Much of the analysis on the site thus far regarding the 2012 MLB Draft has been limited to a collage of professional scouting reports and information from Draft resources on the individual draft picks. After a day to ruminate over the Brewers’ 2012 draft class, I thought it prudent to bring a bit more subjectivity to the analysis.
Perhaps my favorite selection of the draft was one of the least popular of some draft pundits, collegiate outfielder Victor Roache. My affinity for the pick does not stem from an unwavering believe that he will one day anchor the Brewers’ batting order next to Ryan Braun. Instead, it comes from the process.
On Monday evening, the Brewers found themselves in a position to acquire a player with elite raw power. Question marks surrounding his wrist injury and mechanical flaws in his swing caused him to fall to the back-end of the first round, but Milwaukee jumped on the potential — yes, potential — to acquire 30-plus home runs on an annual basis at a fraction of the price it would have cost prior to the injury. Scouting director Bruce Seid spoke of watching Roache launch baseballs out of Fenway
Field Park. Not just out of the playing field and into the seats, but over the Green Monster and out of Fenway Park itself. It’s a boom-or-bust pick, to be sure, but the reward is tantalizing and well worth the risk.
Perhaps it’s due to the recent poor play at the shortstop position in Milwaukee, but Puerto Rican high schooler Angel Ortega certainly peaks the interest. Players who can really pick it at shortstop and have even the slightest hope of hitting enough for the glove to play are always valuable to develop within the organization.
Finally, in terms of pure draft value, the Brewers could walk away with a coup if they can scrounge up enough money to lure right-hander Buck Farmer away from Georgia Tech and into the organization’s farm system. Few teams can boast a potential mid-rotation starter in the 15th round, especially a potential mid-rotation starter with some polish from a big-name collegiate program. Now, it’s all about the money.
LEAST FAVORITE SELECTIONS
The obvious disclaimer needs to flash in bright, neon lighting that it remains far too early to determine whether a draft pick was a quality decision or a costly mistake. Just two seasons ago, people were discussing how right-hander Jimmy Nelson was an overdraft as a second-round selection, and he has since legitimately transformed himself into a top-five prospect in the organization at this point due to tremendous progression. Young talent is too volatile, and scouting inherently encourages too much dreaming, to accurately determine the worth of a player just days after he was drafted.
With that said, not many complaints from the Brewers’ draft. The organization certainly took some chances and did not ignore a lack of polish, but the scouting department focused on tools. They focused on players who could someday make an impact at the big league level in some capacity.
Even a player such as second-round outfielder Tyrone Taylor — who was amongst my least favorite picks by Milwaukee due to his serious mechanical issues in his swing — is not necessarily a bad selection because his athleticism and potential (however slight) to be an above-average offensive producer in center field make him worth a selection. My issue was the fact that the organization passed on some higher-rated players, though it is extremely difficult to adequately determine “round value” in the new age of draft budgets and the new CBA.
But, again, I had few issues with the top end of the Brewers’ draft. Pitchers Tyler Wagner and Damien Magnifico may ultimately be relievers and certainly struggle with command, but their velocity and arm strength make them well worth selecting because, again, their individual tools have a chance to be above-average at the big league level.
Many of the Brewers’ selections in the 2012 Draft may not pan out — obviously, the vast majority of draft picks do not even make Triple-A — but the organization gave themselves a chance to garner big league talent with above-average skills in at least one aspect of the game. Clint Coulter has big league power. Victor Roache has big league power. Damien Magnifico has big league velocity. Edgardo Rivera has big league speed. Angel Ortega has a big league glove. Zach Quintana has big league fastball velocity.
If any of those players can develop complimentary skills, the Brewers have legitimate prospects, and that’s all an organization can ask for when walking out of the war room following the draft.
This category could perhaps be re-titled “Favorite Selections Part II” because any players falling in the “sleeper” camp are players who I feel are undervalued by some.
Junior college first baseman Adam Giacalone signed with the Brewers on Thursday for $100,000, foregoing his scholarship to the University of Tennessee. He does not possess a stand-out tool — and if he did, he would have gone higher than the 16th round — but the young man makes consistent contact from the left side and ranked amongst the top power-hitting players in junior college. He’s one of those guys who could absolutely light up the lower levels of the minors. Perhaps more, if the Brewers get lucky.
Inevitably, one low-round collegiate arm will find success as a professional and become a fast-riser in the organization. Three years ago, it was Mike Fiers. Two years ago, it was Austin Ross (or Eric Marzec, to a lesser extent). Last year, it was Casey Medlen. This year, that surprise arm could be 21st-round right-hander Austin Blaski. A low-90s fastball and two legitimate offspeed offerings could put him ahead of younger hitters in the Pioneer League, allowing him to put up monster numbers. Not to mention I love that Baseball America said that he’s “more than just a typical D-III senior sign.”