Out of all the four major sports, baseball’s draft is the least relevant to the team in the short-term. But that doesn’t mean it can’t make or break a team’s farm system. The Indians had awful drafts in the late 1990s, and therefore had an awful farm system in 2001-2002. That’s one of the reasons why Mark Shapiro decided to gut the Indians in 2002 and start over. The biggest reason why the Atlanta Braves have stayed successful since 1991? Excellent drafting and excellent player development.
So with that in mind, let’s take a cursory look at the first couple picks in this year’s draft. If you want a more in-depth look at who the Indians picked, I suggest you look at the always excellent Cleveland Indians Report.
Jeremy Sowers isn’t what I’d term a “sexy” pick. He’s not going to throw 95 mph. He isn’t some high school phenom with huge upside. But Sowers is the biggest bet among the pitchers in the draft to become a solid major league starter. In a draft where the talent wasn’t what it had been in the past couple year,(Contrary to popular belief, Jered Weaver is in no shape or form the next Mark Prior), getting Sowers is a nice pick for the Indians. He’ll move fairly fast through the system (He’s projected to at least see Kinston this year).
Round 2 saw the Indians take another college arm from a strong conference. Justin Hoyman is a sinkerball pitcher that should also move fairly fast through the system. I don’t really know if he’s any more than a 4th starter in the majors, but again, the success rate for draft picks is so small that I’ll definitely take it. For reference, Zach Sorensen was the 2nd Round pick of the Indians in 1998.
The pick I’m really excited about is LHP Scott Lewis in Round 3. He dominated the Big 10 in 2003, and would have been a first round pick had he not been injured. He’s healthy now, but didn’t pitch enough inning this year to get first round consideration. If the Indians sign him, he could be a steal.
And finally, the Indians went for upside when they picked Chuck Lofgren in the 4th Round. He was scouted as both a pitcher and an outfielder, but the Indians want to make him a pitcher.