The 2012 Indians amateur draft seemed like a good one, especially the top few picks. The Indians are already reaping the rewards from the 2011 draft with Cody Allen pitching extremely well at a very young age for the Major League Indians. The Indians did a great job picking players with high sign-ability and actually bringing them on. They signed 25 players from the 2012 draft including their first 16 picks and 22 of their first 24 picks. When reading this keep in mind that the vast majority of these players will never sniff the Majors.
1. OF Tyler Naquin – Round 1 – Highest Level: A Lake County
The Indians first pick did not disappoint at all in 2012. He was thrown directy into the highest level of all this years class and spent the whole season in Mahoning Valley (.270 AVG/.379 OBP/.380 SLG). He was so successful there he was asked to be part of the Lake County Captains playoff run. In those five games, Naquin knocked 6 hits and scored 6 runs. He started each game in center field and certainly can’t be blamed for the Captains series loss to the TinCaps.
2. SP Mitch Brown – Round 2 – AZL Indians
In what is mostly a hitters league (and a bad defensive league) Brown was a really bright spot in the AZL Indians rotation. As the best pitcher on the squad (2-0, 3.58) Brown struck out 26 hitters in just over 27 innings while just allowing 30 base runners.
3. SP Kieran Lovegrove – Round 3 - AZL Indians
Lovegrove, the first professional player from South Africa, must have found the Arizona heat a little too much for him (0-2, 6.00 ERA). I had the honor of watching Lovegrove pitch one of his 7 starts in person and he struggled from the very start. His biggest concern needs to be limiting base runners after giving up a WHIP of 1.76 mostly coming from his 28 hits allowed. Lovegrove is currently slated to participate in the World Baseball Classic with the South African team.
4. OF D’vone McClure – Round 4 - AZL Indians
McClure was the AZL Indians fourth outfielder behind Anthony Santander, Booth and McAdams (more on the two of them later), and his stats show why he wasn’t able to crack that group (.211/.305/.289). Next season he should get more regular at bats and will hopefully produce at the level the Indians believe he is capable of. The young leftfielder is just 18 years old, so he has plenty of time to develop.
5. SP Dylan Baker – Round 5 - AZL Indians
Baker was one of the 5 starters for the AZL Indians, but was only able to average 3 innings per start (0-1, 4.13 ERA). He was hurt by the Indians defense, as he gave up 8 unearned runs to go with his 11 earned. He did strike out 30 batters in those 24 innings, showing a major potential once he can get into a league where the fielders are able to catch the ball.
6. 2B Joseph Wendle – Round 6 – A Lake County
Wendle was fantastic for the Scrappers all season (.327/.375/.469). He lead all Scrappers in doubles, triples, RBI, runs scored and total bases so it was a no brainer to bring him up for the Midwest League Playoffs with Lake County. Although he had a slow start, Wendle did end up hitting an RBI triple in game 2 of the TinCaps series, scoring a run as well in a game the Captains won by three.
7. OF Joshua McAdams – Round 7 - AZL Indians
McAdams was a decent part of the Indians offense this year (.225/.356/.258), scoring 20 times and knocking in 20 despite being homerless through the summer. McAdams is also one of those AZL Indians who are unable to catch a baseball as referenced earlier. He had 8 errors while playing just 31 games in right field.
8. RP Caleb Hamrick – Round 8 - AZL Indians
Hamrick played less than any other 2012 draft pick making his numbers (0-1, 3.24) especially insignificant. He only pitched 8.1 innings, all with the Arizona Indians.
9. SP Jacob Lee – Round 9 - SS Mahoning Valley
Lee split his time with the Scrappers, starting 8 games and coming in for relief 8 times. Overall he had a successful first year (4-2, 3.12 ERA), most impressively he struck out 47 batters in just 43.1 innings. If there is one thing to be excited about in the Indians minor league system, it’s these amazing short stops (Dorssys Paulino and Francisco Lindor) if there are two things, it is pitchers like Lee and their great strike out ability that has been missing from the Indians pro team for years.
10. P Josh Martin – Round 10 - A+ Carolina
Martin spent most of his time pitching for Mahoning Valley after being drafted, racking up 45.2 innings, mostly in relief. His promotion to A+ seemed unwarranted after a 4.14 ERA in SS, but it was probably just a roster filling move as the Indians pulled a lot of relievers from the AAA team around that time, forcing the whole minor league system to make moves. He only pitched 5 innings there (4-2, 4.24 ERA overall) and will probably be demoted to start next season.
11. OF Logan Vick – Round 11 - SS Mahoning Valley
Vick (.181/.302/.222) will definitely benefit from another season in Mahoning Valley or possibly a drop down to the AZL in 2013.
12. C Jeremy Lucas – Round 12 - SS Mahoning Valley
It really is hard to judge players after less than 30 games played, but I’ll keep doing it anyway. Lucas showed a little power during his time with the Scrappers (.250/.384/.386) with 8 extra base hits including two home runs. Lucas caught 27 games and was error free, but will have to work on his caught stealing percent of 21% (33 SB, 9 CS).
13. OF Tyler Booth – Round 13 - AZL Indians
Booth has great range in center and also impressed with the bat in the Arizona League (.268/.287/.420). Booth had 16 extra base hits, including 3 home runs and knocked in 22 runs. Booth has the pure speed talent that you can’t learn, he just needs to work on his plate discipline and honing in his game over the next couple years. If all goes well, Booth could definitely be the next Trevor Crowe.
14. RP Scott Peoples – Round 14 - SS Mahoning Valley
Another full time reliever, Peoples looked strong in his first half season (1-1, 2.28 ERA) throwing 23.1 innings in the New York-Penn League.
15. C Nelson Rodriguez – Round 15 - AZL Indians
If Tyler Booth has Trevor Crowe type of talent, then Rodriguez (.229/.375/.459) is definitely on the Einar Diaz level. The Indians do need catchers throughout the system (at least two on each team), but it doesn’t seem like Rodriguez is going to be anything special.
16. RP Cody Penny – Round 16 – A Lake County
Penny was used as a relief pitcher starting off in Mahoning Valley and moving up to Lake County after just 13 games. He pitched very well at both levels (4-3, 2.39 ERA), but especially in single A, where he allowed just three runs and struck out 16 in 17 innings. He was also a member of their playoff squad and threw a single perfect inning in relief in the clinching game of the Hot Rods series.
17. RP Louis Head – Round 18 - A Lake County
Another stellar reliever, Head followed the same path as Penny. After pitching 22 games in relief for the Scrappers he moved on to the Captains (2-2, 3.28 ERA). He even trumped Penny, striking out 15 in just 13.1 innings while still allowing three runs. He pitched twice in relief in the playoffs, allowing 2 unearned runs in 3.2 innings during the clincher against the Hot Rods and pitching 3 scoreless innings while earning the win in the Captains only win in the second round.
18. P Nicholas Pasquale – Round 20 - A Lake County
Pasquale was started in Short Season, but was dropped to the Rookie level after struggling through just four relief appearances. Despite also struggling in Arizona, he was then promoted to Lake County where he came into his own, earning a 2.17 ERA over 29 innings. Overall (4-1, 3.58 ERA) Pasquale should consider this season a successful one, especially since most of his success came after being changed to a starter. He pitched two games in the playoffs, winning a game in round one after pitching five innings in relief and losing a game to the TinCaps by giving up 6 runs (4 earned) in 3 innings pitched.
19. 2B Joe Sever – Round 21 - SS Mahoning Valley
Sever’s 20 RBI in 46 games for the Scrappers are fairly impressive, but numbers dependent on others are the least accurate predictors of future performance. His more important numbers (.275/.368/.366) aren’t bad and he was a big part of the Scrappers offense this year.
20. RP James Stokes – Round 22 - SS Mahoning Valley
Stokes first 25 innings (1-4, 5.61 ERA) weren’t that impressive, but he will have plenty of time over the next few years to develop his talent. The most alarming stat is the fact he walked (17) almost as many batters as he struck out (18) and held a WHIP of over 1.75.
21. C Richard Stock – Round 23 - SS Mahoning Valley
The third catcher on the list is quite possibly the least impressive player out of the entire draft (.295/.345/.385). Somehow he only managed 4 RBI in 22 games while managing to strike out 17 times. He didn’t impress on defense either, causing 6 errors and catching just 14% of attempted stealers.
22. RP Thomas White – Round 24 - AZL Indians
White pitched well in his limited time with the Indians (2-0, 2.70), but he only threw 13.1 innings in 7 relief appearances.
23. IF Nick Hamilton – Round 35 - AZL Indians
Nick Hamilton is the son of Tom Hamilton and went to Kent State, there are few players more Cleveland than Hamilton (.240/.387/.300) so the Indians likely overvalued him in the draft to take advantage of the potential situation. While he was drafted as a second-baseman, he only fielded a single ball from that position as an Indian. He played mostly at third base, but as the picture shows, he played some first base as well. His versatility could definitely be an asset during his rise through the system as he shouldn’t get kept down by any one player ahead of him.
24. P Benny Suarez – Round 36 – A+ Carolina
Like most of the AZL Indians pitching staff, Suarez pitched poorly in the desert heat. He allowed 9 runs in just under 20 innings, but was promoted to Carolina for the last week of the season. Once there, he struggled more (not surprising for a player who skipped two levels) and finished with a below average season (1-1, 4.50) compared to the rest of the players in this draft.
25. RP Joshua Nervis – Round 38 - A Lake County
Nervis pitched 23.2 great innings for the AZL Indians, allowing just 4 runs in relief in 13 games. He was then moved directly to Lake County, bypassing Short Season, where he struggled. Overall (1-0, 2.34 ERA) he did pitch well, but he should probably start next year in one of the lower levels. In the playoffs, Nervis pitched one perfect inning in relief in the Captains final game.