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2005 Draft Preview

on 05/31/2005


In past years I have produced a draft preview feature to cover some of the best players at their respective positions. Since readers are now able to filter their views of draft-eligible players by position off of draft page, I'm not going to take the time to review the best players individually at their respective positions here. Instead, I am going to review the position in more general terms, looking at the Brewers depth, and trying to determine where the team might try to address that particular position. I encourage readers to check out's draft coverage for more detailed information.

Keep in mind that the Brewers under the guidance of Scouting Director Jack Zduriencik believe in drafting the best player available, meaning that they're not going to draft a player just because he fits an organizational need.

While the Brewers' farm system is deep with talent, the organization lacks catching depth. Lou Palmisano is by far the best prospect, and while he has a decent bat, it may not be a strong enough tool to overcome some of his defensive deficiencies. Signing Damian Miller at the big-league level was a good move for the Brewers, even if it meant losing their second round pick in this year's draft. The Brewers without a doubt will take a catcher early in this year's draft, and while Jeff Clement is a candidate to be taken with the fifth overall selection, I think there will be better players available with higher ceilings.

The best of the bunch:
High School: Brandon Snyder
College: Jeff Clement

My pick: Charlie Cutler
Cutler is an athletic backstop with a sweet left-handed swing. He has improved defensively, and played for the Brewers Area Code Games team last summer, and would be a perfect pick in the third round should he fall that far. Reports suggest that Cutler will be hard to sign away from his commitment to Cal, but a few extra dollars from not having a second round pick may be enough to get him signed.

First base
With Lyle Overbay at the big-league level and Prince Fielder at AAA, first base appears to be set for years to come. The Brewers will have a big enough problem trying to figure out how to handle this potential logjam, which is good problem to have. I wouldn't expect the Brewers to go out of their way to draft a first baseman within the first several rounds given this depth, but don't be surprised if they do if a player they like happens to fall to one of their spots.

The best of the bunch:
High School: Henry Sanchez
College: John Mayberry Jr.

My pick: Justin Smoak
Smoak is a switch-hitting, slick fielding first baseman that may be tough to pry away from his in-state commitment to South Carolina. He has exciting power potential, a keen eye at the plate and a slick glove defensively. He projects as a second or third rounder, and would add an impact bat to the lower levels of the system in the third or fourth round.

Second base
If you thought the Brewers were set at first base, look at the other position on the right-side of the infield. Junior Spivey and Bill Hall give the Brewers two legitimate options for the position at the big- league level, and Rickie Weeks is tearing the cover off of the ball for AAA Nashville. Callix Crabbe continues to play well, now at AA, and Hernan Iribarren's bat has gotten hot at low-A West Virginia. Steve Sollmann gives the team depth at high-A.

The best of the bunch:
High School: Jemile Weeks
College: Jed Lowrie

My pick: Warner Jones
As much as I would like to take the younger brother of Rickie here, Jones had a great sophomore season at Vanderbilt, but isn't hitting the ball nearly as well his junior year. He has a very small build, as his size and style of play is somewhat reminiscent to Chuck Knoblauch. While Jones doesn't have Knoblauch's speed, he has a very good, line-driving hitting bat with surprising pop.

Third base
While the depth in catching in the organization is extremely thin, at least the Brewers can point to Lou Palmisano with reason for some optimism. There really isn't any third prospect worth getting excited about in the Brewers system, as Adam Heether (currently on the disabled list) is the closest thing to a prospect currently playing the position. The Brewers have had some decent production out of both Russell Branyan and Jeff Cirillo at the big-league level, but neither seems to be a long-term solution.

The best of the bunch:
High School: Justin Bristow
College: Alex Gordon

My pick: Ryan Zimmerman
If Gordon falls to the Brewers first- round pick, he would easily be my pick. With Zimmerman rumored to go to the Nationals with the fourth overall pick, the Brewers may not even have a chance at him. If Zimmerman is there, he has a line drive bat and solid defense that could allow for him to advance quickly.

Even if J.J. Hardy looks as though he will be holding down shortstop for years and years to come, similar to pitching, you can never have too many good shortstops. The best part about shortstops is that they can be moved to anywhere else on the field, as evidenced by the Brewers success in drafting shortstops in the first round that didn't necessarily stay at the position: Gorman Thomas, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Dale Sveum, Gary Sheffield, and Bill Spiers.

The best of the bunch:
High School: Justin Upton
College: Troy Tulowitzki

My pick: Reese Havens
If either Upton or Tulowitzki were to fall, both would make the Brewers' scouting department extremely happy. With Upton rumored to go first overall, and "Tulo" getting a lot of attention from the Mariners with the third overall pick, neither is expect to fall to the Crew. Reese Havens is a name fast on the rise that may sneak into the first round. If he doesn't, there is some concern about his signability given his commitment to South Carolina. He would make a great third round pick should that happen.

Corner outfield
This is a tough position to project, since the best prep outfielders are centerfielders at this point in time. The Brewers look much better at the corner outfield spots this year than they did a year ago. Carlos Lee helps that, with Geoff Jenkins likely to be in right field for the next few years given his contract. Corey Hart and Brad Nelson are next in line, but after that, the list of corner outfielders is rather thin. The Brewers could definitely add some bats to the lower levels of their system, where outfielders seem to be in short supply.

The best of the bunch:
High School: Kyle Russell
College: Travis Buck

My pick: Jeremy Slayden
The Brewers may not have a chance to pick Slayden who has had a big year at the plate for Georgia Tech after missing most of his junior season with a shoulder injury. He is a pure hitter that has been raking ever since stepping on Georgia Tech's campus, including a few stints on the Cape during the summer.

After second base and first base, centerfield would seem to be a very deep position for the Brewers. With Brady Clark hitting extremely well with the big-league Brewers, Dave Krynzel at AAA, Tony Gwynn Jr. at AA, Steve Moss at high-A, and an assortment of fringe prospects from Hasan Rasheed to Charlie Fermaint in the lower levels of the system, the Brewers certainly don't "need" centerfielders. However, as noted above, you never draft for need, and other than shortstop, you get your best athletes from the centerfield crop, even if those players may end up on one of the corners down the road.

The best of the bunch:
High School: Cameron Maybin
College: Jacoby Ellsbury

My pick: Cameron Maybin
No player (other than Justin Upton) fits the Jack Zduriencik profile better than Maybin. With five true tools, he has unlimited potential, and with comparisons to Ken Griffey Jr., you know he has the raw power to be a difference maker in a lineup down the road.

Right-handed pitchers
You can never have enough pitching. Really, that's all I need to say, while injuries to Mike Jones and Chris Saenz reinforce that notion. Dennis Sarfate is having a fine season at AA, and Ben Hendrickson is starting to get back on track at AAA. Jose Capellan continues to struggle with his control, Ty Taubenheim and Carlos Villanueva are impressing at high-A, while last year's first three draft picks, Mark Rogers, Yovani Gallardo and Josh Wahpepah, are pitching well at low-A.

The best of the bunch:
High School: Chris Volstad
College: Luke Hochevar

My pick: Jeremy Hellickson
Iowa native Jeremy Hellickson has an electric arm, and he understands mechanics enough how to tilt his wrist to get added ticks on his heater when needed. He also throws a very good slider that falls off the table when it's working for him. His slighter build may cause him to fall further than he should, as he would be an absolute steal in the third round.

Left-handed pitchers
The Brewers have done a nice job quietly stockpiling southpaws the past several years. Doug Davis and Chris Capuano could be big contributors in the Brewers starting rotation for year's to come. Jorge de la Rosa also still shows promise with incredible stuff for a lefty. Manny Parra and Dana Eveland give AA a very good tandem of lefties, with Mitch Stetter being groomed as a lefty specialist.

The best of the bunch:
High School: Mark Pawelek
College: Ricky Romero

My pick: Travis Wood
As much as I would love to see Romero picked by the Brewers in the first round (and the Brewers are showing interest), I just don't think it's very likely. Arkansas prep pitcher Travis Wood has a shorter frame, but similar to Hellickson, his fastball explodes out of his hand. Both his curveball and changeup have been improving, and he is still growing into his body.

The likely candidates
Here are the players linked to the Brewers the most with the fifth overall selection. Keep in mind, Justin Upton and Alex Gordon are likely to be off of the board when the Brewers pick, but if for some magical reason they're not, you can bet that Jack Zduriencik will quickly pounce on any player that falls. Also, while Baseball America has previously reported that the Brewers may be interested in Tennessee righty Luke Hochevar or Wichita State righty Mike Pelfrey, they are unlikely to get involved with a player, particularly a pitcher, advised by Scott Boras.

Ryan Braun player profile:
Braun is having yet another good season offensively for the Miami Hurricanes. He quickly made a name for himself as a freshman after going undrafted out of high school, and hasn't stopped hitting since. Braun currently plays third base after playing shortstop his first two seasons at Miami, and there are some rumblings that he will be moved to the outfield upon signing as a pro. There is a hitch in his swing along with concerns about how well he'll do with a wood bat, and to be honest I don't see the Brewers drafting the third best college third baseman.

Jay Bruce player profile:
Bruce has soared up draft boards this spring, and while many have labeled him as a previous unknown, scouts, scouting directors and crosscheckers have been well aware of his abilities for quite some time now. He is a very good overall athlete, and a true five-tool player. Bruce's tools are highlighted by a polished bat that produces solid line drives to all fields. He has intriguing power potential, good speed and a solid average arm. He may move to right field down the road, but likely will continue to play centerfield upon becoming a pro.

Jeff Clement player profile:
Most know Clement as the record holder for the most home runs hit by a high school player. He took that power to USC and immediately turned heads by swatting 20 dingers his freshman season. He struggled to hit for average his first two seasons, but he has bounced back nicely by hitting in the .350 range this year. Clement has very good plate discipline, and he has also dispelled some misconceptions about his defense. While he's not Gold Glove caliber, he should be solid average behind the dish. And while he's going to hit and hit for some power, it remains to be seen if he'll hit well enough to anchor the middle of a lineup.

Cameron Maybin player profile:
Maybin was my pick amongst the centerfielders listed above. He is a true five- tool talent, whose potential is only surpassed by Justin Upton's. Maybin has a very good frame and projects to hit for considerable power as he continues to develop. His swing can get long, and he is prone to swinging at bad pitches, but his weaknesses are correctable with repetitions and guidance, and with his talent and makeup, another plus attribute, he should be able to overcome anything thrown at him.

Ricky Romero player profile:
If you have been reading my work for the past few years you know that I am a sucker for left-handed pitchers. Romero satisfies my fix this year, with a solid three-pitch repertoire including a low-90s fastball, hard curveball and polished changeup. He pitched extremely well for Team USA last summer as their most consistent starter, and receives high praise for his work ethic and character. Playing for Cal State Fullerton, Romero is expected to be pitching deep into June, possibly for the National Championship, and given his workload he probably won't see the mound this summer as a pro.

Troy Tulowitzki player profile:
Tulowitzki, or "Tulo," draws comparisons to former Dirtbag shortstop Bobby Crosby for his size, athleticism and power potential. Tulo's upside is even greater than Crosby's, although he missed a month of the season with a hand injury. Upon his return Long Beach State started winning in bunches again, as the team's success seems to be hinged on his presence. Given his frame, his bat is somewhat raw at this point in time, but he has a knack for coming up with big hits at the right time. The Mariners with the third overall pick are rumored to be enamored with Tulowitzki.

Ryan Zimmerman player profile:
Like Maybin, Zimmerman was my pick amongst the third basemen. However, like Tulowitzki, it doesn't look as though Zimmerman will even be able when the Brewers make their selection, as the Washington Nationals reportedly are very interested in selecting him fourth overall. He has a very polished overall game, with very good strike-zone recognition and bat control. Zimmerman makes very good contact and can drive the ball to the gaps, although there is some concern about his home run power potential. He did hit very well for Team USA last summer, hitting .468 with a wood bat, and is so polished defensively it caused Alex Gordon to slide across the diamond to play first base.

My prediction for the team's first-round pick...

Cameron Maybin
The Brewers are in a great spot this year, and have the perfect draft philosophy in which they let the draft dictate whom they select. Maybin is an incredibly talented player that could go first overall in any other draft, particularly last year's, when questions on talent and affiliations with Scott Boras muddled the draft picture. With a deep crop of positional talent, even if Maybin doesn't fall, one of Tulowitzki and Zimmerman will.

Patrick Ebert is affiliated with both Perfect Game USA and, and can be contacted via email at


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(2004-02-18) top prospect list, prospects #21-50, as voted by the fans
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(2003-11-14) sits down with Rickie Weeks & Tony Gwynn Jr.
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Rickie Weeks Signs
(2003-08-06) sits down with Prince Fielder
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Scouting the Future, sits down with Jack Zduriencik
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