Posted by Steve
Despite not getting as many picks as they hoped for, the Brewers still have several early picks. They have six picks in the first three rounds this year, which was a great opportunity to collect some talent. It’s quite a task for scouting director Bruce Seid in his first draft since replacing Jack Zduriencik.
First Round, 26 Overall: Eric Arnett, RHP, Indiana University
The last few years, some posters at brewerfan have pegged the Brewers’ first overall selection. Their draft gurus called for Brett Lawrie last year at 16, and sure enough he was the pick. At pick number 26 this year, I didn’t spend much time researching to guess who the pick would be, and instead I just read about 10-15 players who people had linked to the Brewers. I figured 26 would be too late to really project.
Yet, as I watched the first round unfold yesterday, people began to get more and more excited that right-handed pitcher Eric Arnett was falling. So basically, without ever having seen this guy play, I was completely sucked into the hype. By the time pick 26 rolled around, I was really hoping it would be Arnett.
Here’s what got me excited. This is what a poster had to say about Arnett just a couple weeks ago on May 20.
I just love Arnett. In fact I think he’s on par with everybody besides Strasburg. I got the pleasure of watching him on the BTN today. He was outstanding. He’s tall, lanky, lean, but still strong. He throws downhill. Outstanding velocity with a killer slider. He’s a terrific athlete, has outstanding body control who I think will develop outstanding command. He showed really quick feet picking off a baserunner. Cal Eldred broke down his mechanics after the game and pointed out his flawless delivery. His production has been outstanding all year. He only has 1 year of college abuse, as opposed to most top college pitchers who have been rode into the ground by the time they’re drafted.
Right now, unfortunately, I think Arnett is well out of our reach.
Sweet deal. The Brewers had similar things to say about him. Bruce Seid said he was the best player available on their draft board. He’s 6’5″, 225 pounds and throws a mid-90s fastball, a mid 80s slider and an occasional changeup that will likely be developed in pro ball. In 108 innings at Indiana during his Junior year, he had a 2.50 ERA, 109 strikeouts and 39 walks. He’s considered a workhorse, as he frequently pitched late into games. He had six complete games this season.
It’s nice for the top player on the board to coincide with a need, as most of the Brewers’ impact pitching talent is in the lower levels of the minors. Jack Z definitely preferred to draft high school pitchers in the first round, so this is a change for the Brewers. The last time the Brewers drafted a college pitcher in the first round, it worked out pretty well for them (Ben Sheets in 1999). As a college pitcher, Arnett is much closer to the big leagues than a high school pitcher would be. Another plus is that he is signable; the Brewers simply won’t take a player this high if they aren’t sure they can sign him. Doug Melvin said he expects him to be signed quickly.
Supplemental First Round, 39 Overall: OF Kentrail Davis, University of Tennessee
Davis is a compact and powerful guy, standing 5’9″ and weighing 200 pounds. He’s garnered comparisons to Kirby Puckett, but obviously that’s because of his body type and position. He was a draft eligible sophomore out of Tennessee, and he played on Team USA last year as well. The report on him is that his production this season didn’t match his talent–he hit .308/.424/.528. The Brewers obviously like his left handed bat, and Bruce Seid said there’s a chance he could stick in centerfield (which sounds to me like he’ll end up in a corner).
The potential catch here is that he’s a Scott Boras client. I’d be surprised if they didn’t sign him, though, because as I said the Brewers spend a lot of time researching a player’s signability (worst thing about the MLB draft by far). Matt LaPorta was a Scott Boras client a couple years ago, and the Brewers had no trouble getting him signed. Hopefully things go similarly with Davis.
Supplemental First Round, 47 Overall: Kyle Heckathorn, RHP, Kennesaw State University
Wow, two college pitchers before the second round! Heckathorn, like Arnett, is another huge righty–6’6″, 240 pounds. He’s a power pitcher with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a slider in the upper 80s. That right there makes him sound more intriguing than Arnett, but it didn’t translate into as much success as Arnett. Heckathorn has outstanding stuff, but his numbers weren’t as good as they probably should have been. In 86.1 innings, Heckathorn had a 3.44 ERA, 98 strikeouts, 27 walks and 85 hits allowed. The most surprising part to me is the 85 hits. With that kind of stuff, he should be dominating hitters rather than giving up a hit an inning.
Many scouts sound like they think Heckathorn will end up as a power reliever, but the Brewers plan on using him as a starter and working on honing his command.
Incidentally, it was quite a day for Kennesaw State. Heckathorn’s teammate Chad Jenkins, another starting pitcher, was drafted 20th overall by Toronto.
Second Round, 73 Overall: Max Walla, OF, Albuquerque (High School)
Before I get into the baseball stuff, I have to say that this pick caught my eye due to his reaction. He sounds like a pretty cool kid. Check out how excited he is in this video. He made similar comments to Baseball America. Aside from the awesome dogpiling quote, it impressed me that he was already this knowledgeable of the Brewers: “I really like their organization. I think six of their nine starters in the major leagues right now have come up through their organization. They have a great organization, they treat their players well and I’m very excited.”
Anyway, on to the baseball part. Walla is supposed to be a pure hitter. Doug Melvin mentioned in his interview last night that Walla caught his eye during his workout with his power. Walla profiles as a middle-of-the-order type slugger. He doesn’t have speed and will be relegated to a corner outfield spot, but he has a strong throwing arm that should play well from the outfield (hit 90 mph pitching for his high school team). He’s 5’11” and 195 pounds, so it’s another compact lefty bat. I like the fact that the Brewers got a couple left-handed hitters early.
The common theme in the first four picks is power. The Brewers got two power pitchers and two power hitters.
Second Round, 74 Overall: Cameron Garfield, C, California (High School)
With this pick the Brewers switched their focus to defense. Garfield isn’t considered a great hitter at this point, but his defense behind the plate has drawn rave reviews. And it isn’t as though he can’t hit at all; a quick internet search reveals that scouts think he has potential to develop some pop.
Other Early Picks
Round Three, 105 Overall: Josh Prince, SS, Tulane
Shortstop with good range, a .467 OBP and and incredible 48 stolen bases this year. He has four tools right now, with some room to possibly develop a fifth, which is power.
Round 4: Brooks Hall, RHP, High School
Another tall right-hander with plenty of room to fill out. 6’5″, 195 pounds. Not that it means anything as far as pro ball is concerned, but Hall threw a perfect game this season in a high school game.