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Indians' '09 Draft class on fast track

Indians' '09 Draft class on fast track

With the 2009 season and Arizona Fall League (where several 2009 draftees got their first taste of pro ball) in the books, we take a look at the early results of each club's '09 Draft class: how their top picks did; late-round picks that fared well; which picks are likely to move up the ladder quickest; and which picks clubs were unable to sign.

The first thing you notice when you look at the Indians' 2009 Draft class is how heavily it's skewed toward college and junior-college players. In fact, skewed is an understatement. Of the 28 players signed out of 50 drafted, none were high-school players. In fact, the team didn't call the name of a high-school player until its 24th pick. So that may be a sign that the club is looking for some help from the system sooner rather than later.


NL East
ATL | FLA | NYM | PHI | WAS
More

AL East
BAL | BOS | NYY | TB | TOR

NL Central
CHC | CIN | HOU | MIL | PIT | STL

AL Central
CWS | CLE | DET | KC | MIN

NL West
ARI | COL | LAD | SD | SF

AL West
LAA | OAK | SEA | TEX

The addition of fast-track players was evident when many of them contributed to short-season Mahoning Valley's run to the New York-Penn League playoff finals.

The club signed its first 20 picks, 13 of them pitchers, so keep an eye on the rotations in Class A in 2010 to see many of the arms reaped from this year's crop.

Top five picks

1. Alex White, RHP: The North Carolina ace slid past the top 10 with an inconsistent junior season and continues to work on command, but armed with a solid fastball and plus slider, the 20-year-old is still a top-notch pick. As a junior at UNC, he posted a 3.87 ERA with an 8-4 record, striking out 121 in 107 innings in 16 starts to help lead the team in its College World Series quest. A late sign, he has yet to make his pro debut.

2. Jason Kipnis, OF: Taken with the 63rd overall pick, Kipnis hit 30 homers in his two seasons at Arizona State (after transferring from Kentucky after his first season). A line-drive hitter with a good approach at the plate, good instincts and patience, the left-handed batter hit .306 with one homer and 19 RBIs and a .459 slugging percentage in his debut at Mahoning Valley.

3. Joe Gardner, RHP: Gardner signed quickly out of UC Santa Barbara but a rib-cage injury ended up sidelining him all year and prevented him from making his pro debut. He's been rehabbing through the fall and winter and is back on the mound waiting to see time in 2010. His sinking fastball is his out pitch.

4. Kyle Bellows, 3B: Drafted out of San Jose State, Bellows made his pro debut with Mahoning Valley, where he hit .240 with seven homers, 32 RBIs and eight steals.

5. Austin Adams, RHP: One of the most intriguing picks for the Indians, Adams had been a 27th-round pick by Milwaukee in 2008 as a shortstop. Converted to the mound as senior at Faulkner University in Alabama, his fastball was clocked in the mid-to-high 90s. In 17 games in relief at Mahoning Valley, he posted a 4.86 ERA and struck out 29 in 37 innings, walking 15.

Best of the rest

Outfielder Jordan Henry (seventh round), out of Mississippi, posted a .408 on-base average at Mahoning Valley to lead the New York-Penn League and scored 48 runs. A prototypical center fielder with speed and agility, he stole 22 bases and was caught just once while batting .286. The Indians took back-to-back picks out of Arizona in a pair of right-handers, Cory Burns (eighth round) and Preston Guilmet (ninth round). Burns, a sidearming reliever, posted a 1.93 ERA in 22 games with 11 saves at Mahoning Valley, fanning 37 while walking six in 32 2/3 innings and limiting hitters to a .157 average. Guilmet, a starter for Mahoning Valley, had a 4.09 ERA and struck out 62 while walking 16 in 70 1/3 innings. Right-hander Brett Brach (10th round), out of Monmouth, had a 2.19 ERA in 15 starts at Mahoning Valley, limiting hitters to a .215 average and striking out 61 in 78 innings while walking 20. Third baseman Chris Kersten (33rd round) was a late-round find out of Louisiana Tech, hitting .328 with 20 doubles in the Arizona League, driving in 33 runs and posting a .528 slugging percentage.

Fast risers

There should be a lot of quick risers, but the obvious answer to this category would come in the 1-2 slots with White and Kipnis. Also watch newly converted reliever Adams, the fifth-rounder out of Faulkner, as well as Burns, another reliever with a loose arm who could move fast in the pen.

Unsigned

Keep an eye on the first high-school player the Indians drafted, local right-hander Michael Hamann (24th round), taken out of Danbury H.S. in Lakeside, Ohio, just outside Sandusky. He'll pitch his college ball at nearby Toledo. Outfielder Jeff Rowland (21st round), a speedy center fielder from Georgia Tech, headed back to the Yellow Jackets for his senior year. Right-hander Merrill Kelly (22nd round), drafted out of junior college in Arizona, will head to Arizona State with his fastball, changeup and eephus pitch.

Lisa Winston 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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