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Cleveland Indians 2018 MLB Draft Grades

Image credit: Bo Naylor (left) and Ethan Hankins (right). (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Best Pure Hitter: There were some scouts who believed C Bo Naylor(1) was the best pure hitter in the high school class. He does a good job of controlling the strike zone and uses the whole field to hit. 2B Richie Palacios (3) and SS Raynel Delgado (6) also stand out for their hittability.

Best Power Hitter: Naylor isn’t just a contact hitter. He also has plus raw power that plays as solid average in games. OF Billy Wilson (28) wasn’t known as a slugger during his career at Loyola Marymount, but he hit 10 home runs this summer, albeit in the Rookie-level Arizona League.

Fastest Runner: The Indians didn’t draft any true burners but Palacios, OF Steven Kwan (5), OF Korey Holland (14) and SS Gionti Turner (27) all show plus run times.

Best Defensive Player: Kwan is an above-average defender in center field thanks to his speed and outfield instincts.

Best Fastball: RHP Ethan Hankins (1) has run his fastball up to 98 mph though he didn’t show that velocity in the spring when he was slowed by a shoulder injury. RHP Lenny Torres (1s) touched 97 mph this spring and sat 94 mph this summer. RHP Liam Jenkins (17) has touched 99 mph from a big, 6-foot-8 frame.

Best Secondary Pitch: RHP Nick Sandlin (2) this spring at Southern Mississippi used his wipeout slider to help him pile up 144 strikeouts, fifth most in the country, and lead the nation with a 1.06 ERA. LHP Adam Scott (4) also has shown he is adept at landing his slider for strikes.

Best Pro Debut: Sandlin built on his All-American spring with a phenomenal professional debut. He rocketed up the ladder, reaching Double-A Akron, posting a 36-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24 innings along the way.

Best Athlete: Naylor moves well for a catcher and is an above-average runner. He also has a lot of experience in the infield and could man the hot corner if catching doesn’t work out. Holland’s speed and athleticism play well in the outfield.

Most Intriguing Background: The Indians drafted a handful of players with baseball bloodlines, starting with Naylor, whose brother Josh is in the Padres’ organization. Sandlin not only stood out on the field this spring but also in the classroom, where he had a 3.9 GPA as an engineering major.

Closest To The Majors: For a time, it looked like Sandlin might reach the major leagues in September. If he stays in the bullpen, he’ll soon be in the mix for the Indians. Even if he goes back to starting, his rise won’t be dramatically slowed as he’s already shown he can handle advanced competition.

Best Late-Round Pick: Holland signed a well-above slot deal in the 14th round but still could provide good value thanks to his feel for hitting to go along with his speed and athleticism. OF Jonathan Engelmann (31) has some intriguing tools and put together a solid pro debut.

The One Who Got Away: OF Antoine Duplantis (19) opted to return for his senior season at Louisiana State, where he’s been a three-year starter and integral part of the lineup. The Indians also took SS Gunnar Halter (26) and OF Andrew Eyster (32) out of the junior college ranks, but both opted to uphold their commitments to Southeastern Conference schools, where they this spring figure to play key roles.

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