It's hard to evaluate the success of any given draft until the players selected that year start to prove their worth at the upper levels of the minor leagues & onto the big leagues, but it's always important (and fun) to look back at drafts to try & gauge just how much talent was acquired. Observations can be made now to determine a player's worth and how they project in the future.
When you pick 2nd overall in each round, starting with the 2nd overall pick in the draft, you better get at least one marquee player. That doesn't seem to be an issue with Rickie Weeks, who even in limited playing time picked up where he left off after an impressive college career which he ended as the all-time Division 1 batting champ.
Out of 50 selections the Brewers signed 26 of these players, 17 within the top 20 and their top 12 overall. Only 8 of the 24 unsigned draftees appear to be no longer under their control, while the other 16 will be followed through next spring as DFE (draft, follow & evaluate) candidates.
Onto the players, how they fared this summer if they played, and where they stand for the future:
You don't have to look far into the 2003 draft to find the Brewers' potential stars of the future. The 3 players that fall into this list also were the team's top 3 picks: Rickie Weeks, Tony Gwynn Jr. & Louis Palmisano.
1. (draft round) Rickie Weeks-2B: .349/.494/.556 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) in 63 at-bats with Beloit
Weeks signed in the first week of August after receiving a $3.6 signing bonus and a Major League contract worth $4.8 million which can earn him up to $5.5 million based upon how quickly he makes it to the big leagues. He spent one game in Arizona after spending a few days before that trying to get back into baseball shape after taking a few months off. He was quickly bumped up to Beloit after a couple of 2-run singles & a stolen base for the baby Brewers. He didn't miss a beat at Beloit, given his numbers above. He takes a lot of pitches, a very good thing for fans of players that get on base at a high clip. He exhibited his extremely quick stroke at the plate, driving balls all over the field. He has a lot to learn on the basepaths & in the field defensively, but it's hard not to recognize him as an extremely exciting ballplayer. Given Weeks' performance, it's hard not to see him at AA Huntsville to begin the 2004 season, if not higher. Because Weeks was placed on the 40-man roster due to the Major League contract he signed, the Brewers called him up to join the big league club after the Snappers season had finished. It doesn't seem likely that he'll see much if any playing time, but he will be able to work out with the team to stay in baseball shape while specifically working with coach & former big league 2B Rich Dauer in an effort to improve his defense.
2. Tony Gwynn Jr.-CF: .280/.364/.326 in 236 ABs with Beloit
Weeks signed for $875,000 shortly after the draft and quickly reported to Beloit. He got off to an extremely hot start before cooling off a little & then finding more consistency over the last month of the season. Gwynn carried that consistency into the playoffs hitting .333. Like his teammates Prince Fielder & Rickie Weeks, Gwynn proved to be extremely selective at the plate, walking 32 times. He flashed his speed on the basepaths in that time as well swiping 14 bags in 16 attempts. Like his father, Gwynn is a good contact hitter & told me he would like to cut down on his whiffs, striking out 31 times during his stay in Beloit, still impressive being less than his walk total. Gwynn is never going to hit for much power, but hopefully he can develop a little more gap power while putting his speed to better use after hitting only 9 extra base hits. Defensively, Gwynn is probably Major-League ready. His speed obviously is an asset, but he reads balls well, gets good jumps, positions himself well & displays an accurate if not strong arm. The Brewers might be compelled to bump up Gwynn along with Fielder & Weeks to AA as part of the 2nd wave of prospects Doug Melvin likes to talk about, but Gwynn might benefit from some time at advanced A-ball in High Desert.
3. Louis Palmisano-C: .391/.458/.592 in 174 ABs with Helena
Palmisano signed quickly for $500,000 (within a day) and immediately reported to Helena in the Pioneer League. Palmisano did everything right on his way to being named the league's MVP, leading the league in batting average, on-base percentage & slugging percentage. That also led to him being named the #3 prospect in the Pioneer League according to Baseball America. He hit for average, he hit for power, showed good speed on the basepaths & played good defense as his team's captain,