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The Cleveland Indians knew who they liked deep in the draft, but would they be there?

By Paul Hoynes • Jun 13, 2017 at 3:30 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Indians, without a first-round pick in this year's draft, changed eye levels when it came to scouting the country for players.

They took a look at the premium players such as Royce Lewis, the high school shortstop who was selected by the Twins as the first pick in the country, but they didn't invest much time or energy. They concentrated on the belly of the draft where they knew their first two picks would be -- No. 64 and No. 71.

Late Monday night they selected school players Quentin Holmes and Tyler Freeman with two picks. They were familiar with both players.

Holmes is a center fielder from Queens, N.Y. with speed. Freeman is a shortstop from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. They sent former Tribe infielder John McDonald to California to work with him.

"The big attraction with Quentin is his speed," said Brad Grant, Indians senior director of amateur scouting. "He's a 70 runner (80 is the top grade for Tribe scouts). He also has the potential to be a plus defensive player and a very contact-oriented hitter.

"He was a fixture on the showcase circuit this summer and set the PG (Perfect Game) national 60-yard dash record with a 6.19. He's a fun player to watch and a great person on an off the field. We couldn't be more excited to take Quentin at 64."

Holmes, 6-1, 175 pounds, bats and throws right-handed. He scored 33 runs and stole 22 bases in 23 attempts for Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School.

He's also a baseball rat. His father and him built a batting cage in their backyard a couple of years ago when it became clear the basketball court wasn't needed. Not only does Holmes use the cage, but he and his father have opened a hitting school.

Freeman, another right-handed hitter, led all California high school players with a .526 (51-for-97) batting average at Etiwanda High School. He had eight doubles, four triples, four homers in 30 games this year.

Etiwanda, with Freeman and his brother, Cody, forming the double play combination, won the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) Southern Section Division title this year at Dodger Stadium. He was named Baseline League MVP.

"He's an unbelievable offensive oriented player," said Grant. "He brings a lot of offensive tools to the game. He should go out and hit and the power should come. We'll start him out at shortstop and let him play there."

Holmes has signed a letter of intent to Mississippi State University. Freeman has done the same with TCU.

"It was tough for us to predict who would be down there (in those rounds)," said Grant. "But to get both those players, both with athleticism, but some secondary tool sets as well, is what is really attractive to us."

The Indians usually don't draft players unless they have a strong indication that they're ready to turn pro. The slotting bonus for Holmes is $969,900, while Freeman is $816,500. The Indians bonus pool for signing the players they select in the first 10 rounds is just over $3.8 million.

"We've built strong relationships with both Quentin and Tyler," said Grant. "We spent a lot of time with both of them. Our scouts, Mike Bradford with Tyler Freeman and Mike Kanen with Quentin Holmes have built very strong relationships with them.

"We had Johnny McDonald go out and spend time with Tyler as well. We are obviously taking the steps to sign them and get them into our system."

The deadline for teams to sign their draft picks in July 15. The draft continues Tuesday through Wednesday.

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