The first-year player draft, also called the Rule 4 draft, takes place over a span of three days this week beginning on Thursday. The first day will cover the rounds 1 and 2 including the competitive balance rounds A and B. The second day (Friday) will cover rounds 3 through 10 and the last day (Saturday) will cover rounds 11 through 40. For those so inclined, the first day will be televised on MLB Network and on MLB.com. Coverage begins with a preshow at 5 pm CT and the actual draft begins at 6pm CT. The second will have coverage solely on MLB.com and will feature a half hour predraft show at 11:30 pm CT with the actual draft set to restart at 12:05 pm CT. I believe the last day of the draft will just feature a draft tracker on MLB.com which shows the picks, but no actual coverage from experts.
If you're not aware, the draft order is the opposite of the previous year's season standings. So the worst team that year gets the number 1 pick and so on, with the best team getting the final pick. In the result of a tie, the season standings from the year before that act as a tie breaker. Unfortunately for the Brewers, this negatively impacts them in this draft.
They were tied with 3 other teams at the end of the 2013 season. The Brewers had a better record than all of them in 2012, so they lost the tie breaker and instead of potentially picking 8th, were pushed to the 11th draft position. This is important because the first 10 picks are protected. It didn't factor into things too much this time, but last year the Brewers did give up their first round draft pick to sign Kyle Lohse.
To further complicate matters, the Blue Jays were unable to sign their first pick (10th overall) in the 2013 draft. Because of that they get an extra pick in the first round this year and since those first 10 picks are protected, they got the 11th overall pick. The Brewers got pushed back to the 12th overall pick, but they still pick 11th in every other round (except the 2nd round, because of free agent compensation other teams had to sacrifice picks and so the Brewers pick 8th).
I mentioned that the Brewers gave up a first round draft pick to sign Kyle Lohse. They were forced to do so because of the qualifying offer system. Departing free agents can be extended a qualifying offer from the team they're leaving. If they turn it down, then the team that ends up signing them loses their highest selection (outside of the protected 10 picks) and the other team is awarded a pick in the "Compensation Round" which takes place immediately after the first round. This year there will be 7 picks in the comp round. However, because other teams did lose first round picks, the Comp Round begins at pick 28.
We aren't done yet. In an effort to aid teams with the smallest markets and lowest revenues, Major League Baseball instituted what is known as the Competitive Balance Lottery. Teams that are chosen are given an extra pick either right after the "Compensation Round" (known as the Competitive Balance A round) or before the 3rd round (known as the Competitive Balance B round). Last year the Brewers received a late pick in the B round. This year they were luckier, receiving the last pick in the A round. That pick will come at 41 overall.
Each draft pick has a dollar value assigned to it and the total of those picks is how much a team can spend on the draft. It is possible to spend more money on the draft than you're allotted but there are penalties depending on how far over you go. Baseball America has the draft order and assigned pick values for the first ten rounds if you want more information on that. Also, MLB.com has the draft order too. It doesn't have the assigned values, but it does give you some more information on the weirdness caused by the comp rounds.
Teams don't have to spend that exact amount on a specific pick though. For example, if it's first pick is valued at $2.5 million dollars, but they only use $2 million to sign that player, they can then use the rest elsewhere. Sometimes a team will do this intentionally so that they can afford better talent later in the draft. It's called drafting underslot. The general idea is to get something like 3 good prospects instead of 1 really good one and 2 okay ones. Sometimes a team will really like a kid and so they feel they're still getting a really good prospect anyway, while also saving money for other picks. I have no idea if the Brewers are going to try something like this, but with extra pick they'll have more money to play around with.
When it's all said and done, the Brewers will have 3 picks in the top 50 this year (12, 41, 50). That's pretty good and it's way better than last year when their first pick came at 54 overall! These picks will be made on the first day of the draft so if you're at all interested, I highly recommend watching the coverage on MLB Network or MLB.com.
We're going to have a bunch more goodies for you this week so keep checking back for more draft coverage. Specifically, tomorrow I'm going to take a closer look at some of the names the Brewers are rumored to be targeting with their first overall pick.