The first two days of the 2021 MLB Draft are in the books and a theme has emerged for the Cleveland Indians through 10 rounds.
The club has made 11 total picks and 10 are pitchers.
More specifically, all 10 pitchers are veteran college players.
The lone holdout is shortstop Jake Fox, drafted out of high school in the third round.
So it is clear the Indians want pitchers who have proven experience beyond high school.
Is that a smart strategy?
Well, it does ensure there is a larger body of work to judge.
However, it could lead to risks given more wear and tear on the arms.
Yet this is still a wise strategy if the goal is to constantly develop pitchers who could step into the MLB rotation on short notice.
The Top Pick
The Indians selected right-hander Gavin Williams out of East Carolina with the No. 23 pick in the first round.
Our pick is in!
We have selected RHP Gavin Williams out of East Carolina University.
Gavin's got a four-pitch mix with his fastball routinely touching 100 mph. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/1WoxM5pOSi
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 12, 2021
The four-year player finally became a regular starter in 2021 and absolutely mowed down the competition.
Williams finished 10-1 on the year with a 1.88 ERA and a 14.4 K/9.
His 130 strikeouts in only 81.1 innings prove why he was taken so early.
The team plans to keep him in a starting role and see if the 6-foot-6 ECU ace can bring his talent to Cleveland.
Other Notable Selections
One of the more exciting picks for the Indians came in the second round.
The team selected Ole Miss pitcher Doug Nikhazy, who appears to be a big personality.
Doug Nikhazy's 13th K.
Electric factory. ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/j9Dc0j1AH8
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 21, 2021
The southpaw made 16 appearances in 2021 and 15 as a starter.
He posted a 13.9 K/9 and had one game in particular fans in Mississippi will never forget.
Doug Nikhazy (@Dougnikhazy) of @OleMissBSB striking out 16 batters at home was one of most dominant pitching performances you’ll see at any level.
What a tenure Nikhazy has had w/ Ole Miss:
• 2.81 ERA
• 204.2 IP
• 259 K’s
• Opponent BA .202
Swayze legend. pic.twitter.com/UUwlmqPyU2
— Kyle Malzhan (@KyleMalzhan) July 8, 2021
Taking two college aces with the first two picks is not a bad strategy at all, and that trend only continued aside from the one shortstop selected.
One interesting note is that the Indians took three pitchers off the Florida Gators staff in Tommy Mace, Jack Leftwich, and Franco Aleman.
If you like the way pitchers are developed at a school, you may as well just draft all the talent and hope at least one pans out.
Mace was the highest selection of the three, going in the third round.
He did post a 4.38 ERA in 2021, but still sported an 11.3 K/9 mark.
One More Day To Go
There are still 10 rounds to go and it will be fascinating to see if the Indians keep taking college pitchers, or if they opt to focus on some other positions.
An organization can never have too many pitchers, but it may be a bit much to not focus a bit on other positions after the limited draft held in 2020 as well.
The crop of dominating college pitching talent is also depleted after 10 rounds of drafting.
The Indians clearly have a plan and are sticking to it.
The hope now is that in a few years, we look back and are shocked there wasn’t more hype about several selections in this class as they blossom into stars.
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