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Feature
 
 
2004 Draft Preview

Ebert
on 05/31/2004

 

The June Free Agent Amateur Draft is less than a week away, with the event taking place this year on Monday, June 7 and Tuesday, June 8 via one large conference call. While the baseball draft doesn't have the same, intense television coverage as the NFL, NBA or even the NHL drafts, it's the biggest day of the year for teams like the Brewers given the current economic landscape. It's the easiest way to inject talent into you system, even if that talent takes several years to make its way to the big leagues.

Ever since the new collective bargaining agreement was signed two years ago there have been rumored changes expected to take place in the draft. Some changes have been made, although those changes won't take place until 2005. The biggest change in the draft structure is that teams will draft in reverse order of how they finish from the previous year, regardless of league. The 2004 draft will be the last year in which teams alternate between leagues. Tie-breakers according to the previous year's standings are awarded to the team that finished worse two years ago, in other words, to the team that has been worse longer.

It is still unknown if there will be any more radical changes to the draft, such as eliminating draft pick compensation for lost free agents and limiting the draft to 30 or so rounds. Currently, teams draft through 50 full rounds, or whenever they choose to simply stop selecting players.

Here is the raw draft order for every round, including the supplemental first round, with picks that are lost due to free agent signings in parenthesis:

1. San Diego Padres (lose 2nd rounder to Yankees for signing David Wells)
2. Detroit Tigers
3. New York Mets
4. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Cleveland Indians
7. Cincinnati Reds
8. Baltimore Orioles (lose 2nd rounder to A's for signing Miguel Tejada)
9. Colorado Rockies
10. Texas Rangers
11. Pittsburgh Pirates
12. Anaheim Angels (lose 2nd rounder to White Sox for signing Bartolo Colon, 3rd rounder to Blue Jays for Kelvim Escobar)
13. Montreal Expos
14. Kansas City Royals
15. Arizona Diamondbacks
16. Toronto Blue Jays
17. Los Angeles Dodgers
18. Chicago White Sox
19. St. Louis Cardinals
20. Minnesota Twins
21. Philadelphia Phillies
22. Seattle Mariners (lose 1st rounder to Twins for signing Eddie Guardado, 2nd rounder to Royals for Raul Ibanez)
23. Houston Astros (lose 1st rounder to Yankees for signing Andy Pettite)
24. Boston Red Sox (lose 1st rounder to A's for signing Keith Foulke)
25. Chicago Cubs (lose 1st rounder to Twins for signing LaTroy Hawkins)
26. Oakland Athletics
27. Florida Marlins
28. New York Yankees (lose 1st rounder to Dodgers for signing Paul Quantrill, 2nd rounder to White Sox for Tom Gordon)
29. San Francisco Giants (lose 1st rounder to Royals for signing Michael Tucker)
30. Atlanta Braves (lose 1st rounder to Rangers for signing John Thomson)

First round sandwich picks:

31. Royals (Raul Ibanez)
32. Blue Jays (Kelvim Escobar)
33. Dodgers (Paul Quantrill)
34. White Sox (Bartolo Colon)
35. Twins (Eddie Guardado)
36. A's (Keith Foulke)
37. Yankees (Andy Pettitte)
38. White Sox (Tom Gordon)
39. Twins (LaTroy Hawkins)
40. A's (Miguel Tejada)
41. Yankees (David Wells)

Heading into last year's draft it was suspected that the Brewers organization may focus more on college players with Doug Melvin at the helm. While the team did take college players with their first three picks, one year does not make a trend, but it is something to watch again this year. Our first-rounder is expected to be a college pitcher, but that has more to do with the players that are available, as college pitching is the deepest position available, especially at the top.

And if a college pitcher is indeed our first-round pick, don't be surprised if it takes a while for that player to sign. The Brewers won't have to spend as much money as they did with Rickie Weeks from a year ago, as the slot value of the fifth overall pick is expected to be somewhere in the $2.5 million dollar range. Even if signability isn't as big of an issue, any college pitcher we select likely will have 120-130 innings under his belt already for this season. Given that heavy workload, there is no reason to rush any college pitcher to the pro level, and in fact, it may be best to give that player the entire summer off.

As for expectations are concerned, most draft picks take at leat three full years to develop in the minor leagues. It's important to remember that Mark Prior is the exception to the rule when it comes to draft eligible players. While the talent at the top is heavy with college pitching, none of those players are considered a can't-miss prospect, and all of them have areas that need work. 2006 is the absolute earliest we can expect to see any of our draftees start contributing at the big league level, and even that is a very large stretch. 2008 is more realistic.

Speaking of the bonus that was given to Rickie Weeks last season in conjunction with revenue sharing, the Brewers might be in a position to sign a few players that fall further than where they should have been taken based on talent. They have to justify spending the revenue sharing money somewhere, don't they? Of course similar expectations have led many fans wondering why the Brewers haven't been big spenders since Miller Park opened, but the team has spent more money in player development than they did before Dean Taylor arrived before the 2000 season. Last year the Brewers signed 17 of their top 20 players, all of which signed for close to slot value. Under Jack Zduriencik, the Brewers have usually been able to open up their pocketbooks to sign later round draftees such as Steve Moss, Tom Wilhelmsen and even pricey draft and follow signee Manny Parra.

It should also be noted that this will be Jack Zduriencik's fifth draft as Scouting Director of the Milwaukee Brewers. When he was hired it was noted that it would take five solid drafts to rebuild the farm system. Zduriencik might have done it already with only four under his belt, whose drafting efforts are the biggest reason Baseball America ranked the Brewers farm system the best in all of baseball. There are legitimate future stars at every level of the Brewers system, and the longer Jack Zduriencik is at the helm, you have to believe that he will continue to fill the organization with talent. All the more reason to look forward to draft day.

One other thing to watch for this year is the presence of six full and part-time Canadian scouts. While this can be easily attributed to Doug Melvin & Gord Ash' descent, I'm sure those hirings weren't done to extend goodwill to their homeland. Look for a few Canadian prospects to be mined.

Onto the prospects. For each position I will offer a brief synopsis of the depth available, focus on the Brewers depth in relationship to organizational need, identify the best player available at each position and highlight a player that I happen to like that I feel would be a good fit for the organization relative to where they might be drafted. For more detailed profiles on the individual draft prospects, please visit Brewerfan.net's draft coverage, where you will have access to approximately 150 players.

CATCHER
There is some intriguing depth at catcher available for this June's draft. While there isn't any one player that really stands out from the rest, there are several players that not only can play good defense, but also project well at the plate. There could be as many as eight catchers taken within the first three rounds.

Brewers organizational depth:
Chad Moeller's at the big league level, and might be around for a few years. Kade Johnson is at AA, and has only shown flashes of his potential so far. John Vanden Berg currently is at high-A ball and is enjoying a good season at the plate, as many players who have travelled through High Desert have. The Snappers' Lou Palmisano is the organization's jewel at the position, but it several years away. Bryan Opdyke is very talented yet unproven, and is even further away than Captain Lou. Regardless of who we have, you can never have too many talented prospects at a demanding position.

High School:
Matt Wieters (SC): Wieters commitment to Georgia Tech has caused teams to take his name off of their follow list. No catcher available in this year's draft is as athletic & has as much potential. Very good hitter, but he's likely a Yellow Jacket next fall.
Neil Walker (PA): Very good athlete, leader on the field. Was suspended for 3 games this spring for underage drinking. Good bat from both sides of the plate.
Ed Easley (MS): Has drawn comparisons to Jason Kendall. Good bat, quick behind the plate, and could be moved to 2B or 3B to take the tolls off of being an everyday C. Could be Mississippi State bound.
Alex Garabedian (FL): Power/power catching prospect with a strong arm and an imposing frame.
John Poterson (AZ): Limited athleticism, below average receiver & arm. But has great power potential as a switch hitter. Could end up in LF or 1B.
Preston Clark (TX): Shorter yet strong catcher with some pop in his bat.
Brandon Hall (WI): Yet another switch hitting catcher. Hall has a very strong, Major League looking body. Good, powerful bat from both sides of the plate.

College:
Landon Powell (South Carolina): Big strong catcher with power from both sides of the plate.
Devin Ivany (South Florida): Very good bat and a decent overall athlete. If he can't handle the defensive duties behind the plate, he could move to 3B or LF.
Jason Jaramillo (Oklahoma State): Switch-hitter, strong defensive catcher with a good arm with good offensive tools.
Kurt Suzuki (Cal State Fullerton): Defensive-minded catcher that has had an incredible year at the plate.
Donny Lucy (Stanford): Strongly built power hitting catcher with a strong arm. May move to the OF or 1B down the road.
Chris Iannetta (North Carolina): Good defensive catcher with some upside at the plate.
Mike Nickeas (Georgia Tech): Very quick behind the plate with a strong arm. Bat is rather weak.
Josh Ford-Baylor (Baylor): Similar to Lucy, strong body, good offensive upside, future at C is somewhat in question.

Best of the bunch: Landon Powell.
Powell has been a known commodity for several years now. After being declared an undrafted free agent following the 2000 draft since he passed his GED equivalency as a high school junior, Powell headed to South Carolina since he didn't receive the seven-figure bonus he was looking for. Last year he slid on draft boards since many teams deemed his body was too soft. This year he has shown up in much better shape, and is having a big season at the plate for the Gamecocks. He has produced each and every year in college.

My pick: Jason Jaramillo.
It would have been Wieters if he were considered signable, but instead I'll take the Racine Case alum. Very good defensive skills that has also enjoyed a successful career for the Cowboys offensively. His defense should allow him to move as fast as his bat carries him.

SHORTSTOP
Typically the most athletic player on the field is the shortstop. Players that are drafted as a shortstop are often moved to other positions down the road, as former Brewer stars such as Gorman Thomas, Paul Molitor and Gary Sheffield were all drafted as shortstops only to be moved to other positions. I'm going to highlight the players that project the best to stay at the position, as other players listed at other positions, such as second and third base, are currently shortstops for their college or high school teams.

Brewers organizational depth:
Craig Counsell and Bill Hall are both currently on the big league Brewers. Counsell is the present while Hall could be the future. Of course the role of future franchise shortstop was handed to J.J. Hardy two to three years ago. Ozzie Chavez is enjoying a big season, and recently flip-flopped with Enrique Cruz between High Desert & Huntsville. Josh Murray & Gilberto Acosta are both talented, but haven't done much at the plate in their short careers. As I noted above, shortstops are typically your most athletic ballplayers, and they can always be moved to other positions based on whether or not they're able to handle the position and/or organizational depth, so it never hurts adding more talented players that can play such a demanding position to your system.

High School:
Chris Nelson (GA): Nelson is an exciting 5-tool middle infielder that has bounced back extremely well after Tommy John surgery last summer.
Matt Bush (CA): Like Nelson, Bush has exciting tools at the SS position, and also profiles well on the mound.
Andrew Romine (CA): A solid all around player with good defense & switch-hitting skills.
Josh Johnson (FL): Son of Larry Doby Johnson. Good tools across the board with a natural feel for the game.
Ian Desmond (FL): Very good defensively with a strong frame & intriguing potential at the plate. Could outgrow SS.
Juan Portes (MA): Smaller, slick-fielding shortstop with fast twitch-like reactions.

College:
Stephen Drew (Florida State): A true 5-tool player at a demanding position. Compares favorably to his big brother J.D.
Dustin Pedroia (Arizona State): Smaller yet scrappy player that keeps getting the job done in the field, at the plate & on the bases.
Paul Janish (Rice): Slick fielding SS that makes all the plays. Having a big season at the plate, although his bat does have some question marks.
John Hardy (Arizona): Solid infielder that may project to be a quality utility man down the road.
Ryan Klosterman (Vanderbilt): Smaller rangy SS that has been hitting well this spring.
Brian Bixler (Eastern Michigan): Baseball rat, good tools, defense, speed & footwork with improving bat.

Best of the Bunch: Stephen Drew.
J.D. Drew's younger brother is a similar overall player with an intiguing cominbaton of power and speed. Like J.D., Stephen is advised by Scott Boras, so he won't be an easy sign. There are several questions about his ability to hit with a wood bat since he hasn't play in the summer the past several years, and he has been bitten several times by the injury bug.

My pick: John Hardy.
Why not add another Hardy to the system? John Hardy is the perfect Mark Loretta clone: He can play every infield position, and knows how to handle the bat: He hits behind runners, can bunt, hits for contact and has a solid line drive stroke. He could be a valuable utility player in three to five years, and is relatively polished with decent upside.

SECOND BASE
It's hard to draft second basemen, because they are often failed shortstops. Still, there have been several talented second basemen over the past several years that were drafted within the first several rounds, including the Brewers Rickie Weeks from a year ago.

Brewers organizational depth:
Rickie Weeks obviously highlights the Brewers farm system, and in many ways is dubbed the team's 2B of the future. However, given his problems defenisvely at the position, it remains to be seen whether or not he stays there long-term. Even though Junior Spivey seems to be a lock to be traded by the deadline this year, Keith Ginter could easily take his place in the lineup, while Bill Hall and Enrique Cruz are also long-term options. Second base as noted above isn't really a position you actively address.

High School:
Eric Campbell (IN): Strong, compact player with exciting power potential.
Cale Iorg (TN): Son of former big leaguer Garth. Polished and a good overall player that could be a solid utility man some day.

College:
Eric Patterson (Georgia Tech): Speedy 2B with some pop and a good eye at the plate.
J.C. Holt (LSU): Great contact hitter with speed, has been playing CF but has more value at 2B, doesn't have much pop.
Tug Hulett (Auburn): Solid overall player, no one tool stands out. Handles the bat well and is a solid defender.
Drew Anderson (Ohio State): Shorter player with exciting speed and a keen eye at the plate.
Steve Sollmann (Notre Dame): Scrappy infielder with decent speed, handles the bat well and has some gap power.

Best of the bunch: Eric Patterson.
Eric is the younger brother of Cubs centerfielder Corey. While Eric doesn't have the power potential Corey does, he does everything else very well with a good left-handed bat, great speed and solid defensive skills.

My pick: Eric Campbell.
If you're going to draft a second baseman, you had better try to get an offensive-minded one. Campbell has great power potential, and has won several home run hitting contests as part of the various showcase events he has attended. Whenever you get a player like this, comparisons to Jeff Kent are not far behind. He could probably be had somewhere in rounds 5-10.

THIRD BASE
There are several promising third base prospects this year, and you may see a run of them taken at some point in the 2nd round. Most of the high school players listed currently play shortstop, which is a tribute to their athleticism and overall skills.

Brewers organizational depth:
Since Justin Barnes have been turned into a pitcher full-time, the Brewers have no prospect that can be considered a legitimate third base prospect. While Wes Helms seems to have the position for the next season or two, with Keith Ginter as a possible replacement and Enrique Cruz, Josh Murray and even Rickie Weeks as potential candidates down the road, there is no one player that is a true third baseman. Without a doubt, third base is the thinnest position in the Brewers organization and should be addressed early this June.

High School:
Steve Marquardt (WA): Exciting 2-way player whose power potential is more exciting than his 90 mph fastball.
Blake DeWitt (MO): Extremely disciplined hitter with a line drive stroke. A run-producing machine.
Josh Copeland (GA): Another talented 2-way player that profiles better at 3B given his power potential.
Seth Garrison (TX): Similar to Marquardt & Copeland, a very athletic player with power potential from both sides of the plate.
Randy Molina (CA): Very good hitter and overall athlete, commitment to Stanford may make him unsignable.
Anthony Russel (MD): Very good overall hitter. Defensive skills may push him across the diamond to 1B.
Willie Bowman (NE): Good overall player with great defensive skills. Has a line drive stroke.
Reid Brignac (LA): Strong commitment to LSU. Good athlete, strong wiry frame, great bat speed as a lefty hitter. Eddie Prasch (GA): Short, quick stroke, hits more for contact than power.
Mike Saunders (Canada): Good 2-way player that is also a good RHP. Is patient & powerful at the plate with a good arm & improving defensive skills.

College:
Josh Fields (Oklahoma State): Great athlete that doubled as the Cowboys starting QB. Good power potential.
Brad McCann (Clemson): Good overall player with solid defensive & offensive skills.
Matt Macri (Notre Dame): Exciting athlete that is starting to live up to his potential.

Best of the bunch: Josh Fields.
Fields was also Oklahoma State's starting quarterback, and has good overall athleticism with a line drive stroke at the plate. Fields more than likely will go somewhere in between our first and second round picks.

My pick: Blake DeWitt.
Getting DeWitt in the 2nd round would be a steal for the Brewers. DeWitt profiles in a similar fashion to Hank Blalock, a third round pick in the 1999 draft. Like Blalock, DeWitt is an athletic player that plays shortstop at the high school level, bats left-handed, and shows a solid approach at the plate with line drive power to all fields.

FIRST BASE
First base typically isn't an area you draft early for, with exceptions being made for players like Prince Fielder that come along with a powerful bat that cannot be ignored. Scouts usually like to get more well-rounded players, which is why you see more multi-tooled catchers, shortstops and outfielders taken early. That said, there are several promising first base prospects this year, although the best of the bunch, Jeff Larish, has struggled this season amidst lofty expectations.

Brewers organizational depth:
Similar to J.J. Hardy at shortstop, Prince Fielder is often pencilled in as the Brewers first baseman for the next five to seven years, at least. Even if he doesn't live up to his lofty potential, Corey Hart and Brad Nelson could always move back to the position where they are probably at their best defensively. While first base seems to be shored up for years to come, most Brewer fans were saying the same thing when the Brewers drafted Fielder in the first round in 2002 when Richie Sexson seemed to have the position locked up.

High School:
Billy Butler (FL): One of the most exciting & powerful bats available in the draft.
Tyler Beranek (WI): Local product with exciting power potential and a huge, MLB body.
Lucas Duda (CA): Another good combination of good size & power potential.
Matt Spencer (TN): 2-way talent with a promising bat and a powerful left arm, may be North Carolina bound.
Ryan Schweikert (WI): Another local product with a promising bat and a big, strong body.

College:
Jeff Larish (Arizona State): Could also play a corner OF spot, has disappointed this year after an impressive sophomore campaign. When on he has great power and a very disciplined eye at the plate.
Mike Ferris (Miami-Ohio): Added power to his game after adding more muscle to his large frame. He has always been a good overall hitter.
C.J. Smith (Florida): Drafted by the Pirates in the 6th round last year as a draft-eligible sophomore. Could go in the same range this year. Good frame & power potential.
Cesar Nicolas (Vanderbilt): Won the HR derby at the Cape All-Star Game last summer. Good athleticism and a good leader.
Wes Whisler (UCLA): Might be drafted as a LHP. Hasn't shown the same type of production since his amazing performance on the Cape following his freshman season, but the talent is still there.
Billy Becher (New Mexico State): Pure power prospect with a huge frame. Doesn't do much other than hit.

Best of the bunch: Mike Ferris.
Ferris has always been known for his ability to hit going back to his days in high school. This year he has learned to loft the ball, and does so to all fields. A natural hitter from the left side of the plate with patience and good strike zone judgement, Ferris could be a fan of stat-watchers for years to come, and because of that he may be a perfect fit for the A's and one of their multiple early round picks.

My pick: Wes Whisler.
Whisler was named the #1 prospect on the Cape Cod League after his freshman year. He hit extremely well with a wood bat, and looked to be a sure top 5 pick when the 2004 draft rolled around. Unfortunately, Whisler hasn't hit very well since, and some flipped to liking him better as a left-handed pitching prospect. The talent is still there, although you may have to dig around a little bit in his mind to find it again. Taking him around the fifth round might be worth the risk.

CENTERFIELD
The second most athletic player on the field. Like shortstops, drafted centerfielders are often moved to other positions down the road. The depth of talented centerfielders is rather thin this season, although B.J. Szymanski's meteoric rise has helped.

Brewers organizational depth:
No position is deeper within the Brewers system. Scott Podsednik holds down the position at the big league level, with injured Dave Krynzel waiting in the wings at AAA. Last year's second round pick, Tony Gwynn Jr., is at AA this season. High Desert centerfielder Kennard Bibbs is a player the organization loves, while oft-injured yet extremely talented Steve Moss starting the season in Beloit. '03 4th-rounder Charlie Fermaint is expected to start the season at Helena come June.

High School:
Dexter Fowler (GA): Strong, wiry, athletic build has drawn comparisons to Darryl Strawberry, Eric Davis and Andre Dawson.
Greg Golson (TX): Speedy CF prospect that is similar to Kenny Lofton. Has a pretty good arm, and some power potential.
Stephen Chapman (FL): Solid tools across the board, but could be heading to Auburn.
Warren McFadden (FL): Like Chapman, solid tools across the board but he might be heading to Tulane.
Matt Tuiasosopo (WA): Impressive athlete that may be drafted as a SS or 3B. Good speed & power combo.
Todd Frazier (NJ): Younger brother of Rutgers' Jeff. Could play SS at the pro level. Good bat & overall tools.
Adrian Ortiz (Puerto Rico): Switch hitter with the best speed in the draft.

College:
B.J. Szymanski (Princeton): 5-tool player that has really emerged this spring with a great season.
Sam Fuld (Stanford): Gritty leader on the field that is a true baseball player. Not much power, but does everything else well.
Jeff Frazier (Rutgers): Above average tools across the board with good power potential and a strong arm.
Brandon Boggs (Georgia Tech): Speedy, flashy player that could excel at the top of a pro lineup.
Richie Robnett (Fresno State): Good tools across the board, sound lefty swing.
Sam Stiedl (Minnesota): Incredibly solid hitter with a good college career. Likely a 4th OF down the road, but would provide a solid contact bat off the bench.
Chris Kolkhorst (Rice): Similar to Stiedl, probably not a starter in the big leaguers, but he's a solid player.

Best of the bunch: B.J. Szymanski.
A great overall athlete with 5 legitimate tools. He hits for both average and power from both sides of the plate, exhibits a good eye at the plate and has great speed. Szymanski could go within the top 10 picks, although he probably is not worthy of the Brewers 5th overall pick.

My pick: Matt Tuiasosopo.
Tuiasosopo is the younger brother of Marques, a quarterback with the Raiders. Matt has a strong commitment to follow in his brother's footsteps and play quarterback for the University of Washington, but he could be swayed with a big enough bonus similar to Grady Sizemore of the Indians a few years ago. Like Sizemore, Tuiasosopo is a great all-around athlete, with a strong build, power potential and good speed. If the Brewers open up their pocketbook, he could be a steal in the third round.

CORNER OUTFIELD
While the depth of positional prospects is rather thin, there are several intriguing corner outfield prospects with good bats that can be had in rounds 2-5.

Brewers organizational depth:
The Brewers seemed to lack a true corner outfield prospect until Brad Nelson and Corey Hart were moved there full-time this season and last given the presence of Prince Fielder at first base. This area was also made less of an organizationl priority when Geoff Jenkins signed a three-year extension before the start of the season, as he is set the hold down left field through 2007.

High School: Michael Taylor (FL): Impressive athlete. Questionable bat likely means he is Stanford bound.
Chuck Lofgren (CA): Good overall athlete. Some scouts prefer him on the mound. Strong arm and a sweet lefty swing.
Brandon Allen (TX): Physically mature prep player that is built like a linebacker. Big swing with great power potential.
Jon-Mark Owings (GA): Younger brother of GT's Micah Owings. Great power, but is likely Clemson bound.
Reinaldo Alicano (Puerto Rico): Great size, arm & power potential. Has been compared to Juan Gonzalez.
Jared Kubin (VA): Good overall athlete with power potential. Either a LF or 1B. Could be headed to Florida.
Brad Chalk (SC): Scrappy player with solid tools across the board.

College: Eddy Martinez-Esteve (Florida State): Good bat, big-time middle of the lineup run-producer.
Jon Zeringue (LSU): Prototypical RF prospect with a strong arm & promising power.
Danny Putnam (Stanford): Hard-nosed left-fielder that has been compared to Brian Giles for his size & style of play.
Seth Smith (Mississippi): Back-up QB to Eli Manning. Great athlete with a good bat and a smooth lefty swing.
Mike Butia (James Madison): Has always been a good player, but has really burst onto the scene this year with impressive power numbers.
Ben Harrison (Florida): 4th rounder by the Indians last year. Good tools across the board, but will be lucky to improve his draft stock.
Jeremy Slayden (Georgia Tech): One of the best hitters available until he hurt his shoulder earlier this year. Could be an interesting player to watch over the summer to see how he has rebounded.

Best of the bunch: Eddy Martinez-Esteve.
With Larish struggling, even though he may be considered a better first base prospect, Martinez-Esteve is enjoying a huge season at the plate. While he played third base as a freshman, and was drafted as an infielder by the Mariners in the third round of the 2002 draft, he doesn't project very well anywhere in the field. His bat could be strong enough to make that a non-issue. He is a draft-eligible sophomore, so he could slide if there are any signability issues.

My pick: Chuck Lofgren.
Lofgren is very similar to a talented two-way prospect from a year ago now in the White Sox system: Ryan Sweeney. His swing and overall tools are very similar to Dodgers right-fielder Shawn Green, and while Lofgren has the tools to be a talented left-handed pitcher, his sweet swing and power potential profile better as a positional prospect. Lofgren has struggled somewhat this season, which may allow him to fall to round two.

RIGHT-HANDED PITCHERS
Pitching is by far the depth of the 2004 draft, with about 20 righties as easy candidates for the first-round. While there isn't as much talent at the top as one would like, since all of the pitching prospects seem to have one major question looming over their head, Jered Weaver's season is going to go down as one of the most impressive seasons for any college pitcher ever. The depth also continues at the high school level, highlighted by Homer Bailey and Mark Rogers, and would have been even better if Nick Adenhart had stayed healthy.

Brewers organizational depth:
Ben Sheets is and has been the Brewers ace for the past few years, but after Sheets, the Brewers continue to struggle with their starting pitching. With high profile arms like J.M Gold, Nick Neugebauer, Mike Jones and Ben Diggins falling to injury over the past several years, that is proof enough that you can never have enough pitching. Ben Hendrickson is the most talented right-handed pitching prospect in the system, followed by AA starters Dennis Sarfate and Chris Saenz. The Brewers added several talented righties to their sytem last year in Tom Hawk, Tyler Morrison, Ryan Marion, Robbie Wooley and Oscar Montes, but they are all years away from contributing. The two righties acquired in the trade with the Giants for Wayne Franklin and Leo Estrella, Glenn Woolard and Carlos Villanueva, have proimse, while Ben Ford, Mike Adams and Matt Childers could all prove to be solid arms down the road, whether it be in the bullpen or as starters.

High School:
Homer Bailey (TX): Complete package for a pitching prospect. Low to mid-90s heat, outstanding curve, improving changeup, and a fluid delivery from a projectable frame.
Nick Adenhart (MD): Despite being injured, he still deserves to be mentioned. Almost a lock to be headed to UNC.
Mark Rogers (Maine): Good athlete with an impressive fastball that has been clocked in the high-90s. Dominated as a prep senior.
Jay Rainville (RI): Roger Clemens clone with a similar build & repertoire.
Yovani Gallardo (TX): Emerged last summer and this spring with an improving fastball and killer curve.
Phil Hughes (CA): Perfect pitcher's build with a solid 3-pitch repertoire.
Eric Hurley (FL): Really jumped up draft board this spring with improving velocity, as high as the mid-90s.
Matt Walker (LA): Another player that has really burst onto the scene with 94 fastball and wicked curve. Great athlete.
Erik Cordier (WI): Projectable local that has been throwing in the 92-95 range all spring with a good curve and a great changeup.
Mark Trumbo (CA): Extremely well built athlete with impressive power as a hitter. Profiles better on the mound with 90-93 fastball and a natural feel for pitching. Could be USC bound.
Erik Davis (CA): Has somewhat disappointed this spring, and could be a lock to head to Stanford in the fall. Otherwise, he's one of the most polished pitchers available in the draft.
Andy Gale (NH): Big bodied righty with impressive polish & command. Advanced changeup fools hitters.
Sam Demel (TX): Shorter righty built like Tim Hudson and Roy Oswalt. All of his pitches show great, late movement.
Trevor Plouffe (CA): Might profile better as a SS given his athleticism & power potential. Shows a good fastball with life and a hard-breaking curveball.
Kyle Waldrop (TN): Great frame that also is an accomplished hitter. Pitches in the low-90s with a great curveball, but could be tough to pry away from Vanderbilt.Mark Trumbo
Brad Meyers (CA): The right-handed verison of Greg Miller from a couple of years ago. Enjoying a big spike in velocity with great size and a nasty slider.Mark Trumbo
Anthony Swarzak (FL): Perfect size, solid 3-pitch repertoire, but could be headed to LSU. Michael Schlact (GA): Big, hulking righty with solid stuff.
Christian Garcia (FL): Converted catcher with a strong arm. Still very raw, but perfect size & low to mid-90s fastball will probably be enough for him to be drafted in the top 2-5 rounds.
Blake Johnson (LA): Athletic & projectable righty that has drawn comparisons to Mike Jones.
Brad Bergesen (CA): Emerging California righty with a bulldog mentality. Commands his fastball very well.
Javier Guerra (TX): Interesting righty with an unorthodox delivery. Throws in the 92-95 range consistently.
Joseph Bauserman (FL): Impressive overall athlete that may be headed to Ohio State as a QB.
Andrew Brackman (OH): Incredibly tall (6'10") righty that shows a good feel for his fastball & curveball and repeats his delivery well despite his size. Could be NC State bound on a basketball scholarship.
Brad Clapp (WA): Great size, physically mature body. Shows advanced feel for both his fastball & curveball.
Wade Davis (FL): Yet another good-sized Florida righty with a power arm.
Terrell Young (MS): Amazing arm that easily pumps mid-90s fastballs. The rest of his game, on and off the field, needs work.
Alexandre Periard (Canada): Polished pitcher with solid 3-pitch repertoire (fastball, curve, change).
Kenn Kasparek (TX): Monster Texas righty that profiles similar to Jeff Niemann, but has disappointed this spring with a mysterious loss of velocity.

College:
Jered Weaver (Long Beach State): Having one of the best seasons by a college pitcher ever. Great command and deception to his delivery makes up for a lack of eye-popping stuff.
Justin Verlander (Old Dominion): The opposite of Weaver. All stuff, throwing consistently in the mid to high-90s with a killer curve. Has struggled with control all spring.
Wade Townsend (Rice): Rated the best pro prospect on the Cape last summer. Fiery temperment leads many to believe that he will be a closer down the road with a mid-90s fastball and great curveball.
Phillip Humber (Rice): The most consistent of the big 3 Rice starters, also has the best curveball.
Jeff Niemann (Rice): Has the most upside of the 3 Rice starters, largely given his 6'9" frame. Also has a wicked slider.
Thomas Diamond (New Orleans): Pitches in the mid-90s deep into games. Needs more consistency with his secondary offerings, but his fastball and big, strong frame will have him draft in the first half of round 1.
Micah Owings (Georgia Tech): Powerfully built 2-way prospect. On the mound he spots his fastball well and mixes in a good slider. At the plate he has great power potential. Could be a closer down the road.
Justin Orenduff (Virginia Commonwealth): Well built righty with a solid fastball-slider 1-2 punch.
Chris Lambert (Boston College): Has a great arm, touching the high-90s, but struggles with control.
Billy Buckner (South Carolina): Emerged this spring touching 94 and flashing a great curveball.
Matt Fox (Central Florida): Broke out this spring after focusing on pitching. Has a good sinker-slider combo and a good pitching frame.
Brett Smith (UC Irvine): Great size with a good fastball but needs to work on his offspeed stuff.
Ross Ohlendorf (Princeton): Very athletic with a big, strong frame. Has a very strong arm, and can reach the mid-90s but needs work on his slider.
Eric Beattie (Tampa): Sinker/slider pitcher that commands the strike zone very well.
Justin Hoyman (Florida): Another sinker/slider type that is a groundball machine.
Huston Street (Texas): Athletic, high-makeup closer prospect that has succeeded everywhere he has played.
Matt Durkin (San Jose State): Similar to Brett Smith. Has great size and a strong, durable body. Commands his fastball very well but needs to work on his breaking ball.
Steven Register (Auburn): Successful college closer with great fastball-slider combo. Built like Tim Hudson.
Will Fenton (Washington): Another fastball-slider closer prospect. Didn't allow a single run his sophmore season.
Josh Baker (Rice): The less-heralded member of the Rice staff. Has very good size and a good 89-91 fastball/curve combo.
Kyle Schmidt (South Florida): Georgia Tech transfer has good size & pitches consistently in the high-80s.
Michael Rogers (NC State): Has great command of the strike zone, using his fastball, slider and outstanding changeup to keep hitters off balance.
Grant Johnson (Notre Dame): Coming back after shoulder surgery. Has great size, a good fastball and a great slider.
Garrett Mock (Houston): Solid overall prospect that has struggled this season. His size & stuff will still draw plenty of draft interest.

Best of the bunch: Jered Weaver.
Weaver may not have the most dominant stuff, but he has by far had the best season, one of the all-time great seasons by any college pitcher. And he didn't come out of nowhere, he had a very good year as a sophomore which was followed by an impressive outing last summer for Team USA. If he continues that trend, he should be very good at the pro level.

My pick: Wade Townsend.
Townsend was rated as the best pro prospect in the Cape Cod League last summer by the scouts with a good, heavy fastball and an impressive knuckle-curveball. He does have some character and makeup issues, but most of those seems to be attributed to his undieing competitiveness on the mound. Given his size and stuff he could be a dominant ace down the road, and at the very least he could be a dominant closer given his 1-2 punch.

LEFT-HANDED PITCHERS
There are several left-handed pitchers at both the college and high school level that could be taken within the first two rounds of the draft. Jeremy Sowers has been on scouts follow lists for over three years now, while Tyler Lumsden is jumping up draft charts after throwing in the mid-90s this season. At the high school level, Giovani Gonzalez has moved up the most, while Scott Elbert seems to be a strong candidate to go in the first round, possibly within the top 12-15 picks.

Brewers organizational depth:
At this time last year, left-handed pitching seemed to be a huge organiztional need. The acquisition of Chris Capuano and Jorge de la Rosa in the Sexson trade helped address that cause, while Manny Parra, Dana Eveland, Greg Kloosterman, Carlos Ramirez and Mitch Stetter continued to shrink that void with strong performances. Whether they be right or left-handed, you can never have too many talented pitchers in your system.

High School:
Giovani Gonzalez (FL): Pitched in the mid-90s with a wicked slider before being kicked off his high school team.
Scott Elbert (MO): Polished lefty that is a good overall athlete. Throws in the low to mid-90s with a great breaking ball.
Troy Patton (TX): Strongly built lefty with good command on his fastball & slider. Enjoyed a huge season for one of the best prep teams in the nation.
Mike Rozier (GA): One of the best athletes available in the draft, Rozier has great size & stuff that envokes comparisons to Mark Mulder. He could be UNC bound on a football scholarship to play QB.
David Price (TN): Projectable lefty with great size. Throws in the 89-90 range with a good curve, but could be headed to Vanderbilt to try & fill Jeremy Sowers' shoes.
Drew Bowman (CO): Polished lefty has been extremely productive for several years now. Might be hard to sign away from Arizona State.
Brett Cecil (MD): Good size, strong, physically mature body. Throws a plus curveball but has some mechanical issues with his delivery.
Eric Berger (CA): Emerging, wiry lefty. Throwing in the low-90s this spring with a big breaking curveball.
Philippe-Alexandre Valiquette (Canada): Another projectable lefty with improving stuff. Throws in the 88-93 range with good life along with a solid curve & changeup.

College:
Jeremy Sowers (Vanderbilt): The definition of the polished, finesse lefty. Throws in the 86-91 range, changing speeds and hitting his spots.
Tyler Lumsden (Clemson): Hard throwing college lefty that has touched 96 this spring. Also throws a big curveball.
David Purcey (Oklahoma): Somewhat of a high-risk high reward style of college lefty. Has a big, strong frame and shows an overpowering 90-95 fastball/slider combo, but he struggles with his command at times.
Matt Campbell (South Carolina): Smooth lefty with one of the best curveballs available in the draft.
J.P. Howell (Texas): Another finesse lefty. Works in the mid to high-80s.
Zach Jackson (Texas A&M): Big, strong Louisville transfer enjoying a big season for the Aggies. Strong spring could have him selected in the 1st round.
Taylor Tankersley (Alabama): Strong lefty with a bulldog mentality. Throws harder out of the bullpen with a 92-95 fastball.
Dave Haehnel (University Illinois-Chicago): Good fastball-curveball combo, might be a reliever if he can't fully develop his changeup.
Glen Perkins (Minnesota): Impressive fastball with an intimidating, fearless approach. Secondary offerings need work.
Scott Lewis (Ohio State): Had Tommy John surgery a year ago. Outstanding curveball that he mixes in well with a 88-91 fastball.
Bill Bray (William & Mary): Relief prospect with an overpowering fastball-slider combo.
Steve Uhlmansiek (Witchita State): Polished lefty that throws 3 solid pitches for strikes, including an advanced changeup.
Zac Cline (West Virginia): Another finesse lefty? Throws in the 84-88 range with good offspeed pitches and great control.

Best of the bunch: Jeremy Sowers.
Sowers was a first-round pick by the Reds in the 2001 draft, although he made it very clear that he was intent on attending Vanderbilt. While he doesn't have the pure stuff to blow away hitters, he picks apart batters by changing speeds and hitting his spots.

My pick: Sowers.
I have been following Sowers for three full years now, and he continues to get hitters out despite not having the best pure stuff. Like most lefties, Sowers relies on changing speeds and command, and no draftee has mastered those aspects of pitching like he has.

PREDICTION

If you have been following along the past couple of years, you know that I'm not good when it comes to predicting who the Brewers will draft. Last year doesn't count, since it was down to Rickie Weeks and Delmon Young after Adam Loewen signed with the Orioles. Tampa keyed in on Young the last couple of weeks leading up to the draft, which made Weeks the Brewers likely pick.

With that I'm going to predict that the pick will be college righty Phillip Humber. Humber has been very productive in his three-year career at Rice, being a weekend starter since his freshman season. He works well with a low-90s fastball and one of the best curveballs in the draft. Prep righty Homer Bailey might be a better pitching prospect, but the Brewers seem determined to add a college arm that could advance relatively quickly through the system. Humber's stuff probably maxes his potential out as a #2 starter. Since the Brewers always stress makeup, Humber makes even more sense.

After the first round it's almost impossible to guess who the Brewers will take. And while the Brewers always stress taking the best player available, there is a huge void at third base that is going to be addressed at some point. 3B Blake DeWitt would be the ideal pick, but I really don't think he is going to sneak out of the first round. Other round 2 candidates include C Jason Jaramillo, LHP Matt Campbell, RHP Erik Cordier and RHP Eric Beattie. Jaramillo and Cordier get sentimental nod from me being local products. Cordier may not last that long given his special right arm, so Jaramillo it is.

If you have any questions or comments please contact me at pebert@brewerfan.net.

 




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