With the draft coming up on Thursday, I thought it might be fun to go back into the BCB archives to see what we had to say about the first round draft picks the Brewers have made since we have been covering the draft. It's both interesting to check in on the first rounders as well as to compare our optimism on draft day to how things actually panned out. You can also get a sense of how our coverage has progressed over the years, all the way to the excellent stuff being anchored by Derek Harvey here all week.
2007, pick #7: Matt LaPorta
Jeff Sackmann summed up the surprising pick for the Brewers back in '07:
[Matt] Wieters was off the board before the Brewers picked, and Milwaukee threw a monster curveball with Matt LaPorta, a college first baseman with big power. It's odd for many reasons: plenty of folks think this is an overdraft (he was projected to go low in the first round), and as you might know, the Brewers have their long-term solution at first base.
It sounds like LaPorta will give left field a try as soon as he starts his pro career. That could be great, giving the lineup yet another big bat in another couple of years...or it could mean we'll have a Ryan Howard/Ryan Shealy like trading chip to support the 2008 pennant run. No picks until the 90s, so not much to talk about for a while.
Well, that was creepily prescient. LaPorta tore up the low minors and ended up being the major piece sent to the Indians in the CC Sabathia trade for the 2008 pennant run. Even though there was "never a question" about his hitting, it turns out he can't really hit big league pitching with an OPS under .700 in over 1000 big league at-bats.
2008, pick #16: Brett Lawrie
Battlekow had this one called from day one (16 days before the draft, with Team Canada referring to Doug Melvin and Gord Ash):
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.
We were openly rooting for the Brewers to pick Lawrie in the draft day thread, here. The rap on Lawrie was that he was going to hit, nobody had any clue what position he was going to play (hopefully catcher!), and that he was pretty cocky. I noted this quote from an interview:
MH: Do you have any specific career goals at this point, aside from playing professional baseball?
Lawrie: I really don't. All I want to do is play in the big leagues and I want to get there as quick as I can. I don't plan on staying in the minors for five years. I plan on doing it in a year-and-a-half.
Also in that thread, BK pointed out that a player was born in 1990 and that made a bunch of people in the thread feel old. Noah claimed that he was the youngest regular on the blog at 17, and I corrected him pointing out that I was 16 at the time. The point is, the Brewers drafted Brett Lawrie a long time ago.
Lawrie, as most of us predicted, never got anywhere near catching and ended up being the trade chip that brought the Brewers Shaun Marcum. He's been a major leaguer since 2011, but his hitting performance has regressed each year.
2009, pick #26: Eric Arnett
This was the first year BCB posted a real post-draft recap as opposed to talking it out in the threads. BK had this to say:
Eric Arnett was a great pick, as the Brewers' rumored interest in college pitching turned out to be spot on. Baseball America had him ranked #18 overall, and Baseball Prospectus had him as #21; Jim Callis of BA said the Brewers got one of the best deals of the first round, benefiting from a run on bats that allowed Arnett to drop to them. Arnett has a great pitcher's frame (6'5"/230) and two good pitches, a 92-95 mph fastball and a breaking ball that's been called a slider everywhere else but that Cal Eldred (yes, that Cal Eldred) says is more of a curveball; the main knock against him is that he doesn't have much of a track record. He posted a 2.50 ERA this season with a 109/39 K/BB and 82 hits allowed in 108 innings.
Sadly, Arnett's career was crippled by injuries and he never made it past A+ ball. The Brewers released him last summer and as fas as I know he is no longer playing competitive baseball.
The Brewers made two supplemental first round picks that year. Kentrail Davis is currently a AA outfielder with a .708 OPS, and Kyle Heckathorn is a reliever at AAA who made the Who's Not Hot list for May. We were pretty excited about Max Walla, a high school outfielder drafted in the third round who had great power potential. He's still only 23 but has not progressed beyond low A ball with the Timber Rattlers.
2010, pick #14: Dylan Covey
We were plenty high on Covey, but unfortunately he never signed because he was diagnosed with diabetes soon after the draft and decided to go to college while he learned how to play with the condition. He was drafted by the A's after college and currently is pitching in the Midwest League for Beloit at low A.
Many projected that the Brewers would take Jungmann with the Covey compensation pick, but the second pick was a mystery. BrewHaHeather broke down the picks for us:
Jungmann has put together great numbers over his college career, starting when he was a freshman when he won 11 games and pitched a complete game 5-hitter. He was already the ace of the Longhorn's staff as a sophomore, and this season went 13-1 with a 1.40 ERA (3.63 FIP). Jungmann generally throws in the lower 90's, toping out at 98, with plus movement on his fastball. He also features a hard 11-5 curveball. His changeup right now is a work in progress and rated as average. His mechanics are also pretty solid, but he needs to work on is control.
Jed Bradley was the wild card that we knew a lot less about:
With their second pick, the Crew took Georgia Tech lefty Jed Bradley at number 15, and some think that was a steal. He's about the same size at Jungmann, at 6'4", 224 lbs., but his results were a bit different. This season Bradley went 7-3 for the Yellow Jackets with a 3.49 ERA (2.96 FIP). He struck out over a batter per inning, but walked almost 3/9inn. He's been a solid pitcher for Tech, but really shined in the Cape Cod League, where he was rated the League's number four prospect, tying for the league lead in strikeouts. He's not overpowering, but according to Baseball America, "he knows how to miss bats." His fastball is anywhere from 88-94, occasionally touching 95. He has a low 80's slider which is considered a plus pitch for him.
Jungmann, of course, has just made it to AAA and looks to be right on the track many projected for him-- a mid to low rotation starter who is solid but not a star. Bradley, the lefty with the poorer results in college but more "projectability", has pitched well at A+ this year, but it is his third try at that level. It's likely that make or break time will come very soon for Bradley now that he has been promoted to AA.
2012, pick #27: Clint Coulter; pick #28: Victor Roache
It appears that I was the one to provide the analysis on the picks 2 years ago, the last time the Brewers had a first round pick. As is tradition, there was not a ton of suspense about the first pick-- Clint Coulter had been linked to the Brewers for quite a while.
The first selection was a foregone conclusion of most draft analysts and a name that's been thrown around a lot in the previous few weeks: Clint Coulter, a high school catcher from Washington. You'll probably hear a lot about Coulter's personal story, he was a state champion wrestler in high school in addition to his baseball career. He's a righty bat and is known for his power potential, but unlike a lot of high school catchers, a lot of people I'm reading actually give him a good chance of staying at catcher-- he's not a "high school catcher" in name only, like Brett Lawrie was when the Brewers drafted him. Coulter already came out and said tonight that he plans to sign, so there's no real concern that he doesn't end up a Brewer.
At 28 the Brewers picked Victor Roache, a college outfielder from Georgia Southern. He's a huge guy at 235 pounds and another right-handed power bat, but he comes with a big injury question as he missed much of this year with a broken wrist. He hit 30 home runs in his college sophomore year. However, according to Tom Haudricourt he still won't even be able to play at all for 4-6 more weeks. The scouting consensus seems to be that this is a high-risk/ high-reward play for a reasonable slot price. Roache might have gone much higher with a healthy college season this year but scared away teams with his injury. On the other hand, some are saying he could have been had with a later pick.
Coulter is currently tearing up low-A for the Timber Rattlers, and as we hoped, he has stuck at catcher so far. Roache hit 22 home runs for the Timber Rattlers last season, but has struggled so far at A+ Brevard County in a stadium that is death to right handed power hitters.