Indians take two top college hitters in first round

CLEVELAND (AP) - Michael Aubrey and Brad Snyder, who each batted over .400 as college juniors this spring, were selected in the first round by the Cleveland Indians in Tuesday's draft.
Aubrey, a 21-year-old first baseman from Tulane, was taken 11th overall -- Cleveland's highest pick since Jaret Wright in 1994 at No. 10.
Snyder, who grew up an Indians fan in Bellevue and attends Ball State, was taken 18th. The Indians got that selection from Philadelphia as compensation for losing free agent Jim Thome.
"Both are accomplished hitters who have competed at the highest level of college ball," said John Mirabelli, the Indians' assistant general manager for scouting operations. "The toughest part of the process is ahead. You won't hear a lot of accolades from me until these guys are signed."
Both picks indicated they wanted to sign and begin their professional careers rather than remain in college.
"I can continue my education at any time," said Aubrey. "You are only young once and I've been waiting for this opportunity for a long time."
The 6-foot, 190-pounder batted .420 with 18 homers and 79 RBIs in 63 games this season. He was selected as the 2003 Conference USA Player of the Year and is a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award given to college baseball's top player.
"He's an accomplished hitter," Mirabelli said. "I went through the scouting process for Sean Casey and I would compare him to Sean. He's a hitter first and generally with a guy with a good swing, the power follows."
Snyder, a 6-2, 200-pounder, batted .405 with 14 homers, 61 RBIs and 20 stolen bases for Ball State this spring.
"I watch the Indians on TV every day," he said. "I had all sorts of friends and family hoping Cleveland would draft me. I hope to sign and get started on my career."
With a sandwich pick (No. 31 overall) between the first and second rounds also acquired for losing Thome, the Indians selected right-hander Adam Miller from McKinney (Texas) High School.
Miller's selection continues a trend of taking pitchers.
Cleveland's first pick in 2002, Stanford right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, is at Triple-A Buffalo. In 2001, eight of the team's top nine picks were pitchers.
"Our philosophy is never to draft on a need basis, but to take the best player available in the top rounds," Mirabelli said. "The strength of this draft was in college position players."
The Indians selected Tennessee catcher Javier Herrera in the second round, Stanford catcher Ryan Garko in the third round and Florida outfielder Ben Harrison in the fifth.
Garko caught Guthrie at Stanford.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)