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Feature
 
 
2005 Draft Recap, Quick '06 Preview

Ebert
on 09/26/2005

 

The 2005 draft marked Jack Zduriencik's sixth as Scouting Director for the Milwaukee Brewers. As he had done in his previous five drafts, Zduriencik once again was able to sign most of his early picks by signing his top six selections, eight out of his top nine picks, 13 of the top 19 picks and 20 out of his top 29 selections. Overall the Brewers scouting department signed 22 total picks, and once again they will enter the spring of 2006 with a large group of draft and follow candidates.

While the Brewers have had a strong focus on high school players in past year's, this year's group of draftees offered a more balanced class. Ryan Braun marked only the second college player taken in the first round during Zduriencik's tenure. Of the team's top nine picks (the Brewers forfeited their second round pick by signing free agent catcher Damian Miller), three came from four-year universities, one came from a junior college and five hailed from the prep ranks.

And once again, under the guidance of Team Canada (General Manager Doug Melvin and Assistant GM Gord Ash), the team continued to scour Canada for the best talent our neighbors to the North had to offer. With visa restrictions as they are, more and more teams are scouting Canada less and less, choosing to use their limited visas on Latin American and international signees. With the Brewers closing down their Dominican and Venezuelan camps, choosing to stress quality over quantity in their Latin American scouting efforts, the Brewers have more visas to use for their Canadians draftees than most teams have. It is a pro-active effort to find a niche in an attempt to take advantage of an area that may not be scouted as much as it should be. Of course, we won't know if this approach will prove to be successful until several years down the road, but since the Brewers didn't have much success scouting Latin America, it certainly made a lot of sense to take a different approach to scouting outside the United States. In total, the Brewers selected eight native Canadians.

For more detailed coverage on the picks from the 2005 draft and to discuss these players while keeping up to date with the team's draft and follow candidates as well as the top prospects for the 2006 draft, please be sure to visit Brewerfan.net's draft forum:

http://p092.ezboard.com/f brewersfandemoniumfrm9

The Hot Corner
For the past several years, many Brewer fans, including myself, have wondered when and if the Brewers would address their organizational hole at third base. The 2005 draft marked the year in which the Brewers did just that. First round draft pick Ryan Braun was immediately (and unfairly) pegged as the team's third baseman of the future, and they added two more potential third basemen within the top ten rounds in fourth-rounder Matt Gamel and ninth-rounder Carlos Hereaud. Michael Bell, a versatile infielder that could play just about anywhere, was picked up in the 15th round.

1. (draft round) Ryan Braun, 3B
.341/.383/.585 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage), 2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs in 41 at-bats with Helena
.355/.396/.645, 16 doubles, 2 triples, 8 home runs in 152 at-bats with West Virginia
Upon drafting Ryan Braun in the first round with the fifth overall pick in the 2005 draft, the Brewers noted that they may be aggressive in promoting him. While he started his career at rookie-level Helena in the Pioneer League, Braun lasted for only 10 games, quickly proving he could hit and produce runs as expected. He continued his hot hitting at West Virginia, but was shut down for the season upon being promoted to Brevard County with a strained elbow. The injury isn't believed to be serious, as shutting Braun down for the remainder of the season was only a precautionary measure. Braun didn't miss a beat at the plate making the switch to wood bats at the professional level, hitting not only for a high average, but for power, just as he did at the University of Miami. The questions surrounding Braun entering the professional ranks focused on his defense at third base, whether or not he would be able to make the adjustments to be productive while using a wood bat and his plate discipline. There are still questions surrounding his glove, although first-hand reports from West Virginia claim that he should have no problems staying at the hot corner for the long term. His plate discipline could use some work, as he doesn't walk as much as you would like to see, and he strikes out too much. However, he quickly proved that he is the run producer that he was at Miami, and the reason the Brewers used such a high draft pick to sign him. The Brewers may choose to continue to be aggressive in promoting Braun to enter the 2006 season, as he may start the year at AA Huntsville. If not, he will start at high-A Brevard County and likely will be bumped up at the first signs of success.

4. Matt Gamel, 3B
.327/.375/.497, 15 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR in 199 ABs with Helena
Upon being drafted, Gamel was praised for his smooth lefty swing and overall athleticism. He started his professional debut off a little slow, striking out far too much leading to 49 strikeouts in 50 games with the Helena Brewers. Gamel also walked only 12 times during this time, so while he has a good swing and nice offensive potential, he is going to have to improve his plate discipline. He reportedly plays well at the hot corner, and could handle a move to a corner outfield spot should his bat be needed elsewhere on the field. Gamel was rewarded for his offensive production at Helena with a promotion to West Virginia for the last eight games of the Power's season. He didn't hit as well, and continued to rack up strikeouts, and he likely will open the '06 season back with the Power.

9. Carlos Hereaud, 3B/2B
No stats, did not play this summer after signing
Unfortunately, Hereaud did not take the field all summer after being drafted in the ninth round. He is praised for his offensive potential, and really made a name for himself during the summer of 2004 after an impressive performance at the Area Code Games. While he played shortstop in high school, he projects as an offensive-minded second baseman and possibly a third baseman at the professional level, and has drawn comparisons to Edgardo Alfonzo given his size, stature and bat. It's hard to tell where Hereaud will start the 2006 season, but Helena is a likely destination.

15. Michael Bell, 3B/2B
.300/.375/.432, 17 2B, 3 HR in 213 ABs with Helena
Bell was named the 30th best prospect on the Cape League according to Baseball America following the summer of 2004. Bell is similar to Carlos Hereaud in size and stature, but may have more versatility as he played shortstop at Grayson College and for the Helena Brewers. He may not have the ideal range and overall defensive prowess to stick at shortstop as he moves up the organizational ladder, but he could become an offensive-minded second baseman or even a third baseman down the road. He hit well for Helena and had a respectable strikeout to walk ratio (39:23), and should continue to do so for the West Virginia Power to open the 2006 season.

Prep Pitchers
The Brewers drafted and signed five high school pitchers within the top 16 rounds of the 2004 draft. This year the team selected and signed only three prep arms, with two of them putting up impressive numbers at Helena and Arizona respectively.

3. Will Inman, RHP
6-0, 2.00 ERA in 13 appearances, 45 innings pitched, 29 hits, 58 strikeouts, 11 walks with Helena
Inman was promoted to Helena after one start with the Arizona Brewers, a tribute to his polish since the Brewers like sending their recently drafted prep pitchers to the Arizona League. After scouts soured on Inman when his velocity dipped into the mid-80s during the 2004 season, the Brewers stuck by their instincts and were rewarded when Inman's velocity returned to the low-90s this past spring. They took Inman in the third-round, the Brewers' second overall selection. He is the all-time strikeout leader in the state of Virginia, and spurned a strong commitment with Auburn to sign with the Brewers. His season statistically was incredibly impressive, as his peripheral statistics support the claims of his relative polish. Inman could move quickly if he continues to dominate, and he matches his talent with an intimidating presence on the mound. He should begin 2006 with West Virginia.

10. Steve Garrison, LHP
2-2, 2.86 ERA in 11 appearances, 34.2 IP, 39 H, 28 K, 5 BB with Arizona
Garrison, who comes from a strong academic background, signed for well-over slot value as a tenth round selection while also turning down a strong commitment to the University of North Carolina to join the Brewers organization. So far, so good, as Garrison, like Inman, showed a relatively polished approach with the Arizona Brewers by limiting baserunners (only fives walks in over 34 innings of work) while also showing the ability to miss bats (28 strikeouts). The Brewers typically are patient with their young pitchers in the lower levels of the system under Doug Melvin's watch, so Garrison will likely start the 2006 season in Helena. However, given his advanced pitching prowess, he could see West Virginia at some point next year.

14. Mark James, RHP
1-3, 10.50 ERA in 9 appearances, 18 IP, 26 H, 14 K, 18 BB with Arizona
James is the first native Canadian detailed within this feature. An athletic ballplayer with a thin and wiry frame, James has an electric arm and an aggressive demeanor on the mound. His fastball at this point in time is in the 86-90 mph range, with plenty of room for improvement. James' curveball needs work, but shows good promise, and all of his pitches offer late, sharp movement. He got knocked around a little bit in Arizona, but since it seems likely the Arizona League will be shut-down after this season, James likely will pitch at Helena in '06 .

College Pitchers
This list includes pitchers drafted and signed from four-year universities and two-year junior/community colleges. Both Kevin Roberts and Steve Hammond are relatively polished pitchers that could progress quickly, especially if they are groomed as late-inning relievers.

5. Kevin Roberts, RHP
1-2, 2.82 ERA in 8 appearances, 22.1 IP, 19 H, 34 K, 8 BB with Helena
2-2, 4.94 ERA in 9 appearances, 27.1 IP, 31 H, 20 K, 12 BB with West Virginia
Roberts follows a list of impressive athletic two-way players from the University of Houston (Brad Sullivan, Jesse Crain) whose future has been deemed brighter on the mound at the professional level. He led the Cougars in home runs as a junior with eight and in batting as a sophomore with a .374 average. After pitching well for Helena, Roberts was promoted to West Virginia. While Roberts' peripheral numbers weren't that bad while pitching for the Power, he got knocked around a little bit as evidenced by his 4.94 ERA. He did pitch 78.2 innings for Houston this spring, so fatigue may have been a factor. Roberts uses a 90-94 fastball with late life, and can touch 95 mph with his four-seamer. He also has a very hard curveball and a good changeup, which gives him a solid three-pitch repertoire to remain in the starting rotation. Upon being drafted, many penciled him as a future closer or setup man, as his velocity is consistently harder when used in shorter appearances, and his curveball gives him a legitimate 1-2 late inning punch. He could open 2006 for Brevard County, but likely will return to West Virginia with high-A being a strong possibility by midseason.

6. Steve Hammond, LHP
1-0, 1.06 ERA in 4 appearances, 17 IP, 13 H, 23 K, 0 BB with Helena
3-0, 2.45 ERA in 4 appearances, 14.2 IP, 12 H, 11 K, 5 BB with West Virginia
1-3, 2.78 ERA in 8 appearances, 35.2 IP, 33 H, 30 K, 9 BB with Brevard County
Hammond's polish and relatively fresh arm (he pitched only 24.1 innings at Long Beach State last spring) allowed him to be promoted more aggressively, pitching at three levels this summer. With a strong frame and a loose, live arm, Hammond's fastball sits in the upper 80s with good, late life. He also mixes in a pretty good slider that complements his fastball well, and he projects to be a classic sinker-slider pitcher that limits baserunners and doesn't beat himself. While the Brewers used him as a starter during his professional debut, he could move back to the bullpen as he continues to climb the organizational ladder, and may be fast-tracked as a left-handed specialist.

19. Patrick Ryan, RHP
0-0, 3.15 ERA in 17 appearances, 20 IP, 19 H, 20 K, 6 BB with Helena
The first of two players the Brewers drafted from Embry-Riddle University, Ryan pitched well in the Helena Brewers' bullpen during his professional debut. He is a very driven individual that continues to work hard to improve. Ryan pitches in the low-90s with good late movement on his fastball, and also shows a hard breaking ball. He also can throw a changeup which gives him a solid repertoire, so it remains to be seen whether or not the Brewers will continue to groom him as a reliever or move him to the rotation at some point. Ryan was used both as a starter and as a reliever during his junior year, and has proven to be a strikeout pitcher that also exhibits very good control, so he could be a sleeper to watch at West Virginia next year.

20. David Welch, LHP
4-1, 2.77 ERA in 12 appearances, 26 IP, 21 H, 29 K, 12 BB with Helena
Welch, a native of Australia, is a well-built pitcher at 6'4", 215 pounds, with a live arm and a sturdy frame. He had committed to play for Texas Tech for his junior year of eligibility, but the Brewers were able to sign him away from that commitment to play professionally, and he responded well with the Helena Brewers. Welch earned a few starts later in the season after being used predominantly out of the bullpen, and he may find himself as a piggy-back starter for West Virginia in 2006. Like Patrick Ryan, Welch could be a sleeper to watch next season.

21. Justin Spires, RHP
Did not play after signing late during the summer of 2005
Spires likely signed a 2006 contact after signing in late August. The Brewers probably discovered Spires while scouting one of their DFE candidates from the 2004 draft, Kanekoa Texeira. Since he didn't pitch this summer, it's hard to get a feel for what kind of pitcher he is. Spires likely will attend the Brewers' instructional camp this fall and will probably start 2006 with Helena.

29. Dane Renkert, RHP
2-1, 2.70 ERA in 15 appearances, 26.2 IP, 22 H, 34 K, 12 BB with Helena
2-0, 0.00 ERA in 8 appearances, 14.1 IP, 3 H, 14 K, 7 BB with West Virginia
Renkert proved that he is a power pitcher with the ability to punch-out batters both at Helena and West Virginia. He was used exclusively out of the bullpen, and returned to Helena to help with their run in the playoffs in September. A shorter yet strongly built pitcher, Renkert was also used as a reliever for Washington State University, leading the Cougars in ERA, appearances and saves. If Renkert continues to throw strikes, he could move quickly, and will start 2006 either with the Power or the Manatees.

30. Omar Aguilar, RHP
Aguilar reportedly turned down $50,000 as an eighth-round pick of the San Francisco Giants a year ago. He fell to the 30th round of the draft this year after having bouts with elbow tendonitis, and did not pitch at all for the Brewers after signing. When healthy, Aguilar has a very powerful arm, and has touched the mid-90s with his heater. He has a shorter yet strong, compact build, and flashed a promising breaking ball as well. If Aguilar can return to health he could be a sleeper to watch next season, likely starting the year with Helena.

38. Chirstopher Jean, RHP
0-0, 5.91 ERA in 15 appearances, 32 IP, 46 H, 16 K, 8 BB for Helena
Tall and lanky at 6'4", 175 pounds, Jean has a projectable frame. He had a productive season at Texas State, going 7-5 with a 4.24 ERA in 16 starts. Jean pitched exclusively out of the bullpen at Texas State before his senior season, posting a 4.68 ERA over 31 total appearances. He got knocked around at Helena, and doesn't miss many bats, as his future seems to lie as an organizational reliever.

Prep Hitters
Not counting Carlos Hereaud, who was covered above, the Brewers selected and signed only one other high school positional prospect.

7. Michael Brantley, CF
.347/.426/.376, 4 extra-base hits, 14 stolen bases in 173 ABs with Arizona
.324/.425/.382, 2 extra-base hits, 2 stolen bases in 34 ABs with Helena
Brantley is the son of former big-leaguer Mickey, who is now the hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays. The most impressive stat to share concerning Brantley is his 28 to 17 walk to strikeout ratio during his professional debut over two levels. His polished approach at the plate may allow him to move quickly if he proves he can continue to hit for a high average as he moves up. On top of his plate discipline, Brantley is also a very instinctive, natural ballplayer that has a good sense on the basepaths and is refined defensively in centerfield. The only aspect of his game missing is the ability to hit for more power, but he does have an athletic, wiry frame with plenty of room for physical maturity. Since he played only 10 games with the Helena Brewers, he could return there to begin 2006, otherwise his advanced instincts and approach may allow him to open next season with West Virginia.

College Hitters
Not counting Ryan Braun, Matt Gamel and Michael Bell, who were covered above, the Brewers added several other college and junior college positional prospects, who similar to players such as Steve Sollmann, Grant Richardson, Josh Brady and Tony Festa, have enjoyed initial success playing towards the lower levels of the organization.

12. John Alonso, 1B
.292/.375/.438, 4 2B, 2 HR in 48 ABs for Arizona
.323/.382/.581, 2 2B, 2 HR in 31 ABs for Helena
Alonso started the season with Helena, and hit the ball well before being sent down to Arizona. He showed a nice swing and a patient eye at both levels after having an impressive season for Polk Community College in which he hit .355/.464/.645 with 13 doubles and nine home runs. At 6' and 220 pounds, Alonso has a strong, compact frame and a powerful right-handed swing. His demotion to Arizona probably had more to do with a roster crunch than actual merit, and he is poised to start '06 with Helena where he could once again put up big numbers.

22. Kenneth Holmberg, 2B
.372/.450/.623, 16 2B, 12 HR in 207 ABs for Helena
Holmberg is the son of former big-league Brewer Dennis, who played with the organization from 1970 through 1975. Similar to recent college draftees of the Brewers as listed above, Holmberg enjoyed a big season offensively starting his professional career in the Pioneer League. He finished first in on-base and slugging percentage, second in batting, tied for third in home runs (12) and sixth in total bases (129). He showed a disciplined eye by drawing 29 walks and striking out 34 times. Holmberg is a shorter player that will need to prove his season in rookie ball wasn't a fluke. He will likely start the 2006 season with West Virginia, and adds another seasoned second baseman to the team's organizational depth.

23. Brendan Katin, OF
.386/.471/.649, 6 2B, 8 HR in 114 ABs for Helena
.202/.287/.250, 1 2B, 1 HR in 84 ABs for West Virginia
Katin played with Ryan Braun at the University of Miami, and like Braun was a proven run producer for the Hurricanes. At 6'1", 235 pounds, Katin has a very large, powerful frame and surprising athleticism and speed given his size. That said, he is probably a left-fielder or first baseman down the road, and will need to hit more like he did at Helena than West Virginia to be considered a legitimate prospect. Katin most likely will find himself back at West Virginia to begin the 2006 season.

27. Brad Willcutt, C
.225/.286/.365, 10 2B, 5 HR in 178 ABs for Helena
Willcutt had a long and productive career at Southern Miss, finished among the career leaders in nearly every offensive category. As a 27th rounder, Willcutt probably isn't much more than an organizational soldier, but he is a good team leader with plenty of experience and a productive bat. He finished his college career on a high note, leading his team in home runs (16), doubles (21), RBIs (82) and total bases (149), and likely will find himself at West Virginia next year.

28. Scott McKnight, SS
.242/.294/.320, 8 2B, 1 3B in 128 ABs for Helena
McKnight played with Justin Spires at Saddleback College, and played a key role as an infielder for the Helena Brewers this season. While he didn't hit the ball very well at Helena, a league that favors hitters, he hit well for the Saddleback Gauchos by posting a .354/.411/.493 line. There isn't much pop in his bat, but he is a steady and reliable infielder. Like Willcutt and Katin, he is more of an organizational soldier that should be a productive player in the lower levels of the system.

40. Ryan Crew, SS
.346/.402/.498, 19 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR in 217 ABs for Helena
Crew had a very productive career at the University of Texas-San Antonio, being among the team leaders in almost every offensive category since his freshman year. He finished his career at UTSA by hitting .379/.440/.564 in 227 at-bats during his junior year, adding 26 extra-base hits and stealing 10 bases in 11 tries while posting an impressive 31 to 14 walk to strikeout ratio. He did commit 21 errors, but doubled as a pitcher given his arm strength. He continued his offensive prowess at Helena this season, and should continue to do the same in the lower levels of the system. He's ticketed for West Virginia for next season.

Latin Import
While this isn't directly related to the drafting efforts of Jack Zduriencik and his scouting staff, the Brewers did sign Rolando Pascual, whom many considered the top Latin American free agent in a strong year for Latin American players, out of the Dominican Republic. Pascual is a 6'6", 195 pound right-handed pitcher, and is only 16 years old. The Brewers decided he was well worth the $710,000 necessary to sign him given his stature, potential and relative maturity, and Pascual has already taken care of the necessary visa requirements for him to play in the states while also confirming his age. He currently throws his fastball in the 87-93 mph range, with an easy delivery that could mean bigger and better things as he continues to mature physically. His mechanics are relatively sound, and he also throws a good breaking ball that projects to be a dominant pitch. This signing and investment was made possible largely because the Brewers did not have a second round pick due to the signing of type A free agent Damian Miller during the previous offseason. The signing bonus that Pascual received was very similar to what a second round pick would receive. More importantly, the Brewers immediately put their name on the international scouting map by out-bidding teams we are more used to seeing making a splash on the international free agent market. As noted above, after closing their Dominican and Venezuelan camps, both Doug Melvin and Gord Ash claimed they were going to take a quality over quantity approach towards their international signees, and they definitely lived up to their word by signing Pascual.

2004-05 Draft and Follow signees
The Brewers continue to be active using the draft and follow process, and signed six of their DFE candidates that were drafted in 2004 before the 2005 draft. These signings were highlighted by Lorenzo Cain, who was named the MVP of the Arizona Rookie League.

17. (draft round from 2004) Lorenzo Cain, CF
.356/.418/.566, 18 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 12 SB in 205 ABs for Arizona
As noted above, Cain's impressive season in the Arizona League led to him being named the league's MVP. He was rewarded with a promotion to Helena to finish the season. Cain is a very tall, rangy and athletic centerfielder that makes him a true five-tool player. His frame gives him intriguing power potential, while his speed is an asset in the outfield and on the basepaths. Cain has only played baseball since his junior year in high school, so while he's raw he has a lot of room and overall potential to progress into a legitimate prospect. Helena is a likely destination for 2006.

18. Darren Ford, CF
.271/.365/.326, 4 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 18 SB in 236 ABs for Helena
(33:70 BB:K) Ford is the fastest player in the Brewers' system, and possibly the fastest player in all of minor league baseball. His speed rates 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and he uses it well on the basepaths and in the outfield defensively. Ford still is raw as a player, and needs to improve his jumps and his routes in centerfield, and despite his smaller stature he does have intriguing gap power potential, and has the speed to turn singles into doubles. He even showed a disciplined eye at the plate by drawing 33 walks, but he also struck out 70 times, far too many whiffs given his skill set. Ford likely will be West Virginia's starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter to open the 2006 season.

22. Matthew Kretzschmar, RHP
1-0, 2.45 ERA in 7 appearances, 18.1 IP, 20 H, 19 K, 5 BB for Arizona
0-0, 5.55 ERA in 8 appearances, 24.1 IP, 28 H, 23 K, 11 BB for Helena
Kretzschmar continued to show his ability to miss bats as a professional with 41 strikeouts in 42.2 innings of work over two levels. He has a very strong, sturdy build, particularly through the lower half, and pitches consistently in the low-90s. Kretzschmar also throws a promising curveball and changeup, and while he was used predominantly in relief during his pro debut, his repertoire may allow him to see time as a starter next season, where he may open at West Virginia, otherwise he will be back at Helena.

42. Joshua Louis, RHP
1-2, 5.64 ERA in 17 appearances, 30.1 IP, 38 H, 28 K, 8 BB, 5 saves for Helena
At 6'1", 220 pounds, Louis has a very strong and sturdy build. He has exhibited very good control in his two years at Temple College and during his professional debut. Armed with a 90 mph fastball along with a good curve and changeup, Louis can sometimes get too much of the strike zone. He has the ability to miss bats, and room to add more velocity as he progresses. Like Kretzschmar, Louis was used predominantly in relief, but has the repertoire to be tried as a starter. He will start 2006 with either Helena or West Virginia.

47. Derek Miller, LHP
1-1, 2.75 ERA in 9 appearances, 36 IP, 31 H, 35 K, 4 BB for Helena
2-1, 3.50 ERA in 8 appearances, 36 IP, 35 H, 27 K, 10 BB for West Virginia
Miller continued a very successful spring season at the University of Vermont with impressive showings over two levels of the Brewers system. He went 7-3 with a 2.35 ERA for the Catamounts, striking out 103 batters over 88 innings of work, allowing only 62 hits and 25 walks in that time. Miller has very good control, a fastball that sits in the low-90s and a very good curveball. He's relatively old, but he has the stuff and polish to move quickly. The Brewers may be tempted to put Miller in the bullpen to fast- track him, possibly as a left-handed specialist. He probably will start 2006 with Brevard County.

2005-06 Draft and Follow Candidates
The Brewers will follow 19 DFE candidates next spring, not as many as the 23 they followed last year, but still a relatively high number of draft and follows. Familiar names include Stephen Barnes and Chris Copot, whom the Brewers drafted in 2004 and followed as DFE candidates leading up to the 2005 draft. Another familiar name is Kyle Eveland, the younger brother of big-league lefty Dana. Kyle, a versatile middle infielder with intriguing tools across the board, is following his big brother's by attending College of the Canyons. Some of the more intriguing players to follow next spring include Timothy Smith, a big, strong, powerful hitter, Zack Braddock, a tall lefty that had Tommy John surgery during his junior year in high school, Taylor Green, a sweet-hitting 2B/3B and Chris Hopkins, a speedy, athletic centerfielder not unlike past DFE signees such as Hasan Rasheed and Darren Ford. Stay tuned to Brewerfan.net and the fan forums for more detailed coverage of the DFE candidates next spring.

17. Timothy Smith, RF (Midland College, TX)
18. Zack Braddock, LHP (Chipola College, FL)
24. Michael Ramlow, LHP (Owens CC, OH)
25. Taylor Green, 2B (Cypress College, CA)
31. Patrick Murray, 1B (Santa Ana College, CA)
32. Spencer Pennington, LF (Alabama, medical redshirt fifth- year senior)
33. Jorge Core-Fernandez, RHP (Marshalltown CC, IA)
34. Brock Kjeldgaard, RHP (Indians Hills CC, IA)
35. Sebastien Vendette, RHP (Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, OK)
36. Stephen Barnes, RHP (Lake City CC, FL)
37. Christopher Hopkins, CF (Sierra College, CA)
39. Bradley Miller, SS (Cowley College, KS)
41. Jordan Lennerton, 1B (El Paso CC, TX)
42. Chris Copot, C (Lethbridge CC, Alberta, Canada, playing for Prairie Baseball Academy)
43. Kyle Eveland, 2B (College of the Canyons, CA)
44. George Washington, RF (Central Alabama JC)
45. Ulrich Snijders, C (St. Petersburg College, FL)
48. Frederick Lewis, LHP (Daytona Beach CC, FL)
50. Garrett Regan, OF (Lethbridge CC, Alberta, Canada, playing for Prairie Baseball Academy)

The Ones that Got Away:
The Brewers have done a good job limiting the number of players that have truly gotten away in recent years, given how well they sign their draft picks or use the draft and follow process to retain their rights through the following spring. Losing eighth-rounder Jemile Weeks, the younger brother of Rickie, to the University of Miami hurts the most after initial reports indicated that the Brewers were close to signing the younger of the two Weeks brothers. The Brewers can continue to negotiate with Ryan Babineau and have until Septebmer 29th, 2005 (the first day of classes at UCLA) to sign him. All indications right now point to Babineau going to school.

8. Jemile Weeks, SS (Miami)
11. Brent Allar, RHP (TCU)
13. Ryan Babineau, C (UCLA)
16. Andrew Bailey, RHP (Wagner College, NY)
26. Jacob Arrietta, RHP (TCU)
46. Alex Lowrey, OF (Louisville)
47. Matthew Broughton, RHP (Ball State)
49. Cory Large, LHP (Texas Tech)

Initial Assessment
I always have to add the usual disclaimer that it is far too early to judge any draft three months after it took place. The Brewers once again signed their first-round pick quickly, and Ryan Braun enjoyed immediate success hitting for Helena and West Virginia. It was unfortunate that he was shut-down upon being promoted to Brevard County in mid-late August with a strained elbow, but the injury is not serious, and Braun should report to springing training, and possibly the instructional league, in tip-top shape. His bat could allow him to move quickly.

Will Inman also enjoyed immediate success, and given his demeanor he has instantly become a fan favorite. Matt Gamel hit the ball well enough at Helena to be bumped up to West Virginia to finish the season, while Kevin Roberts also spent the summer with both the Helena Brewers and West Virginia Power. Steve Hammond trumped both Gamel and Roberts by also getting promoted to Brevard County given his efficient pitching and relatively fresh left arm after pitching out of the bullpen for Long Beach State last spring. Brantley finished the season with Helena after showing a very disciplined eye at the plate for the Arizona Brewers. Steve Garrison pitched well at Arizona.

All of our picks within the top ten rounds (eight total signees) enjoyed success during their professional debuts, so that alone is an early, encouraging sign. Later round signees such as Michael Bell and Kenny Holmberg hit the ball extremely well at Helena. So did Brendan Katin, who was promoted to West Virginia due to his bat.

Last year I had a lot of questions surrounding the 2004 draftees, but this year I am very excited about this draft given the initial returns, and am pleased that the team finally addressed the gaping organizational hole at the hot corner. Inman was a very pleasant surprise, while Roberts and Hammond could move quickly. The Brewers had a much more broad focus this year, and if anything seemed to move away from drafting so many prep players. They also seemed to target more polished players at both the college and high school levels. With the big-league team moving closer and closer to more successful times, the organization may be inclined to continue these trends, hoping to get more polished players that can help out at the big-league level more quickly. I would have felt a lot better had the team been able to sign one of their tougher draftees in Jemile Weeks or Ryan Babineau, but they made up for that by signing Rolando Pascual out of the Dominican Republic for second round money while also having another encouraging DFE signing class.

2006 Draft
More changes can be expected to the draft structure for 2006. Last year Major League Baseball eliminated alternating picks between American and National League ballclubs. Next year, the draft may be pushed back towards the end of June instead of the beginning of the month. These changes are in conjunction with a proposal to eliminate two lower level minor league leagues, the rookie level Arizona and Gulf Coast leagues, while also intending on instituting a universal signing date for draftees at some point in August. All the moves are being proposed as a way to cut down player development costs, and at this point in time, it seems as though the majority of teams favor such moves.

As for the the Milwaukee Brewers, as of September 26, with a 77-78 record (a .497 winning percentage) the Brewers would draft 15th in next year's draft. It would mark the first time since 2001 that the Brewers have not drafted within the top 10 picks, and it also would mean that the $2 million dollar-plus signing bonuses that we have become accustomed to would likely dip below that mark based on slot value.

Drafting 15th is also significant because drafting in that spot versus the 16th spot could mean the difference between losing their first-round pick and losing their second round pick if they are active on the free agent market. Both Type A and Type B free agents would cost the Brewers their first-round pick should they finish among the best 15 teams in baseball. Finishing among the worst 15 teams in baseball would mean the Brewers would lose their second round selection should they sign a Type A or B free agent. Since the Brewers appear to getting closer and closer to being playoff contenders, and with Mark Attanasio pointing towards the team expanding their payroll in future years, it is very realistic that the Brewers will indeed be active on the free agent market this offseason. While some may not care or even scoff at the notion of worrying about losing a first-round pick, continued player development and procurement are going to be very important since the Brewers need that process to be never-ending to remain successful. As I've pointed out in past articles, first-round picks may not be infallible, but they have the best chance to be future stars and productive big-leaguers than picks from any other round.

While the strength of the 2005 draft crop focused on hitters from both the college and high school ranks, the talent predominantly favors pitching from both levels for 2006. In fact, there is no one can't-miss hitter at this point in time available for '06.

The cream of the '06 class is University of North Carolina left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller, who is already drawing comparisons to Randy Johnson for his stuff, stature and the need for more polish at similar points in their careers. At 6'7" and armed with a mid to high-90s fastball and a wicked slider, scouts will look past Miller's bouts with wildness given his vast potential. At this point in time, Miller is the favorite to go first overall next June, if the Kansas City Royals are prepared to spend the kind of money that will be necessary to sign such a player.

High School
1. Kyle Drabek, RHP/SS, The Woodlands, TX
2. Cody Johnson, RF, Panama City, FL
3. Chris Marrero, 3B, Miami, FL
4. Jordan Walden, RHP, Mansfield, TX
5. Matt Latos, RHP, Margate, FL
6. Dellin Betances, RHP, New York, NY
7. Max Sapp, C, Windemere, FL
8. Brett Anderson, LHP, Stillwater, OK
9. Riley Cooper, OF, Clearwater, FL
10. Colton Willems, RHP, FL

Prep notes:
Kyle Drabek is the son of former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek. Armed with a 95 mph fastball and a hammer of a curveball, to go along with intriguing loft power potential, Drabek has the stuff and bloodlines to be a special player. Cody Johnson has incredible power potential, and is a true five-tool talent. Chris Marrero's frame resembles Alex Rodriguez, and he has a potent bat to boot. Jordan Walden and Matt Latos could easily be 1-2 on this list with a little more polish over their senior year, while Dellin Betances' relative polish, stuff and stature (6'8") could also make him a top ten pick. No one from the prep class of '06 hits the ball harder, more consistently than Max Sapp, while Riley Cooper and Jared Mitchell (New Iberia, LA) have the most exciting collection of tools that also shine on the gridiron. Brett Anderson, whose father Frank is the head football coach at Oklahoma State, represents the polished lefty category. Colton Willems, Chris Tillman (Fountain Valley, TX), Jason Stoffel (Agoura Hills, CA), Shawn Tolleson (Fairview, TX), Ryan Jenkins (Houston, TX), Jerry Sullivan (Budd Lake, NJ) and Jeremy Jeffress (South Boston, VA) all have live right-arms and could soar up the draft charts with strong senior seasons. Also keep an eye on lefties Kasey Kiker (Phenix City, AL), Gavin Brooks (Vista, CA) and Aaron Miller (Channelview, TX). Jeff Rapoport (Westlake, CA), David Christensen (Parkland, FL), Devin Shepherd (Oxnard, CA) and Cedric Hunter (Lithonia, GA) all offer exciting tools as multi- talented outfielders, while Nathan Bridges (Yorba Linda, CA), Grant Green (Anaheim Hills, CA), Ryan Adams (Mandeville, LA) and Ryan Jackson (Miami, FL) offer solid tools on the infield. A wild-card from the prep class of '06 could be John Tolisano (Sanibel, FL), a talented five-tool infielder. Tolisano is home-schooled, and is contemplating taking his GED equivalency test to make himself eligible for the draft as a high school junior similar to Jeremy Bonderman in 2001.

College
1. Andrew Miller, LHP, UNC
2. Ian Kennedy, RHP, USC
3. Drew Stubbs, CF, Texas
4. Max Scherzer, RHP, Missouri
5. Daniel Bard, RHP, UNC
6. Evan Longoria, 2B/3B, Long Beach State
7. Brandon Morrow, RHP, California
8. Dallas Buck, RHP, Oregon State
9. Brad Lincoln, RHP, Houston
10. Matt Antonelli, 3B, Wake Forest

College notes:
As noted above, Miller is the cream of the '06 draft crop. Ian Kennedy has been mowing Pac-10 batters down since stepping onto USC's campus three years ago, as well as the opponents of Team USA the past two summers. Drew Stubbs draws comparisons to Rocco Baldelli and Jeff Franceour for his exciting power/speed combo. Max Scherzer, Daniel Bard, Brad Lincoln, Greg Reynolds (Stanford) and Brandon Morrow all have powerful right arms and good breaking balls (Morrow has a dominant split-fingered fastball), while Dallas Buck and Jared Hughes are classic sinker-slider pitchers that command the strike zone well. Evan Longoria, Matt Antonelli, Wes Hodges (Georgia Tech) and Jason Donald (Arizona State) are athletic infielders with good offensive potential, while Tulane's Mark Hamilton and Florida's Matt LaPorta are the big boppers from the college ranks. A few players with ties to Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Brewers include UIC's Ryan Zink (RHP), a 47th round draft pick of the Brewers in 2003, Central Florida's Taylor Meier (RHP), a 21st round draft pick from '03, and Cal Bear catcher Garrett Bussiere, who was the biggest name to get away from the '03 draft as a 14th round draft pick. Zink, who works in the low-90s with a good breaking ball, has been a workhorse with the Flames and may be a local fan- favorite as a native of Madison.

As always, it's far too early to predict whom the Brewers will select in the first-round next June, but with the need for pitching and the strength and depth of pitching of the '06 class, I think a polished college pitcher such as Brad Lincoln, who draws comparisons to Ben Sheets, Brandon Morrow, Jared Hughes or even Ryan Zink makes a lot of sense.

Patrick Ebert is affiliated with both Brewerfan.net and Perfect Game USA, and can be contacted via email at pebert@brewerfan.net.

 




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