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Tribe Nets UNC Righthander White In First Round

By Garrett Monaghan

With 2009 shaping up as a write-off thus far for the big league club, the Indians needed to give fans something to be optimistic about on Draft Day. By taking North Carolina right-hander Alex White with the fifteenth overall pick, they may have done just that.

In a pitching-heavy draft, White stood out as one of the better college pitchers around. At 6'3" 200lbs, he has a good pitcher's build and should be able to get stronger as a pro. White has seen action as both a starter and a reliever for the Tar Heels. His fastball typically sits in the 91-94 range as a starter with good tail and sink, and he's been known to touch 96 out of the bullpen. White's best secondary pitch is a nasty split finger that he uses to neutralize lefthanded hitters. He also has a plus slider that he throws in the low-to-mid 80's, although his control of it can be somewhat hit-or-miss.

Control is White's biggest issue, as his delivery isn't always consistent and sometimes leads him to elevate his pitches. His makeup is excellent, and the Indians really love his competitiveness on the mound. If they can get his delivery a little more consistent, White could be in Cleveland very quickly.

I love this pick for the Tribe. White's a reasonably polished college pitcher from a great program, and his sinker-slider-splitter arsenal should serve him well in hitter-friendly Jacobs Field. At worst, White should turn into a very effective reliever and at best, a front of the rotation starter. With the pitching situation in Cleveland looking more erratic than usual, White should get every chance to climb the organizational ladder in a hurry.

In the second round, the Indians went with Arizona State outfielder Jason Kipnis, and I think this could be another great pick for Cleveland. I'll admit to having a soft spot for guys who play hard and above their tools, but Kipnis is a polished college hitter and an on-base machine. He's got average tools across the board, sprays the ball around well, and has shown an increasing ability to pull the ball over the course of the season.

Although he's not a standout at any one outfield position, Kipnis could play just about anywhere in a pinch. He's got good instincts, decent range, and an average arm. At 6'0" 180lbs, he's not the most projectable of players, but he is strong for his size.

Kipnis has faced good competition at Arizona State, and I like his track record and approach at the plate. He's more likely to turn into a 12-15 homer a year, .380 OBP guy at the major league level, but I'll take that in a pinch from a second-round pick. Like White, Kipnis should move quickly in the organization, and might make a splash in Cleveland before a lot of people expect.

Great first day for the Indians as a whole.