First Round Pick: Matt LaPorta, LF

Posted by Steve

Once again Jack Zduriencik plays it close to the vest.  The Brewers selected first baseman Matt LaPorta out of the University of Florida with the seventh pick.  LaPorta had not been mentioned in connection with the Brewers anywhere, which is a testament to how hush-hush the Brewers are with their draft picks.

Jack Z admitted they “thought out of the box” on this pick.  You can listen to his interview, along with Doug Melvin’s and Matt LaPorta’s here.  Jack Z said he knew La Porta would be there.  He called LaPorta one of the best hitters and one of the best power hitters.  That said, this was definitely a shocker.  The ESPN analysts were sure surprised, anyhow.

A couple interesting things.  The Brewers will use LaPorta in left field.  He’s been strictly a first baseman over the last couple seasons, and scouts have shown concerns about whether he’d even be able to play first base.  It sounds like he won’t be good defensively, but if he can hold his own his bat will be good enough to play anywhere.  The Brewers apparently worked him out in left and were convinced.

Another intriguing twist is that LaPorta is, indeed, represented by Scott Boras.  It will be interesting to watch the negotiations unfold, as the Brewers have not worked with Boras in years past.  I’m not overly concerned, mainly because LaPorta would have likely gotten less than 7th-slot money if he had gone where most projected anyways (end of round one).

I was surprised at first, but after reading about him more, I definitely like the pick for a couple reasons.  First of all, I’m glad it wasn’t another high school pitcher.  Second of all, LaPorta has serious power, which the Brewers system was definitely lacking.  Also LaPorta seems anxious to sign, so that’s also something he has going for him.  Finally, he’s a college player, and at 22 he’s as close to the majors as you get.  He should be in Milwaukee before Hardy, Weeks and Fielder reach free agency.

A couple eye-opening stats on LaPorta, which really sold me on him.  He led the NCAA with a .582 on-base percentage.  WOW.  His full line was .402/.582/.817.  That’s pretty sick.  He has improved every year, and has cut down on his strikeouts every year as well (just 16 whiffs this season).  He definitely fits the moneyball strategy of drafting players based on performance rather than projection.

Matt LaPorta

Photo taken from alligator.org

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Other Brewer Picks

Round 3 (101) Jonathan Lucroy, C, Louisiana Lafayette

Round 4 (131) Eric Farris, 2B, Loyola Merrimount

Round 5(161) Caleb Gindl, CF, Pace HS (Florida)

Top five rounds are in the books.  Interesting to see that Jack Z’s first three picks are all college hitters before grabbing the athletic center fielder in the fifth round.  I like the thinking with grabbing the catcher, and Lucroy sounds like a pretty good one.  He’s pegged as a line-drive hitter with decent power, a pretty good arm and good defensive skills. Farris looks like another line-drive hitter with good athleticism and stolen-base ability.

Somewhat strange that the Brewers haven’t selected a pitcher yet, but I think we’ll see them take a bunch of high school pitchers over the next ten rounds or so.  I’m not a huge fan of the high school pitcher in the first round, but later in the draft there is less financial risk involved.

MLB.com has scouting videos on all these players, by the way.

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3 responses to “First Round Pick: Matt LaPorta, LF

  1. holy michael lewis, i just felt a vibration in my pants when i saw that obp.

  2. yearofthegator

    As an avid Gator baseball fan who has watched LaPorta play week in and week out for three years, let me tell you this pick is definitely worth it. Don’t believe all the crap about his defense; it’s continually puzzled me and my fellow Gator fans, as well as most everyone in college baseball–coaches, players, analysts, etc.–that everyone seems so down on his glove. In the college ranks everyone says his defense is very underrated. He’s more athletic than the scouts will have you think. I have no problem believing he’ll transition well to LF. He played a bit his freshman year.

    His power is just amazing. I’ve never seen a more impressive college hitter. Not only does he have great power, but he hits for average too. He’s greatly improved his plate discipline and pitch selection, shown by the low number of K’s and the high OBP, though that also has something to do with the fact he was intentionally walked 30 times this season.

    On top of that, he’s a gamer. He plays hurt and he’s a great leader, and just an overall great guy in general. You’re very lucky to have him. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the informative comments; they’re very encouraging. I can’t wait to see this guy in action.

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