COMMENTARY | Taking a quick glance at the first-round picks of the Cleveland Indians in the MLB draft over the years, one thing is clear: The Tribe have generally been lousy in the area of drafting talent.
Though there have been some good selections over the years, such as All-Stars Charles Nagy, Manny Ramirez and CC Sabathia, players of this caliber have been the exception rather than the rule. Blessed with a myriad of top 10 selections over the years, the Indians have squandered these picks on a series of players who never lived up to their potential.
These are the five picks that certainly had their respective general managers feeling the heat when they didn't pan out:
5. Michael Aubrey (No. 11 pick in 2003)
A power-hitting first baseman out of Tulane, Aubrey was drafted to eventually fill the void left by Jim Thome's signing with the Philadelphia Phillies the prior offseason. Unfortunately, this was not to be, as injuries derailed his career. Aubrey only managed to get 46 games under his belt in short-lived stints with the Tribe in 2008 and the Baltimore Orioles in 2009. Judging by the fact that he hasn't played an inning of professional baseball since 2011, don't expect that number to rise anytime soon.
4. Beau Mills (No. 13 pick in 2007)Mills averaged a lofty 1.104 OPS in two seasons at Fresno State before academic troubles forced him to transfer to tiny Lewis-Clark State in Idaho. Sadly, those numbers did not make the trip with him to professional baseball, where Mills currently has a .725 OPS in a mere 74 games of Class AAA ball. At just 26 years of age, some would say it is still too early to consider Mills a bust, but seeing that the Tribe shipped him off last summer to the Cincinnati Reds for cash sure seems like a telltale sign.
3. Jeremy Sowers (No. 6 pick in 2004)
Wasting no time rising through the Indians' farm system, Sowers made his major-league debut in 2006 and pitched well, going 7-4 with a 3.57 ERA. It's been all downhill from there. Since then, Sowers has posted an 11-26 mark at the major-league level with an ERA over 5.00. Sowers has never had any trouble getting minor-league hitters out, but his proven inability to pitch well in the big leagues has left him without a major-league contract since 2010.
2. Steve Dunning (No. 2 pick in 1970)
A big right-hander out of Stanford, Dunning never played an inning of minor-league ball when he made his debut for the Indians just weeks after he was drafted in 1970. Maybe some seasoning at the lower levels would've been the wise choice for the impatient Indians, as control problems were Dunning's downfall. He averaged nearly five walks per nine innings before the Tribe shipped him off to the Texas Rangers in 1973. Dunning finished his big-league career with a woeful 23-41 record and was out of baseball at age 29.
1. Mark Lewis (No. 2 pick in 1988)A heavily touted shortstop, Lewis was supposed to be one of the cornerstones of the Tribe in the 1990s. Never happened. Lousy defense led Lewis to lose his position to the light-hitting Felix Fermin in 1993 and when Fermin was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Omar Vizquel that winter, it was apparent that Lewis' days in Cleveland were numbered. After bouncing around baseball for the next seven years, Lewis finished his career in 2001 with a pedestrian .263 batting average and plenty of questions about what could have been.
Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo! Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Indians for 25 years.
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