Cleveland Indians 2019 MLB Draft Report Card
Every year at the conclusion of the regular season, Baseball America revisits each teams' most recent draft class. Each class has its no-doubt, high-profile names to keep an eye on, but our annual draft report cards highlight the best tools, best debuts, late-round steals and more. Here are the names you need to know from every organization's 2019 draft.
Best Pure Hitter: You don’t earn the nickname Joey Barrels without having premium hitting ability. 1B Joseph Naranjo (3) stood out for just that during his prep career thanks to his simple approach, direct swing, control of the strike zone and ability to use the whole field to hit.
Best Power Hitter: The Indians didn’t draft any big sluggers this year, instead focusing on hittability and defense among position players. But OF Will Brennan (8) has extra-base pop and C Will Bartlett (9) has above-average power. OF Micah Pries (13) could also match that and hit 18 home runs this spring.
Fastest Runner: SS Christian Cairo (4) has above-average speed and his instincts help that play up on the bases and in the infield.
Best Defensive Player: SS Yordys Valdes (2) was arguably the most advanced defender in the draft class. The Cuban native has excellent instincts and feel for the game to go with a plus arm and range. SS Joab Gonzalez (24) is also a high-end defender with a plus arm and good range.
Best Fastball: RHP Daniel Espino (1) was one of the best prep arms in the draft class and has a big fastball that reaches 99 mph. RHP Hunter Gaddis (5) saw his velocity tick up after the draft, and he touched 97 mph this summer.
Best Athlete: Espino has excellent athleticism, especially in terms of his flexibility, coordination and body control. His combination of explosiveness and flexibility is rare. Gaddis and Valdes are both also high-end athletes.
Best Secondary Pitch: RHP Nick Mikolajchak (11) stands out for his fastball-slider combination, and that slider has helped him pile up strikeouts throughout his career. Espino also has the chance to have a plus slider.
Best Pro Debut: The Indians often draft premium high school players but just as often are very cautious with them at the outset of their careers. Still, Espino pitched well enough in the Rookie-level Arizona League to force their hand, and he became the first prep player to advance to short-season Mahoning Valley during his pro debut since 2011.
Most Intriguing Background: RHP Jacob Forrester (37) is the son of Mike Forrester, one of the world’s best competitive timber sportsmen who was once profiled on the Colbert Report. RHP Kevin Kelly (19) is one of the smartest players in baseball and taught himself to code, including how to write SQL.
Closest To The Majors: Mikolajchak’s pro debut puts him on an accelerated path to Cleveland and, as a reliever, he could be in the big leagues soon. For a prep player in the Indians’ system, Espino is now also on an accelerated track.
The One Who Got Away: The Indians signed their first 25 picks before SS Armani Sanchez (26) got away. He and C Jonathan French (30) were the two most high-profile prep players the Indians took who went unsigned. Sanchez will go back in the draft this spring after a year at San Jacinto (Texas) JC, while French upheld his commitment to Clemson.