CLEVELAND -- Major League Baseball held its 41st First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Indians gave it the ol' college try. Over two days and 50 rounds, the Indians took 53 players. Thirty-eight of them were college players, and only 15 were selected from the high school ranks. In fact, the Indians didn't take a high school player until their seventh pick in the draft, when they chose left-hander Judson Morris out of South Mecklenburg High School in North Carolina. While assistant general manager John Mirabelli considered the 38 college players "about standard for any team," he acknowledged that the Indians focused heavily on collegians early in the draft.
"It was a function of what was out there this given year," Mirabelli said. "No, it's not an organizational philosophy. The talent base for high school guys just wasn't there this year. There weren't many high-impact high school guys, and those who were there were going to be taken early on." The Tribe also zeroed in on the pitching side this year, taking 30 pitchers with their 53 choices. "It [the draft] was weighted toward the pitching," Mirabelli said. "We're always going to look for pitching in any avenue. The old saying, 'You can never have enough pitching,' is always there." An interesting twist to the draft was the Indians' focus on some players who have injury concerns. "One recurring theme we have is the medical guys," Mirabelli said. "We took a couple of injury guys." In the 14th round, with the 401st pick, the Indians took right-handed pitcher Brant Rustich out of UCLA. Rustich, whom Mirabelli called a "premium guy," suffered a ligament injury to a finger on his pitching hand. Mirabelli said that Lustich would pitch in a summer league, and that the Indians would follow his progress and evaluate him as the summer went on.
Seventeenth-round choice Kyle Harper, out of Orange Coast College in California; 20th rounder Vincent Pestano, from Cal State Fullerton; and 21st-rounder John Gaub, out of the University of Minnesota, also suffered injuries that allowed them to fall to the Tribe. Christopher Nash, the 24th-round choice out of Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan., and Alexander Jordan, the 25th-rounder out of Cypress College in Missouri, were two players Mirabelli identified as draft-and-follow players. Draft and follow players are taken by a team, but then head to community college instead of signing or going to a four-year school. The team retains exclusive rights to the player until one week before the following year's draft. Mirabelli said that the team hadn't signed any of its draft choices yet, but planned to "visit some homes" this weekend.
Andrew Bare is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.