CLEVELAND -- A year ago, Austin Adams was a 27th round selection by the Brewers in the First-Year Player Draft.
As a shortstop.
On Wednesday, the Indians made Adams their fifth-round pick.
As a reliever.
How often does this happen?
"Not very often," scouting director Brad Grant admitted.
But the Indians think they've found a natural in Adams, who recently finished up a senior season at Faulkner -- an NAIA school in Alabama -- in which he would start games at short and often finish them on the mound. He was 0-2 with 12 saves and a 3.00 ERA in 24 innings over 20 appearances as his team's closer.
Obviously, Adams can hit, and that's why the Brewers gave him the attention they did last summer. But Adams' raw stuff on the mound is intriguing. Shortstops must possess arm strength, but Adams takes that notion to the extreme.
"It's 94-98 [mph]," Grant said of Adams' fastball. "You don't see that very often. It's pretty special."
The 22-year-old Adams, listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, will obviously have some learning to do, as this pitching thing is still rather new to him. But he caught some scouts' attention this year.
"He's what player development is about," a National League scout told Baseball America this spring. "He has the kind of arm that is hard to find, and he might really improve by going full-time to the mound."
In addition to the fastball, Adams also throws what Grant called a "plus" curveball.
"We've seen Adams the past three years," Grant said. "Our area scout, Chuck Bartlett, has a very good feel for Adam. He feels if you put this guy in the right role, he has a chance to excel. We're going to put him in a bullpen role and hope that his power plays up in a bullpen role."
With Day 2 of the Draft in the books, the Indians' selections, to this point, reveal several trends. First off, the Indians have gone the expected route and been heavy on pitchers, as 20 of their first 30 picks are pitchers. The Tribe also went 23 rounds without selecting a high school player, and 28 of the first 30 picks were from a college or university.
On Day 2, the Indians took three players from the University of Arizona (right-handers Cory Burns and Preston Guilmet and catcher Dwight Childs) and two from the area (Kent State right-hander Kyle Smith and Port Clinton high school right-hander Michael Hamann).
And on the quirky side of things, the Tribe drafted two
guys named Kyle Smith -- the Kent State product and a shortstop from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Here's the compete rundown of the Day 2 activity:
Round 4: Kyle Bellows, 3B, San Jose State:
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Bellows played shortstop in college, but the Indians are projecting him to be a third baseman. Grant said Bellow, 20, has a very good bat with developing power.
Round 5: Austin Adams, RHP, Faulkner:
The aforementioned Faulkner's fastball reportedly reaches as high as 98 mph but more commonly sits at 93-96. His curveball has been clocked in the low-80s. He resides in Millbrook, Ala.
Round 6: Ben Carlson, 1B, Missouri State:
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Carlson bats from the left-hand side and has raw power, as evidenced by his leading the Missouri Valley Conference in home runs in 2008 and '09. Carlson, 21, had elbow surgery last year.
Round 7: Jordan Henry, OF, University of Mississippi:
The 6-foot, 170-pound Henry played center field for Mississippi. He has speed, a strong arm and good fielding skills. His glove currently outweighs his bat, which is a work in progress.
Round 8: Cory Burns, RHP, University of Arizona:
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Burns is a sidearmer with a fastball, changeup and slider. He's pitched primarily in a bullpen role.
Round 9: Preston Guilmet, RHP, University of Arizona:
The Indians went with back-to-back picks from Arizona's pitching staff. "Last year, we had our University of Michigan run," Grant said. "This year, we had a University of Arizona run." Guilmet is listed at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds. The A's took him in the second round last year. He is more of a finesse than a power arm.
Round 10: Brett Brach, RHP, Monmouth University:
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Brach is from Freehold, N.J., which is the birthplace of Bruce Springsteen. He was 7-3 with a 4.78 ERA in 15 appearances, including 10 starts, this past season. He struck out 77 and walked 14, so he obviously knows how to work a strike zone.
Round 11: Kirk Wetmore, LHP, Bellevue Community College:
Wetmore is listed at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds. He transferred from the University of Washington. He was 6-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 10 starts, striking out 85 and walking 28.
Round 12: Joseph Colon, RHP, no school:
No school? There's a story behind that. "He was at a junior college in Puerto Rico, named Huertas," Grant explained. "The Cubs tried to sign him last winter and found out he was Draft-eligible." So the Indians scooped Colon up.
Round 13: Jeremy Johnson, RHP, Washington State University:
The 5-foot-11, 186-pound Johnson just finished his junior season. He was a reliever for Washington State, going 6-2 with a 2.90 ERA. He struck out 124 and walked 33, which no doubt appealed to the Tribe.
Round 14: Kyle Smith, SS, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo:
The Indians' first Kyle Smith selected Wednesday is a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder who bats from the right-hand side. Smith, 21, has a solid glove and has made strides offensively.
Round 15: Mike Rayl, LHP, Palm Beach Community College:
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Rayl has committed to transfer to Florida for his junior season.
Indians -- Top five selections
|15||RHP||Alex White||UNC Chapel Hill
|63||CF||Jason Kipnis||Arizona St U
|94||RHP||Joseph Gardner||UC Santa Barbara
|125||3B||Kyle Bellows||San Jose St U
|155||RHP||Austin Adams||Faulkner U
|Complete Indians Draft results >|
Round 16: Dale Dickerson, RHP, Nicholls State University:
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Dickerson was rated the 30th best prospect from Louisiana by Baseball America.
Round 17: Casey Frawley, SS, Stetson University:
Frawley, 21, is 5-foot-11, 170 pounds and bats right-handed. He played the middle infield in college, but the Indians might try him out as a center fielder.
Round 18: Dwight Childs, C, University of Arizona:
This was the first catcher selected by the Tribe in a Draft that is not considered deep on college catching talent. He is billed as an excellent defender with a strong arm. His defense is what put him on the Indians' radar.
Round 19: Nick Kirk, LHP, University of Northern Iowa:
Kirk is 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. Baseball America rated him as the fourth-best prospect from Iowa. He's billed as a strike-thrower.
Round 20: Kyle Smith, RHP, Kent State University:
Kyle Smith No. 2 is a 6-foot-6, 220-pound right-hander from Louisville, Ohio. He has had some shoulder problems that drastically hurt his stock in the Draft, but the Indians like his talent and believe he has the athleticism to repeat his delivery. He has a three-pitch mix and size.
Round 21: Jeff Rowland, OF, Georgia Tech:
Rowland is yet another center fielder taken by the Tribe in this Draft. He reportedly has speed and defensive skills, but his arm is nothing to write home about.
Round 22: Kenneth Kelly, RHP, Yavapai College:
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Kelly is from Scottsdale, Ariz., and has committed to go to Arizona State. He has a fastball and a changeup, but what's interesting is his good, old-fashioned eephus pitch, which is always a crowd-pleaser.
Round 23: Daniel Jimenez, LHP, John A. Logan College:
Logan is a 6-foot-3, 215-pound left-hander who was rated Illinois' ninth-best prospect by Baseball America. He is 19 years old
Round 24: Michael Hamann, RHP, Danbury High School:
This is the Port Clinton product the Indians are taking a chance on. He's already committed to play for Toledo, but the Indians will track his development this summer and, in Grant's words, "see what happens."
Round 25: Blake Hauser, RHP, Manchester High School:
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Hauser hails from Midlothian, Va. Baseball America ranked him as the best prospect in Virginia. He has committed to Virginia Commonwealth University and might be difficult to sign at this juncture.
Round 26: Antwone Hubbard, RHP, University of Oklahoma:
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Hubbard is another big-bodied arm, but he's battled a fractured leg that limited him to nine appearances this year, which was his sophomore season.
Round 27: Tyler Sturdevant, RHP, New Mexico State University:
Sturdevant is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds and hails from Littleton, Colo. New Mexico State has used him as both a starter and a reliever.
Round 28: Nick Sarianides, RHP, Chattahoochee Valley Community College:
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Sarianides is a 19-year-old from Fortson, Ga.
Round 29: Xorge Carrillo, C, Central Arizona College:
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Carrillo is from Tempe, Ariz. So that's two catchers from Arizona in one Draft. Like Childs, he's more skilled behind the plate than at it.
Round 30: Bryson Smith, 2B, Young Harris College:
With their final pick on Day 2, the Indians went with the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Smith. Like Rayl, he's also committed to go to Florida next year. He hit .469 with 21 homers and 90 RBIs and was named the National Junior College Athletic Association's Player of the Year.