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Milwaukee Brewers 2021 MLB Draft Preview: High School Hitters

The prep class is seen as stronger this year than the collegiate one.

HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: JUN 17 Eastlake at San Marcos
Marcelo Mayer.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We have entered the month of July, which means that the 2021 MLB Draft is rapidly approaching. The annual event is still not back to the old, pre-pandemic normal and may never be again now that the minor leagues have been contracted. Last year’s draft lasted only five rounds, while this year’s edition will be 20 rounds taking place from July 11th-13th. According to Baseball America, this year’s class is considered to be a bit light in terms of top-tier talent, but features exceptional depth rounding out days 2 and 3 thanks to all of the players who were granted extra eligibility and returned to school after COVID-19 turned everything upside-down last year. The high school class is thought to be far more impressive than the college group, including a plethora of up-the-middle talent.

After their disappointing showing during the 60-game season in 2020, the Milwaukee Brewers will pick at #15 overall in this summer’s draft. The organization’s strategy has been heavily focused on finding value picks at the top of the draft, choosing players in years past like Garrett Mitchell or Brice Turang who were only available because they had fallen down the board. The Brewers have also shown an ability to get creative with their later round picks, typically using up every last dollar of their bonus pool (plus the 5% overage) to secure as much talent as possible without forfeiting future picks.

Today, we’ll take a look at the top high school hitters that the Brewers could be trying to zero in on with their first-round selection:

(1) SS Jordan Lawlar

BA Grade: 65 | Risk: Very High
Hit: 60 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Field: 60 | Arm: 55

Lawlar is often compared to Bobby Witt, Jr. as an older prep shortstop coming out of the state of Texas. Though Witt had the “louder” tools, Lawlar is seen as having a better hit grade and a higher likelihood to stay at shortstop. He hit over .400 in each of his final three seasons with a compact swing and above-average bat speed. If his power develops along with his other tools, Lawlar could be a perennial All-Star, but his hit tool, speed, and defensive ability give him a high floor.

(2) SS Marcelo Mayer

BA Grade: 65 | Risk: Very High
Hit: 65 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Field: 60 | Arm: 60

Mayer comes from one of the top high school programs in the country at Eastlake in California, and hit .410 as a senior with 13 home runs. He’s been praised as the top defensive shortstop prospect in this year’s class and has the requisite tools to be able to stick at that position long-term. Mayer is a below-average runner on the bases but moves fluidly around the infield. He’s got a plus bat with excellent barrel control, and could tap into more power as his body fills out.

(6) SS Kahlil Watson

BA Grade: 60 | Risk: Extreme
Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Field: 55 | Arm: 55

Watson doesn’t have the most exciting build at 5’9” and 178 lbs, but he was a standout performer on the summer showcase circuit and some scouts in the industry believe his combination of athleticism, tools, and defensive ability give him the most upside in the class. The left-hander has tremendous bat speed, though he’ll sometimes take mighty hacks in an effort to hit for more power. Even with that concern, he’s shown excellent bat control and ball-strike recognition who projects to be an above-average hitter with solid power. He has all the tools for shortstop, but some think he could end up at second base or in center field.

(7) SS Brady House

BA Grade: 60 | Risk: Extreme
Hit: 55 | Power: 70 | Run: 50 | Field: 55 | Arm: 70

House was seen as the top prep position player prospect entering this spring season, standing out for his impressive bat speed and potential to actualize 70-grade power. House possesses advanced pitch recognition ability, but showed some swing-and-miss on the showcase circuit. When he does make contact, he does so with impressive exit velocities, and he’s got a plus-plus arm clocked in the 90’s when he’s been on the mound. House may have to move off shortstop due to his size, and could eventually be a plus defender at third base or in right field.

(17) C Harry Ford

BA Grade: 55 | Risk: Extreme
Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Field: 50 | Arm: 60

Ford has been called a “unicorn” because of the speed he displays at the catcher position, and he’s got the athleticism and ability to play at second, third, or even in center field is his drafting team is so inclined. Ford has shown solid bat-to-ball skills but is seen as a likely “power-over-hit” player in the future whose swing could be exploited at times by advanced pitching. Like most high school catchers, he has development to do defensively, but he is believed to have the physical and mental tools to succeed as a backstop.

(20) SS/RHP Bubba Chandler

BA Grade: 55 | Risk: Extreme
Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Field: 55 | Arm: 60
Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50

Chandler is a multisport star who is committed to Clemson for both football and baseball. He’s four-star quarterback, a shortstop, and also a right-handed pitcher. Most teams prefer him on the mound, where he can run it up to 97 MPH, but he’s a switch-hitter who some teams like better as a hitter or even as a possible two-way player. On the dirt, he possesses the arm strength and athletic ability to play on the left side, though he’s not a refined defender currently.

Other prep hitters projected as top-30 players by Baseball America include outfielder Will Taylor, catcher Joe Mack, and outfielder Benny Montgomery. Since 2010, the Brewers have taken three high school hitters in the first round — Clint Coulter, Trent Grisham, and Brice Turang (Tristen Lutz and Jake Gatewood were also taken as supplemental first-rounders).