Tuesday, June 05, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Indians draft McClure in fourth round

Leader sports editor

The Cleveland Indians drafted recently graduated Jacksonville baseball prodigy D’Vone McClure on Tuesday afternoon, the second day of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft. The Indians took McClure with the 143rd overall pick in the middle of the fourth round. McClure’s draft position was slightly lower than where he was projected in the late third round, but he was still excited about the draft and the opportunities that await him.

McClure signed a college scholarship offer with the Arkansas Razorbacks last November, and is still weighing his options.

“I’m pretty excited but I’m still narrowing things down and trying to decide if I want to go to college,” McClure told The Leader Tuesday afternoon.

McClure felt right at home in Fayetteville and has already begun to develop relationships with current University of Arkansas players. Razorback coach Dave Van Horn spoke with McClure shortly after he was selected by Cleveland. He made it clear he wants McClure to be a Hog, but urged him to do what’s best for him.

“He wants what’s best for me,” McClure said of Van Horn. “He really didn’t put a lot of pressure on me. I’m still just trying to figure everything out.”

McClure started his senior season as a prospect expected to be drafted somewhere in the mid-teen rounds. He changed that with his play his senior year of high school.

His stock rose dramatically in late March when he went 2 for 3 with two line-drive doubles off the wall at Dupree Park off fellow prospect Trey Killian, ace pitcher at Mountain Home. Killian is another Razorback signee and the Gatorade Player of the Year in Arkansas.

Smashing Killian’s best stuff and raising his stock probably means a substantial signing bonus offer from Cleveland, though a new collective bargaining agreement has changed the rules concerning how Major League teams acquire amateur talent. New rules penalize teams which offer large bonuses well beyond what’s called the ‘draft pool recommendation, which is a guideline number for what a certain draft pick warrants as a signing bonus.

McClure’s spot, 143, usually falls in the $300,000 to $400,000 range, but with the new rules, experts say projections could be useless for what a draft pick will sign for this season.

Cleveland drafted Searcy pitcher Dillon Howard in the second round last season. Howard’s signing bonus was $1.85 million.

McClure says money will factor into his decision, but may not be the determining factor. There are other pros and cons to going to college or turning pro.

“In college you get an education and that’s important,” McClure said. “I really enjoyed my time in Fayetteville. The players were fun to be around and I loved the family atmosphere up there.

“In the pros you get more swings. It’s not all about winning and more about development. The opportunity to develop a little faster is there. I feel good about it either way though. It’s a win-win for me.”