5 Year Draft Review

The MLB Amateur draft is upcoming again this weekend. In general, the MLB draft is followed much less closely by fans than the NBA or NFL drafts as the players aren't any where near as well known (NCAA football compared to high school baseball) and they won't see playing time at a professional level for years down the line. With this in mind, instead of solely focusing on the 2013 draft, we will give you a little update on how some previous draft classes are doing. In general, any players who will be great should be in the Majors five years after they're drafted, so we will focus mostly on the 2008 class.

Major League Ready
Lonnie Chisenhall (1), Cord Phelps (3),  Matt Langwell (11)

The Indians top pick from 2008 has already made an impression in the big leagues, but was recently sent back down to AAA. Chisenhall has since batted .400 and has shown he is ready for the Majors. He is generally the only player left out of the draft who could be a possible All-Star in the future, but the chances of that are slim.

Phelps had his best chance for fame taken away from him when he batted under .155 in 35 games in 2011. Jason Kipnis showed up that same season (despite being drafted a year later) and blew away the world, showing the Indians which player was their second baseman of the future. Phelps is now designated as a utility player injury replacement. His chance at Major League stardom has come and gone.

Langwell has been pushing his way through the minors for five years (the other players listed in this section made their debuts in 2011) and finally made it last week. Langwell has generally been used as a long reliever in the minors and will likely stay in that position with the Tribe. He was ranked 14th among all Indians minor leaguers in our recent MiLB rankings. In three seasons at AAA, Langwell has thrown 100 innings and held an ERA of 3.15 while striking out 105. His numbers have been even better at the lower levels and this is his chance to prove himself in the Majors.

Top Prospects
Trey Haley (2), Tim Fedroff (7), Adam Abraham (13), Carlos Moncrief (14), T.J. House (16), Bryce Stowell (22)

Most of these players have reached the AAA level by this point with a couple (Moncrief, Stowell and Goodnight) remaining at lower levels. Most of these players project to be AAAA players at best, with limited use at the Major League level, but Haley and House still appear to be exciting pitchers. House has struggled since his promotion to AAA, but remains one of the Indians top starting pitching prospects.

David Roberts (4), Zach Putnam (5)

The only really obvious bust in the whole draft class is Roberts. He was released in 2010 after posting an ERA above 6.00 in Kinston. He eventually signed with an Independent team in 2011 before retiring at the end of that season. While it may not have been the most prolific draft of all time, most of the players are still in the system at some level. Putnam actually made it to the Majors with the Indians, but was traded to the Rockies for Kevin Slowey. In all he has thrown just 10 innings in the Majors with three different teams over the past three years. On a positive note, he hasn't allowed a run in the Majors since 2011.

2007 Left Overs

Almost every player from the top of the 2007 draft is gone from the system and many are gone from baseball. This was supposed to be the first year of the Indians new drafting policy with Beau Mills taken in the first round. He was sent to Cincinnati last year and is now out of baseball. Number two pick T.J. McFarland looked like a top pitching prospect for a minute, but was stolen from the Indians in last years rule five draft. He has since pitched 12 games in relief for the Orioles and holds an ERA below three. He is one of just two signed players in the Indians 2007 draft to see time in the Majors and the only one still playing. Josh Judy made the Tribe in 2011, but hasn't been back since although he is still bouncing around in the Angels minor league system. 

2009 Up & Comers

Jason Kipnis (2) may need to make the 2009 draft worth it all by himself, as things aren't looking good right now. The first overall pick this year was Alex White (1), who was sent to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez and has since struggled. Kipnis was taken as a centerfielder in the second round. Obviously, he has produced already to the Indians greatest expectations. There are few high profile minor leaguers left among the 2009 class, but Preston Guilmet (9) definitely deserves some attention. He has dominated at every level and is currently the Clippers closer. His advancement should be considered imminent.

Austin Adams (5), Brett Brach (10) and Mike Rayl (15) are all still performing at AA Akron and Tyler Sturdevant (27) has made it to Columbus, but there is little to be excited about in the rest of this class. Most of the Indians most exciting players were taken in either 2011 or 2012, but it is far too early to judge those drafts. We will check back with those drafts in due time, when there is something definite to talk about. In Indians history, just 11% (about 5 per draft) of draft picks have made it to the Majors at some point and far less than that actually produced anything significant. In fact, only 38% of the Indians first round draft picks have made it all the way, which probably adds a lot to the general disinterest the draft gets.

2008 Draft Stats:

  • The Indian signed 30 players
  • 10 of these players are still active in the organization.
  • 3 of those 10 have made it to the Majors
  • Overall, 4 players reached MLB, 9 reached AAA, 5 got to AA, 8 made it to Advanced A, while 4 never made it above A ball.
  • 4 High schoolers were taken, only one of which has reached AAA (T.J. House)
  • 4 JC players were taken, including the top pick in the draft (Lonnie Chisenhall)

Lonnie Chisenhall1

The Chiz Kid remains the top pick from 2008.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since its inception in 2011. He also writes for The Outside Corner and the Comeback and hosts the Tribe Time Now podcast. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians. Follow on twitter @BurningRiverBB