Indians' recent Draft efforts paying off

Indians' recent Draft efforts paying off

CLEVELAND -- While the current first-place Indians team was built largely with players from outside the organization acquired in trades, the Tribe's long-term goal is to build from within.

"We're not going to compete on the free-agent market with the larger teams," amateur scouting director Brad Grant said. "We have to develop our own players, and the more we have a chance to develop, the more we increase our odds of adding an impact player."

Grant just finished his fourth Draft in which he was entrusted with infusing those impact players into the system. One ascended in late April, when Alex White, the Tribe's No. 1 pick in 2009, made his Major League debut and showed immediate comfort at the game's highest level, before a finger injury put him on the shelf. Infielder Cord Phelps, a third-round selection in 2008, made it to the Majors on Wednesday.

The Indians revamped their Draft approach in '08, and White and Phelps represent the first crops. Several other prominent players from recent Drafts remain on the farm and, perhaps, on the horizon.

Here's a brief look at some of the more notable selections and where they are in the pipeline:

From the 2008 Draft

Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B: Taken with the 29th overall pick, Chisenhall is considered the best pure hitter in the upper levels of the Indians' farm system. But he's off to a rather disappointing start at Triple-A Columbus this season, batting .265 with a .773 OPS. Those struggles, as well as the superb defensive play the Indians have gotten from veteran Jack Hannahan at the hot corner this year, have delayed Chisenhall's promotion. He still could be here by the end of the year.

Draft Central

Zach Putnam, RHP: Putnam was a fifth-round pick in '08 and doesn't get a great deal of publicity, but he's a big, strong power pitcher with a deep arsenal who could augment the big league bullpen by season's end. Putnam is 4-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 19 appearances at Columbus, striking out 26 and walking just six in 32 1/3 innings.

From the 2009 Draft

Jason Kipnis, 2B: The Indians took Kipnis as a center fielder with their second-round pick in 2009. He made the transition to second base last season and is still adjusting to the position switch. In his first extended exposure to the Triple-A level, Kipnis is batting .279 with an .879 OPS this season. The Indians gave Phelps the first crack at second-base opportunities after veteran Orlando Cabrera's numbers went downhill, but Kipnis might get his shot before season's end.

Joe Gardner, RHP: A third-round pick in '09, Gardner's a big kid with a hard sinker who had a dominant year at the Class A level last year. He is 3-4 with a 3.92 ERA in nine starts for Double-A Akron this season.

Austin Adams, RHP: A converted shortstop, Adams was a fifth-round pick in '09 and could be an intriguing bullpen option, as he continues to gain a better feel for pitching. He's 4-5 with a 3.31 ERA in 11 starts at Double-A Akron.

Preston Guilmet, RHP: The Indians took Guilmet in the ninth round in '09. He's dazzled out of the Class A Kinston bullpen this year, posting a 1.29 ERA with 13 saves in 19 appearances. He's struck out 24 and walked just two in 21 innings.

From the 2010 Draft

Drew Pomeranz, LHP: Perhaps the most eye-popping prospect in the Indians' system, Pomeranz was the No. 5 overall pick and has gone 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA in 10 starts in his first professional season at Class A Kinston. He should be at Double-A Akron in the near future. And next year, he could be on the Alex White schedule, possibly ready to help the big league club in just his second professional season.

Levon Washington, CF: A gifted athlete with speed and power, Washington was taken in the second round after not signing with the Rays as a first-round pick in 2009. Hip and leg injuries delayed his start, but he is now active at Class A Lake County, where he's off to a slow start. But he's a name to note in the coming years.

Tony Wolters, SS: A third-round selection last year, Wolters is in extended spring camp after breaking the hamate bone in his right hand.

Kyle Blair, RHP: Last year's fourth-round pick has a deep repertoire and is considered a legit starting pitching prospect. Alas, he's got a 5.37 ERA through 11 starts at Lake County.

Tyler Holt, CF: Taken in the 10th round last year, Holt was signed for well above the slot recommendation. A fiery leadoff hitter, he's already at Class A Advanced Kinston, where he's hitting .257, with a .372 on-base percentage and 13 stolen bases.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.