Milwaukee Brewers: Draft Review

General Manager: Doug Melvin
Farm Director: Reid Nichols
Scouting Director: Bruce Seid

2006-2009 Draft Results:
First three rounds included
x- over-draft signees ($200,000 or more)

2009 1st Round: Eric Arnett, RHP, Indiana
1S. Kentrail Davis, OF, Tennessee
1S. Kyle Heckathorn, RHP, Kennesaw State
2. Max Walla, OF, New Mexico HS
2. Cameron Garfield, C, California HS
3. Josh Prince, SS, Tulane
4x – Brooks Hall, RHP, South Carolina
5x – D’Vontrey Richardson, OF, Florida State
16x – Scooter Gennett, SS, Florida HS
15x – Del Howell, LHP, Alabama

The Milwaukee Brewers spent a lot of money on the draft with five picks before the third round and by agreeing to four over-slot deals but a lot of the players chosen are quite raw. The most advanced of the bunch, Arnett, signed and was started off slowly as one of the few top-drafted college players that began their careers in rookie ball. He posted a 3.63 FIP (4.41 ERA) in 34.2 innings. His control was off, as he posted a walk rate of 5.45 BB/9, but he struck out a lot of teenagers: 9.09 K/9. Truth be told, the numbers tell us very little based on the competition he faced, but the walks are definitely worrisome.

Davis did not play after signing, but he’s considered a solid hitter with some questions about his ability to remain in center field. If he moves to left, he may not have enough pop in his bat to be a regular. Heckathorn has one of the better fastballs in the entire draft class, but he’s never had a lot of success. His secondary stuff is below-average, although he occasionally flashes a good slider. Few people expect him to remain a starter. In his debut, he posted a 4.86 FIP (6.04 ERA) but showed solid control at 1.61 BB/9. His command was not as good, though, and he allowed four homers in 22.1 innings (1.61 HR/9) in rookie ball.

Coming out of a New Mexico high school, Walla had a pretty solid reputation given his limited exposure. Unfortunately, he struggled in his first taste of pro ball and hit just .199/.283/.280 in 186 rookie-ball at-bats. At the root of the problem: A strikeout rate of 44.1%. The left-handed hitter has good, raw power for his size (5’11”).

A solid defensive amateur catcher, Garfield made 16 errors behind the plate in rookie ball and threw out just 16% of runners attempting to steal. He had modest results at the plate and hit .248/.299/.353 with an ISO of .106 in 218 at-bats. His strikeout rate was high at 28.0% and his walk rate was low at 4.4%. The game will hopefully slow down for him in his first full season with some more seasoning in extended spring training.

Prince was another college prospect started off in rookie ball, where he appeared in 36 games. That level is typically below what top college players face in NCAA, so we’ll just cut to the numbers he posted after a promotion to low-A ball. Prince hit .221/.307/.287 in 122 at-bats. He showed solid patience at the plate (10.9 BB%) for a player whose game is built around speed. Overall on the year (in 67 games), the middle infielder stole 38 bases in 50 attempts (12 for 17 in low-A).

Hall, Richardson, and Gennett did not appear in a pro game after signing, so they will make their debuts in 2010. Howell appeared in just five games, including three starts in rookie ball. The left-hander allowed seven hits in 8.2 innings during those starts and showed solid control with just two walks.

2008 1st Round: Brett Lawrie, 2B, British Columbia HS
1S. Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Illinois HS
1S. Evan Frederickson, LHP, San Francisco
2. Seth Lintz, RHP, Tennessee HS
2. Cutter Dykstra, OF, California HS
2. Cody Adams, RHP, Southern Illinois
3. Logan Schafer, OF, Cal Poly
19x – Blake Billings, RHP, Alabama HS

The organization spent a lot of money during the ’08 draft, thanks to six picks before the third round. Both Lawrie and Odorizzi will appear on the club’s Top 10 list after having solid ’09 seasons, considering their age and inexperience.

A pitcher with a good fastball, Frederickson’s biggest issue is finding the plate after posting a walk rate of 7.58 BB/9 in 97.1 low-A innings. He has potential as a late-game reliever if he can harness his stuff. Lintz is a former prep pick that has the same issue as Frederickson: a lack of control. In 40.1 rookie ball innings in ’09, the right-hander tossed up a walk rate of 8.48 BB/9. He also had issue with the gopher ball (1.12 HR/9).

Dykstra had a down year. He hit .212/.310/.303 in 99 low-A at-bats and was sent back down to rookie ball for more seasoning, but managed a line of just .244/.332/.349 in 209 at-bats. The right-handed hitter shows good patience at the plate (11.4 BB% in rookie ball) but he needs to trim the strikeouts (23.9%).

For a college guy, Adams struggled in low-A ball and posted a walk rate of 5.15 BB/9 in 57.2 innings. On the plus side, he kept the ball in the yard and managed a 50% ground-ball rate. Billings had trouble in his second year of rookie ball and posted a walk rate of 5.79 BB/9, but he also struck out a good number of batters when he could find the plate (8.10 K/9). His 7.14 ERA was not quite as bad as it looked, considering his FIP came in at 4.79.

Value-wise, Schafer was the club’s best pick. He hit .313/.369/.446 in 457 high-A at-bats and played solid defense. He even received a seven-game trial in double-A. Schafer does need to improve his base running a bit after getting nabbed eight times in 25 tries.

2007 1st Round: Matt LaPorta, 1B, Florida
2. None
3. Jonathan Lucroy, C, Louisiana-Lafayette
44x – Shawn Zarraga, C/3B, Florida HS

LaPorta was a solid, albeit surprising, first pick for the organization. He was flipped to Cleveland in the C.C. Sabathia deal, which did not work out all that well for the organization, considering LaPorta is just scratching the surface of his big-league potential and the club received just half a season of the veteran pitcher. Lucroy has a good shot at the Majors in 2010 and could develop into the club’s No. 1 catcher.

Zarraga received big money for the 44th round, but he struggled in ’09. He showed good patience with a walk rate above 11%, but his strikeout rate was too high and his power was non-existant (0.30 ISO) in 140 rookie and low-A at-bats.

Right-hander Cody Scarpetta had a good ’09 season and will appear on the club’s Top 10 list.

Fourth-round Eric Farris has posted solid pro numbers. The second baseman stole 70 bases in 76 tries in high-A ball in ’09. He also hit .298/.341/.385 in 473 at-bats. He needs to walk more (5.8 BB%) but he does a nice job of limiting the strikeouts (9.7%).

Outfielder Caleb Gindl (5th round) is another player to keep an eye on. He hit .277/.363/.459 in 394 high-A at-bats and showed good power (.183) for his size (5’9”). He also stole 18 bases in 22 tries.

2006 1st Round: Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Virginia HS
2. Brent Brewer, SS, Georgia HS
3. Cole Gillespie, OF, Oregon State
12x – Chad Robinson, RHP, Nevada HS
16x – R.J. Seidel, RHP, Wisconsin HS
19x – Lee Haydel, OF, Lousiana HS
31x – Rob Bryson, RHP, Delaware HS

First-rounder Jeffress has been a wasted talent due to alleged drug abuse. Despite a name that was made for the organization, Brewer has been an offensive disaster and he hit just .222/.288/.287 in 356 high-A at-bats in ’09. His strikeout rate of 30.6% is way too high for a player with an ISO rate of .065. Gillespie was flipped to Arizona in a trade this past season.

The club signed four key over-slot players, but none have truly broken out yet. Robinson has had injury problems and he’s pitched just 10 innings in the past two seasons. Seidel posted an ERA of more than 6.80 in two stops in ’09 and pitched just 57.0 innings. Bryson showed some real promise in ’08 but he was traded to Cleveland in the Sabathia deal and later had surgery on his shoulder.

Haydel is the club’s best hope for some return on its investment. The speed outfielder hit .275/.302/.340 in 491 at-bats in high-A. Unfortunately, he has yet to realize it’s a speedsters job to get on base and he walked just 3.3% of the time in ’09. He was successful in 39 of 49 steal attempts. Haydel is not likely to play everyday at the MLB level after struggling against southpaws with a line of .168/.242/.304.

Right-hander Evan Anundsen (4th round) has had good success in the low minors and he made the club’s Top 10 list.

Up Next: The Milwaukee Brewers Top 10 Prospects

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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12 years ago

“He (LaPorta) was flipped to Cleveland in the C.C. Sabathia deal, which did not work out all that well for the organization, considering LaPorta is just scratching the surface of his big-league potential and the club received just half a season of the veteran pitcher”

Did not work out that well? The club finished above .500 and made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. They also got two high draft picks when CC left. Plus where the heck does LaPorta play in Milwaukee? He isn’t going to out hit Fielder or Braun and the DH doesn’t exist in the NL. I think the deal worked out fine.

Luke I am your Father
12 years ago
Reply to  Johnisgone

In 2009, Milwaukee was 9th in the league in attendance with 3,037,451, the second year in a row the team drew 3M+.

Alex Poterack
12 years ago
Reply to  Johnisgone

Yeah, that’s what I was going to mention. I also wanted to point out: “First-rounder Jeffress has been a wasted talent due to alleged drug abuse.”

Alleged? He’s serving a 100-game suspension for a positive marijuana test, and he’s said himself that it’s a problem. I think that’s enough to drop the “alleged” tag…

12 years ago
Reply to  Johnisgone

They made the playoffs for the first time in over 2.5 decades actually. It’s hard to call that a failure when the Brewers were playing in front of sellout crowds all summer in 2008 and continued that success with attendance in 2009.

You can’t call that move a failure until you see how the prospects the Brewers gave up compare to the prospects they got back in the draft as compensation for CC leaving at the major league level.

And yes, it’s not alleged drug use either. He’s been caught three times and suspended twice, once for 50 games and now for 100 games. Nothing alleged about that.

12 years ago
Reply to  Johnisgone

Finally someone that agrees with me on LaPorta. They traded away a middle of the lineup guy for 6 years, for one playoff win. I would much rather have the long term success than the flash in the pan. Sellouts or not, doesnt really matter. When LaPorta is putting up 4+ WARs for Cleveland for the next 5 years, the Brewers will always have 08, just another 82 fond memory for the next quarter century.

No Homer
12 years ago
Reply to  smocon

I’ll ask this again: where exactly do you see Laporta playing?
He’s blocked by Prince at first and Braun in left. That leaves Corey Hart in right. Hart had just come off what seemed like a breakout year (4.5 WAR), and was boasting a .288/.330/.511 line at the end of June 2008.
Not to mention, we still had Gamel, who was essentially the same type of prospect, being that his future is 1B/LF/RF.

12 years ago
Reply to  smocon

There is no way the Sabathia deal was a bad trade. If that’s your argument, then no trade in history was a good trade unless the team won the World Series immediately afterwards. The Brewers gave up a prospect for one of the most dominant half-seasons from a pitcher in recent memory, catapulting them into the playoffs for the first time in a generation and probably generating millions in added revenue (not to mention the two draft picks they got).