Spotlight on Cleveland Indians’ Top 2 Draft Picks

The Indians’ 2018 Draft looks outstanding on paper, three selections among the top 41 players taken, and twelve picks in the first ten rounds. Their draft just became a little more exciting too as this past Tuesday the Indians signed four players including their top two selections, catcher Noah (Bo) Naylor, and RHP Ethan Hankins.

The 18-year-old Naylor, younger brother of Josh Naylor (Padres organization), was one of three High School Catchers deemed potential 1st Round picks. He stands 6’ 1” tall, weighs 195, and comes from Ontario, Canada. He is extremely athletic for his position, evidenced by the fact that he has also demonstrated very good mobility while playing the middle infield. The left handed hitter stands with a slightly open stance, has good power, a strong sense for the strike zone, and is capable of spraying the ball to all fields. Most observers ranked him as one the best pure hitters available in this year’s draft. Defensively, he has each of the tools required to become an outstanding backstop. Like virtually every catcher his age, he needs to polish those skills. But even if moved to another position, his ability to consistently make solid contact at the plate will make him an outstanding prospect. It was a bit of a surprise that he remained available at #29 of the first round. Naylor had committed to Texas A&M prior to his signing this week with the Indians.

Hankins is also just 18-years-old. He is from Cumming, GA, and prior to suffering shoulder tightness in February 2018 was considered a top five draft choice. The fact that Hankins slid to #35 could result in the Tribe getting the steal of the Draft. Hankins was fabulous during the summer of 2017 while paying for USA Baseball’s U18 team. He allowed just three hits in twelve innings of work and struck out 27. At 6’6” and 200 pounds, the right hander was considered by many to be the most talented pitcher in the Draft, and prior to the shoulder issues, many thought he might be the very first player selected. He missed a few starts as a result of the tightness, but appeared healthy at the conclusion of the season. His fastball reached 97 mph and he whiffed 37 in 20.2 innings this past season.

Hankins committed to Vanderbilt, and like Naylor, Cleveland’s challenge was to sign a player who most likely had anticipated being selected higher in the 1st round of the Draft, but they got it done. While the remainder of the Indians’ draft appears solid (more on the others in coming articles), the key to the 2018 Draft having the potential for being wildly successful was dependent upon the Tribe’s ability to sign Naylor and Hankins.
Featured image of Noah Naylor – via Canadian Baseball on Twitter

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