2008 Draft

Posted by Steve

I wanted to write something about the draft because of the abundance of high picks the Brewers have this season.  Due to the picks acquired from Type A free agents Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink, the Brewers have six of the top 62 picks in this year’s draft. They own picks 16, 32, 35,

The top few players in this draft are not considered sure-things, so it’s probably a good draft to be sitting in the middle of the pack.  There are many college first basemen expected to go in the first round, but that’s where the Brewers probably have the least need of all.  The top few picks are expected to be Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Vanderbilt, Brian Matusz, LHP, San Diego, Buster Posey, C, Florida State, Tim Beckham, SS Georgia (high school) and Eric Hosmer, 1B (high school).  Most mock drafts have Tampa Bay selecting Posey with the first overall pick.

The Brewers’ minor league system is still relatively strong (particularly in AA), but several graduations into the majors have left it thinner than it’s been in the last several years.  This draft will go a long way towards replenishing the system.  The Brewers have built their team around the draft more than just about any team in baseball, so tomorrow is literally one of the most important days in the last five years or so for the franchise.  If scouting director Jack Zduriencik can hit on a few of those top picks to incorporate into their current young MLB core, they will be set up terrifically for the future.

The Brewers have obviously had great success developing positional players, but the pitching has been a different story.  Manny Parra and Yovani Gallardo have been the only impact pitchers brought up in the Brewers system in the last several years.  It might be tempting for the Brewers to load up on pitching with most of their top picks, but I’d actually be surprised if this happened.  Most of the elite pitchers will be gone by pick 16, and the first couple rounds are deeper on the offensive side.  Here’s where the “best player available” policy comes into play.

Just like last year, if you want great information on the draft, check out brewerfan.net.  Patrick Ebert scouts players for Perfect Game, and posts a ton of great info there.

A  few things about Jack Z:  First of all, he was named Baseball America’s Executive of the Year last season, which was the first time a non-general manager won the award.  So basically, he’s really good.  His policy is to take the best player available, no matter the position or perceived need.  Finally, he’s notorious for keeping their target players close to the vest leading up to the draft; mock drafts tend to vary greatly with the Brewers’ pick.

I’m not going to pretend I have any inside info, nor am I going to write an all-out “preview,” because I pretty much only know what I’ve read at places like brewerfan.  Instead, I’ll just give a quick summary of some of the players that people are throwing around with the Brewers’ pick.  Keep in mind, nobody was predicting Matt LaPorta for the Brewers at number seven last season.  Most thought they’d take pitcher Phillipe Aumont, and instead they provided the shock of the first round.

Anyway, here are some players that might be the pick.

Brett Lawrie, C/3B

Lawrie’s Canadian, and the Brewers are very active in scouting Canada.  He’s a catcher right now, and he’ll likely either be a catcher or third baseman down the road.  His athleticism is considered a strength.  Lawrie has risen quickly as of late, with strong recent offensive performances.  My unscientific observation is that Lawrie is the preferred pick of most of the draft gurus at brewerfan.

Anthony Hewitt, 3B?

The Brewers like to draft players with great tools.  When they selected LaPorta last season, Zduriencik said they like getting a player who is the best at one certain tool.  LaPorta was the best power bat available in the draft, and Hewitt is considered the best athlete.  The biggest question is on his hitting, which is obviously a pretty big question for a first round pick.  There are also mixed opinions on what position he profiles as.

Jemile Weeks, 2B

The Brewers drafted Rickie’s little brother out of high school a few years ago in the eighth round, but were unable to sign him away from the University of Miami.  Going to school has paid off for Weeks, as he’ll now be a first round pick.  I saw him as a freshman All-American a few years ago at the College World Series, and he’s definitely a dynamic player.  He profiles as more of a true leadoff hitter than Rickie, but with less power.

Joshua Fields, RP

Fields is the best college closer in the country, and he has put up some absurd numbers for the Georgia Bulldogs this season.  I’ve read scouting reports that claim he’d be good enough to pitch in the Brewers’ bullpen right now.  Fields doesn’t typically fit the Jack Z mold of a high-ceiling player, but if they feel he’s worthy of the pick they might go for him.  Teams have seen mixed results with taking closers in the first round, but some successes include Huston Street and Chad Cordero.

Tim Melville, RHP

Melville is a tall, right-handed high school pitcher.  History generally indicates that if the Brewers are taking a pitcher in the first couple rounds, he’s going to be a high school pitcher.  Melville is considered a mid-first round talent.

Zach Collier, CF

Collier is a left-handed center fielder out of high school.  He is a strong hitter, and that left-handedness is always a plus.  He has good speed, and is expected to hit for power as a pro.

Jason Castro, C

Castro is the catcher at Stanford, and is considered the third or fourth-best catcher in the draft.  If the Brewers are looking for a quick riser at catcher, they might take Castro despite the presence of solid prospects like Jonathan LuCroy and Angel Salome already in their system.

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There are 5-10 more names at least that I’ve heard as possibilities for the Brewers, but these players are the ones that seem most likely to me.  Even still, I would not be at all surprised if the Brewers take someone I didn’t even mention.  Not that I pretend to know which players are better than others, but from what I’ve read, I probably prefer Lawrie or Collier.  I’d be intrigued by Fields only because we’d likely see him in Milwaukee within a year.  I also like Weeks a lot, but I’m not sure there’s room for him with Rickie at second currently.  Again though, that whole best player thing can throw a wrench in that idea.

Tune in to the draft tomorrow on ESPN2 if you can.  I’m definitely excited to see what the Brewers do with their abundance of picks tomorrow, so much so that I’ll be recording it and watching it after work.  No, I don’t think that’s unhealthy or weird.

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One response to “2008 Draft

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