Wasting little time in getting a deal completed, the Cleveland Indians reportedly have an agreement in place with left-hander Justus Sheffield after selecting the Tennessee native with the 31st overall pick in the draft on Thursday. Sheffield had committed to Vanderbilt, but will instead join the Indians organization once he passes a physical.
MLB.com’s Jim Callis first reported the agreement, which will pay Sheffield a $1.6 Million bonus. Cleveland will also provide the value of a $250,000 scholarship to Vanderbilt, roughly eight semesters worth of tuition. The 31st overall pick in the draft carried a $1.733 Million slot value. The team had received the pick as compensation for the Baltimore Orioles’ signing of Ubaldo Jimenez.
1st-rd signing: @Indians, LHP Justus Sheffield agree to terms for $1.6 mil & 8 semesters at Vanderbilt. Pick value at No. 31 is $1,733,000.
— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) June 6, 2014
A high school pitcher, Sheffield had ranked among the Top 50 on all three major pre-draft rankings and checked in as high as 21st on Keith Law’s list. Law’s ESPN Insider scouting report notes that he throws a low-90s fastball, a slider, curve, and changeup. Overall he had some high praise for Sheffield’s makeup and his feel for pitching.
There are pitchers with more raw stuff than Sheffield, but with an above average fastball and three secondary pitches to keep hitters off balance he projects to be a solid middle of the rotation starter with a chance for more with his athleticism and wherewithal.
Justus’ older brother, Jordan, was drafted in 2013 by the Boston Red Sox but underwent Tommy John surgery and followed through with his own commitment to Vanderbilt.