The Milwaukee Brewers’ 2017 draft class already has some players taking the field. We decided to speak with Christopher Crawford. Chris is a prospect analyst for HERO Sports and NBC Sports, and formerly for Baseball Prospectus.
Brad Ford: Do you agree that Keston Hiura has the best bat in the draft? I've seen many reports that his offense would have gotten him drafted in the top 5 had his elbow not been hurt?
Christopher Crawford: Best hit tool, for certain. Can spray the ball to all parts of the field. Don't think he'd be a top-five talent because of the defensive profile and he doesn't have elite power, but yes, he can really hit.
BF: Where do you think he slots in defensively once he gets his elbow corrected?
CC: Second base. I think he's a sound enough athlete that he should be fine there, and you shouldn't have to make a ton of high-effort throws there -- at least fewer than it'd be in center.
BF: It sounds like the Brewers were pretty excited about getting Tristen Lutz in the comp round. Any good comps on Lutz? High-contact, power bat with solid right field defense?
CC: I don't do comps, but yeah, Lutz is a legit talent. There's above-average power in his right-handed bat, and he has pretty good feel for the barrel. Add in a strong arm and competent defense in corner, and he's a legit first-round talent.
BF: In a move that had a lot of people shocked, the Brewers draft KJ Harrison as a catcher instead of first baseman. Thoughts on if KJ will be able to stay there? I've read the bat will play no matter the position, clearly holding more value if he ends up behind the plate?
CC: I think it makes sense to give it a shot, but it'll make a lot of sense when it doesn't work, and he moves to first. He's just not a great athlete, and the arm is only okay. The value drops considerably when he has to make the move, but it could play at first. He can hit.
BF: Milwaukee selected hard-throwing righty Caden Lemons in the second round. Does he make it as a starter or better as a reliever in the majors?
CC: Gotta give him every chance to start. A lot of people really like this arm, and I get it. Tons of projection and arm strength, could have a plus-plus fastball when all is said and done. Will probably need to pick one, but shows a decent slider and curve as well. Long way to go, but the talent is there to be a mid-rotation starter or better.
BF: It also seems they were able to get a nice deal on Brendan Murphy in the fourth round. If they make it to the majors, who ends up having the better career?
CC: Good question. Give me Murphy because I think there's just a little more safety, but Lemons has much higher upside. Great question, though.
BF: Things got a little odd on the third day. Milwaukee went on a run of nine straight high school players. Some we already know won't sign. Is this just them taking advantage of their deep system and hoping to land a couple high-ceiling prospects?
CC: I think so. Milwaukee has plenty of depth in the system, why not take some chances. I think they'll get some of those guys signed, too. I definitely don't believe a player is headed to school until after draft day. It's a risk, but a calculated one, in my opinion.