First Ten Rounds
The Brewers draft took off during the second day, as at least four selections tweeted their thanks (or, “allegiance” (?)) to the Brewers and raw prep arm Nash Walters signed with the club.
Blessed to say I’m going to be a brewer! Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. It is a dream come true for me! #Brewers
— Nash Walters⚾ (@Nash_Walters12) June 9, 2015
Big thanks to the brewers organization in putting their faith in me and my abilities and giving me an opportunity to live my dream!
— Nash Walters⚾ (@Nash_Walters12) June 9, 2015
There are always going to be people that are disappointed with the Brewers’ draft, and one could point to the Brewers’ risk assessment and nearly-formulaic selections of big arms (without equivalent projection or tools?) as two potential issues with the first eleven picks. Specifically, one could argue that the Brewers should not have drafted injured LHP Nathan Kirby, instead reaching for more upside or a bigger fastball. Furthermore, one could scrutinize a group of college arms that might only profile of relievers in some cases, which is a difficult preference to execute during an MLB draft (after all, it’s quite difficult to determine who will be a reliever or a starter from the draft. See Tyler Wagner and Jed Bradley as notable examples).
I do not necessarily share these critical views, but I’m trying to articulate potential criticisms that one might weigh against the Brewers. First and foremost, I think that the Brewers not only used a balanced-risk approach to their bonus pool by spreading signable picks around some “big” picks (like Demi Orimoloye or even Karsen Lindell), but they arguably landed better, more balanced tools with their gambles in 2015 (than, say, last year’s draft). Arguably, the Brewers took the “theory” of 2014 and instead of going after “athletes” or reaching for players with one or two really loud tools, they landed a different type of profile for the system (Trent Clark is a perfect example, as the Brewers went for the bat first, instead of power; Orimoloye also arguably has better tools than any 2014 Brewers selection. H/t to J.P. Breen for the “2014 draft theory” line). There will always be raw pitchers involved in draft selections, or college guys that have potentially high floors (even if they offer less of a lucrative pay off with their top potential). Clark and Orimoloye alone provide positional potential that could instantly improve the top of the farm system rankings.
(Another way to understand the value of a draft is to focus on ways it could have unfolded in different ways. For example, since many noted Cody Ponce (2nd round) was connected with the Brewers, imagine that Clark was unavailable at #15. Do the Brewers end up reaching for Ponce? Do the Brewers draft a different pitcher? If Brady Aiken is selected, where do the Brewers go at #40? Since the Brewers knew Orimoloye well, imagine a #15 / #40 pairing of Ponce & Orimoloye, and all the ensuing changes that could have occurred. This is an extreme example, but it is worth considering that even if there are ways in which a draft could conceivably be better, teams also have real connections and negotiations with players, so other developments could impact their draft in ways that produce less value. If, for example, the Brewers had a good hunch that they were “in” on Ponce and Orimoloye, their (somewhat obvious) choice to take Clark at #15 could arguably have been their best possible move. This type of scenario could be run in nearly endless ways).
It’s relatively easy to focus on Clark and Orimoloye, and forget about infielders George Iskenderian and Blake Allemand. Allemand will have his reputation as an easily signable college senior, but the infielder arguably has the type of glove and batting average skills that could make him (at least) a solid organizational depth player. I know it’s tough to cite Scooter Gennett‘s name after his return to the minors, but he’s the type of example of how certain college profiles can outwork some expectations and force their way into the MLB. Iskenderian is another competitor that may have the opposite questions than Allemand: one might wonder where Iskenderian’s glove sticks, but it’s hard to ignore his power potential from a college bat. There’s an argument to be made that both players were reaches, given their pre-draft ranking and overall profiles, but if their signing allows the Brewers to land some of their more difficult signability players, the club did not necessarily get bad tools in return.
As for those arms, Kirby and Jake Drossner present interesting challenges and potential returns from the left side. It remains to be seen how Kirby’s health will affect his 2015 development, while Drossner will look to bounce back from a relatively tough campaign. Given that both pitchers can work in the low-90s as southpaws, one would guess that the Brewers will give both guys as many chances as possible to stick in the organization. On the other side, there are several different classes of right-handers, so it’s not entirely fair to say that the Brewers were only looking for size, as I joked about yesterday. Walters and Lindell profile as this group’s rawest side, while Nate Grieb and Eric Hanhold are the complete opposite: they might trade some projectability or “ceiling” for a relatively high floor. Ponce is arguably the best mix of these angles, given his overall stuff and the combination of a relatively high floor. But again, it remains to be seen what each of these college arms can accomplish once they begin working in the Brewers system.
A simple subjective chart featuring the Brewers’ BA Top 500 players drafted, and other unranked 1-11 players, will show the difficulties of ranking a draft class. Going simply by preseason ranking, the Brewers “reached” on several of their selections, but if those potential reaches give the club a chance to sign their most lucrative picks, the point becomes moot. After all, if the “lower value” players that the Brewers picked had some particular trait that the Brewers want in their system, the order of their picks does not necessarily matter if the Brewers also align the most lucrative talent they want in their system. This is a solid (arguably necessary) trade off in terms of risk.
|BA Ranking||Brewers Draftee||Value / Signing Chance|
|10||Trent Clark (#15)||Incredible|
|21||Donnie Everett (#871)||Snowball’s Chance|
|26||Nathan Kirby (#40)||Very Good|
|36||Cody Ponce (#55)||Very Good|
|39||Justin Hooper (#751)||Snowball’s Chance|
|41||Demi Orimoloye (#121)||Incredible|
|63||Tristan Beck (#1021)||Snowball’s Chance|
|82||Jonathan India (#781)||Snowball’s Chance|
|204||Karsen Lindell (#271)||Signed?|
|212||Eric Hanhold (#181)||Signable|
|223||Nolan Kingham (#1171)||Contentious|
|281||George Iskenderian (#211)||Signable|
|303||Blake Allemand (#151)||Signable|
|308||Donovan Walton (#691)||Contentious|
|332||Nash Walters (#90)||Signed|
|373||Mitch Ghelfi (#841)||Contentious|
|378||David Lucroy (#601)||Contentious|
|388||Jordan Desguin (#1081)||Contentious|
|430||Tyrone Perry (#421)||Signed?|
|475||Jon Olczak (#631)||Contentious|
|Nate Griep (#241)||Signable|
|Jake Drossner (#301)||Signable|
|Jose Cuas (#331)||Signable|
Day Three Highlights Part One: Signable and Intriguing Players
Round 11 (#331): SS Jose Cuas, Maryland. The Brewers drafted Jose Cuas as a shortstop, but the youngster played third base for the University of Maryland, which may be a testament both to the vision the Brewers have for the prospect and his own physicality. Ryan Sullivan of “Scouting the Nats” wrote an exceptional, detailed scouting report of Cuas, and summarized the prospect with high praise:
Cuas is an interesting draft prospect, as he shows or projects three average or better tools in his speed, arm and defensive skills. Furthermore, Cuas has a pretty right-handed swing with some contact and power potential, though there are still weaknesses he needs to refine at the plate. In a draft severely lacking bats, Cuas finds himself an excellent candidate to be over-drafted in June due to his track record of success and projection remaining for a collegiate player. I envision Cuas being selected on the middle of Day 2 of this June’s draft, with the potential he is selected inside the top-125 picks if he catches fire in the second half of the college season. I am officially on the Cuas “Bandwagon” and believe he is a potentially undervalued collegiate draft prospect.
Both Cuas and his teammate Kevin Martir (catcher) used baseball as a way out of their neighborhood, and their collective story is one of perseverance, athletics, and academics. Cuas himself:
“I feel like baseball was the path to a straight line, staying out of trouble and following the right footsteps…Without baseball, I don’t know where I’d be, but I’m glad I had it.”
Given one “high” reading of Cuas, and understanding his perseverance and tenacity as a person, it is difficult not to love Cuas from the start. It is extremely interesting to think of his ultimate potential as a “Day Two” draftee, which means that if the “high” projection pans out, the Brewers could have received a steal with their eleventh round pick.
Round 12 (#361): LHP Drake Owenby, Tennessee. After overcoming some personal, off-the-field issues, Owenby improved his control and strike outs in his most recent season with Tennessee. Ignore the lefty’s ERA, and take a look at his progression from a 24 K / 20 BB / 1 HR performance (in 25.3 2014 innings) to a 60 K / 19 BB / 4 HR effort (in 69.0 2015 innings). Tennessee listed Owenby at 6’3″ and 210 pounds, so working with the lefty’s frame and command improvement leads one to wonder if the prospect can continue his progression on the Milwaukee farm.
Round 13 (#391): C Max McDowell, Connecticut. “Baseball Draft Report” calls Max McDowell an “under-appreciated” catching prospect, due to his running ability and athleticism (in addition to more “common” catching traits, like power potential and solid glove). According to UCONN, not only did McDowell improve his performance catching baserunners in 2014 and 2015, but the actual number of attempted steals declined, too. As McDowell’s Caught-Stealing% increased to 34.5% and 31.7% from 20% (in 2013), attempts plummeted from 60 to 36 and 41 (in 2014 and 2015, respectively). It’s hard not to get excited about established improvements in performance like this, especially as average, power, and walks developed on the offensive side of McDowell’s game.
— Max McDowell (@Maxy_do_well) June 10, 2015
Round 14 (#421): 1B Tyrone Perry, Lakeland H.S. (Florida). Power, power, power. Forget any potential projected defensive issues with Perry for a moment, and focus on the big tool: the Brewers went for Perry because of his prodigious power, which has been making waves on some showcase circuits. Listings vary between 6’1″ and 6’2″ and 240-260 pounds, but that power from the left side is difficult to pass up. Twitter Account: “Pro Baseball Player for the Milwaukee Brewers.”
Round 15 (#451): C Zach Taylor, Scottsdale C.C. (Arizona). The best link I found on Zach Taylor was from this entry in a Home Run Derby, which lauds Taylor as a gifted two-way athlete. David Lucroy
While working throughout the afternoon, I decided to take a look at Top BaseballAmerica players that remained available. Suddenly, with the 751st pick, the Brewers selected extremely highly rated, UCLA-committed lefty Justin Hooper. Then came Jonathan India at #781, Donny Everett at #871, and Tristan Beck at #1021 (!!!). It’s hard not to get excited while seeing these names next to the Brewers logo, but rest assured that these players are likely to follow their college commitments. Our own J.P. Breen at BaseballProspectus also hinted that this could be the type of move that builds a relationship with both players for the future. (Keep these guys’ names in mind to see whether the Brewers return to them in a couple of drafts).
Big Pitchers Ranked
Round 17 (#511): RHP Michael Petersen, Riverside C.C. (California) (6’7″ / 195).
Round 33 (#991): RHP Connor Baits, UC Santa Barbara (6’5″ / 210).
Round 32 (#961): RHP Sean Chandler, Papillion Lavista H.S. (Nebraska) (6’5″ / 185). Iowa Western Commitment.
Round 27 (#811): RHP Jon Perrin, Oklahoma State (6’4″ / 215).
Round 39 (#1171): RHP Nolan Kingham, Desert Oasis H.S. (Nevada) (6’4″ / 200). Texas commitment.
Round 38 (#1141): RHP Scott Grist, Texas State
Round 16 (#481): RHP Conor Harber, Oregon (6’2″ / 205).
Round 18 (#541): RHP Gentry Fortuno, Charles Flanagan H.S. (Florida) (6’1″ / 235).
Round 20 (#601): RHP David Lucroy, East Carolina (6’1″ / 210. Yes, that “Lucroy”).
Round 36 (#1081): RHP Jordan Desguin, Florida Golf Coast (6’1″ / 195).
Round 22 (#661): RHP Willie Schwanke, Wichita State (6’1″ / 190).
Round 31 (#931): RHP Colton Cross, Shorter (Georgia) (6’0″ / 200).
Round 24 (#721): LHP Christian Trent, Ole Miss (6’0″ / 190).
Round 21 (#631): RHP Jon Olczak, North Carolina State (6’0″ / 180).
Round 35 (#1051): LHP Quintin Torres-Costa, Hawaii (5’11” / 190).
Late Position Players
Round 19 (#571): 1B Steven Karkenny, The Master’s College (California).
Round 28 (#841): C Mitch Ghelfi, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Round 30 (#901): SS Charlie Donovan, Westmont H.S. (Illinois). Michigan Commitment.
Round 23 (#691): SS Donovan Walton, Oklahoma State. “Plays hard and is fundamentally sound.”
Round 37 (#1111): CF Brandon Gonzalez, Cypress College (California).
Round 40 (#1201): C Charles Galiano, Fordham.