Brewers go with flow of pitching-heavy Draft
'Best available' strategy yields 24 arms by conclusion of Day 3
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers stayed true to their plan and drafted who they believed were the best available players. It just so happened Milwaukee ended up with 24 pitchers by the end of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
The Brewers set the tone on Monday, when they selected in the first round right-hander Taylor Jungmann (12th overall) and left-hander Jed Bradley (15th overall). Milwaukee carried the same mindset into Day 2, with back-to-back pitching selections in the second and third rounds before selecting their first position player, first baseman Nick Ramirez, in the fourth round.
"We got some pretty good talented kids that fit our criteria with some tools, some skills and they fit our makeup," Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid said. "A lot of them are big, strong pitchers and we got some young, good athletes too that we feel are pretty talented kids if it all comes together."
Seid said the Brewers are actively negotiating with several of their top-10 Draft picks and expect to have a few signed in the coming days. He wouldn't say which players fall into that category, but he said the club has spoken with both of the first-round picks.
"Doug Melvin and I have talked with both guys, and they've expressed that they're very happy and they realize that it's a process," Seid said of Jungmann and Bradley. "Obviously Taylor Jungmann is very focused on the College Super Regionals and World Series, but both are really, seem to be, outstanding young men."
Without putting too many expectations on the first-round picks too soon, Seid said the organization believes it picked two strong pitchers who have a chance to be part of the rotation in three to five years. Where he sees both fitting in the rotation is tough to say, as he wouldn't dub either a No. 1 guy yet.
"I wouldn't put anything over them being [No.] 2, 3 starters. It's hard to put a one label on a guy because there are so few of them out there, but if you got [No.] 2 and 3 starters, that's pretty good, and I would say they would fit into that category with potential."
The Brewers completed the Draft with seven left-handed pitchers and 17 right-handed pitchers. Seid said the pair of first-round selections can execute their pitches right away, which could help them advance through the system from the get-go. But not every pitcher was as polished as the two first-rounders.
Puerto Rico's top pitching prospect, Jorge Lopez, who was selected in the second round, didn't begin pitching until three years ago. The 18-year-old made the transition from shortstop to pitcher because he struggled at the plate, but Seid said the Brewers were confident in Lopez's abilities.
Targeting pitchers who maybe weren't the flashiest on the radar gun but know how to throw strikes and approach hitters was another part of the Brewers' strategy.
In the 16th round, Milwaukee selected left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon, who was rated as the No. 66 prospect by Baseball America heading in to his senior year. Rodon committed to North Carolina State University, so it is unknown if he will opt to sign with the Brewers.
The Brewers stayed fairly balanced, with selections of 21 high schoolers and 30 college players. Center fielder Michael Reed was selected in the fifth round and now has a decision to make, too, since he is committed to the University of Mississippi.
Milwaukee did select about a handful of athletes who attended the team's pre-Draft workout Friday. Among those were pitcher David Lucroy, who is the brother of Brewers' catcher Jonathan Lucroy, catcher Dustin Houle and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee product Chad Pierce. Seid said Pierce's strong frame and his 92-mph fastball helped him turn heads during the workout, and the Fond du Lac, Wisc., native will have every opportunity to prove his worth. The 38th-round selection went 6-4 with a 3.21 ERA in 15 starts for the Panthers this season.
"When the board starts dwindling down, especially in the later rounds, you're looking for tools," Seid said. "A lot of the position players on the board at that time may not have supported a specific tool, but the pitchers did. Maybe some pitcher had a plus breaking ball, or someone had a plus fastball, so you're going to go with the tools that will give a guy a chance to have success at the next level."
The selection of so many pitchers was complemented by the Brewers drafting eight catchers. Among the catchers Milwaukee was high on was Houle, a 17-year-old from British Columbia. Seid said Milwaukee's scouts in Canada had followed the eighth-round selection for a few years and then confirmed his power swing when he hit a home run into the Harley Davidson deck during the pre-Draft workout.
The Brewers felt the same about Ramirez's bat, and he's a Cal State Fullerton product who Seid said can hit for both average and power. Ramirez was one of two first baseman selected by the club.
The Brewers' next move is to sift through their 51 selections and see where they stand with each player. Seid said he's not sure what's on the mind of several of the high schoolers, but he's hopeful some of the younger players will want to sign fairly soon and get started in rookie ball.
"We're gonna sign a few of these guys," he said. "We got a couple high school guys that are athletic kids, and we're in the midst of -- I don't want to say too much because we're negotiating -- but we do have some guys that we feel have a chance to do some things, and then we drafted some kids that we're going to follow this summer and see where it leads to."
In the 42nd round on Day 3, the Brewers drafted high school shortstop Caleb Whalen, who is from Union High School in Washington. Whalen is the son of Brewers' scout Shawn Whalen, who covers the northwest areas, among which are Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Seid said he believes Whalen will opt to go to school at Portland, but said the shortstop is a legit player with strong defensive skills.
Yale senior David Elmore was selected in the 49th round. Elmore is a second baseman and is the son of Helena Brewers owner, DG Elmore.
Audrey Snyder is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.