Who Will the Brewers Draft?

Seems like the present is a rather bilious topic of late, so let's talk future: on June 5th, 17 short days from now, the MLB draft will be upon us. The Brewers, by virtue of losing Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink to free agency, have a boatload of picks: six of the first 62, and seven of the first 94. That's right--in a little over two weeks, the Brewers' farm system will be bolstered by seven of the top 100 amateur players around. Pretty sweet deal.

The Brewers' minor league larder has been judiciously stocked over the past decade by scouting director Jack Zduriencik, and as the system has borne fruit after prize-winning fruit, the team's needs have become more specific, and more immediate. Zduriencik has a long history of taking the best player available regardless of position, but with a surfeit of first base/corner outfield talent already in the system, Zduriencik might want to modify his strategy. To see who's available, let's take a look at some mock drafts and top prospect lists:

Another key question, as Baseball America puts it:

Signability concerns surround three first-round talents advised by the Scott Boras Corporation add to the confusion. [Vanderbilt 3B Pedro] Alvarez likely won't fall too far, but Florida high school first baseman Eric Hosmer and California prep righthander Gerrit Cole have no obvious places to land if their asking prices are deemed exorbitant.

The Brewers, operating on their best-available philosophy, would definitely be tempted by Hosmer, but his $7M price tag and the fact that he plays first base might cause them to pass. Cole is another question. It's difficult to find a consensus on his ability: he's projected anywhere from going #10 overall (Mound Talk) to not even being ranked in the top 50 (PG Crosschecker); MyMLBdraft.com has the Brewers taking him at #16.

Rather than continue to feed their high school pitcher fetish with a guy like Cole, I'd love to see the Brewers take a polished, hard-throwing college reliever such as Georgia's Josh Fields (40/15 K/BB in 26.3 IP) with their first-round pick. Other possibilities in that category include Rice's Bryan Price (51/24 in 43.7 IP), Arizona's Ryan Perry (63/14 in 64.3 IP), and Purdue's Josh Lindblom (42/9 in 37.3 IP).

With a fast-track reliever on board and due to arrive no later than next year, the Brewers can use some of their plethora of other early picks to take chances on toolsy-but-raw players (think Brent Brewer), guys who are signability risks (Brewer again), or potentially great talents that have dropped due to injury (such as Omar Aguilar). One guy I'd really like the Brewers to look at in the supplemental round is Pepperdine OF Eric Thames. Sickels has Thames #25 on his board and PG Crosschecker #49 on theirs, but Project Prospect had this to say about Thames:

A lefty with speed and power, Thames showed up at 49th in PG Cross Checker's rankings. While I believe Thames is a first-round talent and I think his statistics back that (9.83 score in my system), many draft journalists seem hesitant to give him that much credit -- and I've yet to hear a good reason why. He may last into the supplemental first round but I don't think he'll last out of it.

Thames suffers from his home field, which according to Boyd's World has a park factor of only 71; in other words, it depresses offense almost 30% from normal. With any luck, less-aware teams won't realize how much his environment is affecting his stats and undervalue him.

A couple pitchers who could potentially fall to the supplemental round because of injuries that shouldn't affect their pitching ability are Fresno State RHP Tanner Scheppers (stress fracture in shoulder) and Tennessee HS RHP Sonny Gray (broken ankle).

Just like pitching prospects, you can never have enough catchers in your system, and one guy that Team Canada might like, for obvious reasons, is British Columbia high schooler Brett Lawrie. Lawrie is projected variously as a 3B, SS, or C, with BA stating:

The more scouts we talk to, the more we find that think Lawrie could stick as a catcher.

Finally, another guy that caught my eye as potentially another Will Inman or Carlos Villanueva-type pitcher who would make a good third round value pick is UC-Irvine's Scott Gorgen, who despite topping out at around 90 MPH on his fastball supposedly throws the best changeup in the draft; this is borne out by his stellar 95/25 K/BB in 85 innings.

That's certainly enough for now. Take a look at the links I provided and let me know who you think the Brewers will/should draft.

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