For the second straight year, the Milwaukee Brewers have the luxury of owning two first-round picks in this June’s MLB first-year player draft. The first (No. 27 overall) comes courtesy of the Detroit Tigers, who gave up their rights to their first-round pick when they signed type-A free-agent Prince Fielder last January. The second (No. 28 overall) comes by virtue of the Brewers tying for MLB’s third-best regular season record last season.
While significant improvements toward replenishing the farm system were made at last summer’s draft, general manager Doug Melvin, director of amateur scouting Bruce Seid and assistant GM Gord Ash realize fully that progress has yet to be made. Restoring a farm system that was widely ranked at or near the bottom of all organizational rankings prior to the start of the season is priority number one for the Brewers when the draft gets under way next Monday
With the draft just about here, it’s time to take one final look at a few prospects who should be available for Milwaukee to take with their late first-round picks. To view our first look, click here.
*All stats through May 28, 2012
Height/Weight: 6’5″, 220
College Commitment: Mississippi University
Signability Risk: Low
Overview: Continuing to be overlooked in a draft class that’s chock-full of high-ceiling right handed prepster, Ty Hensley is finally moving up boards as the draft draws nearer.
With the body of a power-pitcher at 6’5″, 220, the Oklahoma native relies on an impressive three-pitch combo to get batters out. The first is his fastball that sits anywhere from 92-95 MPH with spurts of 97 MPH. The second and most noticeable is his curveball, which has great 12-6 breaking action. He throws this pitch with above-average command and induces a lot of swings-and-misses. Finally, Hensley also has an average changeup that he hasn’t been forced to use a whole lot, though it does have projectability.
Will he be available?: Hensley is slated to be one of the first right-handed high schoolers off the board next Monday, most likely ending up in the No. 18-24 overall range. Right now, it’s a toss up as to whether he’s available for the Brewers to take.
Why the Brewers need him: Hensley has a very good feel for the game and has the stuff to be a back-end starter in the bigs. If that doesn’t work out, he could end up as a hard-throwing reliever out of the bullpen for Milwaukee.
Addison Russell, SS/3B, Pace (Fla.) High School
Height/Weight: 6’1″, 210
College Commitment: Auburn University
Signability Risk: High
Overview: One of the top shortstops featured in this year’s class, there are plenty of things to like about what Addison Russell brings to the table. None, however, are more appealing than his highly productive bat. The 18-year-old prepster has a very seasoned approach at the plate, integrating his quick hands to produce a lot of power — particularly to his pull side. It’s often difficult to find a high schooler with this type of power.
Predominantly a shortstop, Russell also has qualification to play third base. He has very smooth hands and feet in the field and boasts a strong arm to boot. However, questions were raised after he put on a few pounds prior to his senior season, leaving many scouts to believe he’s more suited as a future third-baseman.
There are a number of prep and collegiate shortstops featured in this year’s class that should be taken before Russell, leaving open a good possibility that he’s available for Milwaukee toward the end of the first round.
Why the Brewers need him: The Brewers need a shortstop for the future. Yadiel Rivera and Orlando Arcia have potential, but neither boast the tools that Russell owns. He’ll need some time in the minors, but Russell could turn out to be Milwaukee’s next longtime shortstop.
Height/Weight: 6’2″, 225
College: Georgia Southern University
2012 Stats: 17 AB, .412/.600/.765, 2 XBH, 1 SO/7 BB (6 GP)
Overview: A strong, athletic outfielder who’s bat is probably closer to Major League-ready than just about any other positional player in this class, Victor Roache should be at or near the top of Melvin’s draft board on day one next week. The Georgia Southern slugger has plus power, great plate discipline and versatility as a defender in the outfield.
As a sophomore for the Eagles, Roache belted 30 home runs to lead the nation and posted an absurd .452 ISO in 281 plate appearances. Though he’s missed a large chunk of this season, he’s still established himself as one of the top sluggers in this year’s class. Defensively, Roache has versatility. Though he doesn’t have barn-burning speed, he does have the range, instincts and arm to play any outfield position.
Will he be available?: Many of the most recent mock drafts I’ve read believe that Roache could be Milwaukee’s pick at No. 27 overall. All indications are that he won’t fall past the first round, so if anything, he’ll go shortly before the Brewers pick.
Why the Brewers need him: The Brewers have a surplus of outfield talent down on the farm, but none come even close to what Roache has to offer from a raw talent standpoint. He has the bat to profile in either corner outfield position, but since both are occupied by Ryan Braun and Corey Hart, he could (and should) be groomed to take the center field spot for Milwaukee.
Height/Weight: 6’3″, 180
College: Missouri State University
2012 Stats: 12 GS, 83.7 IP, 2.58 ERA, 2.31 FIP, 100 K/25 BB, .237 BAA
Overview: One of the better collegiate arms featured in this year’s class, Pierce Johnson deserves a long look from Melvin on day one of the draft. At 6’3″, 180 pounds, the Missouri State ace has the build of a middle to back-line starter at the big league level and the credible three-pitch combo to go with it.
Johnson throws a low 90s fastball that can jump up to 96 MPH when needed. He’s toyed with a cutter in the past but does have a ways to go before he can throw it with any confidence. The 20 year-old also boasts a hard-breaking curveball that misses bats frequently and a changeup that has some projectability.
Will he be available?: Though in the midst of a very productive season with the Bears, I’ve yet to see a mock draft where he’s taken before No. 30 overall. He should be available when Milwaukee is on the clock.
Why the Brewers need him: There’s no such thing as having too much young pitching, and given the Brewers’ situation on the farm, they should be keen to pick up another youngster in the first round this year. I like what Johnson has to offer and see him at the very worst as a productive reliever.
Height/Weight: 6’5″, 225
College: Jacksonville University
2012 Stats: 210 AB, .343/.426/.581, 26 XBH, 19 SB, 47 K/29 BB (56 G)
Overview: Big, physical and aggressive are all adjectives that thoroughly describe Adam Brett Walker’s approach at the plate. At 6’5″, 225, the Milwaukee native has crushed opposing pitching to the tune of a .216 ISO and .434 wOBA this season for Jacksonville University. He’s struggled with strikeouts in the past but has cleaned up his act this season, garnering a strikeout rate just north of 18 percent with a walk rate of 12.8 percent. If he keeps that up, he has a chance to be the total package as a hitter at the big league level.
Though athletic by nature — he’s a son of a former NFL running back — Walker’s athleticism doesn’t fully translate to the field. He has average range and arm strength in the outfield and has experience at first base, though doesn’t show a ton of defensive range at any position. First base should be where he eventually ends up.
Will he be available?: Walker is in the midst of a very nice all-around season and his draft stock should continue to rise as a consequence. However, I have yet to see a mock draft where he’s cracked the top 15, so there’s a pretty good chance he’s available toward the end of the first round.
Why the Brewers need him: Desperate for a cornerstone first-baseman, I believe Walker should be at the top of Doug Melvin’s board come draft day. He has some of the best raw power of any player in this draft. The fact that he is a Milwaukee native only further convinces me that he should be at or near the top of Melvin’s board come draft day.
Height/Weight: 6’4″, 195
College: Clemson University
2012 Stats: 212 AB, .344/.470/.590, 30 XBH, 7 SB, 47 K/51 BB (56 G)
Overview: In a draft class that isn’t terribly deep in power bats, Richie Shaffer has emerged as one of 2012′s best collegiate sluggers. Currently in the midst of a scintillating season at Clemson, the slender 21-year-old boasts an eye-opening .249 ISO and .459 wOBA in 254 plate appearances this season. He covers the plate well and drives the ball to all fields and has showed to have decent discipline at the plate. Scouts are excited to see how his power translates to the next level.
Schaffer has spend most of his time at the corner infield positions. He fields the ball effectively at third base though there are some questions about his range at the position, leading many to believe he projects to be more of a first-baseman.
Will he be available?: Based off what I’ve read, scouts seem unsettled about where he could end up on draft day. I’ve seen him projected as a mid first-round pick on a few occasions but have also read that he could slip to the compensation round or maybe even the second round. If I had to take my best guess, I’d say he’s still on the board when the Brewers are on the clock.
Why the Brewers need him: The Brewers have labored to replace Prince Fielder this season and will continue to do so unless something is done. I have absolutely no idea what Mat Gamel’s future holds in store and hardly any prospects ready to challenge for the position in the near future, I think Shaffer would be a tremendous pickup with a very high ceiling.
Height/Weight: 6’5″, 205
College Commitment: Louisiana State University
Signability Risk: Moderate
Overview: A physically gifted hitter with long arms and a strong frame, Gallo is probably the best power-hitter among all high school prepsters featured in this year’s class. Naturally aggressive at the plate, he is able to power the ball to all fields with consistency and moreover doesn’t draw a whole lot of walks. Gallo has solid, fluid mechanics at the plate, however, his swing does tend to get a bit long and he can over-swing on a regular basis. Still, the ball really jumps off his bat unlike any other player of this year’s class.
Gallo has spent most of his high school time at third base but also has experience at first base. But while he plays the hot corner well and has more than enough arm strength to stick at the position, it looks as though first-base should be his primary position in the bigs. He has good natural instincts at the position and his length makes him a perfect fit there.
Will he be available?: Gallo is a verbal commit to LSU, so it will probably take a early-to-middle round pick to make him forgo his collegiate career. That said, I’ve seen a number of mock drafts suggesting that he could still be available for Milwaukee to take at No. 27 or No. 28 overall.
Why the Brewers need him: With the Brewers desperate for a long-term solution at first-base, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Melvin persuade him into signing with Milwaukee.
Height/Weight: 6’3″, 220
College: Georgia Southern University
2012 Stats: 14 GS, 95 IP, 3.79 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 107 K/26BB, .286 BAA
Overview: Now in his third season with Georgia Southern, Chris Beck has garnered a reputation for being one of the biggest strikeout artists in college baseball. As a sophomore last season, Beck punched out over nine hitters per nine innings pitched. He’s improved that thus far in 2012, currently striking out over 10 batters every nine innings pitched.
Beck has the perfect frame to be a mid rotation guy at the next level and three solid pitches in a mid to low 90s fastball, 12-6 bending curveball and average changeup. He does tend to rely on his fastball in order to set up his other pitches, though, so he has his work cut out for him with respect to his secondary pitches at the next level.
The biggest level of concern for Beck at this juncture seems to be his command. While he does bear great strikeout abilities, he does tend to leave the ball over the plate. Consequently, he’s held batters to just a .286 BA with a disconcerting .375 BABIP this season.
Will he be available?: I have yet to find a mock draft where Beck is taken higher than No. 25 overall, so there’s a good shot he’s available for Milwaukee to take at the end of round one.
Why the Brewers need him: The Brewers took two collegiate starters at last summer’s draft, and there’s absolutely no reason to believe they won’t look to add at least one more this year. If that’s the case, Beck looks the part of an end of the rotation starter or maybe a very effective bullpen arm. Beck has a pretty high ceiling as an overall pitcher, and hopefully Melvin realizes that on draft day.
Height/Weight: 6’6″, 200
College Commitment: University of Miami
Signability Risk: Moderate
Overview: Tall, lanky and full of potential, Walker Weickel comes into the 2012 draft as one of the nation’s most touted high school right-handers. His size, mound presence and three-pitch repertoire should make him one of the first prepsters to be taken in this year’s draft.
Weickel features a mid to low 90s fastball that he throws with good command to both sides of the plate and a big, slow-bending curveball that has some projectability. He repeats his delivery pretty well and fools hitters regularly with his changeup as a consequence. Overall, his easy arm action right now portends that he could add some velocity down the road.
Will he be available?: Many mock drafts that I’ve read over the past few days lead me to believe he will definitely be available for Milwaukee toward the end of the first round.
Why the Brewers need him: As the draft inches closer by the day, the more I’m convinced Melvin will look to pair a high school pitcher with a college bat. The Brewers loaded up on college hurlers last summer, so this year seems like the perfect one to nab a prepster with a high ceiling. If they do, I believe Weickel should be their guy.
Height/Weight: 6’3″, 195
College: Stanford University
2012 Stats: 209 AB, .335/.425/.488, 19 XBH, 4 SB, 17 K/27 BB (51 G)
Overview: Currently a two-way player at Stanford both as a reliever and an everyday third baseman, many believe Stephen Piscotty’s future in the big leagues lies with his bat — its easy to see why. Now in his third season with the Cardinal, the prototype infielder boasts a solid .157 ISO and .407 wOBA in 207 at-bats. His smooth swing generates good bat speed and is able to drive the ball to all fields. One of the biggest qualities to his game is that his plate discipline is well beyond his years. He sees the ball very well and maintains great pitch-recognition.
Though primarily a third baseman, Piscotty has the ability and experience playing first base and in the outfield. He has the strong arm necessary to make all the throws from the hot corner and could probably even play right field if needed.
Will he be available?: Piscotty has been tearing up the competition this year, and is draft stock has only continued to rise. His quality bat is one of the best in this class, so barring some unforeseen circumstance, he’ll probably be off the board when the Brewers go on the clock.
Why the Brewers need him: Even with Aramis Ramirez holding down the fort for the next few seasons, Milwaukee needs a line-drive hitting third baseman of the future. Piscotty would be able to develop in enough time for Milwaukee to promote him at the end of Ramirez’s contract, so this could turn out to be the ideal situation for the Brewers.