With the 12th and 15th picks in the first round of the Major League amateur draft later today, the Milwaukee Brewers have a prime opportunity to replenish the top tier talent their minor league system lost due to their offseason acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. Even before they traded their top prospects for those pitchers, the Brewers’ system was regarded as mediocre at best, virtually moribund at worst.
Enough words have been written about the decrepit state of the Brewers’ farm system to fill the Ryan Braun Suite at Miller Park, so I’ll stop and say: read the new Power 50 at Brewerfan for an entertaining look at it. We move on.
Back to the draft. Since the start of the Doug Melvin regime in 2002, the Brewers have been about as secretive as any team in baseball regarding their draft intentions. While granted that the baseball draft is far more immense in scope than the football or basketball drafts, prospect experts like those at Baseball America and Perfect Game have generally had a difficult time predicting not only who the Brewers will take, but who the Brewers are even thinking about taking. Baseball America successfully called the Brewers’ 1st round draft pick four times in the past ten years, and that’s pretty successful.
In other words, a prediction of the Brewers’ first round selections, especially when they have two, may be an exercise in futility. But it’s a fun exercise, so here we go.
I am going to predict this way: assign the odds of being picked to players I think the Brewers may go for at the 12th or 15th pick. Sure, it hedges my bets, but it paints a better picture of where the Brewers may be going.
Here is my handicapping for the 12th pick. My odds for the 15th pick will be out later this afternoon. Hotlinks in the players’ names direct you to their scouting information from Perfect Game.
12th overall pick
40% chance of selection – Javier Baez, SS, HS (Florida): I’ve already detailed the Brewers interest in Baez and their interest has not waned. So why only 40%? First, there is a chance, albeit slimming, that Baez could be taken by a team before the 12th pick. The most likely team to nab Baez before Milwaukee are the Arizona Diamondbacks. They are known to have strong interest in fellow high school SS Francisco Lindor. Baez might be more signable, so the Diamondbacks could opt to pick Baez as the safer route. The Indians and Cubs are both somewhat up in the air with their draft preferences, and either could feasibly have interest in Baez. Second of all, there are some players that could fall to this pick that the Brewers would prefer to Baez. The Brewers would almost assuredly take Lindor over Baez. It is plausible that the Brewers would take Vanderbilt RHP Sonny Gray over Baez if Lindor were gone and they were confident Baez would be available with the 15th selection. And if any of the six players who are widely considered to be likely taken with one of the top six picks of the draft – Gerritt Cole, Anthony Rendon, Danny Hultzen, Dylan Bundy, Trevor Bauer & Bubba Starling – were to fall to the Brewers’ position for some reason, they may be tempted to take them.
25% chance – Francisco Lindor, SS, HS (Florida): First things first: If Francisco Lindor is available when the Brewers make this pick, there are very, very few circumstances under which the Brewers would NOT take him. So why only 25%? Lindor is looking like the wild card of the first round. Depending on the mock draft you look at, he may go anywhere from the 2nd overall pick (to the Mariners… unlikely, but a non-zero chance) to well past the Brewers’ 15th pick. The most likely destinations before Milwaukee for Lindor appear to be Arizona, Cleveland or the Chicago Cubs at the 7th through 9th picks. I mentioned before that Arizona is definitely interested in Lindor, but they are not set on him because of potential signability issues. The Diamondbacks’ 7th pick is unprotected (due to not signing Barret Loux with the same pick last year), meaning that if they don’t sign the player they draft with it, they’ll lose the pick forever. So, they may want to be more conservative financially than a Lindor pick would allow them to be. As I also mentioned before, the Indians and Cubs are wild cards – either may be interested in Lindor. Neither of the two teams immediately preceding the Brewers, the Padres and Astros, are known to be coveting Lindor. And again, I don’t foresee many circumstances where the Brewers would pass on Lindor at the 12th pick if he’s available, short of something popping up at the last minute on his background check, or his right arm falling off.
10% chance – Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt: The Brewers have been tracking Gray heavily throughout the spring. I feel confident in predicting that if Baez and Lindor are off the board and Gray is still there at the 12th pick (with the same caveats regarding top-of-the-draft talent falling), that Sonny Gray will be the Brewers’ selection. However, the odds of both Baez and Lindor being off the board at the Brewers’ pick are less than the odds of both Baez and Lindor being on the board at the Brewers’ pick. In fact, if any of the Baez/Gray/Lindor trio are unavailable, it’s likely to be Gray. He could fit at any of the picks between Arizona’s 7th and Houston’s 11th. On the chance that Gray and Baez are both still available, the Brewers may opt for Gray and hope that Baez falls to their 15th pick. However, Baez may be a logical choice for the Marlins at the 14th pick.
6% chance - Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, HS (South Carolina): On the slim chance Baez, Gray and Lindor are all gone, the Brewers would have to turn to plan D, which might be Guerrieri. He possesses a big arm, good curveball, and makeup issues. Depending on the scout you talk to, you may hear that Guerrieri’s issues are nothing to worry about, or that you wouldn’t even consider taking him. It is up in the air who is right about that, but on arm alone, he is special enough to take here.
5% chance – George Springer, CF, Connecticut: The Brewers and the ultra-athletic Springer have been loosely connected all spring. At the beginning of the college season, Springer was considered a possible top 5 talent, but his sheen has faded somewhat. The only two teams ahead of the Brewers to be connected with Springer are the Cubs and Padres. That said, if the Brewers took Springer, that means the Brewers’ preferred selections weren’t there. Read his scouting report to decide if you like him.
4% chance – Archie Bradley, RHP, HS (Oklahoma): Could be a better prospect than Guerrieri, but has much higher bonus demands. No known off the field baggage, though. Also no known interest from the Brewers.
3% chance – Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech: No relation to Archie. Unlikely to be available at the Brewers’ pick and no known interest from the Brewers.
2% chance – Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut: The teammate of slightly more likely pick George Springer, the Brewers have been very loosely connected to Barnes in the past, but the interest seems to have waned. He would be a relatively safe pick at 12. Unlikely to be there anyway.
Less than 1% chance – Any of the aforementioned top 6; Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas; Daniel Norris, LHP, HS (Tennessee); Cory Spangenberg, 3B, Indian River JC; Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky; Trevor Story, SS, HS (Texas); Blake Swihart, C, HS (New Mexico); Brandon Nimmo, CF, HS (Wyoming).