In the first installment of this four part series, I focused on the 2000 draft. I'm going to follow the same format in assessing the success of Jack Zduriencik and the Brewers entire scouting department for the 2001 draft. Please follow this link to review the previous installment:
The 2001 Draft
The 2001 draft looks to be Jack Zduriencik's best as scouting director with the Milwaukee Brewers. Even immediately after the draft took place, the effort looked like a strong one with highly-touted stars Mike Jones, J.J. Hardy, Jon Steitz and Brad Nelson representing the team's first four picks. Since then Dennis Sarfate, Manny Parra and Chris Saenz have emerged as players that could also contribute to the big league Brewers success, and while Mike Jones has struggled to stay healthy the past two years, only Jon Steitz has become a complete bust.
The hope remains
Of the 2001 draftees, three are among the team's top 10 prospects according to Toby's Power 50. Four are within the top 15 and six within the top 20. Overall, the Brewers have eight players from the 2001 draft that have a good chance of being integral parts of the future. The early success of the 2001 draft led to Mike Jones, J.J. Hardy and Brad Nelson being featured on the cover of an issue of Baseball America during the 2003 season.
At one point in time, first rounder Mike Jones was rated the number one high school prospect available for the 2001 draft after throwing 98 miles per hour at a showcase event during his senior season. He was hailed for his smooth, effortless delivery, work ethic and high character as much as he was for his pure stuff. While his curveball and changeup weren't nearly as refined as his fastball, he has worked hard on those two pitches throughout his professional career to give him a solid three pitch repertoire.
Jones, like David Krynzel in 2000, was rated the Pioneer League's number one overall prospect the summer after he was drafted by Baseball America as he dominated Pioneer League hitters with his fastball. He continued to dazzle scouts with that pitch during his second and third seasons as a professional, with many scouts and managers commenting how effective he could be as a big leaguer with his fastball alone, drawing comparisons to Curt Schilling.
He started the 2002 season with the Beloit Snappers where he posted a 3.12 ERA in 138.2 innings of work, striking out 132 batters in the process. He continued to pitch well in 2003 with the Hunstville Stars, skipping the high-A level. In 97.2 innings of work he posted a 2.40 ERA with 63 strikeouts. The biggest area of concern for Jones up to this point in time was the number of walks he had issued in his first two full seasons, with 109 in over 236 innings of work.
Unfortunately for Jones the injury bug bit him pretty hard that same season at AA. He was shut down in the second half of the season due to a tender elbow, but at the time it was felt that rest would be enough for Jones to bounce back for the 2004 season. Unfortunately rest wasn't enough, as Jones continued to battle arm problems, most recently a sore shoulder diagnosed as a SLAP lesion in his throwing shoulder that did require complex arm surgery. The good news is that the surgery was performed successfully, and no damage to the rotator cuff had been found. He is expected to miss the entire 2005 season, and while shoulder problems are extremely difficult for any young pitcher to overcome, Jones' aforementioned work ethic and desire for success give him better than a fighting chance to bounce back from this setback.
If he does return Jones profiles as a staff ace given his fastball alone. He will need to work hard at keeping his mechanics to check to avoid future arm problems. If Jones is unable to make it back, hopefully Jack Zduriencik and his staff will learn what many teams and people involved with scouting already believe: That drafting high school pitchers early is never wise given the high rate of injury and/or flameout, and the high monetary bonus needed to sign them.
Hardy was considered a steal for the Brewers upon being drafted in the second round, as many considered him to be a first-round talent. He quickly proved that he was more than worth the selection with a strong showing in the Pioneer League and an even better showing in the Brewers instructional camp. He immediately was placed on the fast-track, and jumped to high-A High Desert to begin his first full season in 2002. After hitting .293 in 335 at bats, Hardy along with Corey Hart were bumped up to AA Huntsville at mid-season that same year, where they both spent the entire 2003 season carrying the Stars on their back on their way to the Southern League championship series. Hardy hit .279 with 26 doubles and 12 home runs in 416 AA at-bats that season.
Like Hart, Hardy has improved as he has moved up. Unlike Hart, Hardy's plate discipline has always been strong (111 walks versus 133 strikeouts in 1,142 professional at-bats) and he has added a fair amount of power to his game (96 extra-base hits in that same time). He joined teammate David Krynzel on the Future's Game in 2003, and was expected to make the USA National Team that would have competed in the 2004 Summer Olympics had Team USA not been eliminated in the fall of 2003. However, in his time with Team USA, Hardy injured his non-throwing shoulder, an injury that occurred again in spring training of 2004 and again at AAA Indianpolis during the 2004 season that ended his season. He is expected to make a full recovery and should be at full strength for spring training in 2005, but he needs to prove that the injury is indeed behind him.
If it weren't for the shoulder injury, Hardy was expected to be the first highly-touted Brewers prospect to make his debut, which likely would have occurred around the All-Star break in 2004. His injury not only effected the big-league Brewers, but also his AAA team, which suddenly was without it's best player and team leader. Hardy has drawn several unfair comparisons to Robin Yount, and while he may never have the same kind of impact, he could hold down the shortstop position for years to come, with steady defense and an equally steady and improving presence at the plate. Given all of his pure baseball talent, I have yet to mention the high marks Hardy receive for his overall character, work ethic and leadership qualities. He could compete for the team's starting shortstop job next spring, but likely will re-open the 2005 season with AAA Nashville. Either way, Hardy should be in Milwaukee for good at some point next summer. He has the potential to be one of the best Brewers ever for a long, long time.
Fourth rounder Brad Nelson signed late in the summer of 2001 season, giving some fans a brief scare that he may honor his commitment to play for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He did eventually sign and logged 105 at-bats between rookie level Arizona and Ogden during his debut season.
As a high school slugger, Nelson was a third baseman and right-handed pitcher with a power/power profile. He hit tape measure home runs using a wood bat against some of the best players in the nation at various showcase events, and often closed games with a low-90s fastball. His power at the plate was and continues to be his calling card. During his first full season in 2002, he hit 49 doubles and drove in 116 runs between two levels of A-ball, which led all of minor league baseball. That success prompted Baseball America to name Nelson the Brewers best prospect. He spent most of the 2002 season at Beloit, hitting .297 before being bumped up to High Desert to make room for Prince Fielder. Nelson started the 2003 season back at High Desert, where he was hit by a pitch that broke his hamate bone in his hand early in the season. He missed about a month due to that injury, and was never able to find his power stroke upon his return. Nelson still hit .311 at high-A, which was enough for him to get promoted to Huntsville to finish the 2003 season. He managed to start back at AA Huntsville in 2004, and re-discovered his power stroke which led him to being the only Huntsville Star named to the Southern League All-Star team while hitting 31 doubles and 19 home runs. Nelson does strike out often, and needs to learn how to draw more walks, but his smooth and powerful left-handed stroke lead many scouts to believe that he'll be a very productive middle-of-the-lineup threat for years to come.
Like Corey Hart, Nelson was considered a 1B prospect before the Brewers drafted Prince Fielder in the first round of the 2002 draft. Fielder's presence has caused both Nelson and Hart to be moved to the outfield, with Hart learning right field and Nelson learning left field. While Nelson doesn't have great straight-line speed nor much lateral quickness, he is average at worse in the outfield. He does possess a very strong throwing arm that should allow him to record more than his fair share of assists. Nelson has been compared to Sean Casey and Ryan Klesko in the past, and like Klesko he could find himself as a 1B/LF for a nice, productive career. Look for him to spend the entire 2005 season at AAA with the Nashville Sounds, although he could see Milwaukee as a September call-up when the big-league rosters expand.
Ninth rounder Dennis Sarfate was a known commodity before being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers. He was taken by Doug Melvin and the Texas Rangers in the 15th round of the 1999 draft out of high school, but they were unable to sign him away from his commitment to Arizona State. After limited work during his freshman season, Sarfate decided to transfer to Chandler-Gilbert Community College in the fall of 2000, where he re-established himself with his blazing fastball and strong, powerful pitching frame.
Sarfate made a name for himself as a Brewers farmhand in 2003 with the Beloit Snappers after missing most of the 2002 season due to an elbow injury that required surgery. Before 2003, he had pitched 38 innings between two rookie league levels in 2001 and 2002. With Beloit, Sarfate proved to be healthy and strong, striking out 140 batters in 139.2 innings of work, posting a 2.84 ERA in 26 starts. He along with Manny Parra anchored the rotation of a talented Snappers team that advanced to the Midwest League Championship series.
His success caused him to be bumped up to AA Huntsville for the 2004 season, and while Sarfate didn't pitch nearly as well, he didn't pitch poorly either posting a respectable 4.05 ERA over 28 appearances (25 starts) and struck out 113 batters in 129 innings of work. He needs to cut down on the number of walks he issues (162 walks in 306 professional innings of work) and would benefit greatly by developing one or two above average pitches other than his dominant fastball.
His fastball, which sits in the 92-94 range and tops out at 98 miles per hour, will always be his bread winner. Sarfate is working hard on developing his breaking pitch, which he really didn't start throwing until the 2003 season, along with a cut-fastball and a changeup. Look for him to spend most of the 2005 season with AAA Nashville, where he should benefit pitching under the tutelage of pitching coach Stan Kyles. He could be called up for a spot start or two depending on injuries at the big-league level, and likely will be up with the Brewers in September. If he develops another pitch or two to complement his fastball, he has a good chance to remain a starter. If not, his overpowering fastball could easily help Sarfate find a home as a potentially dominant short-reliever. He should have a permanent home with the big league Brewers at some point in 2006 at the latest.
Moreira may fit beter under the "still around" category as he has been brought along very slowly as a Brewers farmhand, but in 2004 he started to show why the Brewers gave him a six-figure signing bonus as a 10th round draft pick to lure him away from a solid college commitment. He has a great pitcher's frame at 6'5", 210 pounds, and has the raw stuff to match. Moreira has a very easy and free delivery in which he effortlessly pumps fastballs in the 90 mph range. He has yet to completely hone his curveball and changeup, and needs to learn how to pound the strike zone with greater efficiency.
Before the 2004 season Moreira tossed 104.1 innings between two levels of Rookie ball over three seasons. While none of his numbers were particularly eye-popping, his 4.57 ERA over that span indicates some effectivenss. Moreira's 130 innings pitched with Beloit in 2004 more than doubled his career totals, posting a 4.36 ERA. In his 234 professional innings he has exhibited good control by walking only 72 batters. He has struck out 156 in the same time, as he seems to pitch to contact more so than blowing batters away.
Moreira's future remains somewhat of an enigma since it has taken him so long to develop. As mentioned, he has the size and stuff to succeed, and while he doesn't have a glaring weakness he also doesn't have a predominant strength. Given his current career path, Moreira likely will open the 2005 season with high-A Brevard County in the Florida State League, but the organization may be inclined to push him a little to see how he responds after being patient with him for four seasons.
13th rounder Travis Hinton enjoyed a break-out season in 2004, playing at hitter-friendly High Desert of the California League. He batted .302 with 22 home runs, 36 doubles and 88 RBIs in 536 at-bats. Hinton garnered more honors by being named the Topps player of the month in the California League for the month of June, he won the home run derby at the league's annual All-Star game played against the all-stars from the high-A Carolina League at midseason, and was also named the game's MVP.
Hinton was drafted for his power. Before 2004 he had logged 876 at-bats between a season at Ogden in the Pioneer League and two stops with the Beloit Snappers. In that time he slugged 20 home runs and 73 extra base hits in total, a tribute to his power potential. Given High Desert's ballpark factors, Hinton will need to prove next year that his improved home run totals were not a fluke, as he will likely start play most of all of next season with AA Huntsville in the Southern League, a league that favors pitchers.
2004 also marked Hinton's first full season at first base. While he committed 19 errors in 131 games, most people don't seem to think his defense will be an issue as he continues to learn the position. Hinton may prove to be a solid left-handed bat off the bench that could fill in a corner outfield spot or at first base when needed. Let's face it, the presence of Prince Fielder isn't going to allow anyone else to play 1B at the big league level.
Parra, a 26th round pick, didn't sign until the spring of 2002 as a draft and follow candidate. A dedicated, hard-working player, Parra's work ethic paid off as he added 10 miles per hour to his fastball between the 2001 and 2002 seasons. He had already displayed good control, command, and a nifty curveball. The added velocity was icing on the cake, as it prompted the Brewers to sign Parra for first-round money at $1.55 million dollars.
It didn't take long for Parra to prove that he was well worth the money. He turned a lot of heads in the Pioneer League after signing, being named the league's number three prospect by Baseball America as voted by the managers. He went 11-2 with a 2.73 ERA in his first full season in 2003 with the Beloit Snappers, posting an impressive 117 to 24 strikeout to walk ratio in 138.2 innings of work. His season was cut short in 2003 after straining his left pectoral muscle, and had shoulder discomfort off and on during the 2004 season, where he started the season late at high-A. The ballpark effects at High Desert didn't effect his productivity as he tossed 67.1 impressive innings posting a 3.48 ERA before finishing the season at AA Huntsville.
The left shoulder problems for Parra have to be a huge concern. While he's avoided surgery so far, the discomfort also kept him out of the Arizona Fall League this year. Parra should be ready for spring training, but if he continues to be set-back one has to wonder if there is some serious structural damage in his throwing shoulder. As the Brewers best pitching prospect, that would be a huge blow to the organization.
As a left-handed pitcher Parra not only has the crafty control, but also the velocity and solid overall repertoire to be a legitimate top of the rotation starter for years to come. If he's healthy, he likely will start the season back at AA Huntsville, but given his polish Parra could easily finish the season with AAA Nashville. He could get a taste of the big leagues late in the 2005 season, and could be in Milwaukee for good at some point in 2006.
Saenz is one of the few Brewers pitching prospects that has pitched well at High Desert. A 28th round selection, you may look at Saenz' 5.20 ERA at the high-A level and wonder what I'm talking about. For so many pitchers, it's not necessarily the ERA, but the peripheral numbers that determine how well a player has done when ballpark factors are so extreme. In 26 starts Saenz logged 128 innings, allowing only 121 hits and 56 walks, while striking out 136. That showing allowed Saenz to be bumped up to AA to finish the season, where he helped the Stars in their playoff run towards the Southern League championship series.
Prior to the 2003 season Saenz had been used exclusively in relief. At Ogden in 2001 and Beloit in 2002 he tossed 121 innings with a 3.79 ERA, allowing 102 hits and 46 walks while striking out 147 batters. As you can tell by his lofty strikeout numbers, he's a power pitcher, with his best pitch being a hard-boring fastball that regularly sits in the low-90s. Much like Dennis Sarfate, both of whom are from Arizona, Saenz is working hard on refining his secondary offerings. He can throw both a curveball and a changeup, but until either one of them becomes an average Major League pitch at worse, his future might lie in the bullpen as a short-inning reliever. That wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, as Saenz could do well in such a role.
But for now he remains in the starting rotation. Unfortunately we won't see Saenz until the 2006 season, as he will miss all of 2005 after having Tommy John surgery late last summer. He did solidify his name on the Brewers prospect map after an impressive big-league debut, a 6-inning 2-hit shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals during Brewerfan.net's annual FanFest at Miller Park in late April. While the Brewers never intended for him to stay at the big league level, he definitely opened some eyes. Before being shut down at AA this season he posted a 4.15 ERA over 84.2 innings of work. As always, he struck out his share of batters with 84 Ks with the Stars, and improved his control by walking only 18. With more and more pitching prospects returning stronger than ever from Tommy John surgery, here's to a healthy and successful recovery for Chris Saenz.
These players are still with the system, even if they don't factor into the long-range future of the Milwaukee Brewers as much as the players discussed just above. A few of them, Gemoll and Barnwell in particular, could enjoy cups of coffee with the big league club, and could fill a bench role that shouldn't be under-valued.
The Brewers liked Gemoll's bat enough to take him in the eighth round out of Fresno State University. He has made a steady climb up the organizational ladder, reaching AAA Indianapolis in 2004. Given the presence of so many other talented 1B/corner outfield types in the Brewers system, Gemoll might have a hard time making it up with the big league team, even if it were only for a cup of coffee. Despite his size and raw power potential, Gemoll has only slugged .409 in 1174 professional at-bats. Since he's limited to left field and first base, and isn't considered better than average at either position defensively, his lack of power production won't help him find his place in the big leagues, even if it were with an American League ballclub. He also doesn't draw many walks, which may point to his career topping out as an organizational soldier. That's not to take anything away from his career, as organizational players still have their value.
Eure was drafted by the Brewers in 1999 out of high school, and they liked him enough to take him again in the 18th round in 2001 out of Old Dominion. Eure would be best served behind the plate, as his arm is clearly his best tool. Unfortunately he didn't have what it took to remain behind the plate, so the Brewers moved him to third base. In four professional seasons, Eure has failed to hit .250, but he has managed to hold down the hot corner at three different levels during that time. Eure's 2004 season was riddled with nagging injuries, and at 24 years old time is running out.
Unfortunately for 19th rounder Joel Alvarado, his biggest role within the organization is to stand as proof that the system is extremely lacking in talented catching prospects. In four seasons with the Brewers, Alvarado has made a steady climb up the ladder, despite hitting .174 while slugging .219 in process. He does handle the system's pitchers extremely well with solid defense, soft hands, and a strong understanding of how a game should be called.
23rd round selection David Nolasco, a right-handed pitcher, has been used predominantly in relief the past four seasons as a Brewers farmhand. While he spent the entire 2004 season with the High Desert Mavericks, Nolasco did spend some time at AA with the Huntsville Stars in 2003, posting a respectable 3.69 ERA in 31.2 innings. In 310 career innings pitched, his 213 to 134 strikeout to walk ratio certainly isn't bad, but he has given up far too many hits in that time (372) leading to a 1.63 WHIP. A good chunk of Nolasco's career has been spent at High Desert, but at 25 years old (26 next April), it's unlikely the Brewers view him as anything more than a organizational player.
Not to be confused with the right-handed pitcher of the same name at the big-league level, this Dan Kolb was drafted by the Brewers in the 24th round in 2001. He had a solid season with Beloit in 2002 splitting time between the bullpen and starting rotation, tossing 119.1 innings, with a solid 114 to 38 strikeout to walk ratio. Unfortunately Kolb's career has seemed to stall at the high-A level the past two years, although spending consecutive seasons at High Desert is not a very kind fate for any pitcher.
Barnwell was drafted in the 25th round of the 2001 draft, and has made a steady climb as a Brewers farmhand. For the most part Barnwell has been used in a utility role, although he has held down third base at AA Huntsville the past two seasons. In a radio interview with Brewers radio personality Jim Powell a couple of years ago, former Brewers farm director compared Barnwell to Mark Loretta, praising his versatility and situational hitting. While Barnwell may be able to play multiple infield positions, and does handle the bat well, his career .252 batting average in the minor leagues isn't quite on the same level of Mark Loretta's hitting prowess. He should continue to climb the organizational ladder, and may have some value to the big-league Brewers down the road as a utility player.
High hopes, long gone
Onto the players that at one point or another offered promise as future big league players, to varying degrees of expectations, but are no longer with the organization.
An extremely intelligent young man that was drafted in the third round out of Yale University, Jon Steitz dazzled the Brewers top brass with an extremely impressive display at the organization's pre-draft workout at Miller Park. He threw his fastball in the low to mid-90s and had a nasty slider with great two-plane break. Steitz didn't make the greatest impression during his debut season, posting a 6.62 ERA at Ogden in the Pioneer League, but his stuff still drew rave reviews. He passed on attending the team's instructional camp that fall so he could continue to work on his degree, and never showed the same kind of stuff again upon returning to the organization in 2002. Steitz lost 11 games during the 2002 season with Beloit without recording a single victory, posting a 7.62 ERA in 95.2 innings of work. His peripheral numbers didn't offer any more hope, allowing 130 hits and 77 walks in that time. Just to emphasize how off Steitz was that season, he also hit 13 batters, threw 29 wild pitches and committed 7 balks. He re-opened 2003 back with the Snappers, but only made four appearances before missing time due to an arm injury. Steitz unfortunately didn't last much longer than that, and was released in July of 2003.
A Canadian not drafted under Doug Melvin's watch? Fifth rounder Judd Richardson offered a perfect pitcher's frame and a solid overall repertoire. Similar to a pitcher like Greg Moreira, Richardson is another example of a pitcher that didn't really do any one thing really well, but was solid across the board. Unfortunately, he struggled to stay healthy, gave up far too many hits and walked quite a few batters. After spending just three seasons in the organization he was released towards the end of spring training in March of 2004.
I sound like a broken record when I bring up the fact that Carpenter was the pitcher scouts were lined up to see when fire-balling righty Colt Griffin was discovered. While Griffin burst onto the prospect scene, Carpenter was a known commodity, and was drafted by the Brewers in the sixth round of the 2001 draft. Carpenter had very good stuff, and strong, projectable pitcher's frame. Injuries and inconsistency got the best of him, and similar to Richardson, Carpenter was released in late March of 2004. Neither one saw a day above low-A Beloit.
At least Richardson and Carpenter made it to A-ball, something Taylor McCormack cannot claim. In fact, the only team McCormack played for was the Arizona Brewers, from 2001 to 2003. His best season was his last season, as he hit .260 in 146 at-bats. I actually picked McCormack as a sleeper prospect several years back, as he was hailed for his compact and refined hitting mechanics and ability to hit the ball squarely. He never adjusted to using a wood bat, and was released in October of 2003.
These are the players that never received much attention as legitimate prospects, and are no longer with the Milwaukee Brewers farm system.
Sheffield, the Brewers 14th round pick, was a talented right-handed pitcher with a great curveball and a fastball that was clocked as high as 96 mph. He attended the University of North Carolina, but only pitched 7 innings his freshman season. He transferred to Young Harris Junior College, where Baseball America rated him as the preseason number one JC prospect for the 2001 draft. Sheffield quit the Young Harris team without explanation. He only pitched 12.2 innings with Arizona in 2001 before retiring for undisclosed reasons.
DeSalme, a left-handed pitcher, was drafted in the 16th round out of Northwestern State University (Louisiana). He spent two seasons in Ogden's bullpen in the Pioneer League making 22 appearances over that time before being released in late March of 2003.
Drafted in the 21st round out of a Puerto Rican high school, Viera hit .256 in 90 at-bats in 2001 and 2002 for the Arizona Brewers. He missed the entire 2003 season and was released in early April of 2004.
27th rounder Daniel Boyd was already 23 years old after his first season as a Brewers farmhand. He hit pretty well in his four seasons, with most of his career being spent at high-A High Desert. In 901 career at-bats Boyd hit .285 with 18 home runs and 64 doubles. As a corner outfielder, he didn't have the raw power the organization was looking for to justify a promotion further up the chain, which led to his retirement in July of 2004.
Gittings was selected in the 30th round as a high school righty out of Louisville. He spent three seasons with the Arizona Brewers, posting a 5.66 ERA in 35 innings of work, before being released in March of 2003.
Hunt, like 26th rounder Manny Parra, wasn't signed until the spring of 2002 as a draft and follow candidate. He was drafted in the 35th round of the 2001 draft, and had a pretty good season the following spring with Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Hunt hit .290 in 200 at-bats during the summer of 2002 at two levels of rookie ball before retiring from baseball.
Huggins was drafted in the 36th round out of Central Florida CC. The lefty tossed only 12.2 with Ogden the summer after he was drafted and never stepped on the mound for the Brewers again.
37th round centerfielder Tommy Carrow instantly became a Brewerfan.net favorite after hitting .331 and walking 33 times in 157 at-bats at Ogden the summer after he was drafted. He didn't show the same productivity nor selectivity at Beloit the following season, and retired after 270 at-bats with the Snappers in 2002.
Pruett signed late in 2001 as a 41st round RHP out of a high school in Hawaii. He spent the next two seasons with the Arizona Brewers before getting a brief taste of high-A High Desert in 2003. Blessed with a powerful right arm, Pruett wasn't able to harness his potential, and was released after just two seasons as a Brewers farmhand.
At one point Brewer fans thought they might have a sleeper in 42nd round second baseman Ralph Santana. He hit .337 in 261 at-bats while displaying good patience at the plate (37 walks) and speed on the basepaths (30 stolen bases) during his debut season at Ogden. He continued to hit reasonably well at Beloit and High Desert the next two seasons, and while he continued to steal bases, his patience started to decline and he hit for little to no power. He was released in March of 2004, and spent last season in the Florida State League as a Phillies farmhand.
The Brewers noticed Serafini the year before at the University of Evansville as the battery mate of 2000 draftee Ryan Miller. Drafted in the 43rd round in 2001, Serafini saw time at three different levels during his summer debut, but hit only .258 in 372 at-bats in two years with the Brewers before being released.
Centerfielder Corry Parrott was drafted by the Brewers in the 44th round out of Long Beach State University. He hit .205 in 83 at-bats between Arizona and Ogden during the summer of 2001 which ended his professional career with the Brewers.
Haggard was drafted in the 50th round as a catcher out of the University of Oklahoma. His career took a similar path as Sheffield, Huggins and Parrott, as he spent only the 2001 season with the Brewers in which he hit .193 in 83 at-bats for Ogden.
The Ones that got away
Players that the Brewers drafted, but didn't sign. While you can't sign them all, Ray Liotta is one of the more notable prospects that got away during Zduriencik's current tenure as the Brewers scouting director.
The Brewers drafted Slevin in the 11th round of the 2001 draft out of Indian River Junior College in Florida. He didn't sign, and ended up transferring to Clemson where he enjoyed two full seasons hitting towards the top of the Tigers mighty lineup. He played with the Yankees New York-Penn short season team as an undrafted free agent that summer which wrapped up his professional career.
Lefty Ray Liotta was drafted in the 12th round by the Brewers in 2001, and stands as the first notable draftee under Jack Zduriencik's watch that got away. His commitment to Tulane was too great for the Brewers to sign him away from. After spending two seasons at Tulane, Liotta transferred to Gulf Coast Community College in Florida, and after an impressive season he was drafted in the second round by the Chicago White Sox and was recently named the fifth-best prospect in the Pioneer League by Baseball America.
The Brewers expected to use the draft and follow process to retain the rights of 20th rounder Josh Smith, who displayed a raw yet powerful right arm as an Arizona prep pitcher. His arm caused him to receive late interest from Arizona State University. After receiving limited playing time at ASU during his freshman season, Smith transferred to Central Arizona Junior College, where he was expected to go to school out of high school. He was drafted again in 2003 by the New York Yankees, but didn't sign.
A special category for the 2001 draft, since Tim Dillard (15th round) and Justin Wilson (17th round) are two players that were re-drafted by the Brewers in years to come. Both were drafted in 2001 as potential draft and follow candidates, but neither stayed healthy long enough during the spring of 2002 to warrant a professional contract. Dillard was re-drafted in 2002, and was signed during the spring of 2003. Wilson was drafted again in 2003, and signed a pro deal in the spring of 2004. Since they weren't signed directly due to this draft, their profiles will be covered in a later installment of this series.
The talent available for the 2001 draft made it a very special year, likely one of the best ever, with Joe Mauer (Twins), Mark Prior (Cubs), Dewon Brazelton (Devil Rays), Gavin Floyd (Phillies) and Mark Teixeira (Rangers) being selected with the draft's top five picks. Joe Mauer stands to be the best young catcher since Ivan Rodriguez and Johnny Bench. Mark Prior and Mark Teixeira have already established themselves as two of the best young players in all of baseball. Gavin Floyd has enjoyed a steady and productive rise up the Phillies system and should be a big part of their future. Only Dewon Brazelton has disappointed, but he still could manage to be a big part of the Devil Rays talented youth movement.
At one point in time, Mike Jones was also considered to be part of that special draft class. Casey Kotchman (Angels, 13th overall) was one of the best prep hitters to emerge in years, while Colt Griffin (9th, Royals) and John Van Benschoten (Pirates, 8th) emerged out of nowhere to become high draft picks. Other first-round picks including Chris Burke (Astros), Gabe Gross (Blue Jays), Bobby Crosby (A's), Jeremy Bonderman (A's, now with the Tigers) and Noah Lowry (Giants) have all progressed as solid Major League prospects, and have more than made up for the disappointing early draft picks from the 2000 draft.
Other notable early round picks include Jeff Mathis (Angels, first round supplemental round), David Wright (Mets, 1st-supplemental), Kelly Shoppach (Red Sox, 2nd), Dallas McPherson (Angels, 2nd), Brandon League (Blue Jays, 2nd), Mike Gosling (Diamondbacks, 2nd), Dan Haren (Cardinals, 2nd), Jesse Foppert (Giants, 2nd), Mike Hinckley (Expos, 3rd), Scott Hairston (Diamondbacks, 3rd), Josh Barfield (Padres, 4th), Brendan Harris (Cubs, 5th) and Ryan Howard (Phillies, 5th).
Baseball America ranked the Tigers, Giants, Indians, A's and Mets as having the best drafts as part of their draft report card feature in the fall of 2001. The Tigers top picks, Kenny Baugh and Mike Woods, haven't come close to living up to their potential. Noah Lowry, Todd Linden and Jesse Foppert have all progressed for the Giants. The Indians draft hasn't turned out nearly as well as they originally thought it would, with prep pitchers J.D. Martin and Dan Denham failing to live up to their expectations with another prep pitcher, Alan Horne, attending college. The A's definitely had one of the best drafting efforts with Bobby Crosby alone, and they used Jeremy Bonderman in a trade to acquire left-handed starter Ted Lilly along with prospects John-Ford Griffin and Jason Arnold from the Yankees. Second rounder Neal Cotts was used to acquire Keith Foulke from the White Sox. David Wright has made the Mets draft look extremely successful, even if first-rounder Aaron Heilman has fallen short of early expectations.
The Twins draft has to be ranked one of the best, even if they passed on Mark Prior to take young phenom Joe Mauer. Speaking of Mark Prior, he alone gives the Cubs a very high ranking, and they also picked up talented young lefty Andy Sisco in the second round while trading third rounder Brendan Harris during the summer of 2004 to acquire Nomar Garciaparra. The Rangers also have to be given high marks for being fortunate enough to be in a position to draft Mark Teixeira.
The Angels might have had the best draft of them all, taking Casey Kotchman, Jeff Mathis and Dallas McPherson with their first three picks. While Mathis struggled during the second half of the 2004 season at AA, Kotchman and McPherson stand as the team's corner infielders of the future.
Heading into the 2001 draft many people expected the Brewers to target a bat, which at the time seemed to be a greater organizational weakness given the presence of high-profile pitchers such as Ben Sheets and Nick Neugebauer. Names mentioned in conjunction with the Brewers included prep slugger Casey Kotchman, Kent State two-way star John Van Benschoten and Southern University second baseman Michael Woods. While Kotchman and Woods were still available for the Brewers first round pick, the Brewers opted for fire-baller Mike Jones who as noted above was expected to go higher than what he did.
Not mentioned in the comparative analysis were the Milwaukee Brewers, who even with Mike Jones major injury setback stand to have one of the best drafts from 2001 out of all Major League teams. This is clearly evident by the team's five to eight draftees that still stand to be a big part of the Milwaukee Brewers in the not-so-distant future. J.J. Hardy could be the team's starting shortstop for years, while Brad Nelson may be ready to take over left field when Geoff Jenkins' contract runs up after the 2007 season, if not sooner. Dennis Sarfate's emergence could find him a place either in the starting rotation or the bullpen by 2006. Manny Parra arguably has had the best statistical production of any 2001 draftee, and if he stays healthy he could also hold down a spot in the rotation for years to come. Mike Jones and Chris Saenz have a long road back from injury, and at this point in time anything they provide for the Brewers is likely considered pure gravy.
Travis Hinton and Greg Moreira aren't considered to be on the same level as Hardy, Nelson, Sarfate and Parra, but continue to show the depth of the Brewers successful drafting effort.
The Brewers got a little bit of everything from the 2001 draft: A solid shortstop, a slugging outfielder, a polished lefty, a powerful righty, two other fire-balling righties fighting back from injuries, and a couple of possible sleepers and potential bench players. This drafting effort could easily be rated an "A" within another year or two, but at this point in time since we're still waiting for these players to prove their worth at the big-league level, I'm going to award Jack Zduriencik and his scouting staff a solid "B" for their efforts. I can't see this draft falling under that grade, as J.J. Hardy alone should make the 2001 draft a success.
Stay tuned for the third installment of this four part series, which will break down the 2002 draft.
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