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Milwaukee Brewers 2021 MLB Draft Preview: College Hitters

The college class this year is believed to be weaker than the high school one.

Worcester Bravehearts Vs. North Shore Navigators
Sal Frelick.
Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe 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 final group of players who we have yet to cover — the top collegiate hitters that the Brewers could be trying to zero in on with their first-round selection:

(4) C Henry Davis

BA Grade: 60 | Risk: High
Hit: 60 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Field: 45 | Arm: 70

Davis is seen by many as the best college hitter in this year’s class. He has a bit of an unorthodox swing but has improved quite a bit at the plate during his time at Louisville, raising his draft stock in the process. He has a strong swing with good zone recognition and bat-to-ball skills with heavy pull power. His standout tool is his plus-plus arm which compares comparably to the top backstops in the big leagues, but he needs to work on his receiving and blocking skills if he’s going to ultimately stay behind the plate.

(9) OF Sal Frelick

BA Grade: 55 | Risk: High
Hit: 60 | Power: 40 | Run: 70 | Field: 60 | Arm: 50

Frelick is a high-contact hitter with tremendous speed and athleticism. He has a fringy arm in center field but throws accurately and has excellent range as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He hits the ball where it’s pitched, and though he’s got some occasional pull-side pop, he’s not much a power threat. But he puts the bat on the ball and uses his speed to beat out infield hits. He’s considered one of the safer picks in this draft, someone who could be a table setter atop the order with strong, up-the-middle defense.

(10) SS Matt McLain

BA Grade: 55 | Risk: High
Hit: 60 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Field: 50 | Arm: 60

The #25 overall pick in 2018 did not sign and once again looks like a sure-fire first rounder this summer. He’s undersized but strong with gap-to-gap, line drive power. He has strong zone recognition and rarely chases pitches and projects as a top-of-the-lineup type of hitter. McLain has plus speed that he uses on the bases. He’s been a shortstop the past two years but most think he’ll eventually wind up at second base, in center field, or even as a dynamic utility player with the arm strength to play anywhere on the diamond.

(11) OF Colton Cowser

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

Cowser is someone that scouts are very familiar with as a multiyear collegiate performer and member of the 2019 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. Cowser rakes against fastballs and has added strength, leading scouts to believe that he could settle in with 20-25 home run power as well as a plus hit tool. He’s a plus runner who should be able to stay in center field for at least a while longer, depending on how his body fills out. Cowser is seen as a pretty safe pick among this year’s draft class.