For those of you who may not be MLB Draft buffs, Tyler Naquin was the Tribe’s first round pick (15th Overall) in this year’s amateur draft that was held a few days ago. Here is a quick profile of him, followed by my opinion on how the Indians did with their selection.
Height/Weight: 6’1”/185 lbs
College: Texas A&M
Arm, Arm, and Arm- It is not that his hitting does not stick out to me, but the most recognizable tool of Naquin’s play is his arm strength. ESPN.com’s Keith Law rated his arm strength at a 70 on the 20-80 scale, and Baseball America’s Conor Glassey considers Naquin’s arm the best arm in the draft.
Hitting Machine- In 2011 Naquin led the nation in hits as a sophomore (104) and was deemed Big 12 Player of the Year. This year was no different, as Naquin batted a team leading .380 (92-242) with 3 home runs and 49 RBI’s
Speedster- He also runs well, swiping 21 bags in 26 attempts this season.
Lack of Power- In three seasons of play for the Aggies, Naquin managed just seven home runs, which is below average for a corner outfielder. A move to center could negate this Con, but scouts are mixed as to whether Naquin could play center on an everyday basis.
Long Swing- A quick quip from Keith Law’s scouting report on Naquin-
“Naquin has bat speed thanks to quick hands at the plate, but his high setup and deep load create unnecessary length in his swing; he should be a high-contact line-drive hitter, but misses too many pitches because of that length.”
I believe that the point Law is trying to make is that despite Naquin’s success in college, his long swing will be exposed by more polished pitchers in professional ball.
I have to admit, I was completely stunned by the Indians selection. It is not that I do not respect the decisions of our front office, but I cannot explain the rationale the Indians used when making this pick. Understand that in Keith Law’s final prospect rankings (just prior to the draft starting) had Tyler Naquin as the 42nd ranked prospect, meaning Law expected Naquin to come off the board sometime during the supplemental first round.
However, that is not the primary reason I found myself in an uproar over the pick. The real reason is that the Indians had an opportunity to “restock” the farm system with a first-round arm, but instead chose not to. As explained in my original draft piece, I felt that the Tribe needed to select a pitcher in the first round primarily because of the loss of Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, the Indians first round selections in 2009 and 2010 who were dealt to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez. The trade depleted the Indians farm system of their best two arms, leaving Dillon Howard as their best pitching prospect (2011 second round selection; yet to throw a pitch in minor league ball as of today).
With zero “top tier” pitching prospects left in the system, I assumed that the Indians would be looking into pitchers such as Andrew Heaney, Chris Stratton, and Michael Wacha. Although Heaney was off the board by the time the Indians were on the clock (going 9th overall to the Marlins), both Stratton and Wacha were still available when the Indians made their pick, yet neither were selected; however, Wacha and Stratton were not even the best pitching prospect available when the Indians picked Naquin. A 6’6 high school right handed named Luc Giolito, who Keith Law ranked as the 8th best prospect coming into draft night, was still on the board. If you read my original piece on the draft, you may remember my comments on him:
“A wildcard pick by me is Lucas Giolito, a high school pitcher who many thought could have gone number one in this year’s draft had it not been for a elbow injury. I am not one to suggest that Indians pick a player who could be labeled as “damaged goods” in this year’s draft, but all tests on the arm showed no tendon or ligament damage. The 6’6, 230 pound right-hander brings a lot of power to the mound (hit 100 mph before the injury; sits 94-98 normally), and could be available when the Indians are on the clock.”
Sure enough, Giolito was available when it came time for the Indians to choose, yet the Indians passed over him possibly due to the injury he sustained earlier in the year. If it’s worth anything, check out the series of picks following the Indians selection of Naquin:
|17.||Blue Jays||D.J. Davis||OF|
|22.||Blue Jays||Marcus Stroman||RHP|
I did not mention anything about Sims or Stroman, but I will just say that I would have been happy had the Indians selected either of them.
All in all, I suppose this is just a venting session. I really do believe Naquin can be an everyday center-fielder for the Indians, and I hope that he works out as the Indians first round selection; however, I cannot get this sour taste out of my mouth- How could the Tribe avoid all the pitchers?