If you followed Brewerfan.net leading into the 2002 draft, you were well aware that I was pulling for the organization to draft SS prospect Scott Moore with the 7th overall pick. Before the draft, the Brewers reportedly were seriously following not only Scott Moore, but their actual first pick, 1B Prince Fielder. Other players the Brewers were targeting included high school pitchers Chris Gruler, Adam Loewen & Zack Greinke, who went with the 3rd, 4th & 6th overall picks respectively, and college RHPs Bobby Brownlie & Jeremy Guthrie. Both Brownlie & Guthrie are Scott Boras clients, and have yet to sign with the clubs that drafted them (the Cubs & the Indians). Gruler signed on draft day, and Greinke signed shortly after Prince Fielder. Adam Loewen was not offered the money he was & is still hoping for (somewhere between $4 & $5 million), and has enrolled at Chipola Community College in Florida, as the Orioles will retain the right to sign him up until a week before the 2003 draft next June. If the Orioles don't budge from their $2 million offer, Loewen may elect to re-enter next year's draft, and likely would become one of the top prospects available, both as an outfielder & as a left-handed pitcher.
This past year's draft certainly was interesting, as clubs showed the resolve to not cave into the player's & their respective agent's bonus demands. The first overall pick, Ball State RHP Bryan Bullington, remains unsigned. Bullington is looking for more money than what Joe Mauer received last year as the first overall pick (just over $5 million), and the Pirates reportedly don't want to spend any more than $4 million, with a $3.6 offer currently on the table. Bullington has decided to forego his fall semester at Ball State so he can continue to negotiate with the Pirates. If no deal is reached by the beginning of the spring semester, he may decide to go back to college, play his senior season, and re-enter the 2003 draft. The Devil Rays recently signed second overall pick B.J. Upton for a $4.6 million dollar bonus, over $2 million than the next closest bonus (Gruler's $2.5 as the third overall pick).
Prince Fielder signed with the Brewers for $2.4 million. After drafting Fielder, the Brewers hoped to sign him for right around $2 million dollars, which would have gone along with his slot value as the #7 overall selection. However my favorite draft prospect, Scott Moore, signed quickly with the Tigers as the 8th overall selection for $2.3 million, which also messed up the entire slotting system for all of the players taken before him. Therefore, the Brewers had to pony up the dough to get Fielder signed, and likely took away a couple of hundred thousand dollars that could have been spent elsewhere. The $2.4 million Fielder received was only $100k less than what 3rd overall pick Chris Gruler received 4 slots ahead of him. The same situation happened with the Royals in their negotiations with Zack Greinke as the 6th overall pick, who also used Moore's $2.3 million as leverage.
One of the biggest names in the draft, Scott Kazmir, fell to the Mets with the 15th overall selection. Kazmir reportedly was looking for a big pay day, and threatened to use his commitment to the University of Texas as a negotiation tactic. However, everyone knew he wanted to get into pro ball as soon as possible, especially considering he changed his academic plans & intended on entering a Texas Community College so he wouldn't have to wait 3 years to re-enter the June amateur free agent draft. The Mets ended up signing him for $2.15 million. That figure is much less than what was expected to take to sign him, and while higher than the slot value as the 15th overall selection, the Mets no doubt ended up with one heck of a deal, and look incredibly smart by taking the extremely talented & electric left-handed pitcher.
2002 Draft picks & signees
So onto the Brewers picks. Who are the potential stars? Who are the potential starters? Who are likely to be bench players & middle relievers at best? That's what I'm going to try to figure out here.
These are the players I feel have the best chance to truly be special at the Major-League level. Obviously, a lot stands in between them as they are just beginning their professional careers, but the tools are there now to succeed later.
Manny Parra-LHP-26th round (2001)
Arizona Brewers '02: 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 1 appearance/1 start, 2 IP, 1 hit allowed, 4 strikeouts/0 walks Ogden Raptors '02: 3-1, 3.21, 11/10, 47.2 IP, 59 H, 51K/10BB Manny starts off the stars list after making quite the name for himself this past spring. While technically a 2001 draft pick, Parra's $1.55 million signing bonus as a draft-and-follow candidate likely came from the '02 draft budget. He made waves by adding 10 mph to his fastball after an extensive conditioning program the previous offseason. He also throws a pretty good curveball, along with a good splitter & change. The Brewers wanted Parra to focus on his fastball after joining the professional ranks, which may be indicative by the amount of hits he gave up in relationship to innings pitched. His control is already impressive, as is his frame at 6'3" 200 and overall repetoire. Parra has everything to be a star starting pitcher down the road, and was recently named the 3rd best prospect in the Pioneer League by Baseball America. For 2003, he likely will open the season in Beloit.
Ogden: .390 batting average/.531 on-base percentage/.678 slugging percentage, 146 at-bats, 12 doubles, 10 home runs, 40 RBIs, 37 walks/27 strikeouts
Beloit: .241/.320/.384, 112 ABs, 7 2Bs, 3 HRs, 11 RBIs, 10 BBs/27 Ks Prince probably was the most exciting development to watch over the summer, at all levels of the Brewers system. He simply owned Pioneer League pitching, and didn't take long to make the transition from high school. He didn't fare as well making the jump to A ball, but reportedly was slowed by illness. There doesn't seem to be any doubt that Prince is going to hit, and should be quite the offensive force. However, all other aspects of his game are in serious need of attention, as his defense at 1B is adequate at best. His hitting by itself was enough for him to be rated right behind Parra as the 4th best prospect in the Pioneer League by Baseball America. Given the organizational logjam at 1B, both Fielder & 2001 4th round draftee Brad Nelson will be tried in LF during the Brewers fall instructional league. Fielder will likely start the '03 season back at Beloit, but could advance rapidly once again if he starts to hit like he did in Ogden.
Did not play-Signed 2003 contract
Wilhelmsen in my mind is the only other 2002 draftee that can legitimately be projected as a future star as a starting pitcher. At 6'6" 190 it's quite possible that Wilhelmsen could continue to add velocity to his fastball, which reportedly touched as high as 97 this past summer while pitching American Legion baseball. He slid to the 7th round in the 2002 draft with concerns about his mechanics & breaking stuff. Some of these questions seemed to be answered over the summer, which prompted to sway Wilhelmsen away from Central Arizona Community College at the last minute. Wilhelmsen is scheduled to attend the Brewers instructional league in Arizona, and likely will open 2003 at Medicine Hat (the Brewers new advanced-level rookie affiliate in the Pioneer League).
Starters-positional players & starting pitchers
These are the players from the 2002 draft that, while they may not be future perennial All-Stars, they have the potential to start everyday as positional players or join the rotation as promising starters.
Ogden: .255/.328/.338, 157 ABs, 7 2Bs, 2 HRs, 19 RBIs, 14 BB/48 K As a 2nd rounder, one would hope that Murray has the potential as a future starter. While his numbers show that Murray struggled at the plate over the summer, his impresive power display at Miller Park during the team's pre-draft workout in early June was 2nd only to the mighty Prince Fielder, so the power potential is there. Murray no doubt is a work in progress, and will have to prove his selection as a 2nd round pick was warranted. He likely will begin the '03 season in Beloit, and is plenty young to be brought along slowly.
Ogden: 0-3, 9.90 ERA, 12/6, 30 IP, 46 H, 32 K/17 BB
Eric Thomas does have the raw potential to join the "potential stars." Thomas is most benefitted by his 6'9" frame, in which all of his pitches bore down on hitters. His frame also allows him to have the potential to be a workhorse, logging a lot of innings with less stress to his body. He has touched 96 mph with his fastball in the past. Overall, Thomas is an unfinished product, much like fellow 3rd rounder from the 2001 draft, Jon Steitz. Good size/stuff combo that needs to polish his secondary pitches & his overall game. As a pick out of college, Thomas likely will begin '03 in Beloit, but could benefit from more time at the rookie level.
Ogden: .278/.321/.383, 209 ABs, 10 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 2 HRs, 30 RBIs, 11 BB/53 K Carter certainly was an interesting selection by the Milwaukee Brewers. A good 5-tool athlete that has the ability to play all 3 OF positions. I've heard comparisons to Jay Payton as far as potential in concerned. Had a decent pro debut with the Ogden Raptors, but needs to show more explosiveness either by getting on base more, showing more power and/or speed or some kind of combination of these attributes, especially as a 4th rounder. He likely will open the '03 season in Beloit.
Ogden: 4-0, 4.37 ERA, 15/12, 59.2 IP, 78 H, 65 K/11 BB
Khalid Ballouli is an impressive young pitcher. Good power pitcher that goes after hitters in any & all situations. Great control as displayed by his 11 walks in almost 60 innings pitched, but needs to cut down on the amount of hits he gives up. Definitely a name to watch as he advances through the system, and could become a very valuble #3-5 type of starter in the future. With the common theme for the 2002 draftees, look for Ballouli to open 2003 in Beloit, but could move up quickly depending on his performance.
Arizona: 1-0, 1.69 ERA, 4/1, 10.2 IP, 14 H, 14 K/5 BB
Edwin Walker was yet another semi-sleeper as a 9th round pick. Extremely athletic LHP with good stuff. Needs plenty of refinement, and was slowed after signing by injuries. Hard to tell what kind of pitcher he was given his limited action this past summer, but he did pitch well when healthy, and likely will repeat rookie level ball to begin 2003.
Ogden: .328/.407/.472, 250 ABs, 16 2Bs, 4 3Bs, 4 HRs, 38 RBIs, 29 BB/34 K, 22 stolen bases vs. 9 caught stealing Like scrappy players? Then you'll probably like Callix Crabbe. Had a great opening campaign for the Ogden Raptors this summer. Runs well, plays decent D', shows some patience at the plate & has a little bit of pop. Crabbe isn't going to be a star 2B, but could very well be a servicable starter at the position. If he doesn't start down the road, he could be a good bench player given his overall skill set.
John Vanden Berg-C-25
Ogden: .295/.353/.464, 224 AB s, 15 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 52 RBI, 17 BB/40 K John Vanden Berg has already drawn comparisons to Diamondbacks catcher & fellow Wisconsin native Damian Miller. He had an impressive season at the plate for the Ogden Raptors, and has hit throughout his baseball career, and if he continues to do so, the Brewers may actually have a legitimate catching prospect. As a Wisconsin native & UW-Milwaukee graduate, how could you not root for this guy?
Arizona: .292/.414/.434, 106 AB, 8 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 20 RBI, 22 BB/32 K
Ogden: .500/.538/1.000-2 doubles & a triple along with a walk in only 8 ABs Moss seemed destined to attend UCLA. The Brewers likely took him in the 29th round just in case they were unable to sign some of their higher draftees. Since the Brewers were unable to sign guys like Jarrad Page, Steve Kahn & Brian Hernandez, a bonus was offered to Moss to spurn UCLA for an immediate pro baseball career. Moss exhibited good patience at the plate playing most of the summer for the Arizona Brewers, as he was promoted to Ogden to help them with their playoff push to finish the season. Moss is an exceptional athlete with good overall skills. He currently is playing CF, and has the potential to hit enough to become a productive corner OF. The Brewers like pushing their promising positional prospects, so Moss may begin '03 in Beloit. Moss was recently named the Arizona League's 19th best prospect by Baseball America.
Bench players & relievers
These are the players from the 2002 draft that I feel are most likely at best future bench players & relievers out of the bullpen. Of course, a breakout season caused by a change in one's swing or a boost in velocity could quickly change these projections.
Stephen Hunt-OF-35 (2001)
Arizona: .290/.369/.478, 186 AB, 10 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 42 RBI, 23 BB/45 K
Ogden: .286/.286/.429 with 2 2B in only 14 ABs
Hunt had a good pro debut for the Arizona Brewers, and was by far their offensive leader in almost every category. A DFE signee the spring of 2002, Hunt has a nice combination of size, speed & power, and has the ability to play all 3 OF positions, but may be at his best in RF. Could be a potential starter down the road (same could be said for everyone on this list), but for now remains in the "bench" category. Hunt is a little old for the Arizona League with 2 years of junior college under his belt, so he will have to match his production from '02 at higher levels to prove his worth.
Arizona: .258/.363/.402, 97 AB, 7 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 15 BB/24 K
Ogden: .176/.237/.265, 34 AB, 3 2B, 5 RBI, 3 BB/6 K
Frost was taken as a catcher out of the University of Central Florida as a guy who did a lot things things well, but nothing overly spectacular. As long as he continues to catch & can hit a little bit, as a catcher, he does have the potential to start down the road.
Ogden: .243/.371/.281, blank AB, 3 2B, 3 3B, 44 BB/ 31 K, 22 SB/11 CS Bibbs walked an impressive 44 times in his first professional season & added 22 stolen bases. To become more than a trusty bench player that gets on base, he's going to have to develop his offensive game further.
Ogden: 2-6, 3.82 ERA, 16/9, 66 IP, 53 H, 58 K/21 BB
Hall kind of defied the team's drafting preferences as a sub-6 footer coming out of college. Hall could be an effective starter down the road, but likely will have questions raised with every level he gets to. His peripheral numbers were impressive this season while logging the 2nd most innings for the Ogden Raptors as a swing man ('01 draftee Calvin Carpenter led the squad with 71).
Ogden: 3-4, 7.49 ERA, 25/0, 33.2 IP, 56 H, 30 K/8 BB
Big RHP that likely projects as a closer or short reliever down the road. Showed a good K & BB to IP ratio, but needs to cut down on the amount of hits that he gives up.
Arizona: 0-1, 2.45 ERA, 4/0, 7.1 IP, 6 H, 8K/2 BB
Ogden: 3-0, 4.76 ERA, 6/0, 11.1 IP, 11 H, 10 K/2BB
Another big RHP that like Shepple, projects to be a closer or short relief prospect down the road. Didn't pitch very much this past season, so it's hard to take much from his stats, which look pretty good with good overall ratios as is.
Arizona: .277/.356/.371, 159 AB, 13 2B, 1 3B, 23 RBI, 15 BB/41 K Decent numbers for his first professional season for Willis, playing almost exclusively at 3B. Given the Brewers' lack of 3B prospects, Willis likely will be given every chance to succeed.
Keith Bohanon-utility IF-23
Ogden: .194/.307, .229, 170 ABs, 2 2B, 2 3B, 20 BB/ 39 K Bohanon struggled at the plate during his pro debut at Ogden, but did show good plate discipline. Bohanon proved his value through his versatility by playing 1 game at 1B, 9 at 2B, 20 at 3B & 28 at SS.
Arizona: .189/.268/.243, 37 AB, 4 BB/10 K
Not much to say about Bravo, who was a 2nd day draftee & didn't see much action in '02. Bravo likely will see more time in rookie ball to begin '03.
Ogden: 6-2, 1.82 ERA, 23/0, 54.1 IP, 42 H, 56 K, 24 BB
Seems unfair to list Breslow so low on this list. His numbers other than his walk totals look pretty good for his pro debut, and as a lefty, will be given every chance to move up the organizational ladder as fast as his talents take him. Might be a Shane Nance clone as a shorter lefty that just knows how to get guys out.
Arizona: .250/.326/.270, 204 AB, 2 2B, 1 3B, 18 BB/50 K, 4 SB/1 CS Bates was lucky to log 204 ABs fighting for OF time with Steve Moss, Steve Hunt, Manual Melo & Francisco Plasencia. Short, speedy OF that didn't really display his speed on the basepaths.
Ogtden: 2-1, 5.36 ERA, 15/9, 45.1 IP, 50 H, 38 K, 21 BB
Thomas pitched well for the Ogden Raptors, although this Eric Thomas isn't to be confused with the Brewers' 3rd rounder of the same name. Thomas has a good pitcher's frame, good overall athleticism & stuff for him to put it all together & be an effective pitcher down the road.
Ogden: 2-2, 3.93 ERA, 12/1, 18.1 IP, 18 H, 12 K/8 BB
Extremely short at 5'9", but throws pretty well. Might be more comparable to Shane Nance than Breslow, who also throws a wide assortment of pitches to get batters out.
Ogden: 4-3, 4.96 ERA, 13/1, 32.2 IP, 28 H, 24 K/9 BB
Baker had a good '02 pro debut while posting good peripheral numbers in relation to his innings pitched. Baker isn't a flamethrower, so he'll have to consistently prove to be able to get batters out without the heat.
Ogden: 1-3, 8.07 ERA, 16/5, 32.1 IP, 35 H, 23 K/12 BB
Good sized lefty, but probably more of a finesse guy than his shorter, lefty teammates Breslow & Gabriel. Could gain more velocity as he matures, but as an older pick out of college, that doesn't seem too likely.
DFE candidates for 2003
These are the players from the 2002 draft that didn't sign yet remain property of the Brewers as they are able to sign up until a week before the 2003 June Amateur Free Agent Draft as draft & follow candidates. For more info on the draft & follow process, please visit my past article on last year's candidates: http://www.brewerfan.net/fullArticle.jsp?articleId=59
Barnes is scheduled to return to Manatee CC in Florida. Good size & overall athleticism that also could double as a promising power hitting 3B prospect. His promising stuff on the mound makes him more appealing to the Brewers as a pitcher.
Eveland has a very impressive repetoire, throwing several different pitches a variety of ways. His fastball tops out at 92, and you can never have too many lefties. Eveland is already attending College of the Canyons in California.
Mannon is a power hitting corner OF prospect. Originally committed to Arizona State, Mannon decided to attend a local JC so he can either sign next spring with the Brewers, or re-enter the draft sooner rather than later.
Beresford is a big RHP that was injured for most of the '02 season at Tyler Junior College. Unlike the previous 3 DFE candidates, the Brewers likely had no intention of signing Beresford this past summer, and will monitor his progress next spring.
The Brewers drafted Dillard in the 15th round of the 2001 draft out of high school, so you know they've liked him for quite some time. Dillard entered school at Itawamba CC in Mississippi, and was injured for the 2002 season, so the Brewers weren't able to see if he was worthy of a pro deal, so they drafted him again & will follow him through next spring. Dillard is a big guy at 6'4" & over 200 pounds that also doubles as his team's closer with good athleticism, a strong frame & arm.
Cividanes is a speedy OF that is a threat on the basepaths. Everything else has yet to be determined, which is why the Brewers will follow him into next spring. No word on where he is attending school, but it likely is at a CC or JC, probably in Florida as a draftee out of Puerto Rico.
Not much word on Daniel Carter, who will return to Tallahassee CC in Florida.
Not much word on Bryant either, and no word as to where he will be attending college.
Shorter RHP that could stand to add some velocity to his overall stuff. Expected to return to Pasco Hernandez CC in Florida.
Not much word on Herrera, who likely will return to Arizona Western JC.
Pence is a large framed outfielder with exciting 5-tool potential. The Brewers likely are looking for Pence to refine his overall game at Texarkana JC in Texas.
Power hitting OF that like Pence, likely needs some refinement. Should return to St. Petersburg CC in Florida.
Promising LHP with good overall stuff & command. Already showed good progress over the summer, and the Brewers likely are very hopeful he continues to add velocity & strength into next spring. Originally scheduled to attend the University of Connecticutt at Avery Point, but that may have changed.
The ones that got away
These are the promising players that were draft in 2002, but were not signed & will not be eligible for the 2002-03 DFE process. Some of these players may have been signed if not for the large bonus needed to sign Manny Parra as a DFE candidate this past spring. All of these players listed below were taken later than expected in the draft, which made them all that much harder to sign.
Page is an extemely athletic & talented prospect that could either play the middle IF or be developed as a Torii Hunter type CF. Page decided a promising dual-sport career (football) at UCLA was more appealing than the Brewers generous $700,000 offer.
Kahn is a sound RHP prospect with good stuff that decided to attend Loyola Marymount.
Athletic catcher with good overall skills that is currently attending Duke University. Given the team's need for promising catching prospects, Hernandez might be the toughest prospect to let go unsigned.
Reynolds probably is a future solid utility player that does a lot of things well, but nothing spectacular. He decided to return to the University of Washington, and will be eligible for next year's draft.
White had a good showing as a participant of the Cape Cod League this past summer. The Brewers didn't offer him enough as a Scott Boras client, and will return to Baylor for his senior season. Like Reynolds, White will be eligible for the '03 draft.
The Brewers drafting efforts in 2002 would have looked a lot better if they would have been able to sign some of their higher picks within the first 20 rounds. Getting Steve Moss from the 29th round was nice, but doesn't make up for 8 unsigned picks within the Brewers' top 20 selections, with only 3 of those being eligible to sign before next year's draft as DFE candidates. Fielder & Parra likely will be among the Brewers top 5-10 prospects, and should continue to add promising players to a rebuilding farm system. Eric Thomas (the 3rd rounder), Khalid Ballouli & Tom Wilhlemsen all have potential to be productive starters down the road, while Josh Murray adds yet another promising middle IF to the Brewers system behind the likes of Bill Hall, JJ Hardy & Ozzie Chavez.