When the Milwaukee Brewers took a calculated risk by signing free-agent starter Kyle Lohse to a three-year, $33 million contract just days before the season started, they knew full-well the consequence that would follow.
Tagged as a Type-A free agent when he hit the market last offseason, protocol dictated that Milwaukee must concede its 2013 first-round draft pick to the team he pitched for the previous season, the St. Louis Cardinals, as compensation. Consequently, the Brewers relinquished their previously-held No. 17 overall pick in today's first-year player draft and the Cardinals received a compensation pick at the end of the first round.
Hence, for the first time since 1990, the Brewers will not hold a first-round pick, and will instead hope there is enough high-ceiling talent remaining on the board when they go on the clock for the first time with the No. 54 overall selection Thursday evening, and later on at No. 72 overall. In total, Milwaukee has 10 selections in the first 10 rounds of the draft, with exactly $3,944,600 in signing bonus assets to work with.
Let's take a final look at a few players Milwaukee might target with their two second-round picks. Check back tomorrow morning for full scouting reports on each Brewers draft pick.
1. Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Vanderbilt
Measurables: 6'3", 200 lbs.
Previous: 2010, 13th (391) - ARI
A relatively high draft pick coming out of Amherst (Ma.) Regional High School, Ziomek turned down the opportunity to sign-on with the Diamondbacks as a 13th round pick back in 2010. While there's no doubt the then 18-year-old itched to get his pro career under way, he may be thankful he chose school over baseball. After an impressive showing in the 2012 Cape Cod League, he returned to the Commodores and posted a 2.05 ERA while striking out a batter per inning and is now one of the top southpaws featured in this year's class.
Ziomek has the build and stuff that could make him a mid-rotation starter fairly quickly. Working from a fast-paced motion and low 3/4 arm slot, he is able to get decent downward plane on his fastball, which sits in the low 90s consistently, and has excellent command of the pitch. His slider has great sweeping action with excellent late break to it, showing the ability to throw it to all corners of the zone, and his changeup has been dubbed an already pro-ready pitch with good fade and drop, and there's some projection left on it. He knows how to mix speeds and keep hitters guessing with his stuff, and for these reasons he should be able to hasten through the system and. If he reaches his ceiling, he could be a solid No. 3 in a big league rotation.
2. Ryan Boldt, OF, Red Wing HS (Minn.)
Measurables: 6'1", 190 lbs.
A consistent turnout at the Area Code Games and Perfect Game national showcases, Boldt has seen his draft stock rise immensely over the past few months, in large part due to impressive performances at those showcases. As a leadoff hitter for USA Baseball's 18u team last summer, he posted a .429 on-base percentage over 13 games and proved to be a lethal weapon on the bases, going 13-for-13 on stolen base attempts. He finished out his showcase career last October and now finds himself among the most coveted high school position players in this year's class.
The can't-miss feature to Boldt's game is his speed, which right now grades as above-average and will likely stay that way in the future. Clocked to have on of the best 60 times (6.50) among high school outfielders, he covers a ton of real estate in the outfield, reads the ball well and flashes an already major league-ready arm. His line-drive approach and swing at the plate help him get out of the box quickly to stretch singles into doubles. On the bases, he's as smart as they come; he'll pick his spots and use his plus speed when he feels most necessary, as opposed to running at will. The only current down side to his game is his power, though with the addition of a few more pounds that could be a major league average tool. The Brewers probably won't be drafting for need at No. 54 overall, so he could very well wind up the pick if he is still on the board.
3. Dustin Peterson, SS/3B, Gilbert HS (Ariz.)
Measurables: 6'2", 185 lbs.
Commitment: Arizona St.
One of the best position players coming out of the Arizona prep ranks this year, Peterson has been a consistent turnout on the Perfect Game showcase circuit since before he was able to legally drive, as a member of the Angels' scout team each year before playing for the Rays' team last October. Consequently, scouts have been able to get a very good look at what he has to offer, and they've liked what they've seen out of the 18-year-old.
Utilizing a short, compact and refined stroke, Peterson projects to be a plus contact hitter at the next level and has flashed nearly big-league average power with that same quick-to-the-ball swing. Lean and athletic with room to pack on muscle, his power could too be above-average. Defensively, he has a ton of experience at shortstop and at the hot corner, with most believing he will end up at third base by the time he reaches the majors. He reads the ball well on the bases and could steal a few bases when it's all said and done. Peterson is a very well-rounded player with enough upside for the Brewers to be interested in his services with one of their second-round picks.
4. Blake Taylor, LHP, Dana Hills HS (Calif.)
Measurables: 6'3", 195 lbs.
This year's high school pitching crop is especially deep with respect to southpaws, with names such as Matt Krook, Robert Kaminsky and Jacob Brentz all likely to come off the board early. Taylor is one such southpaw who could do the same considering his repertoire of offerings and durable frame. However, he wasn't able to play high school ball this past season due to transfer rules and was only able to showcase his talent at last August's Area Code Games. This leaves open the possibility for him to be available when the Brewers go on the clock, and if he is, there's a very good chance they'll take him, hoping he'll become a future staple in their rotation down the road.
Physically mature for a kid who's still three months removed from his 18th birthday, Taylor's 6-foot-3, 195 pound frame suggests a future innings eater on the mound. His arm slots and upper-body mechanics are sound and repeatable, but his funky front leg kick often leads to control problems. That should be fixed with further coaching, and once it does, his fastball will have nice downward plane to it. Speaking of his fastball, it sits in the 90-92 MPH range with good movement and projects to be a plus offering. His curveball has nice over-the-top bite to it and will be above average with consistent mechanics. He doesn't have much feel for a changeup right now, but his athletic build and arm-slot deception suggest it could be major league average. Overall, Taylor has a high ceiling and could be a solid mid-rotation starter down the road.
5. Carlos Salazar, RHP, Kerman HS (Calif.)
Measurables: 6'0", 200 lbs.
Commitment: Fresno St.
In an uber-talented high school draft class loaded with California prep arms such as Ian Clarkin, Phil Bickford and Blake Taylor (more to come on him later), Salazar doesn't stand out as well as expected. The fact that he is overshadowed heading into draft day can likely be traced to his level of inexperience on the showcase circuit. Though he has dominated the high school ranks, Salazar has only participated in one Perfect Game event and that came last October in Jupiter, Florida. Scouts were blown away by his stuff at that event, and it's easy to see why.
At an even 6-foot-0, 200 pounds, Salazar is already physically matured and that is reflected in his delivery, which is clean and void of any discernible hitches. Repeatable arm slots and front foot placement; keeps hips closed late into his motion and explodes at the waste, giving him easy plus velocity and subsequent deception on his offspeed stuff. His fastball is rumored to have hit triple-digits numerous times but sits comfortably in the 93-95 MPH range. Slider has tight break and projects to be a plus offering and he's shown great confidence in a fading changeup, which typically sits around 83-84 MPH. Sounds like a kid with something to prove and trust in his stuff. Very high ceiling, could be a very solid No.3 in a big league rotation at his best.
6. Robert Tyler, RHP, Crisp Co. HS (Ga.)
Measurables: 6'4", 190 lbs.
The Georgia prep ranks have been well-represented with position players over the past few drafts and that doesn't look to change this year. The same cannot be said on the pitching side of things, especially this year, which will make the projectable Tyler one of the most coveted young arms from that state on draft day. The 17-year-old Crisp Co., Georgia native has been on the showcase circuit for three years running, growing into his tall frame while garnering attention from scouts each step of the way. He checked in at a towering 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds at last summer's All-American classic in San Diego, but there are conflicting reports about his present size and girth.
Whatever the case may be, there's plenty to like about what Tyler has to offer -- and it all starts with his present build. Tall and lanky with room to pack on lower-body muscle, Tyler shows repeatable mechanics and control of his limbs, which can be a struggle for tall pitchers. Showing good downward plane on his sinking 91-94 MPH fastball with a high 3/4 arm slot, he produces a good amount of ground-balls. Shows solid feel for a changeup with decent drop to it, regularly fooling hitters when he repeats his arm slots. His over-the-top curveball has some projection to it and could be a plus offering down the road. I
7. Cavan Biggio, St. Thomas HS (Tex.)
Measurables: 6'2", 180 lbs.
If you're looking for a player with tons of showcase experience, natural instincts and all-around baseball talent and know-how, Biggio is your guy. Son of future Hall of Fame second baseman Craig, Cavan has been on the showcase circuit since his days as a 16-year-old in 2010. He appeared in his final Perfect Game event last October, and with a great showing has put himself among the most elite prep bats in this year's draft class.
Scouts aren't sure which defensive position Biggio best projects at, as he's spent considerable time at second base during his high school career and also has experience at third, but his instincts, quick reaction time and strong arm suggest he could play either at the next level. Though he has the chance to bulk up a bit more in the minors, he's athletic enough right now to where he could steal double-digit bases down the road. His bat is what has many intrigued, however. His quick hands and straight-to-the-ball approach from the left side of the plate allows him to make consistent solid contact and pound all gaps with consistency. Standing a bit taller than his father, he projects to have at least major league average power in the future. It remains to be seen if Milwaukee is willing enough to lure him away to Virginia, a program he has a strong commitment to.
8. A.J. Puk, LHP/1B, Washington HS (Iowa)
Measurables: 6'6", 205 lbs.
Whether it be his statuesque 6-foot-6, 205-pound frame or his raw ability both on the mound and at the plate, there's no denying that Puk stands out from the 'prototypical' (if you will) high school player. Reigning from the Iowa prep ranks that traditionally aren't known for producing high ceiling players, Puk's raw ability on the mound and at the plate have wowed scouts since he first burst onto the national showcase scene as a 14-year-old in 2010. Now, he's considered one of the prized left-handers of this year's class.
While Puk's potential at the plate has intrigued many, the majority of scouts feel that his future is on the mound and it's easy to see why. Though he's no Johnny Hellweg in terms of his height, he's close, and helps him create decent plane on all his offerings despite a low 3/4 arm slot. His fastball sits in the 89-92 MPH range right now but has a ton of projection left on it, as he's still figuring out his mechanics while growing into his frame. His changeup has the chance to be plus, as he hides the ball well enough to throw hitters off; curveball as good 1/7 bite to it but will need to become more consistent with his placement. There's some refinement that will need to be done to his game, but Puk's ceiling is incredibly high.
With the first and second rounds of the draft tomorrow night, I've boiled down my big board to eight players who I see fit the Brewers' mold and will likely be available when Milwaukee goes on the clock in the second round. But it's always fun to throw a prediction out there and see if you're able to get one of the picks right. I did exactly that at last summer's draft, accurately predicting Milwaukee's two first-round picks.
Here are my predictions for this year:
Round 2, No. 54 overall: Blake Taylor, LHP, Dana Hills HS (Calif.)
Round 2, No. 72 overall: Kevin Ziomek, LHP, Vanderbilt