The Brewers are 15-26 in 2015 and, for better or worse, are clearly on a downward slope as far as success goes in the immediate future. Though it's certainly possible the team can make a big comeback and fight their way back into contention this year, the upcoming seasons will likely be spent looking more towards the future.
Oftentimes, the best way to build for the future is through the annual draft. The Brewers have had made some controversial choices in recent drafts, but the 2014 class has received almost universal praise thus far. Last year, Milwaukee focused heavily on upside, taking four high schoolers in their first five picks: Pitcher Kodi Medeiros, shortstop Jake Gatewood, and outfielders Monte Harrison and Troy Stokes.
Three weeks from the 2015 draft, plenty off experts have been churning out their latest mocks. Perhaps none are more respected, though, than Keith Law's. Law has released his first mock for the upcoming draft and has the Brewers taking Arizona shortstop Kevin Newman with the 15th overall pick.
Newman, 21, is currently a junior and made the preseason All America list after being named All-Pac 12 the past two seasons. Newman has been praised by some as one of the best defensive infielders in the minors, and has done nearly everything well in college. That includes hitting .352/.410/.462 with 19 stolen bases in 51 games so far this season. He's also the first person in the history of the Cape Cod League to win the batting title two years in a row.
Baseball America has Newman as the 27th-best prospect in the draft, and in their mock draft had him being chosen by the Cardinals with pick 23. Law, however, is high enough on Newman to rank him the second-best prospect in the draft.
Newman isn't going to hit many home runs by any means, but his above-average speed will go well with gap power to help him pick up a fair amount of extra base hits. A strong defensive shortstop out of college -- especially one with 'an advanced approach' at the plate -- could also rise quickly through the minor leagues so long as the bat plays well enough.
That scouting video has some doubt in Newman's defensive abilities, saying he doesn't have the exceptional raw tools, but makes up for it with good instincts and strong fundamentals. To me, that sounds like he's more of a JJ Hardy defensive shortstop rather than an Alcides Escobar type, though the stolen bases in the minors indicate he has more speed than the plodding Hardy.
Though the Brewers have Orlando Arcia, Gilbert Lara, Gatewood and Yadiel Rivera as shortstop prospects already, MLB drafts are rarely about drafting for need as most draftees are years off from the majors. Players could change positions, flame out or be traded or whatever else -- if a player is good enough, teams have time to find room for them. Thus, the best strategy is often to just take whatever player is best available. As Law notes, that's something Brewers scouting director Ray Montgomery has done in the past when he was with the Diamondbacks.
Law also mentions Tristan Beck and Ke'Bryan Hayes as potential Brewers targets, as well. Beck is a 6'4 high school pitcher, but Law does not have him in the first round and instead mentions him as a candidate for Milwaukee in the second. Hayes is a high school third baseman, a position which is definitely an organizational weakness right now though Gatewood, Lara, or someone else could move there in the future. Law has Hayes -- who can also pitch -- being taken 24th.
This will be Ray Montgomery's first draft as Brewers scouting director after being hired to replace Bruce Seid last November. Seid unexpectedly passed away in September.