Stakes are high for Crew in first round
Brewers have seventh overall pick in the Draft
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers will have an important decision to make in whose name they call out in the first round of the upcoming First-Year Player Draft.
The Brewers own the seventh overall pick in the draft, but they lost their second-round choice to the Cardinals as compensation for signing pitcher Jeff Suppan as a free agent last winter.
Milwaukee also will miss out on the supplemental round that comes after the first round for teams that lost free agents in the offseason. The Brewers will have to wait until the 102nd overall pick, in the third round, to grab their second player, with the supplemental round containing a record 35 picks this year.
The 2007 First-Year Player Draft takes place June 7-8 at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. The first round will be aired on ESPN2 beginning at 2 p.m. ET, and MLB.com will have every pick of the 50-round Draft, start to finish.
Brewers director of amateur scouting Jack Zduriencik traditionally has followed the philosophy of taking the best player available on the board, regardless of the organization's positional needs.
Baseball America ranks David Price, a left-hander from Vanderbilt, as the top prospect. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays most likely will snap up the hard thrower with the first overall pick.
Other college standouts include Georgia Tech catcher Matt Wieters and hurlers Andrew Brackman (North Carolina State), Ross Detwiler (Missouri State) and Daniel Moskos (Clemson).
But the Brewers' draft history suggests they probably will bypass college players. Since Zduriencik took his post before the 2000 draft, Milwaukee has used its first-round pick on a high school prospect five of seven times. Zduriencik deviated from that strategy in 2003, when he nabbed Rickie Weeks from Southern University with the second overall pick, and in 2005, when he took Ryan Braun from the University of Miami.
This year, third basemen Josh Vitters and Mike Moustakas rank among the top high school position players. Highly touted pitchers include right-handers Rick Porcello from Seton Hall (N.J.) Prep, Matt Harvey from Fitch (Conn.) High School and Jarrod Parker from Norwell (Ind.) High School.
Zduriencik has enjoyed much more success picking position players than hurlers in the first round. Ryan Braun (2005), Weeks (2003) and Prince Fielder (2002) all shot through the Brewers farm system and now make up three-quarters of the team's promising young infield.
Only outfielder Dave Krynzel (2000) didn't pan out as well. Krynzel saw limited action in the Majors with Milwaukee and was sent to Arizona last offseason in the trade that brought catcher Johnny Estrada to the Brewers.
Of the high school pitchers Zduriencik has chosen in the opening round, none have reached Triple-A. Mike Jones, the 2001 top pick, is 2-2 with a 5.08 ERA at Double-A Huntsville.
But Zduriencik has unearthed several pitching gems beyond the first round. Yovani Gallardo, taken in the second round in 2004, and Will Inman, a third-rounder in 2005, have both dominated Minor League hitters in their brief careers.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
Teams draft in reverse order of their 2006 regular-season record, and a 75-87 finish last year left the Brewers with the seventh pick this year. Other than the second-round hiatus, they will go seventh each time from the third round all the way to the end of the draft.
The Brewers, like everyone else, have to contend with several changes in this year's draft. For the first time, organizations face a universal signing deadline of Aug. 15. Any team that fails to sign a draft choice by that date loses its right to the player and gets a compensation pick the following year.
As a result, teams will no longer be able to use the draft-and-follow process with high school prospects. Previously, teams could choose not to sign these players, allowing them to play a season at a junior college before deciding whether to sign them to a contract before the next year's draft.
Here is a look at how Milwaukee's last three first-round picks have fared:
Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, 16th overall pick: A power arm the Brewers picked out of high school, Jeffress wowed scouts with a 5-1 record and 0.19 ERA during his senior year at Halifax County Senior High School in South Boston, Va. But the hurler has yet to live up to his potential. Jeffress went 2-5 with a 5.88 ERA in 13 appearances with the rookie-level Arizona League Brewers in his first season, and Milwaukee sent him back there to begin the 2007 season. The 19-year-old recently made his debut for West Virginia Power, the Brewers' low Class A affiliate.
Ryan Braun, 3B, fifth overall pick: Selected out of the University of Miami, Braun raced through the Brewers farm system and made his Major League debut on May 25 against the San Diego Padres. Braun led the team with five home runs in Spring Training, to go along with a .353 average and 15 RBIs. The converted shortstop also made four errors at the hot corner, though, and the Brewers sent him down to Triple-A Nashville before this season to work on his defense. In the end, Braun's .342 average and 10 home runs through 34 games at Nashville made him impossible to ignore.
Mark Rogers, RHP, fifth overall pick: A power pitcher out of Mt. Ararat High School in Orr's Island, Maine, Rogers has been a work in progress. The 21-year-old's fastball occasionally reached 100 mph in high school, but the Brewers have always been concerned about his throwing motion, which they believe puts a lot of pressure on his arm. Rogers hasn't advanced above Class A Brevard County, and he's compiled a 3-14 record with a 4.99 ERA in three Minor League seasons. He underwent shoulder surgery at the beginning of the year and will miss the entire season.
Rising Fast: RHP Will Inman
Picked in the third round of the 2005 Draft, Inman so far has excelled at every Minor League level in which he's pitched. Baseball America rated him as the Brewers prospect with the best control in 2006, and he lived up to that reputation by going 10-2 with a 1.72 ERA with West Virginia Power. Inman is dominating high Class A ball as well this year and sports a 3-2 record with a 1.36 ERA in 10 starts.
Cinderella Story: RHP Yovani Gallardo
It seems just a matter of time before Gallardo, the Brewers' second-round pick in 2004, makes his big league debut. The organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2006, Gallardo has dominated Triple-A batters this year. The hard-throwing right-hander is 7-2 with a 2.39 ERA and has punched out 84 in 60 1/3 innings for the Nashville Sounds.
In the Show:
Braun, 3B, 2005 first-round pick
Kelvin Ang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.