Draft depth an advantage for Tribe

Draft depth an advantage for Tribe

CLEVELAND -- As a result of last year's success, the Indians won't have a pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft until No. 29.

That sits just fine with Brad Grant, who was recently named the club's director of amateur scouting and, as a result, is in the drafting hot seat for the first time this year.

"This is the latest we've ever picked in the first round in the history of our Drafts," Grant said. "We're a victim of our success at the Major League level, but I'd take 29th every year if we could do it."

Grant is also comfortable with having the 76th and 107th overall picks because he believes this is a deep enough Draft class to provide quality players at those spots.

MLB.com will carry every pick of the Draft, which takes place June 5-6 at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. Day 1 coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. The remaining rounds on Day 1 will be shown exclusively at MLB.com, with live analysis on site from MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo.

Several of the top amateur prospects are expected to be in attendance in Orlando for Day 1 of the Draft, and each of the 30 Major League clubs will be represented by front-office executives and baseball luminaries. Former third baseman Travis Fryman will represent the Indians.

Fans are welcome to attend Day 1 of the Draft, and admission to The Milk House is free with seating limited to a first-come, first-served basis.

Day 2 will get under way at 11:30 a.m. and continue through Round 50, if necessary. Every pick on Day 2 can be heard live at MLB.com.

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

In about 50 words
The Indians had a quiet offseason, both in the signing and losing of free agents. So they neither lost nor gained compensatory picks in this year's Draft. The Tribe will select 29th out of 30 teams in the first round. The Tribe will then select 76th in the second round, 107th in the third round and 141st in the fourth round, and will select every 30 picks thereafter.

The scoop
"When you look at the Draft in the big-picture side of things, it seems there's more depth to the number of position players than there is to the pitchers. It's not specific to one position. We're going to take everything into consideration -- organizational needs and everything else. This is not a needs-based Draft."
-- Grant on his take on this year's Draft class

First-round buzz
Grant is the first to admit that it's difficult to speculate who will be available for the Tribe at No. 29, but he believes the depth of this year's class will allow the Indians to have their choice from two or three players they like. The Indians haven't taken a high school player in the first round since 2001, so it's reasonably safe to assume they'll stick with that trend.

Shopping list
Like most organizations, the Indians place a high value on middle infielders, catchers and pitching in the Draft. Yes, the organization is strong in the pitching department, but as Grant says, pitching is a "game of attrition." Expect the club to go after its share of arms, while simultaneously seeking to be strong up the middle.

Trend watch
The Indians have strayed from high school kids in the first round since 2001, but that doesn't mean the club is averse to rolling the dice on youngsters in general. Last year, the Tribe selected 13 high schoolers. The club also took advantage of a deep position-player pool last year and only took 24 pitchers among its 47 picks. With another deep crop of position players this year that trend could continue.

Recent top picks
Last year's top pick was infielder Beau Mills at No. 13. He's played primarily at first base at Class A Kinston and impressed the higher-ups in Spring Training. The Indians consider him an advanced bat who would be a quick riser. Left-hander Dave Huff, a sandwich pick out of UCLA in '06, is having one of the strongest seasons in the system at Double-A Akron. Outfielder Trevor Crowe, the Tribe's No. 1 pick in '05, missed some time with a lower back injury, but is back in action at Double-A Akron, where he has really labored at the plate this season.

Rising fast
Huff was 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA through nine starts for Akron and could be due for a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo before long. Left-hander Ryan Morris, a fourth-round pick in '06, was 6-0 with a 2.01 ERA through 10 starts at Class A Lake County.

Cinderella story
Left-hander Ryan Miller has also impressed at Lake County, compiling a 7-0 record and 1.20 ERA through 10 games, including nine starts. Miller was a 36th-round pick in '06. At Class A Kinston, right-hander Luis Perdomo, a non-drafted signee in 2003, had a 0.92 ERA and 11 saves through 21 relief appearances.

In The Show
At this point, reliever Jensen Lewis, a third-round selection in 2005, is the only one of the Tribe's Draft picks from the last three years to reach the Major League level. Lewis was a key contributor out of the bullpen down the stretch last season, but was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo last week to refine his command and velocity.

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