Last fall we took a sneak peak at this June's draft, expecting all sorts of changes to affect the overall structure of the amateur free agent draft according to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The changes were supposed to range from the elimination of compensation picks for free agents lost, to a worldwide draft to the ability to trade draft picks. A special committee was to be appointed, represented by members of both the owners & player's union to make such decisions as to not hold up the final signing of the new CBA. These meetings never took place, so don't expect any changes in the draft format any time soon.
Feel free to refresh your memory by visiting that story:
Draft day is the one day of the year we Brewer fans can actually be excited about the future. Since our beloved Brewers had the worst record in the National League the year before, they have the dubious honor of selecting 2nd in the first round & all subsequent rounds. Keep in mind, in Major League Baseball, picks are not rewarded solely based on reverse order of standings from the previous year. Picks are alternated between leagues, with the American League being given all odd numbered picks in odd years starting with the first overall selection, & the National League being given all odd numbered picks in even years. That means the worst team from the American League last year gets to pick first this year, and that equally dubious honor goes to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The D-Rays were actually tied with the Tigers for the worst record not only in the AL, but in all of Major League Baseball. The tie-breaker is decided by which team had the worst record the previous season (in this case, in 2001). So, that means if the Brewers keep up their losing ways & continue to follow everyone else in the NL, they'll be picking first overall in 2004. As bad as the Detroit Tigers are this year, there is no way they can pick first next year unless there are some dramatic rule changes.
Here's the raw draft order for every round, and in parenthesis, the teams that have sacrificed their draft picks to be able to sign free agents:
1. Devil Rays
6. Cubs (2nd rounder lost to Braves-Mike Remlinger)
12. Mets (2nd rounder lost to Red Sox-Cliff Floyd; 3rd rounder lost to Braves-Tom Glavine)
13. Blue Jays
15. White Sox
17. Red Sox
18. Phillies (1st rounder lost to Indians-Jim Thome; 2nd rounder to Giants-David Bell)
19. Mariners (1st rounder lost to Diamondbacks-Greg Colbrunn)
22. Astros (1st rounder lost to Giants-Jeff Kent)
26. Giants (1st rounder lost to Athletics-Ray Durham)
30. Braves (1st rounder lost to Royals-Paul Byrd)
Here is the order for the supplemental picks after round 1. Supplemental picks are awarded to teams that lose Class A free agents, and for teams that were unable to sign their first-round draft picks the year before.
1. (31 overall) Indians (Thome)
2. (32) Red Sox (Floyd)
3. (33) Athletics (Durham)
4. (34) Giants (Kent)
5. (35) Braves (Glavine)
6. (36) Braves (Remlinger)
7. (37) Orioles* (if they don't sign 2002 first-round pick Adam Loewen)
8. (38) Mariners (John Mayberry-2002 first-round pick that attended Stanford)
*Depending on whether or not the Orioles sign Adam Loewen before the draft, the Brewers 2nd round pick will be the 39th or 40th pick overall, as they are in a great position to add another 1st-round caliber prospect.
Many are projecting the Brewers now under the leadership of Doug Melvin to target more college players early in the draft. We're already hearing that ideally the Brewers would like to draft a college arm with their first overall pick. However, keep in mind that Jack Zduriencik is still in charge of scouting, and likely will stress the importance of drafting the best player available at any & all times. Plus, Melvin's track record with the Rangers suggests that he doesn't solely focus on high school vs. college, with a nice mix of talented players from any & all levels. So, don't expect the Brewers to draft a college player just for the sake of doing so, nor should we expect them to draft a pitcher, C & RF with our first 3 picks just because those would seem to be the big-league Brewers biggest needs at this point in time. I can say quite confidently that the Brewers will not draft a 1B with their first round pick. I say that not because of Richie Sexson, Corey Hart, Brad Nelson & Prince Fielder, I say that because no true 1B is worthy of our #2 selection.
Before moving onto the players, one of the last things to contend with is signability. Owning the #2 overall pick in the draft means they're going to have to open their pocketbooks by conjuring up probably an extra $2 million than the $2.4 signing bonus it took to ink Prince Fielder last summer. Both Doug Melvin & Jack Zduriencik have addressed this, and have both stated that signability will not be an issue. Since the going rate for a 1st or even 2nd round pick is in the $4-5 million signing bonus range, I think even Scott Boras would find it hard to argue with that kind of money. Hopefully the Brewers have budgeted appropriately so that kind of bonus doesn't affect the rest of their draft. Of course, signability could cause lengthy hold-outs as we are seeing more & more each & every year with top draft picks. Even if the Brewers are willing to open up their pocketbooks, we may not see our first-rounder in uniform until the spring of 2004 if the holdout causes that player to sign an '04 contract.
Now onto the prospects. Last year in the early draft preview I identified 5 players from both the college & high school ranks that projected to be early first round picks. Here are those 10 players (college players listed first): Rickie Weeks, Kyle Sleeth, Brad Sullivan, Michael Aubrey, Tim Stauffer, Lastings Milledge, Delmon Young, Jeff Allison, Ryan Harvey & Chris Lubanski. All of these players are still considered top prospects for this year's draft, and most of them could be justified as the Brewers #2 overall selection. Adam Loewen was also identified as a wild-card for the draft, a position he remains in since the Orioles continue to control Loewen's destiny as a DFE candidate that didn't sign out of high school yet attended a junior college. There are probably only 2 players that have significantly increased their stock since that point in time that could be considered our 1st-round pick: High school LHP Andrew Miller & Ohio University RHP Marc Cornell, although Cornell might be falling as fast as he rose up the charts with some recent arm troubles.
Similar to last year, I am going to break down & get into greater yet brief detail about the individual prospects by position. Also similar to last year I will select the one player that is considered the best of the bunch & select one player that in my mind stands out (or that I just happen to like for some reason).
CATCHER: Last year I noted that you don't see too many drafts that are considered strong with catching talent. This is similar to what you see & hear each & every year in the NFL in regards to linebackers. Catchers are hard to find, at any & all levels, but this year there is some intriguing talent available, even if there isn't anyone on the level of someone like Joe Mauer. History has told us that high school catchers are among the riskiest of all first-round picks.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia-6'4" 195, B/R (bat/throw), Florida: Athletic switch-hitting catcher with good potential both at the plate & behind it.
Daric Barton-5'11" 195, L/R, California: Pure hitting catcher that needs to work on his defense.
Justin Brashear-6'3" 200, L/R, Louisiana: Big, pro-style body with a great swing with loft power.
Scott Leffler-6'2" 170, R/R, Florida: Great defensive-minded catcher with quick actions behind the plate & a strong arm.
Brian Opdyke-6'1" 195, L/R, Arizona: Good offensive potential with power & speed. Defense needs work.
C.J. Bressoud-6'1" 185, R/R, Georgia: Shows promise both offensively & defensively.
Trent Kline-5'9" 170, B/R, Pennsylvania: Another switch-hitting catcher with a cannon for an arm.
Landon Powell-6'3" 225, B/R, South Carolina: Good defensive catcher with good gap power from both sides of the plate.
Mitch Maier-6'2" 190, L/R, Toledo: Great pure hitting catcher with good speed yet questionable D'.
Javi Herrera-6'2" 195, R/R, Tennessee: Athletic catcher with good D' that also can swing the bat.
Tony Richie-6'1" 215, R/R, Florida State: Good hitting catcher that has questions about his defense.
Colt Morton-Big bodied backstop with big-time power potential. Guess what? His D' isn't quite as polished.
Cream of the crop: Saltalamacchia-his tool set & physical ability is just too good to pass up, regardless of how well high school catchers fare at the pro level.
My pick: It's gotta be Salty again here, but Mitch Maier is a sweet swinging college catcher that would seem to be a lock to hit at the pro level. His defense is in question, but wouldn't it be nice to have some offensive production from our catcher for a change?
FIRST BASE: Somewhat of a down year for first basemen. No true sluggers standout, especially compared to the likes of Prince Fielder, John Mayberry, Corey Shafer, Brian Dopirak, Nick Swisher & Larry Broadway last year. You wouldn't think the Brewers would take a 1B early in this June's draft, but crazier things have happened.
Andy D'Alessio-6'4" 190, L/R, Florida: Sweet lefty swing, one of the best pure bats available this June.
Brennan Boesch-6'4" 195, L/L, California: Another sweet lefty swing. Nicknamed "Bash."
Mark Hamilton-6'3" 220, L/L, Texas: Big frame, big-time power potential.
Michael Aubrey-6'0" 195, L/L, Tulane: Sweet swinging, smooth fielding 1B that has enough athleticism to play a corner OF spot.
Vince Sinisi-6'0" 195, L/L, Rice: Could be a Aubrey clone, and like Aubrey could end up in the OF at the pro level.
Michael Johnson-6'4" 220, L/R, Clemson: Bigger body with more pure power potential than Aubrey & Sinisi.
Cream of the crop: Michael Aubrey is an incredible hitter having a good year for Tulane. While the Brewers probably won't take a 1B with the #2 pick, Aubrey has the athleticism to handle one of the corner OF spots.
My Pick: Gotta go with "Bash" here. Could be a steal somewhere in the round 2-5 range with a quick, powerful bat & enough athleticism to handle a move to the outfield.
MIDDLE INFIELD: High school shortstops are typically where you get the most value at the prep level. Prep shortstops are often moved to other positions since so many of them play SS to begin with because they're the best athletes on their high school teams & not necessarily suited to play that position long-term. On the flip side, it's hard to find a college shortstop that's considered to stick at the position at the pro level. While there is no B.J. Upton to highlight this class as a true can't-miss SS, Rickie Weeks could make it special as a 2B.
Jonathan Fulton-6'4" 200, R/R, Virginia: Great defensive player with a strong body.
Sean Rodriguez-6'0" 170, R/R, Florida: Nice athletic frame with good but not great tools.
Robert Valido-6'1" 175, R/R, Florida: Prototypical SS frame & actions with promising bat.
Phlip Stringer-5'9" 170, R/R, Texas: Shorter, speedy sparkplug type of middle IF.
Adam Jones-6'3" 180, B/R, California: Might be getting more attention now as a RHP, but is athletic enough for SS with a good bat.
Matt Moses-6'1" 205, L/R, Virginia: One of the better pure hitters in the nation with good speed. Likely a 2B or 3B.
Brandon Wood-6'3" 185, R/R, Arizona: Smooth actions at SS with promising bat.
Rickie Weeks-6'0" 195, R/R, Southern: Has all of the tools and should be an exciting offensive player.
Aaron Hill-6'0" 200, R/R, LSU: Expected to play 2B or 3B at the pro level with good, steady defense & gap power.
Tim Moss-Texas: Sparkplug type of 2B in the mold of Eric Young. Good speed on the basepaths.
Matt Macri-Notre Dame: 1st-round caliber talent out of HS 2 years ago. Perfect frame & athleticism for SS.
Peter Stonard-6'1" 180, L/R, San Diego St.: Could end up in CF, but is a pure hitter that led the Cape in hitting last summer. Has had some off the field issues.
Cream of the crop: Rickie Weeks is the top positional player available in this year's draft.
My Pick: Matt Macri could be a steal after the first several rounds if you're willing to offer him enough money to spur him away from Notre Dame as a draft eligible sophomore. He's got all of the tools to succeed both offensively & defensively at the pro level.
THIRD BASE: There seems to be more traditional prototype third basemen available in this year's draft, even if none of them is a can't-miss pick. Ian Stewart is probably the closest to being so, but scouts are skeptical whether or not he'll stay at the hot corner.
Ian Stewart-6'3" 195, L/R, California: Good pure hitting skills & raw power. Defense in question.
Robert Lane-6'4" 215, R/R, Louisiana: Tremendous athlete with great raw power & a strong arm. Also one of the nation's best QB recruits.
Eric Duncan-6'2" 195, L/R, New Jersey: Another pure hitter with a sweet left swing.
Rayner Robles-Prototypical size with power arm/bat combo.
Wes Hodges-6'2" 185, R/R, Tennessee: Good defensive skills with improving hitting actions & starting to show more power.
Miguel Vega-Puerto Rico-See Robles, very similar player.
Christian Vitters-6'2" 185, L/R, California: Great defensive 3B with nice lefty stroke.
Zech Zinicola-6'1" 225, L/R, California: Bigger, physically mature frame with nice power potential & a strong arm.
Conor Jackson-6'3" 190, R/R, California: Pro body with good hitting actions, a selective eye & good power. May have to move to 1B or LF.
Jamie D'Antona-6'2" 205, R/R, Wake Forest: Strong body with a strong arm & big-time power potential.
Brian Snyder-6'0" 190, R/R, Stetson: Doesn't have the tools, but keeps getting the job done. Good hitter with gap power.
Cream of the crop: Ian Stewart has a pure left-handed stroke & great power potential at the next level. Even if he can't stay at 3B, should hit enough as a 1B.
My Pick: As much as I like Stewart, I'll take Vitters here. He's a pure hitter with great defense at the hot corner. Shared team MVP honors with former Cypress teammate Scott Moore, my favorite prospect for the Brewers' first-round pick last year.
OUTFIELD: One of the deepest areas of strength, as we could see as many as 4 high school outfielders taken within the first half of round 1. While the college ranks don't offer that legitimate, can't miss hitting stud such as a Pat Burrell or J.D. Drew, like the high school ranks, there is some nice depth to be had.
Delmon Young-6'3" 200, R/R, California: Great bat with plus power potential. Prototypical right fielder.
Ryan Harvey-6'5" 220, R/R, Florida: Outstanding power potential & athleticism. Bouncing back nicely from knee injury.
Lastings Milledge-6'0" 180, R/R, Florida: Pure 5-tool talent with athleticism & bat speed through the roof.
Chris Lubanski-6'3" 190, L/L, Pennsylvania: Fastest player in the draft with good lefty swing.
Ryan Sweeney-6'4" 200, L/L, Iowa: Could also be a high pick as a LHP. Good power potential & defensive package as a RF.
Colin Curtis-6'0" 180, L/L, Washington: Sweet hitting fleet-footed CF prospect.
Adam Hale-L/R, Texas: Nice athleticism with good power potential.
Tim Battle-6'1" 185, R/R, Georgia: Outstanding athlete. Toolsy CF type.
Matt Murton-R/R, 6'1" 215, Georgia Tech: Good hitter & power with good speed & a strong lower half.
Carlos Quentin-6'2" 215, R/R, Stanford: Sprays line drives all over the field, exhibits good patience at the plate.
Shane Costa-6'1" 200, L/L, Cal St. Fullerton: Similar, gritty type of player as Darin Erstad with a good bat.
Anthony Gwynn-6'0" 185, L/L, San Diego St.: Good defensive CF with good hitting skills.
Ben Harrison-6'4" 190, R/R, Florida: 5-tool college OF prospect. Nice frame with speed & power potential.
Javon Moran-5'11" 175, R/R, Auburn: Exciting, speedy CF with gap power.
David Murphy-6'4" 185, L/L, Baylor: Good sized outfielder with a nice package of speed & power.
Brad Snyder-6'3" 190, L/L, Ball State: See David Murphy.
Cream of the crop: Delmon Young, Ryan Harvey & Lastings Milledge could all make a case for the best available OF prospect. Milledge is a pure CF with intriguing tools, while Young & Harvey pack some serious punch.
My Pick: Matt Murton has been a favorite of mine for a few years now, and has done nothing but hit the past 2 summers playing on the Cape with a wood bat. Since Murton isn't likely to fall to our 2nd round pick, Adam Hale, David Murphy & Brad Snyder might be nice fits in right field for years to come.
LEFT-HANDED PITCHERS: Another deep crop of high school lefties, and the college pool isn't too bad either, especially if Loewen re-enters this year's draft. There should be some promising southpaws to be had well past the first round.
Andrew Miller-6'6" 190, L/L, Florida: Tall lanky lefty with explosive mid-90s fastball & best prep slider.
John Danks-6'2" 175, L/L, Texas: Smooth projectable lefty with low-90s heat.
James Houser-6'5" 180, L/L, Florida: Another tall, lanky projectable lefty. Can be dominant at times showing a hard-breaking curve.
Paul Fagan-6'5" 210, L/L, Florida: Nice, projectable frame with good fastball-slider 1-2 punch.
Ryan Feierabend-6'3" 190, L/L, Ohio: Can I use the word smooth again?
Scott Maine-6'3" 170, L/L, Florida: Dominating opponents this spring with a nice 1-2 fastball-slider combo.
Jake Stevens-6'3" 215, L/L, Florida: Stronger, more mature lefty with a power repertoire.
Chuck Tiffany-6'1" 205, L/L, California: Intense competitor with a nasty low-90s heater.
Matt Harrison-6'4" 185, L/L, North Carolina: Another lefty on the rise with a nice size + stuff combo.
Anthony Whittington-6'5" 215, R/L, West Virginia: Bigger lefty that really improved his control over the past year.
Adam Loewen-6'6" 220, L/L, Chipola JC: Outstanding size, stuff & command. Best player available if the Orioles don't sign him as a DFE.
Kyle Bakker-6'9" 260, L/L, Georgia Tech: Mammoth lefty without great stuff but pinpoint control.
Paul Maholm-6'2" 215, L/L, Mississippi St.: Steady, consistent lefty that gets results without overpowering stuff.
Daniel Moore-6'5" 235, R/L, North Carolina: The anti-Maholm-good stuff but needs to learn more command & consistency.
Nick Markakis-6'2" 185, L/L, Young Harris JC: DFE Lefty (Reds) on the rise with good fastball/curve combo.
Todd Nicholas-6'2" 215, R/L, Mississippi St.: Similar to teammate Paul Maholm. Might have a few more ticks on his fastball.
David Purcey-6'5" 230, L/L, Oklahoma: Nice combination of size + stuff, but like Moore needs to learn better control & consistency.
Cream of the crop: Without a doubt, Adam Loewen highlights this class.
My Pick: Adam Loewen is my #1 prospect available for this draft, and I'm not only hoping that the Orioles don't sign him, but that he slides past the Devil Rays to our #2 overall selection.
RIGHT-HANDED PITCHERS: Along with high school outfielders & left-handed pitchers, the 2003 draft is thought to be rather deep with college right-handed pitchers. The high school ranks actually have some nice depth with plenty of projectable, power arms to be had after round 1.
Jeff Allison-6'2" 195, R/R, Massachusetts: Known commodity for several years. Competitive, fiery RHP with low to mid-90s heat with good movement & nasty slurve.
Jared Hughes-6'6" 220, R/R, California: Big, hulking RHP with one of, if not the best fastballs in the draft.
Jeff Manship-6'1" 165, R/R, Texas: Smallish pitcher with possibly the best curveball in the draft.
Craig Whitaker-6'4" 180, R/R, Texas: Nice combination of size + stuff.
Jay Sborz-6'4" 200, R/R, Virginia: Big-time heater that is improving his command & secondary offerings.
Ryan Smith-Washington: Shows nice command of low-90s heat & good breaking ball.
Daniel Bard-6'4" 185, R/R, North Carolina: Another projectable frame with nice fastball-curve-change power repertoire.
Greg Reynolds-6'5" 200, R/R, California: Projectable righty with promising & improving stuff.
Paul Bacot-6'6" 190, R/R, Georgia: Tall & athletic with good fastball-curve combo.
Chad Billingsley-6'2" 200, B/R, Ohio: Like Allison, has been known for a while with a great 1-2 fastball-curve punch.
Chris Worster-6'4" 195, R/R, Florida: Yet another good combination of size & stuff.
Jimmy Barthmaier-6'4" 210, R/R, Georgia: Athletic build that doubles as a promising QB recruit.
Ian Kennedy-6'1" 180, R/R, California: Has been getting great results against top competition in SoCal for a couple of years now.
Kyle Sleeth-6'5" 190, R/R, Wake Forest: Good size, frame, stuff, command & delivery.
Marc Cornell-6'3" 205, L/R, Ohio: On the rise more so than any other prospect. Throws in the mid-90s effortlessly.
Tim Stauffer-6'2" 205, R/R, Richmond: Throws 4 pitches for strikes, great command.
Brad Sullivan-6'1" 190, R/R, Houston: Good 1-2 fastball-slider punch.
David Aardsma-6'5" 190, R/R, Rice: Closer prospect with outstanding mid-90s fastball with life & killer slider.
Wes Littleton-6'3" 200, R/R, Cal St. Fullerton: Good deception throwing from low 3/4 slot with good life.
Bob Zimmerman-6'5" 225, R/R Southwest Missouri State: Great size/stuff combo, but may project as a power reliever.
Chris Ray-6'3" 190, R/R, William & Mary: Reportedly touched 100 mph this spring. Still working on his secondary offerings & control.
Matt Brown-California: Similar to Zimmerman. Good size & stuff, but may not have enough to stick as a starter.
Scott Baker-6'4" 190, R/R, Oklahoma St.: Sinker/slider pitcher with a nice frame.
Chad Cordero-6'1" 195, R/R, Cal St. Fullerton: Closer prospect with good sinking fastball.
Ryan Wagner-6'4" 210, R/R, Houston: Nasty closer prospect that has been untouchable this spring.
Josh Banks-6'3" 195, R/R, Florida International: Similar to Scott Baker. Good frame & good stuff.
Dennis Dove-6'3" 205, R/R, Georgia Southern: Throws blazing heat. More of a thrower than a pitcher at this point in time.
Cream of the crop: Kyle Sleeth. Sleeth is the best combination of size, stuff & projection. Could be in the big leagues within 1-2 years. Cornell might have shared this spot with Sleeth, with an eye-popping fastball that explodes out of his hand, but lingering arm troubles could cause him to drop like a rock.
My Pick: I'm a big fan of Stauffer's command, but he probably isn't worthy of our #2 selection & likely won't fall out of the top 10. I'm going to take prep righty Paul Bacot here, who displays an extremely athletic, loose frame & delivery with an improving low-90s heater & promising curveball. Bacot projects favorably to the Atlanta Braves' top prospect Adam Wainwright.
Prediction: Last year I predicted Scott Moore, and in 2001 it was Casey Kotchman. If you've been following my reports you know how much I like Adam Loewen, who was also my favorite prospect in last year's draft, although I knew he would never fall to our selection. As much as I'm hoping he'll be our pick, he may not even make it to the #2 selection much less the first, and of course it all depends whether or not the Orioles sign him before the draft. If they do, Weeks seems like a lock for the #1 pick at this point in time, which would make Delmon Young seem like the front-runner for our selection, with Ryan Harvey & Kyle Sleeth as other possibilities. If Loewen does not sign with the Orioles, he could go first overall to the Devil Rays, an organization in need of pitching. His contract demands ($4 million is the likely starting point) may scare the D-Rays, which may cause him & possibly even Rickie Weeks to fall to our pick. In this scenario or pick would likely be either Loewen or Weeks.
Since my track record isn't that great with the players I truly would like to see the Brewers draft, I'm going to say that Delmon Young will be our selection with the 2nd overall selection in the 2003 draft.
After the first round, even though Jack Zduriencik & the Brewers stress the importance of taking the best player available, I see them taking a catcher in the early rounds of the draft. If Mitch Maier or Jarrod Saltalamacchia somehow fall to our 2nd round pick, I'm sure the team won't blink before taking either one of them. If not round 2, I would still expect a catcher to be taken within the top 5 rounds, possibly more than one.
After the need for catching, there is also an organizational need for a true right fielder (if Delmon Young or even Ryan Harvey is not our first-round pick) and a third baseman. Guys like Adam Hale, David Murphy & Brad Snyder could fill the RF need, while Eric Duncan, Wes Hodges & Jamie D'Antona could be nice pickups at the hot corner. And as always, you can never have too much pitching.
Be sure to check out Brewerfan.net's official draft coverage, breaking down & updating the top 10 players at the college & high school levels, while also featuring individual player profiles, mock drafts & links to other scouting publications & draft sites. For any questions or concerns, please contact me at email@example.com.