Holy crap you guys, the MLB Draft starts tomorrow! This is an incredibly important draft for our beloved local nine, as it will be the first draft of the rebuild and the first opportunity that the Slingin' David Stearns/Matt Arnold regime will have to work with amateur scouting director Ray Montgomery to add some forty or so young, controllable players to Milwaukee's pipeline of minor league talent.
The Brewers' first selection is at fifth overall and is accompanied by a $4,382,200 bonus slot value. This will be the highest the club has picked since 2005 when they took some third baseman out of the University of Miami, which I think wound up working out pretty well. With a myriad of talented prospects projected to go near the top of the draft, let's take a look at some of the players that Milwaukee has been linked most heavily to in the weeks leading up to the draft:
LHP Jason Groome
Age: 17 || Barnegat (New Jersey) HS
Groome is widely considered the top talent in this year's draft class. He's a big kid (6'6" and 220 lb) and has clean mechanics, which will hopefully lend itself to durability throughout his career. His fastball sits in the 90-94 MPH range and has touched 96, and he features a plus curveball and a decent (albeit underutilized against high school competition) changeup to go along with above-average command. Groome had a bit of an uneven spring and despite being the best player in the draft, teams may be wary of drafting a prep arm so high.
RHP Riley Pint
Age: 18 || St. Thomas Aquinas (Kansas) HS
MLB Rank: 2 || BA Rank: 4
Pint is the other highly touted prep arm in this draft after leading his team to the Kansas 5A state championship. The 6'4", 205 lb right hander added some muscle to his frame before the season and features a four pitch arsenal: a hard fastball that sits 93-97 MPH and has touched 102, a plus power curveball and fading changeup, and an average slider. His command is below average at present, however, and there's effort and inconsistent mechanics to his delivery. Like Groome, he might not go as highly as his upside suggests thanks to his status as a high school arm.
OF Corey Ray
Age: 21 || Louisville
MLB Rank: 6 || BA Rank: 7
Ray enjoyed a fantastic career at Louisville, hitting a combined .322/.395/.543 with 27 home runs and 82 stolen bases in 170 games over three seasons. He bats and throws left handed and consistently drives the ball to all parts of the field; he should ultimately have an above average hit tool and power tool. He's a smart and fast baserunner who stole 44 bases without being caught in 2016. Ray's spent most of his career in right field in college, but scouts seem to think he's got the tools to play in center field and that he'll get a chance to stick there as a professional.
3B Josh Lowe
Age: 18 || Pope (Georgia) HS
MLB Rank: 17 || BA Rank: 11
Lowe won Georgia's Gatorade player of the year while leading his team to the 6A state championship game and though he's a talented two-way player who can hit 95 MPH with his heater, it's exceedingly likely he's drafted as a position player. He's boasts both a plus arm and plus speed and could profile as a third baseman or perhaps an outfielder. The left-handed hitter is no slouch at the plate, either, and he should have at least average hit and power tools. If the Brewers are looking to save some bonus money to try and make a splash in the second round, Lowe could be the guy they tab at #5.
SS Delvin Perez
Age: 17 || International Baseball Academy (Puerto Rico)
MLB Rank: 9 || BA Rank: 5
Perez might remind folks of another shortstop that's already in the upper levels of the Brewers' system. Perez is already an elite defender with outstanding range, a plus arm, and good hands and instincts. His offensive game needs some work, however; he has yet to display solid pitch recognition skills or approach at the plate. Perez is tall and lanky and won't ever hit for much power, but with some hard work and good coaching he could eventually have at least an average hit tool. Premium players in the middle infield can be hard to come by, which is why so many are high on Perez despite the fact that he'll be a project for whoever winds up drafting him. Rumor has it, however, that he might end up falling to later or perhaps even out of the first round after failing a pre-draft drug test for an "undisclosed performance enhancer."