Indians Double Down On Athletic Preps
For the first time since 2006, and for just the fourth time in franchise history, the Indians did not have a first-round draft pick. The signing of free agent Edwin Encarnacion last winter took care of that.
Not having a first-round pick altered the Indians’ strategy going into the draft.
“We didn’t put our focus on the top of the board,” scouting director Brad Grant said. “We focused in the range where our picks fell.” The Indians’ first pick came in the second round, when they took outfielder Quentin Holmes from McClancy Memorial High in the Queens neighborhood of East Elmhurst, N.Y.
In the supplemental second round, Cleveland selected shortstop Tyler Freeman from Etiwanda High in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
"It was tough for us to predict who would be down there," Grant said. "But to get both those players, both with athleticism, but some secondary tool sets as well, is what is really attractive to us."
Holmes, who will turn 18 on July 7, is the Gatorade player of the year for the state of New York, after he hit .420 with seven home runs and 22 stolen bases in 23 attempts.
“The big attraction with him is his speed. He’s a 70 runner (on the 20-80 scouting scale),” Grant said. “He’s a plus defender and a contact bat. He’s a fun player to watch, with great makeup on and off the field.”
Freeman, 18, hit .526 to lead all California high school players in batting average. He hit four home runs in 30 games.
"He's an unbelievable offensive-oriented player," Grant said of Freeman. "He brings a lot of offensive tools to the game. He should go out and hit, and his power should come. We'll start him out at shortstop and let him play there."
Holmes has committed to Mississippi State and Freeman to Texas Christian, but Grant sounds confident the Indians can sign both.
2017 MLB Draft Grades: Cleveland Indians
A report card for the Cleveland Indians 2017 MLB Draft picks.
“We’re taking the steps to sign them and get them into our system,” he said.