It's that time of year, time to look at the Brewers' unsigned draftees from the 2002 draft & determine which ones are still eligible to be signed as draft & follow candidates a week before the 2003 draft this June. For information about the DFE (Draft, Follow & Evaluate) process, please visit my story from last year:
Also, for a review on the 2002 draft, please visit this story:
Of the Brewers' 18 unsigned draft picks (out of 42), let's first of all determine who is NOT eligible for this process:
1. 5th round pick Jarrad Page-SS/CF. Decided to pursue dual-sport career (football & baseball) at UCLA. 2. 8th round pick Steven Kahn-RHP. Spurned the Brewers for Loyola Marymount. 3. 11th round pick Brian Hernandez-C. Athletic catcher attended Duke University. 4. 13th round pick Tila Reynolds-SS. Solid middle IF prospect that decided to try & improve his draft standing during his senior year at the University of Washington. 5. 18th round pick Steven White-RHP. Returned to Baylor University in hopes of improving his draft standing for '03 draft. 6. 40th round pick Hunter Pence-OF. Bigger OF prospect with exciting athletic 5-tool potential transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington, a D1 program.
Now onto the remaining 12 players that are eligible as DFE candidates:
1. 15th round pick Justin Barnes-RHP/3B. Manatee Community College (Florida). 6'2" 205, R/R. 18th round selection by the Mets out of high school in 2001. Set single season home run record at Manatee CC (17) during his freshman year in 2002, breaking the old record of 15 by former major league slugger Glenn Davis (1981). Hit .347 and added 11 doubles & 7 triples, driving in 52 & scoring 63 times as a shortstop. Went 2-1 with a 5.47 ERA in 16 relief appearances. In 24.2 innings pitched, he struck out 23 batters, walking 6 & allowing 32 hits. Throws his fastball in the 87-91 range & mixes it up nicely with a natural, hard-breaking curveball. Manatee coach Tim Hill plans on moving Barnes to 3B this season while also using him as a starting pitcher, noting his competitive nature & outstanding makeup as one of his team's leaders. Listed as Baseball America's 43rd best sophomore, and the 5th best Junior College player. Pre-season JC All American at third base. As a 15th round pick, the Brewers likely had every intention of signing Barnes last summer, and will certainly be following him with great interest over the spring.
2. 16th round pick Dana Eveland-LHP. College of the Canyons (California-transferred from Hill JC in Texas). 6'1" 215, L/L. Eveland recently pitched an exhibition game against the University of Southern California & highly touted RHP Anthony Reyes, a pre-season All-American both this year & last year. Eveland pitched 4 strong scoreless innings against a tough USC lineup, allowing only 1 walk & no hits while striking out 3 while touching 90 mph with his fastball & showing a good curveball & overall movement. The Brewers are very interested in signing Dana this spring, and it likely will come down to a matter of giving him what he deserves. The Brewers drafted Eveland in the 16th round last year with every intention of signing him. Fortunately, they still hold his rights to do so this spring.
3. 17th round pick Adam Mannon-corner OF. Chandler-Gilbert Community College (Arizona). 6'3" 215 pounds, R/R. Originally signed a letter of intent to play with Arizona State University, but likely attended CGCC to see if he could earn himself a pro contract sooner rather than later via the DFE process. Athletic, potential 5-tool athlete. Only tool in question is his defense. Also pitched in high school, where he was also an All-State football player using his size & speed as a WR threat. CGCC head coach Doyle Wilson (brother of Brewers' crosschecker Ric Wilson) plans to plug Mannon into his cleanup spot, making the most of his hitting ability & pure power potential. He'll also be the team's everyday right-fielder, taking advantage of his strong right arm. Like Barnes & Eveland, as a pick in the top 20 rounds, the Brewers likely had every intention of signing Mannon last summer. If Barnes, Eveland & Mannon don't end up signing, it probably won't be because of a lack of effort on the part of the Brewers' scouting department.
4. 32nd round pick Simon Beresford-RHP. Texarkana College (Texas-transferred from Tyler JC in Texas which is now a D3 program). 6'5" 215, R/R. I'll let his new head coach, Jeff Mansinger, do the talking: "He will be our #2 starter and is a 90 mph guy with a great change and above average curve. He is a big strong kid with tremendous up-side. I think the Brewers want to see him dominate in our league and improve his command and mound presence. We have worked hard on these things and he is very capable of making the jump to a big time pro prospect."
5. 34th round pick Tim Dillard-C/RHP. Itawamba Community College (Mississippi). 6'4", 215, R/R. Repeat draftee by the Brewers, who also took Dillard out of high school in the 2001 draft. Big, athletic catcher that also doubles as the team's closer. Spent most of the '02 season rehabbing from shoulder surgery that was performed the previous fall on his non-throwing shoulder. His father, Steve played 8 years in the big leagues & his brother, Andy, is a pre-season All American & was rated the #5 prospect in all of NCAA Division II baseball as a third baseman. Has a lot to prove this spring since he missed most of the 2002 season.
6. 35th round pick Emanuel Cividanes-OF. Broward Community College (Florida). L/L.
From his head coach, Robert Deutschman: "He is a good athlete. Runs very well, arm is good, and has surprising power for his frame. His strength won't translate into homeruns at any level, however he is certainly strong enough to get a ball into a gap. His discipline at the plate and on the bases have to improve. He struggles to maintain concentration. This is something we are working on but we have a long way to go. Right know, Manny is playing all three outfield spots and is in a rotation with three other players. He will certainly get his share of opportunities."
7. 36h round pick Daniel Carter-RHP. Tallahassee Community College (Florida). 6'4" 195, R/R. Classic pitcher's build coming off of some serious arm troubles in the past. Missed his senior year in high school & his first year at Tallahassee CC after shoulder surgery. His coach Mike McLeod assured me that Carter is at 100% and is once again throwing in the low 90s working to get back in the 94-95 range he flashed in high school. Will work out of the bullpen working on his strength, repetitions, control & breaking pitch (a hard slider). Another raw arm that simply needs more experience.
8. 37th round pick Stephen Bryant-C. Olney Community College (Illinois). 6'0" 180, R/R. Like most to all DFE candidates, Bryant is another raw prospect whose physical skills are hard to deny yet needs to hone the mental approach of his game. Right now his bat is better than his defense, in which Olney CC coach Matt Newgent told me Bryant will be his team's DH the days he isn't behind the plate. Good power potential & incredible bat speed. He has good catch and throw skills and good hands, but his arm strength could improve as could his ability to call games. His approach at the plate also needs work, and he simply needs to devise a gameplan in every aspect of his game. Basically, he needs the reps & ABs to get better.
9. 38th round pick Dave Hancox-RHP. Pasco Hernando Community College (Florida). 5'11" 160, R/R. Dave Hancox was the closer for Pasco Hernando last year, and is expected to fill that role again if he doesn't win a job in the starting rotation. Here's what Head Coach Steve Winterling had to say about him: "He is a carefree type guy who really loves playing baseball. He is really one of the most relaxed players I've had and he calms the team in tight situations by always being calm and cool. You wouldn't know if the game was on the line or not. He's throwing between 85-88 most of the time and his curve ball is getting better and more consistent. His strength is his arm and his weakness is the need to hit his spots consistently. He makes too many mistakes right now with leaving the ball up."
10. 39th round pick John Herrera-RHP. Arizona Western Junior College. 6'6", 195, R/R. Great build for a pitcher, but throws in the 85-89 range, touching 91 according to Arizona Western JC coach John Stratton. Has added a slider & a changeup to his arsenal in the past 2 years. Was shut down to begin the season due to soreness in his elbow. Of all of the Brewers' DFE candidates, Herrera is one that needs to step up his game considerably to be offered a pro deal this spring.
11. 41st round pick Johnathan Shapland-OF. St. Petersburg College (Florida). I was unable to get in contact with St. Petersburg head baseball coach Dave Pano, but I have been informed that like Herrera, Shapland needs to make some major improvements if he is going to get a professional baseball contract. Of all of the Brewers DFE candidates, Shapland & Herrera are the least likely to be signed.
12. 42nd round pick Neil Avery-LHP. University of Connecticut at Avery Point. 6'0", 180, L/L. Went 10-0 during his senior year in high school, with a conference-best 0.85 ERA. Good K to BB ratio at 100 to 15. Also led his conference in batting average at .507 as an outfielder. While he will continue to play both ways at the collegiate level, UCAP head coach Roger Bidwell informed me that Avery's future as a pro definitely is on the mound, as his hitting actions simply don't translate well to the pro level. Bidwell plans to use Avery as a DH & pinch hitter this year, but he isn't expected to be one of his team's main run producers. As a pitcher his fastball at this point in time is in the mid-80s, and he also throws an "average" curveball & changeup. His command needs a lot of work as well, which isn't uncommon for a young pitcher. With so many improvements needed in so many areas, Avery will need a dramatic turnaround this spring to be offered a pro deal by the Brewers.
At this point in time, only 6 of the 2002 unsigned draftees cannot be signed at all. Of course, the Brewers aren't going to sign all of our DFE candidates, nor should they. A few of them would be nice, and would make the drafting efforts of 2002 look a little better after letting a few of the more marquee guys slip through their fingers.
All of these DFE eligible players have until a week before this June's draft to sign with the Milwaukee Brewers, unless their season takes them past the May 24th deadline. In that case, the Brewers would have 72 hours from the end of that player's season to get him signed before he's eligible to re-enter the draft which starts Tuesday, June 3. It's important to keep in mind that the Brewers really struck gold with Manny Parra last year as part of the draft & follow process, as players rarely make that kind of progression from one year to the next. However, it's for reasons like Parra's dramatic jump in velocity that make the DFE process so important for any & all organizations, especially for ones like the Brewers that need to be creative in it's pursuit to add as much talent into it's system as possible. It's one more way a team can use to improve it's ballclub: Allowing a player to get one more year of school while monitoring that player to see if he is worthy of a professional contract. In some cases, the team intends to sign the player all along, and the player uses the added year of school to prove his worth as financial leverage.
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