MLB 2015 Draft Preview | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

Monday night, the MLB will host the first two rounds of its amateur draft at 7pm. Tuesday and Wednesday will feature the remaining 38 rounds. Brewers fans have many reasons to be excited about the 2015 draft: not only is it the first draft under Ray Montgomery‘s direction (Astros #359, 1990), but it will also give Brewers fans a chance to see if the organization will follow its aggressive path of 2014 under the late Bruce Seid (Cubs #88, 1980). Last year, the Brewers changed course from some of their recent draft approaches by aggressively drafting high-risk, high-ceiling players. They adroitly maneuvered their allotted slot money by signing first-round pick Kodi Modeiros (#12) for $2,500,000, giving them the chance to sign Jake Gatewood and Monte Harrison with their CBA- and second-round picks (#41 and #50). A gang of extremely signable players also allowed the club to go big with their 12th round pick of Jordan Yamamoto (#356, $330,000 bonus). Granted, the Brewers may end up with a series of busts if these big upsides do not materialize, but there should be consensus among Brewers fans that the draft strategy showcased an important change in process (and a process that could yield the necessary results to add high impact talent on the farm).

The buzz of the 2015 draft is that there is no consensus first pick, which corresponds to the lack of notable, consensus top talent in the draft. This makes the draft a potentially thrilling event, as players could conceivably fall in many different ways. Furthermore, given the number of notable, injured pitchers, there are also some gambles that certain teams could make: pitching injuries could give teams the potential to steal “high ceiling” pitchers at a lower pick. The Brewers will absolutely be thrown into this affair at #15, and certain mock drafts have the Brewers selecting one of the injured arms. Milwaukee made a similar gamble with Victor Roache with the 28th pick of the 2012 draft, so one wonders if the club will also take a chance to improve the upside of their pitching depth on the farm by gambling with a known injury (this is where the club’s exceptional medical department could give the Brewers front office an advantage in assessing the risk among injured amateur prospects).

Brewers Picks and Amateur Prospects
Given the range of potential picks for the Brewers, I assembled a chart that includes BaseballAmerica‘s bonus slot figures, as well as their “ranked” prospects from their Top 500 that correspond with the Brewers’ selection. Obviously this is an extremely simplified way to assess the draft, but it’s one way to link potential names with draft picks for the Brewers. To show the range of players, I added FanGraphs’ ranking, as well as the rankings from MLB.com and a MinorLeagueBall mock draft. This is only the beginning, as many other sites have many other mocks (including MinorLeagueBall).

Round Pick Slot ($M) BA Ranking FanGraphs Ranking MLB Ranking MinorLeagueBall Mock
1 15 $2.6927 T. Stephenson (C HS) N. Kirby (LHP Coll) M. Nikorak (RHP HS) G. Whitley (OF HS)
A 40 $1.5454 S. Kingery (2B Coll) K. Cody (RHP HS) A. Jones (OF HS)
2 55 $1.108 N. Neidert (RHP HS) C. Sands (RHP HS) T. English (RHP HS)
3 90 $0.6463 M. Soroka (RHP HS) J. DeMers (RHP HS) J. Degano (LHP Coll)
4 121 $0.4656 B. Johnson (OF Coll) C. Wise (3B Coll) R. Burr (RHP Coll)
5 151 $0.3486 I. Gilliam (OF Coll) C. Smith (RHP Coll)
6 181 $0.261 J. Orozco (RHP HS) J. Harding (RHP Coll)
7 211 $0.1957 S. Jenco (OF Coll)
8 241 $0.1711 K. Martin (1B Coll)
9 271 $0.1597 T. Reed (OF HS)
10 301 $0.1497 JF Garon (OF Coll)
11 331 D. Liput (SS HS)
12 361 S. Kolek (RHP HS)
13 391 J. Guerrero (RHP Coll)
14 421 A. Perritt (RHP Coll)
15 451 M. Rivera (RHP HS)
16 481 C. Sanders (RHP HS)

Other Brewers Blog Coverage

Reviewing the Brew

Brew Crew Ball

The Brewers have the ninth largest pool in the draft, according to BaseballAmerica, at $7,743,800. Their “CBA Competitive Balance” sandwich pick (at #40) comprises 20% of the Brewers’ draft pool value, which should undoubtedly help the club sign potentially lucrative bonuses after the 10th round. Once the club exceeds 5% of their allotted bonus money, they begin paying penalties that include taxes and forfeited draft picks. For this reason, the Brewers basically have $387,190 in additional money to play with (which would also cost more than $290,000 in penalty tax). This correlates with information Brewers writer Tom Haudricourt shared earlier this year:

 

One way to stretch the bonus pool is not only to draft “under slot” with the 15th pick, but also to draft college seniors in the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth rounds. Since these players have less leverage (since they are unlikely to threaten to return to school to play again), they generally command low salary bonuses. Given that the Brewers aggressively stretched their budget in 2014, fans might hope for their club to produce an aggressive draft once again.

Brewers History Year Player (Pos School) Year Player (Pos School) Year Player (Pos School)
#15 2011 J. Bradley (LHP Coll) 1991 T. Hill (LHP HS)
#55 1985 S. Ashley (SS HS) 1977 S. Davis (1B HS)
#90 2013 B. Astin (RHP Coll)
#151 1994 R. Lopez (2B Coll) 1993 S. Duda (RHP Coll) 1971 D. Boitano (RHP HS)
#211 1988 M. Ignasiak (RHP Coll) 1985 A. Hill (OF Coll) 1977 C. Carstensen (OF Coll)
#331 1990 M. Boze (RHP Coll) 1987 T. O’Leary (OF HS)
#361 1979 S. Smith (RHP HS)
#391 1989 K. Harris (OF Coll) 1982 G. Burlingame (LHP HS)
#451 1986 J. Falzone (C Coll)

By my count, the Brewers have previously selected 17 players at nine of their 2015 pick numbers. Those picks include four MLB players,  with Troy O’Leary undoubtedly producing the most successful MLB career (the majority of which occurred with the Boston Red Sox). Dan Boitano is also an interesting throwback, as MLB teams drafted him five times between a few January and June drafts (before the January draft was discontinued).

Year Player MLB WAR Note
1987 Troy O’Leary 7.2 Red Sox selected O’Leary off waivers before 1995 season
1988 Mike Ignasiak 0.9 Went 4-2 over 87.7 IP with 114 ERA+ in 1993-1994
1971 Dan Boitano -0.7 Drafted 5 times / Brewers traded Gary Beare for Boitano in 1979
1990 Marshall Boze -0.8 Pitched 321 IP with 2.75 ERA in ’92-’93 minors before 1996 call-up

Alongside these four players, the Brewers drafted other franchise notables (and other notable MLB players):

  • The 1971 draft also featured Tommy Biano (#3), Larry Anderson (#27), Charlie Moore (#101), Tom Hausman (#226), and Kevin Kobel (#250).
  • The 1987 draft also featured Bill Spiers (#13), Jamie Navarro (#71), Steve Sparks (#123), Charlie Montoyo (#123), Frank Bolick (#227), Brian Turang (#513), Mark Kiefer (#539), Jeromy Burnitz (#617), and Chris Haney (#643).
  • The 1988 draft also featured Alex Fernandez (#24), Pat Listach (#133), Chris George (#185), and Bert Heffernan (#237).
  • The 1990 draft also featured Duane Singleton (#142) and Tom McGraw (#169).

If you’re curious, Alex Fernandez did not sign with the Brewers, and later signed with the White Sox after they drafted him within the Top Five picks in 1990. There are also some notable minor leaguers among these 2015 draft pick positions in Brewers history. For example, Greg Burlingame pitched two seasons in the Mariners organization after a handful of clubs drafted him several times between 1982 and 1987; the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame inducted the pitcher in 2001. Jed Bradley struggled mightily after serving as a potential “fast climbing” college arm, but he is revitalizing his MLB potential by switching to a relief role. Incidentally, the #15 pick belongs to southpaws, as Tyrone Hill pitched a couple of successful low minors seasons before missing the vast majority of 1994-1995 seasons (this history leads one to wonder whether Nathan Kirby is destined to become a Brewers arm). Barrett Astin, the most recent draft pick to be selected at one of the 2015 positions, was included in the Jonathan Broxton trade.

Resources
BaseballAmerica. Draft Preview. The Enthusiast Network, 2015.
Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC., 2000-2015.
FanGraphs.
MLB Advanced Media, LP., 2015.
Other sources cited as linked.

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