How the Cleveland Indians’ Top Draft Picks Are Faring

No matter where it comes in the draft, the first round draft pick is always exciting. It is the player that everybody remembers throughout their minor league career, even when they are surpassed by others in the same round. Also, they are generally the only draft pick a team will catch flack for if things don't work out quite as well as planned. In their history, the Indians have made 125 first round picks and 38% of them have made it to the Majors. That numbers drops to 21% for the second round and rapidly down to 12% by the sixth. It's time to take a look back and see how successfull the Indians have been with their picks over the past seven years and how the players themselves are doing now.

2007 – Beau Mills (Drafted 13th Overall)
Mills looked to be a great pick when he was taken out of Lewis-Clark State College in 2008. He was a power hitting corner infielder, something the Indians sorely lacked ever since Jim Thome had left for Philadelphia. He supposedely had a great baseball mind as well and was son of the Red Sox hitting coach, Brad Mills (who is currently with the Indians). Mills had issues from the start and took most of five years to finally reach AAA, despite being a college player. In the end, he never batted above .270 in AAA and dealt with injuries that forced him to miss a lot of time. The Indians never even gave him a chance as a September call-up, despite not having a regular first baseman in 2011 or 2012 and sold him to the Reds in 2012. 

He played well for the Reds AA club in Pensacola, but it wasn't enough and he was given his outright release following that season. Overall, he hit 86 MiLB home runs, 153 doubles and knocked in 406 runs, but wasn't consistant enough, never playing in more than 100 games after 2010. During the past off-season, Mills retired from baseball to concentrate on raising bulls.

Hindsight: Mills was one of just three players not to make it to the Majors out of the top 20 picks from the 2007 draft. A couple players drafted after Mills include Jayson Heyward, Rick Porcello and Josh Donaldson.

2008 – Lonnie Chisenhall (29)
This was another poor overall draft by the Indians (although there is still a very small chance that Trey Haley (2nd round) and Carlos Moncrief (14) could change that), but at least the number one pick actually made it to the pro team. Everyone should already know Chisenhall, who is the Indians starting third baseman. He has a pitiful slash line of .244/.284/.411, but seems to be improving both at the plate and in the field of late. His September was his best showing to this point. 

Hindsight: This was actually a weak draft all around and Chisenhall currently ranks 13th in WAR among first rounders, despite being taken 29th. It is hard to say there was anyone picked directly after him that would have been a better choice, especially considering he hasn't reached his potential, but Lance Lynn (39) and Wade Miley (43) where both taken later in the draft.

2009 –  Alex White (15)
The gem in this draft for the Tribe was second round pick, Jason Kipnis, who has already become an All-Star and came in 11th in the 2013 MVP voting, but this is about White. He was traded along with the 2010 first round pick, Drew Pomeranz, to the Rockies in exchange for Ubaldo Jimenez. It is hard to say which team got the better of the deal as both pitchers provided their teams with a negative WAR over their time with their new teams. White was traded during the last off-season from Colorado to Houston, where he needed Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2013. He is still under their control, but no longer considered even a mid-level prospect.

Hindsight: This was a very strong draft that included the Nationals completely turning their team around with the additions of Stephen Strasburg and Drew Storen, but the real story was, how did Mike Trout drop to the Angels at 25? Had the Indians taken him instead of White, the whole future of the franchise would be dramatically different. 

2010 – Drew Pomeranz (5)
The story of Pomeranz has already been told, but his results were slightly different than White's. Pomeranz remains with the Rockies and has given them 30 starts and 1.2 wins over a replacement. While nothing spectacular, it is more than White or Jimenez did for their teams. The rest of the draft was similarly exciting for the Indians as not a single other player has made an MLB appearance from the 2010 draft. Tony Wolters and Cole Cook remain as decent prospects, but there will be no superstars from that year for the Tribe.

Hindsight: There were two great picks in this draft and they went first (Bryce Harper) and third (Manny Machado) overall. Only 12 of the 50 players drafted in the first round have had their MLB debuts, but a few big names missed were Matt Harvey (7) and Chris Sale (13).

2011 – Francisco Lindor (8)
Lindor remains the Indians top prospect and advanced from Advanced A Carolina to AA Akron during 2013. He will likely start the year in Columbus in 2014, but should make his Major League debut later that year, depending on what the Indians decide to do with Asdrubal Cabrera. His defense is already Major League ready, so if the Indians trade Cabrera this off-season (it is his final year under contract), Lindor could possibly skip AAA and go straight to the Indians. So far, Lindor has averaged 55 steals per year in his first two full seasons and batted a combined .303 during 2013. Indians fans shouldn't have to wait much longer for this highly anticipated prospect.

Hindsight: Lindor was ranked the #13 prospect in all of baseball last year and remains one of the top picks from the 2011 draft. The only player to have truly surpassed him was the #14 pick, 2013 NL Rookie of the Year, Jose Fernandez. Adding to the Indians haul in this draft, they picked up the #3 overall pick, Trevor Bauer from the Diamondbacks and took flame throwing reliever Cody Allen in the 23rd round. Fourteenth round pick, Cody Anderson, has a chance to make this draft really special.

2012 – Tyler Naquin (15)
Naquin continues to make a name for himself after posting an MVP caliber season (.339/.400/.417) in the Arizona Fall League. Along with Lindor, Naquin made the jump for Carolina to Akron in the past season (he went to Texas A&M, while Lindor was a high school pick, so Naquin is further along in development) and performed well. While he doesn't have quite the presence on the base paths (15 SB in 25 attempts), Naquin still played well, batting .269 with 10 home runs and 48 RBI. He is also an extremely talented center fielder, giving hope that the Indians will be incredibly strong up the middle for years to come.

Hindsight: The Indians could not have made a better pick at this point in the draft as far as we know now. They did pass on play-off hero, Michael Wacha, but a starting centerfielder is worth more than a starting pitcher any day (or at least any four out of five days).

2013 – Clint Frazier (5)
It is impossible to know much about the 2013 draft as it just happened, but Frazier looks to be a decent pick. While he was a hight school third baseman, he has been converted to full time outfielder and will likely pan out to be an above average fielding right fielder (he has been playing center to this point). He destroyed the Arizona Summer League with 21 extra base hits in 44 games, slugging .506, while creating 55 runs (RBI+R-HR). It will likely be a long time before Frazier gets anywhere near the Indians, however, despite being drafted just one year after Naquin. As a high school graduate, Frazier still has a long way to go with his developement, but should be a great asset when he finally does make it to the big leagues, between 2016 and 2018.

Francisco Lindor5

Lindor has a chance to be the Indians best first 
round pick since C.C. Sabathia in 1998.

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona.

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