The MLB draft took place last week and the Brewers made some noise with their top three selections of Kodi Medeiros, Jacob Gatewood, and Monte Harrison. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Perfect Game's Patrick Ebert about these and a few of the other players taken in the first ten rounds. Today I'm presenting to you the first part of that interview. The second part will come out tomorrow morning. It should be noted that our conversation took place on the second day of the draft so we were unable to talk about rounds 11-40 and the Brewers hadn't yet signed Gatewood and Harrison.
DH: I thought we could start by having you tell us a little about yourself and Perfect Game.
Patrick Ebert: My main role with Perfect Game is to manage all of the original content that hits our site. For people not familiar with what Perfect Game does, our core business centers around the events we produce, both showcases and tournament events geared toward high school players. Our events give players an excellent opportunity to assess themselves while playing with and against the best players either locally, regionally or nationally, depending on the event, and it also gives scouts and college recruiters a one-stop shopping opportunity to view these players. From top prospect lists to all-tournament teams, in addition to our content that focuses on the draft, high school and college baseball, my goal is to present all of that information in the best, most user friendly way possible.
DH: The Brewers seemed to surprise some people by selecting Kodi Medeiros with their first round pick but you guys at Perfect Game were pretty high on him, right? Can you give us your impression of him?
PE: During the spring of 2013 a contact I have in the advising world reached out to me about Kodi Medeiros. We had him listed on our state follow lists, but not as an impact, early round type of player. My contact advised me that there was this lefthander from Hawaii that was throwing in the mid-90s with an easy arm and a killer breaking ball. He also informed me that this player was one heck of a hitter. Doing my own due diligence, I followed up this tip with a Southern California area scout who confirmed that this player was the real deal.
We ended up getting Medeiros to our National Showcase at the Metrodome at this time last year. I believe he pitched in the first game of the event, along with some other notable arms, and he was lights out from the very beginning, grabbing the attention of everyone in the building. His fastball peaked at 94 at that event, with excellent movement that clearly made the opposing batters uncomfortable, to go along with a really good slider and a promising changeup. One of our scouts also commented that he took the best round of batting practice that day, as he's a very good overall athlete.
We invited him to our PG All-American Classic game held every year in mid-August at Petco Park, which serves as basically a high school all-star game. Medeiros continued to steal the show there as well, and in particular made MLB Network analyst Eric Byrnes audibly gasp at just how wicked his slider was. His slider was so nasty and had so much break that it made a pretty good defensive catcher, Jakson Reetz, who was the MVP of that game, look clueless behind the plate. Which, as an aside, is why it's important the Brewers draft a strong defensive catcher, even if he can't hit, at some point in the draft to help with Medeiros' development in the lower levels.
Questions have risen about his low arm slot and the fact that he's only 6-foot or 6-foot-1 while questioning his changeup and have unfairly pegged him as a future reliever as a result. Todd Gold, our own Southern California scout, has been Medeiros' biggest supporter, suggesting at times that we (Perfect Game) should ranked him No. 1 in our own rankings given his upside, and Todd even managed to get over to Hawaii this spring to see Medeiros perform at the Hawaii state baseball tournament. He didn't look as good there, but we've seen enough of him to know just how special he could be.
DH: Wow. My initial, admittedly not terribly well informed, reaction was that Medeiros was an underslot signing to spread some money around later in the draft so it's really exciting to hear how much you guys respect his potential. You mentioned his low arm slot. Is that something we should be worried about with regards to injury risk more so than with a "traditional" arm slot?
PE: I still think Medeiros could sign for less than slot, and he will have to if the team has a realistic chance of signing their next two picks, Jacob Gatewood and Monte Harrison. I think the Brewers are well aware of this, but you're right, it's nice that the team may be able to combine such a talent at a potentially "discounted" rate.
Regarding his arm slot, yes, this sometimes sends up a red flag, but it's not a huge deal to us. All pitches come in different shapes and sizes, and Medeiros is so athletic and his delivery is so free and easy that it doesn't concern us all that much. I think with the rash of injuries to pitchers at almost every level these days leaves people searching for any and every thing possible to point to as a reason not to like a guy.
Medeiros himself has said that he models his game after Chris Sale, who also throws from a lower, slinging arm angle, and it's worked pretty well for him.
DH: Being a high school pitcher, I assume we should expect him to take a while to reach the majors. Do you agree and do you have an idea of how quickly he could move through the system?
PE: Yes, it's important to be patient with any high school player. I remember one Milwaukee radio host several years ago arguing that Prince Fielder wasn't going to be any good because he couldn't be promoted almost immediately to the big leagues. That of course is an extreme argument, but it does point out the varying levels of opinions people have with these picks.
I think Medeiros could move one level at a time. The Brewers typically send their high school picks to Arizona, followed up with a year in Helena and then low-A. Where he could move more quickly is when he reaches high-A ball you could see him split a year with AA and then do the same between AA/AAA the year after that. He could move very quickly as there's a good chance he enjoys immediate success, especially if they get him an established catcher as I noted previously, but at the same time they're going to have to avoid being tempted to move him up too quickly should that occur.
I think 2018/19 would be the earliest expectation of his debut, and even that may be aggressive.
DH: You mentioned the Brewers might try to get an older catcher to help groom Mediros. Do you think Greg McCall is the guy?
PE: Ninth-rounder Greg McCall very well may have been drafted to be Medeiros' personal catcher, so it will be interesting to see if the two are placed at the same level. McCall is a senior, and likely an easy/quick sign who has a reputation for strong defensive skills behind the plate. He did provide some pop this year with 11 home runs at Texas-Arlington, but I think it's clear what his purpose in the system will be.
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