3 Questions Raised By The Brewers First 3 Picks | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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On Monday night, the Brewers drafted 3 players in the first and supplemental round, first taking high school catcher Clint Coulter, followed by college outfielders Victor Roache and Mitch Haniger. You can read more about them from JP Breen, and see thoughts and video collected by Jack Moore here and here. Those posts contain many interesting details, but there were a few big issues raised by the trio of players drafted by the Brewers and that’s what we’re going to look at here.

  • Did the Brewers draft for need?

It’s no secret that the Brewers minor league system is pretty pitching heavy at the moment. The top prospects are all pitchers, from Wily Peralta to Tyler Thornburg, Jimmy Nelson, Taylor Jungmann, and Jed Bradley. The top hitting prospects, like Scooter Gennett and Logan Schafer, mostly play up the middle and offer some positional value, but little impact power. Given the crying organizational need for power, then, it seems only fair to ask if the Brewers went out of their way to find power bats since it is the most notable tool of all three players.

It’s almost become cliche at this point to say that teams shouldn’t draft for need in the MLB draft, because it simply doesn’t do any good to take inferior talent because it fits when you’re talking about it making an impact in the big leagues 3-5 years down the road. If a team passes on a hall of fame third basemen because they have a capable man there at the moment, what good does that do long-term in a game where one wins with superstars? Did it just so happen that the best players left on the board were power hitters or did the team perhaps overlook some pitchers and/or up-the-middle players in favor of beefing up the power? For those not in the draft room, it’s impossible to say for sure, but it will be interesting to follow the careers of some of the players taken right after the Brewers picked for the sake of comparison.

  • Will they hit well enough for the power to play?
One of the trickier aspects of drafting players with big power, especially after the very best players are off the board, is finding guys who make enough contact for it to translate into games. One often hears stories of players with “5 o’clock power” who can crush a batting practice fastball like nobody’s business but who simply can’t turn that into game power. Obviously, a team wants to avoid those players in favor of players whose tools can actually be used in games, but is there reason for concern with the Brewers’ draft so far?
Sometimes in search of a simple narrative, it’s easy to lump players in together when it’s not really appropriate. It’s not really fair to say all three players have struggled to hit for contact. Coulter has drawn some praise for his ability to hit to all fields and make contact, for instance.  It is true, though, that none of the three are considered plus hitters and both Roache and Haniger have below average hit tools according to Lincoln Hamilton from Project Prospect. Also, ESPN.com’s Keith Law noted that Roache has struggled against off-speed pitches due to a pronounced back side collapse. All this is going to make it even more important than usual to keep an eye on strikeout and batting average numbers as these players progress through the minors. Only time will tell, ultimately, if the Brewers got real sluggers or not.
  • What, if anything, will the team do if it has some extra money leftover?

As was noted by Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel, Coulter has been really open about his desire to sign quickly. When a player says something like that, it doesn’t exactly leave a lot of room for their adviser to work and he’ll probably sign for less than the allotted value of the 27th pick. While not much specific has been said about either Roache or Haniger in terms of their bonus demands, college players generally have less leverage to command big money, and leftover money seems quite possible, if not likely, in both instances.

If this is the case, there could be a couple of explanations for why it’s happening. First off, it may be that the Brewers simply don’t wish to spend up to the allotted amount after a relatively expensive off season found them committing record numbers to the major league roster. Second, it’s possible that the team took some players who they knew would sign for less than slot so that they could turn around and spend some of that cash on players who may have high demands and who fall as a result. Pay extra attention over the coming days to see if the Brewers start grabbing players with “solid commitments” to college, because it’s probably code for “expensive.” If that’s the way they go, it’s quite possible they could still add some real impact players deep into the draft because the pool of teams with the ability to pay these players is more shallow than in years past.

The MLB draft resumes today at 11 AM Central Time

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