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Milwaukee Brewers 2018 MLB Draft Preview: College Hitters

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A look at potential Brewers prospects.

South Carolina v Texas A&M Photo by Eric Christian Smith/Getty Images

College bats are a popular commodity in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. Drafting a college hitter can result in an asset that can quickly rise through the system, becoming a valuable trade piece or contributor on the big league club.

The Milwaukee Brewers have gone back-to-back first round picks with college bats. In 2016, they drafted Corey Ray and followed that up in 2017 with Keston Hiura. College bats in the middle-first round tend to be less exciting than those two players, but can still offer a lot of value. Let’s take a look at some the players who could be on the board when the Brewers pick at 21.

The Scouting Report

Jeremy Eierman SS
#30 MLB Pipeline || #26 Baseball America

MLB Pipeline Tools Grades:
Hit: 45 || Power: 55 || Run: 55 || Arm: 65 || Field: 50 || Overall: 50

Trever Larnach OF
#27 MLB Pipeline || #27 Baseball America

MLB Pipeline Tools Grades:
Hit: 55 || Power: 50 || Run: 40 || Arm: 55 || Field: 50 || Overall: 50

Steele Walker OF
#31 MLB Pipeline || #32 Baseball America

MLB Pipeline Tools Grades:
Hit: 55 || Power: 50 || Run: 50 || Arm: 45 || Field: 50 || Overall: 50

Jameson Hannah OF
#33 MLB Pipeline || #48 Baseball America

MLB Pipeline Tools Grades:
Hit: 55 || Power: 45 || Run: 60 || Arm: 40 || Field: 55 || Overall: 50

Seth Beer 1B
#46 MLB Pipeline || #58 Baseball America

MLB Pipeline Tools Grades:
Hit: 50 || Power: 55 || Run: 20 || Arm: 45 || Field: 35 || Overall: 50

Kyler Murray
#37 MLB Pipeline || #76 Baseball America

MLB Pipeline Tools Grades:
Hit: 50 || Power: 50 || Run: 70 || Arm: 40 || Field: 55 || Overall: 50

The Lowdown

The top of the round features some high-impact third baseman, later in the draft are some players who have one really good tool and need to work on the other. In the middle of the first, you’re mostly looking at toolsy outfielders.

The Brewers could get lucky enough to have a college shortstop available, should they be interested. Jeremy Eierman is a power hitter from the right side who has quite a bit of swing and miss to his game. His speed is good but not anything special. Scouts predict he’ll end up being a third baseman when everything is said and done, and could be a good one. “Gold Glover” has been thrown around. Some reports say Eierman made some adjustments junior year that has led to more power but less regular contact at the plate. It will be interesting to see if the team that drafts him asks him to shorten his approach again to get a higher average. There’s also scouts that fear that Eierman will never find offensive success because he hasn’t been able to hit when he has a wooden bat in his hands.

Trever Larnach is one of the outfielders I’ve seen the Crew connected to. Larnach is a lefty who has really come onto the scene in his Junior season, showing a lot more power after a change to simplify his mechanics. Scouts believe he can be a 25-30 home run hitter if he continues to make good contact. Defense isn’t his speciality. He’s sound and can get to the balls he should, but limited speed means he’s likely playing left or right field.

Steele Walker is a hitter and a good one. As of the time I am writing this article, Walker is hitting .367 from the left side and has a 12% walk rate. Otherwise, he has average power and a weak arm that forces him into left field. Some teams are reportedly putting a 60 on Walker’s hit tool, which could lead to him shooting up the board.

Jameson Hannah is yet another lefty outfielder with a fringe arm. His plus speed should help keep him center and helps him has above average defense. Hannah is described as a doubles hitter, who will never really tap into his power. Scouts see him as a leadoff hitter who rarely strikes out, is very successful running on the base paths (only been caught stealing twive), and make good contact.

Now, the name we’ve all been waiting for: Seth Beer. Most people ask about Beer just because of the obvious. The man possesses one hell of a bat with great power. He’s slipped down draft boards due to a poor performance in his Junior year. It’s easy to point out Beer’s flaws. He’s not a good defender at first, he doesn’t have the speed to be in the outfield. He’s never had success with a wood bat in hand. Teams will have to decide if they’re ok with a bat that could be elite from the left side for a guy who’s a liability at first.

I had planned to stop at Beer, but then Kyler Murray caught my eye. Some of you might know his name if you’re college football fans. He’s the heir apparent to Baker Mayfield, but he’s really good on the baseball diamond too. There’s two problems with Murray. First, no one really knows how to project his ability. A lot of scouts say his arm is stronger than it looks but is too tired from constantly being used at quarterback to make strong throws from the outfield. There’s also questions about how far he will progress if he turns his attention to baseball and isn’t focusing so hard on two sports. He has great speed and all the tools listed could see a significant jump once he’s focused on what he’s doing at the plate.

How They Become Brewers

In order for any of these players to become Brewers, the scouting department need to assign one of them a 60-tool that they value. The Crew likes ceiling in its draftees and will want plus offensive ability in a player they take if they’re picking someone out of college.

Eierman offers the defensive play and offensive ability the organization has liked in recent years. As long as they believe he can develop, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he ended up being the pick at 21.

The outfielders don’t really stand out as much. Signability could go a long way to helping the Brewers draft them. There’s a chance these players will sign for lower prices than anyone else in the first round, with the exception of Murray.

I don’t see the Brewers drafting Beer in the first round. They know that having a player without a defensive home isn’t beneficial in the National League. They had an opportunity last year to draft a couple of very talented first baseman. The team wasn’t seriously linked to them and went with the legendary Keston Hiura.

Murray is a player I could see the Brewers taking if they knew they could sign him. He has a ton of potential but would cost a lot. I’ve said in previous articles that I believe the Brewers could pony up after losing their third-round pick and picking later in the rounds than they have in recent years.