When the Milwaukee Brewers are officially put 'on the clock' with the No. 54 overall selection in Major League Baseball's 2013 first-year player draft June 7, not only will they aim to bolster a farm system that prevailingly ranked among baseball's most shallow coming into the season, but they will also look to end a traditional skid of unproductivity that has come from that slot.
Since the draft was implemented in 1965, a total of 49 amateur players have been taken with the No. 54 pick and just 16 have made a big-league appearance. And only two of those players have stuck around long enough to be considered successfully tenured big leaguers -- one being 1977 Expos pick Scott Sanderson (28.1 bWAR) and the other a player Brewers fans are well acquainted with, 1997 Phillies selection Randy Wolf (24.1 bWAR). Texas Rangers reliever Tommy Hunter (2007) is the only active player to be taken with that pick.
Of course, the Brewers are no stranger to whiffing at No. 54 overall. On six separate occasions Milwaukee has owned that selection (1972, '74, '83, '88, '90, '08), and of those players, only 1983 pick Glenn Braggs (.255/.312/.395 line over five seasons) has reached the majors. Cutter Dykstra, Milwaukee's 2008 pick, was supposed to end the streak of unsuccessful perpetuity, but three seasons later he was shipped to Washington in return for Nyjer Morgan (that trade worked out well).
The good news for general manager Doug Melvin, as well as director of amateur scouting Bruce Seid, is that 2013's draft class offers depth and major-league projectable talent that will likely be available when the Brewers go on the clock with the No. 54 selection. Knowing this, it shouldn't be difficult to pinpoint at least a handful of draft-eligible prospects the organization might take with that pick.
But before we delve into a few prospects who best fit the Brewers' mold, let's first take a look at Milwaukee's draft trends since 1965, and since Seid became the director of amateur scouting in 2009, by comparing second-round positional and pitching selections.
|Pitchers||Position Players||College||High School|
|Since 1965||21 (47%)||24 (53%)||18 (40%)||27 (60%)|
|Since 2009||2 (40%)||3 (60%)||1 (20%)||4 (80%)|
As history shows, the Brewers have leaned toward position players in the second round of the draft and have favored high school players at a more considerable rate. Now, let's take a more in-depth look at those selections.
|College Pitchers||HS Pitchers||College Position Players||HS Position Players|
|Since 1965||10 (22.2%)||11 (24.4%)||8 (17.8%)||16 (35.6%)|
|Since 2009||1 (20%)||1 (20%)||0||3 (60%)|
The second table confirms what we learned from the first: High school position talent has been the tradition 'flavor of choice' for the Brewers in the second round of the draft, and since Seid has become the head of amateur scouting in 2009, that has only continued.
So with a good knowledge of Milwaukee's second-round draft history in mind, let's take a good at eight players I think have the best chance to be drafted with that No. 54 overall pick. To see how these players compare with those I initially picked, click here. Check back next Wednesday for our finalized big board.
1. Cavan Biggio, 2B/3B, St. Thomas HS, (Tex.)
Measurables: 6'2", 180 lbs.
Background: The son of future Hall-of-Famer Craig Biggio, Cavan has been on the receiving end of private lessons from his father since he could first swing a bat. That one-on-one guidance has provided the 18-year-old with plenty of attention from scouts as a youngster, and impressive showings at the 2012 Area Code Games have only bolstered his stock across many teams' draft boards as the draft nears. He's committed to attending Virginia this fall, but a high enough pick could make him a big leaguer by mid-to-late summer.
Why he fits Milwaukee's needs: If the past two seasons are any indication, the Rickie Weeks era at second base is nearing end. Should that be the case, the Brewers have two options: Slide Scooter Gennett in that spot and hope for the best, or draft a projectable bat with a high ceiling and floor (they may do both, to be honest). The latter seems best for the organization moving forward, if only due to the fact that Gennett offers little to no power and there are questions about how well his hit tool will flourish in the majors. Those questions don't apply to Biggio, however.
Scouting Brief: While his power is below major league average right now, Biggio projects to wield a big-league average power stroke down the road and a plus hit tool. With little pre-swing load and fluid lower body movement, a short-to-the-ball stroke and fairly selective approach, this should be no problem for him. He's fluid in his defensive mechanics, has tremendous instincts at second base and has a major-league average arm, as well, and that's something the Brewers will weigh heavily on draft day. With room to pack on more muscle, he could be moved to third base easily, which is another position of need for Milwaukee.
2. Dustin Peterson, SS, Gilbert HS (Ariz.)
Measurables: 6'2", 185 lbs.
Commitment: Arizona State
Background: The younger brother to potential top-10 pick DJ, scouts have watched Dustin's high school and various national showcase performances with a keen eye, as both have similar tools and projectability to the next level. With his high school club this past season, Dustin hit .546 to go with 10 home runs -- numbers that Arizona State hopes will perpetuate into his college career. However, if he's drafted high enough, there's a good chance he skips school and heads to the minors.
Why he fits Milwaukee's needs: Akin to Milwaukee's situation at second-base, the Brewers also have concerns about the future of the hot corner, and with good reason. Considering that Brandon Macias may be the most projectable third-baseman in the system (and that's not saying much), there is an obvious need to draft a high-ceiling guy capable of manning the position once Aramis Ramirez calls it a career.
Scouting Brief: Without a noticeable weakness to his game, there's a lot to like about Peterson. But what initially caught my eye was his sheer athleticism, both in the field and on the bases. He has major-league average speed, so he'll be useful in Ron Roenicke's style of offense, and he covers a good chunk of ground at shortstop. If he transitions to third-base like most scouts think he will, he has the chance to be a plus defender. Like his brother, Dustin can tap into a good deal of raw power at the dish with a quick and refined swing, so his hit-tool could too grow to be above average.
3. Michael Wagner, RHP, San Diego
Measurables: 6'4", 200 lbs.
2013 Stats: 76.7 IP, 4.11 ERA (4.24 FIP), 1.36 WHIP, 76 K/23 BB, .260 BAA
Background: Wagner spent the first two years of his collegiate career as a closer and performed well in that role, posting an ERA of 2.73 to go with 19 saves in 29 relief appearances as a sophomore. This season, he's started 11 games as a part of a very good San Diego rotation while keeping an important relief role. However, his plus command has led to struggles with the long-ball, relinquishing nearly a home run per nine inning pitched one season after not allowing one long-ball as a sophomore.
Why he fits Milwaukee's needs: Though many (myself included) believe that going the high school route with the No. 54 overall pick may be in the Brewers' best interests, drafting a college arm such as Wagner could too provide large dividends. It may only take him one full season in the minors before he's ready to contribute to the bullpen and work his way into a rotation spot.
Scouting Brief: With three already major-league average offerings at his disposal and none of which he favors in tight situations, Wagner has the arsenal necessary to become a mid-rotation starter. His two-seam fastball sits in the 91-93 MPH range, has good sink and produces ground-balls regularly. His slider has tight, sweeping action and is major-league average today. His changeup is considered a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch, with great fade away from left-handers. He's polished as they come mechanically speaking, working out of a steep downward plane thanks to his 6'4" frame with repeatable arm slots, consistent foot placement and a slow, calculated windup motion.
4. Carlos Salazar, RHP, Kerman HS (Calif.)
Measurables: 6'0", 200 lbs.
Commitment: Fresno State
Background: Though Salazar signed his letter of intent to Fresno State last fall, the decision of whether or not to go pro this June is undoubtedly weighing on the 19-year-old. One of the top prep arms of this year's class, his senior season made him arguably the best high school pitcher in California -- and that's saying a lot considering the talent that will be taken early and often from that state come draft day. He hasn't seen much time on the showcase circuit, which is why he's flown relatively under the radar thus far, but Milwaukee may be thankful for that fact when it goes on the clock at No. 54 overall.
Why he fits Milwaukee's needs: Though the past few Milwaukee draft classes have produced a handful of high-upside prep position players, the same cannot be said about the pitching end of the spectrum. Coming into the season, Jorge Lopez, a third-round pick from 2011, was the only consensus top-20 prep-drafted pitcher in the system, and that's not saying much considering he owns a 6.16 FIP this season over 25.1 innings with low-A Wisconsin. With that said, now seems like the ideal time to invest in a project high school arm, such as Salazar.
Scouting Brief: Has four offerings, each not too far from grading out as major-league average. Can reach back and touch upper-90s with his four-seam fastball but regularly sits in the 92-94 MPH range; added speed to come by lengthening his stride; good control of the pitch but will need refinement with command. Good over-the-top break to curveball; slider projects to be plus offering; athletic build give him good feel for a changeup.
5. Josh Hart, OF, Parkview HS (Ga.)
Measurables: 5'11", 172 lbs.
Commitment: Georgia Tech
Background: Byron Buxton set the gold standard for Georgia prep position players at last year's draft, showing that while the state's competition isn't as stout as others, there will be a handful of can't miss-talent each year. Josh Hart may not be in that stratosphere, but he may not be that far removed from it, either. The Georgia Tech commit has displayed his power/speed combination at multiple showcases and has consequently risen up draft boards.
Why he hits Milwaukee's needs: The Brewers' scouting philosophy since Seid took office has been one that places athleticism and versatility at a premium. An athletic phenom at 5-foot-11, 172 pounds, Hart fits this mold perfectly. Though there isn't a need in the outfield and probably won't be for at least a few years, that's okay; Hart is a project who will need time in the minors to refine his bat. If he even scratches the surface of his ceiling, however, Hart could be the steal of the draft at No. 54 overall.
Scouting Brief: With a Juan Pierre-type build, Hart's power is well below average at this juncture and projects to be below average. That's not all that surprising, considering he employs a short, slap-hit oriented swing at the dish that will likely turn out to be gap power at best. He does know the strikezone well, though, so his hit tool could be plus down the road. He'll make a living on his already plus-average speed, though; covers a ton of real estate from every outfield position and has an average arm to boot. Could be utilized greatly as a leadoff type base-stealer at the next level.
6. Andrew Thurman, RHP, UC Irvine
Measurables: 6'3", 200 lbs.
2013 stats: 91.3 IP, 3.15 ERA (3.21 FIP), 1.06 WHIP, 80 K/19 BB, .236 BAA (13 GS)
Background: Spending his freshman season as a middle-inning reliever and putting up impressive numbers in that role, Thurman made the permanent transition to starter in 2012, where over 15 starts he posted an impressive WHIP of 0.93 and was widely considered the best starter in the Big West conference. His 2013 campaign has too yielded impressive results, conceding just 7.7 hits and 1.9 walks per nine innings pitched.
Why he fits Milwaukee's needs: Despite the shallow system, the Brewers thought that many of their upper-level minor league starters (Hiram Burgos, Tyler Thornburg, etc.) would at least prove to be serviceable arms when called upon. That hasn't been the case, however, and Milwaukee has lacked confidence in those arms when called upon for spot-starts in place of injured everyday starters. As such, drafting a polished, workhorse type like Thurman would be an excellent move if he's still on the board.
Scouting Brief: Thurman maintains four major-league average offerings and has confidence in each. He commands his mid-90s four-seamer very well and can run it up to 97 MPH from time to time. His curveball and slider each show good late-breaking action and will generate swings-and-misses easily. His changeup is considered pro-ready right now with little projection left on it, and when you couple his offerings with a 6'3" frame, and he could be a quick-to-the-big leagues arm with some potential.
7. Chad Pinder, 3B, Virginia Tech
Measurables: 6'2", 192 lbs.
2013 stats: .327/.409/.489, .398 wOBA, 21 XBH (7 HR), 5 SB, 20 BB/35 K (223 AB)
Background: Grabbing hold of Virginia Tech's starting job at third base as a 19-year-old freshman, Pinder found immediate success at the plate, hitting for both power (.510 SLG) and average (.317 BA). That success perpetuated smoothly into his sophomore season, where he hit .325/.380/.538 to go with 29 extra-base hits in 53 games. As a junior this season, his slugging numbers regressed, but his advanced knowledge of the strikezone led to an impressive .412 on-base percentage.
Why he fits Milwaukee's needs: The dearth of projectable, high-upside third basemen in the Brewers' system is concerning in itself, but the potential for Ramirez to become a free-agent after next season means now is the optimal time for Melvin to find a long-term answer at that position. Pinder could offer that, and potentially more.
Scouting Brief: There's a lot to like about what Pinder brings to the table. At the plate, he generates easy gap-to-gap power with a smooth, repeatable swing, quiet lower-body mechanics and quick hands; his power grades out as below average right now, but there is room for him to pack on muscle into his 6'2" frame to help out that aspect of his game. Athletic and with great natural instincts at third base, Pinder is already considered a major-league average defender at the hot corner, given his strong arm and decent range; he could develop into a plus defender as he gets more experience under his belt.
8. Trey Masek, RHP, Texas Tech
Measurables: 6'1", 185 lbs.
2013 stats: 71 IP, 1.52 ERA (3.20 FIP), 0.97 WHIP, 63 K/19 BB, .204 BAA (10 GS)
Background: A starter and reliever whose command lagged and didn't have the pure stuff to put up gaudy strikeout numbers his freshman season at Texas Tech, Masek took major steps toward improvement during his sophomore campaign with the Red Raiders and built off that success as a junior in 2013. Over 10 starts, Masek did not relinquish a home run, held batters to a feeble .275 BABIP and struck out nearly a batter per inning, making him one of (if not the) best starter from the Big 12 conference featured in this year's class.
Why he fits Milwaukee's needs: The lack of pro-ready arms in Milwaukee's system who are capable of stepping in and providing depth to the bullpen is concerning. Taylor Jungmann, Jed Bradley and Jimmy Nelson are on the cusp (with the exception of Bradley) of breaking through; adding another arm in Masek, who could be a quick-to-the-majors type, would help.
Scouting Brief: Credible three-pitch mix to his repertoire, each of which grade out as major-league average. Four-seam fastball sits in the mid-90s and has minimal arm-side run; spots the pitch well to both sides of the plate and isn't afraid to come inside with it. Curveball has nice over-the-top bite to it; changeup has nice fade and can develop into a fringe-average offering. Clean mechanics; repeatable arm slots; balanced motion working on a downward plane; works well out of the stretch. Would not be long before he's ready for bullpen action and challenge for a late-rotation spot.