The Milwaukee Brewers have been partial to taking players from Canada in the MLB Draft over the years, perhaps due to the connections of Doug Melvin and Gord Ash (who both remain as parts of the front office). They went north of the border again with their competitive balance round A selection in the 2021 MLB Draft, taking second baseman Tyler Black of Wright State University at #33 overall on Sunday night.
Black, a junior, played three seasons at Wright State, during which time he hit .353/.468/.612 with 21 home runs and 19 steals in 500 plate appearances across 113 games. Black’s stock was down heading into 2021 after he hit .239/.340/.370 in 13 games during the pandemic-shortened season last year, but he rebounded to a .383/.496/.683 slash line with 13 dingers and 11 stolen bases in 233 plate appearances.
Black was ranked as the #82 prospect by Baseball America, #57 by MLB Pipeline, and #35 on the Fangraphs Board among draftees, so some may see this pick as a bit of a reach. But it is important to keep in mind that the Brewers obviously like this player, and bonus slot values do come into play when looking at draft picks; sometimes teams draft players earlier to save some bonus pool money to go over slot value for a different player later in the draft. The slot value for pick #33 is $2,202,200.
Here is some of what Baseball America had to say about Black, who they thought could have been taken in the second or third round:
(82) 2B Tyler Black
BA Grade: 45 | Risk: High
Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Field: 45 | Arm: 45
Black was a talented three-sport athlete who played football, hockey and baseball back in Canada...Black entered the 2021 season as a sleeper candidate after a disappointing 13-game stretch in 2020, because scouts believed in his hitting ability and strike-zone discipline. Black lived up to those expectations this spring, although he admittedly plays in an extremely hitter-friendly conference and home park...Black has a big leg kick to start his swing but keeps his hands quiet and steady in his load before firing through the zone with impressive hand speed. He has a pull-heavy approach...Black has an offensive-driven profile...scouts see him more likely winding up at second base at the next level. He’s a fringy runner and defender, with below-average arm strength after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder to repair a labrum tear in 2020.