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Milwaukee Brewers 2021 MLB Draft Preview: High School Pitchers

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Will the Brewers break form to draft a prep arm from a hitter-heavy draft class?

Panama v USA - WBSC U-15 World Cup Super Round Final Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Countdown to the Brewers’ first draft pick: 5 days. The 2021 MLB Draft will begin on Sunday, July 11, in conjunction with All-Star Weekend in Denver, CO, and run through Tuesday, July 13.

This is the second in a series of posts profiling possible draftees for the Crew’s first round (15th overall) pick. Today, we’ll check out the least likely group of possible draft targets for David Stearns and Company: high school pitchers.

The Crew most recently opted for arms out of the high school draft class in 2014 and 2013, before the Stearns era. In 2014, they went with LHP Kodi Medeiros, who was later traded to the White Sox for Joakim Soria. Fans are likely more familiar with 2013’s pick: Devin Williams.

Williams’ nonlinear path to his otherworldly Rookie/Reliever of the Year 2020 makes him an obvious success story, but also exemplifies one prevalent reason future-thinking front offices might shy away from still (physically) developing high school arms: Tommy John Surgery predating a major league debut.

There are other reasons the Crew is likely to pass on the prep picks: high school prospects are likely to opt for college or junior college. This is particularly true with 2020’s begrudging two-year MLB-MLBPA deal still deferring bonuses for top picks and limiting bonuses for undrafted players. These are potentially permanent cost cuts with the reduction of the minor leagues, but prospects still might want to test the waters of the 2022 bargaining agreement.

Though this year’s prep class is strong, it’s dominated by position players. Of MLB’s Top 15 High School Prospects lists, only six are pitchers, and this includes two-way players who get more attention as position players. This list will only feature two-way players getting more scouting attention as pitchers.

Even with the list heavy on hitters, there are four prep pitchers in MLB’s Top 100, and even with the Brewers’ recent aversion to high school arms, these high-ceiling talents could entice the Crew.

Jackson Jobe, RHP/SS, #7 (MLB Pipeline)

Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Slider: 70 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 50 | Overall: 60

If you’re keeping an eye on the draft, you should know about Jackson Jobe. Before you get your hopes up about him, though, know that it’s wholly unlikely that he falls to the #15 overall spot the Brewers hold. He is also in a high leverage position as a Mississippi commit draft eligible in 2 years.

Jobe is, unanimously, the top pitcher in the high school draft class. He also boasts what MLB Pipline calls the best slider in the entire draft class, a pitch that comes in in the low 80s with elite spin rates above 3,000 rpm. The slider leads a ready four pitch mix. His four-seamer sits 92-94 mph and reaches 96 with good movement and spin. His versatile low-80s changeup is a narrow second to his slider and his upper-70s curveball plays, too.

To top it all off, Jobe is a two-way player, though clearly a pitcher-forward one. He’s a competent shortstop with an obviously strong arm. He projects as an average hitter with average speed (for a position player).

Andrew Painter, RHP, #18 (MLB Pipeline)

Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 55

While it’s unlikely Jobe will fall far enough in the draft to be a realistic pick for the Brewers, if they feel inclined to pick a high school arm, they could have a shot at former top-slot righty Andrew Painter. The Brewers have the #15 pick in the draft this year, and Painter has drawn comparisons to Mick Abel who went to the Phillies last year with the overall #15 pick. His pitch mix and sky-high ceiling might be cause for the Crew to break form and use an early pick to grab the righty.

Painter is likely to get scooped off the board early for his potential velocity alone. He’s already sitting at an MLB average 93-95 mph and scouts are projecting more power potential on his 6’7, 215 lbs. On top of that, Painter has a four-pitch mix and knows how to use it. Aptly named, Painter already has above average command, the best at the top of the prep draft class. His control could easily turn plus with professional-level instruction.

Chase Petty, RHP, #27 (MLB Pipeline)

Fastball: 70 | Slider: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50

It’s likely Chase Petty will be available when the Crew’s first pick roles around, but it seems unlikely the Crew will use their top pick on Petty. Though he is certainly a top prep hurler and already throwing dominating stuff, there are some questions about his ceiling because of his size (6’2”, 190 lbs.) and delivery. This makes it unlikely the Brewers would break form to draft him with an early pick.

The most alluring thing about Petty is his already blazing fastball. The pitch sits in the upper 90s, touches triple digits, and has good movement, especially against righties. His upper 80s slider works well in combination with the fastball. His changeup hovers around 90, but he’s still developing the movement it needs to be a viable big-league pitch.

Chase Burns, RHP, #47 (MLB Pipeline)

Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 55 | Cutter: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50

Chase Burns has a scouting profile distinct from Chase Petty, but is about as likely to get early draft attention from the Crew. Though his 6’4", 215 lb frame frees him from some of the size stigma Petty carries, scouts also ceiling Burns with some reliever risk, in this case, because of his arm action and higher-effort delivery. He’s presents risks but is trending upward in his development. The latter bolsters his case, but might make a creative, sleeper-oriented front-office less likely to pick him up.

Burns’ most alluring pitch is also his fastball. The pitch touches 100, regularly hits 98, sits at 92-96, and possesses impressive movement. He backs up the fastball with two other solid pitches: an upper-70s curve and a mid-80s cutter/slider. He also has an upper-80s changeup that falls flat now, but has time to develop with Burns’ fastball and formidable three-pitch mix.

The first day of the draft kicks off on July 11 at 6:07 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on MLB Network and ESPN. July 12 and 13 will be streamed on MLB.com.