were looking for a college pitcher. OF Jason Kipnis (second round) doesn't have big tools, but he can hit and could move quickly, especially if he shifts to second base. OF Jordan Henry is a nice seventh-round sleeper.
"He's a power pitcher (who throws) a plus-fastball up to 96 (mph) with heavy life," Indians director of scouting Brad Grant said of the University of North Carolina junior. "He features two secondary pitches: a split that is a late swing-and-miss type pitch and a slider that is also a swing-and-miss pitch."
The 20-year-old White is 8-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 14 starts. While he's issued 41 walks, he's racked up 109 strikeouts in 98 innings. He recently picked up his eighth win by striking out a career-high 12 batters in UNC's 10-1 rout of East Carolina in Super Regional play.
White is a player the Tribe's scouting department knows well, having followed his career since his high school days.
"Our area scout has known Alex since high school," Grant said. "We've had interest in him since then, but weren't able to draft him."
Instead, the Los Angeles Dodgers chose White in the 14th round in 2006 out of D.H. Conley High in Greenville, N.C. But instead of signing, White stayed close to home and went the college route. It was a move that finally allowed the Indians to get their man.
"He's added a split to his repertoire now," Grant said. "In high school he was a power/sinker/slider guy."
White's numbers from last year as a sophomore are little more representative of a first-round pick, as he was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year after going 13-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 101 2/3 innings.
This season, however, he's pitched through a hamstring injury and blister—toughness that lends itself to Grant characterizing White as "a plus-plus makeup guy."
"He's a very intelligent, very athletic kid," Grant said. "He comes from a very strong family, one that we've known for a long time. He's very grounded and strong in his values."
Although Indians officials ultimately project White as a "back-end power bullpen arm", Grant said they will initially keep him as a starter, assuming he signs in time to play this season at short-season Mahoning Valley, then begin converting him to the bullpen next season.
• With the 63rd pick in the draft, the Indians took Arizona State outfielder Jason Kipnis in the second round. The 6-foot, 180-pounder can play all three outfield spots, bats lefthanded and is a big on-base guy. The redshirt-junior is batting .469 with nine home runs and 39 RBIs. In addition, he owns a .561 on-base percentage and .919 slugging percentage while going 11-for-13 in stolen-base attempts.
• In the third round (94th overall), the Indians went back to pitching in picking up righthander Joseph Gardner. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder completed his first season as a transfer at UC Santa Barbara, where he went 7-1 with a 3.40 ERA and 69 strikeouts while leading the Gauchos in nearly every pitching category.