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Brad Grant's Thoughts: 2017 MLB Draft - Part 1

Brad Grant, the Indians Senior Director of Amateur Scouting, spoke with the media about the 2017 MLB Draft, Will Benson, Nolan Jones, Edwin Encarnacion and much more this past Thursday. The IBI's John Alfes has part one of the coverage...

On the 2017 First-Year Player Draft:

A: “This year is a little unique for us. We don't have a first-round pick. We lost our first-round pick for Edwin Encarnacion, so pick 24 went to the Toronto Blue Jays in compensation for Edwin. So our first pick this year is 64, then 71, then 102. What we've done collectively as an amateur scouting department is we've really effectively used our whole draft. If you look at our Major League team right now, look at Cody Allen, Shawn Armstrong, Roberto Perez -- we have a lot of guys who were drafted later on. We've also effectively used the second round in the past, with Jason Kipnis and many others. Although it's a challenge not having that first-round pick this year, with what our scouts do and how they go about it and how we work and use our processes, we'll be able to have an effective draft this year.”

On high school pitchers:

A: “As soon as I say it's deep in high school arms, then we take four college guys and everyone says, 'What happened to the depth of the draft?' The way we approach it every year is take the best player available for the Cleveland Indians. We're not trying to do all college players or all high school players. We're looking for the best player at each pick.”

On picking later and how it affects scouting this year’s draft:

A: “It affects it a little bit. What we did to approach the top 20 players is we tried to get three looks at those guys and that's it. If you look at the top of the draft, names like Hunter Green and Royce Lewis, those types of names, we didn't spend a whole lot of time on those guys. We effectively tried to work down further and spend more time deeper in the draft and use some of our veteran scouts to see guys who were deeper in the draft this year instead of the top.”

On Will Benson:

A: “Will Benson is still in extended [spring training], but making really great strides right now. If you take a look at his swing and where his swing is now, where his launch position is, where his timing is, he's made a lot of good adjustments and looks very good. He's driving the ball extremely well, putting up some power numbers and is still showing the plate discipline that he's had in the past.”

On Benson in extended spring training:

A: “Just to give him a chance, both him and Nolan Jones. With where we are in our system right now, there's no rush to try to push those guys to Lake County, to the Midwest League. We want to work to get them really confident and really good with their swings and the mechanics of their swings and really comfortable with that before we start to push them forward.”

On the common attribute he looks for in scouts:

A: “Talent, first and foremost. Obviously we have to take the most talented players. I think after we’ve evaluated those guys, then we really dig down and make sure that we have a really strong grasp of how they’re going to handle adversity and how they’re going to handle failure. I think if you look at a lot of our guys who are up here now and a lot of guys in our system, those guys have all overcome challenges at some point. They’ve all hit a wall at some point. They plateaued. Talent can only get you so far. It’s once you get to that plateau, what’s going to get you over the hump. That’s what we’re looking for. How they’re going to handle adversity, what’s their mindset like, what are those things that are going to let them handle that challenge of Minor League Baseball.

On the scouting department’s reaction to signing Edwin Encarnacion:

A: “We were thrilled, couldn’t be happier. Hopefully next year we’re picking (at) 30 again. To see that and the contribution we’ve made in Andrew Miller and have him come out and do those things and to have all of our scouts out here in October to watch that and be part of that, was pretty cool.”

On the strength of a draft class:

A: “The value to a draft pick for us is huge. It’s substantial. We can’t afford to lose those picks, so when we go do something like [signing Encarnacion and losing a first round pick], we spend a whole lot of time talking through the impact that has on us for the future. Those picks are what sustains our success. To do something like that, it takes a lot of conversation and a lot of time before we do it.”

John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

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