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Draft Preview: Tribe's top pick is wide open

Draft Preview: Tribe's top pick is wide open

The Indians will be picking fifth in this year's First-Year Player Draft, and the onus is on the small-market Tribe to get it right.

In the midst of a rebuilding period, and with heavy criticism of past first-round selections surrounding them, the Indians recognize their high slot in Monday's first round as an opportunity to bolster the system. But the first-round pick is just the beginning. The Tribe wants to take advantage of each of its selections in the three-day Draft.

"Our job is to infuse as much talent into the organization as possible," scouting director Brad Grant said. "With the depth to this Draft, we feel we can effectively use the entire Draft to add that talent. We've been effective in doing that, and we'll continue to ensure that we do that again this year."

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Draft Central

MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft from Monday-Wednesday on MLB.com/Live. The first round and Compensation Round A will be broadcast live on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday, beginning with the Draft preview show at 6 p.m. ET.

MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo will join Greg Amsinger, Harold Reynolds, John Hart, Peter Gammons and Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis on Monday's broadcast.

Coverage for rounds 2-50 will shift exclusively to MLB.com/Live. Rounds 2-30 will be streamed on Tuesday, beginning at noon, and rounds 31-50 will be streamed on Wednesday, starting at noon. Host Pete McCarthy will be joined by Mayo and former general manager Jim Duquette.

Here's a glance at what the Indians have in store as the Draft approaches:

In about 50 words
Beyond the fifth pick in the first round, the Indians have the No. 55 overall pick in the second round, No. 87 overall in the third round and the fifth pick in every round thereafter. They view this as a Draft deep on pitching, especially right-handed high school pitching.

The scoop
"When you're in the top 10, there's an opportunity. Historically, any way you analyze Drafts, it always come back to the fact that the opportunities you get with the top-10 picks are substantially greater than they are at other areas of the Draft. We recognize the opportunity and know the Cleveland Indians have to be successful in all rounds of the Draft. We've kind of earned this pick. So we've got to capitalize on it." -- Assistant general manager, scouting operations, John Mirabelli

First-round buzz
Grant said the Indians are not ruling out anybody they rate as one of the top 10-12 players available in the Draft because of financial restrictions or the desire to target a particular position. The goal is to select simply the best player available, regardless of those other circumstances, so it's anybody's guess as to whether the Tribe will take a pitcher or a position player. The Indians have been linked to two college lefties, Florida Gulf Coast University's Chris Sale and Ole Miss' Drew Pomeranz. If the Tribe goes the college bat route, then two strong possibilities are UT-Arlington outfielder Michael Choice and Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox.

Shopping list
Thanks to a rash of midseason trades last year and the previous two Drafts that Grant orchestrated, the Indians feel pretty good about their organizational depth in most areas. In the past, the Tribe specifically targeted certain spots, but Grant indicated that the Tribe will take more of an across-the-board approach this year. That being said, when the Draft gets into the later rounds, all teams pay special attention to middle infielders and catchers.

Trend watch
The Indians took 10 pitchers with their first 15 picks, in the meat of the Draft, last year. Prior to that point, the Tribe had placed a heavy emphasis on position players. It seems reasonable to expect the club to take advantage of a Draft supposedly strong on pitching and somewhat weak on position-player talent by going heavy on the arms again.

Tribe's recent top draft picks
Year Player Position Current team
2009 Alex White RHP Double-A Akron (CLE)
2008 Lonnie Chisenhall 3B Double-A Akron (CLE)
2007 Beau Mills 1B Double-A Akron (CLE)
2006 David Huff LHP Cleveland (MLB)
2005 Trevor Crowe OF Cleveland (MLB)

Recent Draft History

Rising fast
Alex White, who was taken by the Tribe out of the University of North Carolina with the 15th overall pick last June, has already ascended to the Double-A level and is opening eyes. The Indians initially targeted a move to the bullpen for the hard-throwing White, but he has impressed thus far with his adaptation to professional ball in a starting role.

Cinderella story
Right-hander Josh Tomlin, a 19th-round selection in the 2006 Draft, led the Eastern League in wins (14), was second in strikeouts (125) and second in WHIP (1.21) at Double-A Akron last year. He's been a pleasant surprise at Triple-A Columbus this season, taking a 5-1 record and 2.45 ERA into the weekend.

In The Show
None of the Tribe's picks from the last three Drafts has made it to the Majors yet. Rotation member David Huff, a first-round sandwich selection in 2006, is the most recent Draft pick to make it to the bigs.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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