In looking at the first round picks of the Indians over the past 10 years, there’s not really a lot to be happy about. It’s tough to determine how their picks of the past couple of years will pan out (even though they traded two of them to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez), but you can pretty much make a call on players drafted from about 2001-2005, and possibly even in 2006-07. It’s never an exact science, but if you look at the current Indians’ roster, many of these players were acquired via trade, not through the draft. It’s kind of hard to be so wrong, so many times, if you’re the Indians.
2011 – (8th overall) Francisco Lindor, shortstop, Montverde Academy. Obviously it’s way too early to know if this was a good pick, particularly since Lindor was just out of high school. (2010 record: 69-93).
2010 – (5th overall) Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Ole Miss. Also a bit too early to determine if this was a good pick; if nothing else, he helped land Jimenez (we’ll see if that was a good move or not over the next couple of years). (2009 record: 65-97).
2009 – (15th overall) Alex White, RHP, University of North Carolina. White was also part of the Jimenez trade, but already sustained a hand injury while pitching. It’s way too early to know if this was a good pick either. The Indians passed on – Mike Trout, who was second in AL Rookie of the Year voting this year, and was drafted 25th overall by the Los Angeles Angels. (2008 record: 81-81)
2008 – (29th overall) Lonnie Chisenhall, SS, Pitt Community College. He’s looked promising so far, but time will tell whether or not this was a good selection. (2007 record: 96-66)
2007 – (13th overall) Beau Mills, 1B, Lewis-Clark State College. Mills, the son of Houston Astros manager Brad Mills, seemed like a promising talent at the time; unfortunately the 25-year-old has yet to play at the Major League level. He was .289/.347/.513 in 2011 split between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. He was also arrested in 2010 for felonious assault after his involvement in a bar fight (the fight left a man with a punctured lung and a broken rib). Jered Head and Josh Tomlin were with Mills at the Akron bar at the time of his arrest; Head was charged in the brawl as well. Mills did have kind of a breakout season in 2011 (the first time he played above Double-A) so it’s possible his career is back on the right track. Players the Indians passed on to draft Mills – taken 21st overall was catcher J.P. Arencibia, by Toronto, and 27th was pitcher Rick Porcello, taken by Detroit. Interesting note: Matt LaPorta was also taken in this year’s draft, 7th overall by Milwaukee. Nick Hagadone, who came to Cleveland in the Victor Martinez trade, was taken 55th overall by Boston. (2006 record: 78-84)
2006 – (No first round pick – lost spot for compensation for signing Paul Byrd) First pick in supplemental, #39 overall – David Huff, LHP, UCLA. In 2011 at the Major League level, Huff was 2-6 with a 4.09 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 36 strikeouts. Huff really seemed to pitch as he has for much of his time with the Indians – sometimes excellent, sometimes terrible (but it seems like terrible more often than not). He continues to get chances at the Major League level, but if he doesn’t show some consistency soon I can’t imagine him figuring into the Indians plans for much longer. (At the moment, he really just provides starting depth at the minor league level). Taken after Huff – 41st, pitcher Joba Chamberlain by the New York Yankees, and 42nd, current Indians closer Chris Perez, drafted by St. Louis and traded to Cleveland for Mark DeRosa. (2005 record: 93-69)
2005 -(14th overall) Trevor Crowe, CF, University of Arizona. This pick supposedly came down to Crowe and Boston outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury; it seems that the Indians picked the wrong person. The Indians even went so far as to ask Ellsbury if he has a problem with Chief Wahoo, due to his Native American heritage (Ellsbury supposedly did not, but appreciated the concern). Ellsbury was in contention for the MVP award in 2011, while Crowe recovered from shoulder surgery and was average upon his return. Other notable picks after Crowe – 25th, pitcher Matt Garza by the Minnesota Twins; 28th, outfielder Colby Rasmus by the St. Louis Cardinals; 42nd, pitcher Clay Buchholz by the Boston Red Sox; and 45th shortstop Jed Lowrie by the Boston Red Sox. Also of note – The Indians took outfielder John Drennen 33rd in the supplemental round (he filed for minor league free agency recently), while former Indian Travis Buck was taken 36th by the Oakland Athletics. (2004 record: 80-82)
2004 – (6th overall) Jeremy Sowers, LHP, Vanderbilt. I recently discussed Sowers when I talked about his filing for minor league free agency. I should note some of the people who the Indians passed over – 12th, pitcher Jered Weaver by the Los Angeles Angels; 14th, Billy Butler by the Kansas City Royals; 15th, Steven Drew by the Arizona Diamondbacks; 23rd, pitcher Phil Hughes by the New York Yankees. (2003 record: 68-94)
2003 – (11th overall) Michael Aubrey, 1B, Tulane. (18th overall) Brad Snyder, RF, Ball State University. With Aubrey, his only season with the Major Leauge club was in 2008; he hit .200/.280/.333 in 25 at-bats. Throughout his minor league career, he was plagued by a number of injuries. He was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in a minor league deal, and in 2009 with them he hit .289/.326/.500. He was granted free agency in the fall of 2010 and joined the Washington Nationals system, where he hit .273/.363/.471 with their Triple-A club in Syracuse. Aubrey again filed for free agency this off-season. The 29-year-old Snyder, a Sandusky, Ohio, native, left the Indians farm system in 2008 when the Chicago Cubs claimed him off waivers. In 2011 with their Triple-A club he hit .290/.336/.465. One of Snyder’s major problems when he was with the Indians was his high rate of strikeouts. He recently signed a minor league contract with the Houston Astros. The amount of successful players the Indians passed over in favor of Aubrey (and Snyder) is relatively large – 13th, shortstop Aaron Hill by the Toronto Blue Jays; 22nd, pitcher David Aardsma by the San Francisco Giants; 24th, pitcher Chad Billingsley by the Los Angeles Dodgers; 29th, outfielder Carlos Quentin by the Arizona Diamondbacks; 26th, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia by the Atlanta Braves; and 37th, outfielder Adam Jones by the Seattle Mariners. Additional note – the Indians took pitcher Adam Miller 31st during the supplemental round. (2002 record: 74-88)
2002 – (22nd overall) Jeremy Guthrie, RHP, Stanford. Even though the Indians eventually gave up on Guthrie before he really found his groove, this actually was one of their better drafts of this early period. Guthrie went onto success with the Baltimore Orioles, after he broke the Indians’ team record for a signing bonus in 2002. After Guthrie was drafted – 23rd, outfielder Jeff Francouer by the Atlanta Braves; 24th pitcher Joe Blanton by the Oakland Athletics; 25th, pitcher Matt Cain by the San Francisco Giants. Also of note – the Indians took first baseman Matt Whitney out of high school with the 33rd overall pick in the supplemental round. (2001 record: 91-71)
2001 – (17th overall) Dan Denham, RHP, high school (27th overall) Alan Horne, RHP, high school. The Indians got two first round picks this year, neither of which became an every day player at the Major League level. Denham pitched as high as Triple-A Buffalo in 2006 for the Indians; between Akron and Buffalo that year Denham was 7-4 with a 5.81 ERA. He split the 2007 season between the Oakland and Cincinnati organizations and spent 2008-2009 with Angels’ affiliates. It does not appear that he’s been with a minor or Major League club since that point. Horne did not sign with the Indians; he re-entered the draft in 2004 and was drafted in the 30th round (not 30th overall…30th round) by the Angels. Again, Horne did not sign and re-entered the draft in 2005; he was drafted in the 11th round by the New York Yankees and signed. In 2011, he posted a 12.79 ERA with their Double-A Trenton affiliate. So basically the Indians took a pick in the first round, that wasn’t deemed higher than the 11th round by any other team. After one or both of these players were drafted – 18th, pitcher Aaron Heilman by the New York Mets; 19th, 2B Mike Fontenot by the Baltimore Orioles; and 38th in the supplemental round, 3B David Wright by the New York Mets. Also of note – Jeremy Sowers was selected 20th by the Cincinnati Reds out of high school, but did not sign. (2000 record: 90-72)