2017 MLB Draft Grades: Cleveland Indians
Best Pure Hitter: Many of the position players the Indians drafted with their first six picks stand out for their pure hitting ability, but SS Tyler Freeman (2s) is the best of the bunch. He handles the barrel well and has a quick, direct swing that creates consistent, hard contact. Best Power Hitter: OF Johnathan Rodriguez (3) was one of the youngest players in the class and is still physically maturing, but he has plus raw power and profiles as a prototypical right fielder.
Fastest Runner: OF Quentin Holmes (2) is a top-of-the-scale runner and clocked a 6.15 60-yard dash at Perfect Game National in 2016, one of the fastest in the event’s history. 2B/SS Ernie Clement (4) and OF Clark Scolamiero (22) are plus runners.
Best Defensive Player: C Mike Rivera (6) was one of the best defensive catchers in the country throughout his college career at Florida. He has an above-average arm, is a solid receiver who has handled velocity on high-profile teams for years and earns praise for his leadership behind the plate.
Best Fastball: The Indians didn’t draft a pitcher until the seventh round, and when they did start selecting pitchers, few were power arms. RHPs Jonathan Teaney (20) and Tommy DeJuneas (26) were the exceptions. Both throw in the mid-90s and could add more velocity in pro ball with more consistent work.
Best Secondary Pitch: RHP Eli Morgan (8) ranked eighth in the country in strikeouts this spring at Gonzaga in large part because of his plus changeup, which one area scout before the draft called the best college changeup he’d ever seen. LHP Kyle Nelson (15) has a plus slider that he can consistently throw for strikes.
Best Pro Debut: Morgan looked every bit the part of polished college pitcher in the New York-Penn League, where went 3-2, 1.03 and struck out 58 batters in 35 innings. Teaney struck out 51 in 30.1 innings for the same Mahoning Valley team while posting a 2.08 ERA.
Best Athlete: Holmes’ athleticism goes hand-in-hand with his elite speed. He is a toolsy, twitchy player that gives him a high ceiling on the diamond.
Most Intriguing Background: LHP Kirk McCarty (7) had a prolific high school athletics career and won state titles in both baseball and football. His offensive coordinator at Oak Grove High in Hattiesburg, Miss., was Brett Favre, and under his tutelage, McCarty threw for more than 4,000 yards and 44 touchdowns during his senior year.
Closest To The Majors: Morgan’s exceptional pro debut could put him on the fast track to the big leagues. Other polished college pitchers like McCarty and Nelson could also move quickly.
Best Late-Round Pick: Listed at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, LHP Matt Turner (11) is lanky and projectable. He has a good feel for pitching and an effective three-pitch mix, with an upper-80s fastball and a changeup and slider that both have the makings of becoming above-average.
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The One Who Got Away: SS Oscar Serratos (14) is a steady defender with promising offensive potential, but the Indians were unable to sign him away from his commitment to Georgia Tech. Cleveland also took late-round fliers on OF Cole Turney (34, Arkansas), RHP Spencer Strider (35, Clemson) and SS Austin Martin (37, Vanderbilt), who all have the tools to develop into stars in college.