Pipeline Perspectives: Brewers had best Draft
Calculating approach could pay off big with Medeiros, Gatewood, Harrison
There's a good amount of subjectivity regarding baseball prospects. With the evaluation of talent being in the eye of the beholder, finding consensus is often difficult. Even Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLBPipeline.com don't always see eye to eye. They discuss their viewpoints regularly in a feature called Pipeline Perspectives. Submit a topic for them to debate.
The general rule of thumb is that you can't really evaluate how strong or weak a team's Draft is for at least four or five years. Draftees need time to develop, move up the ladder and make it to the big leagues -- or not. At that point, a more thoughtful analysis can occur.
But where's the fun in that?
In our jobs as Draft analysts, Jim Callis and I are frequently asked to immediately assess a team's Draft immediately. So that's what we're attempting to accomplish with this week's Pipeline Perspectives as we try to answer the question: Which team had the best 2014 Draft?
Jim has opted to go with the obvious choice, the Toronto Blue Jays. Really? The team that picked twice in the top half of the first round had a good Draft? Shocker.
In all seriousness, Jim does a fine job of breaking down what Toronto was able to do beyond those two selections. For me, I wanted to go with a team that really rolled the dice and went for it, especially early on. That team, in my estimation, was the Milwaukee Brewers.
For years, Milwaukee has always been a team that's taken the players it wants to take, and when it wants to take them. Sometimes that's flown in the face of conventional wisdom. There might be some who believe the Brewers were at it again when they took left-hander Kodi Medeiros, of Waiakea High in Hilo, Hawaii, with their first pick, making him the No. 12 overall selection.
Was that a little rich for some? Possibly. But here's the thing: The Brewers really liked Medeiros, he blew them away at a workout, he was good all spring, and they knew he wouldn't be around by the time they got to pick again at No. 41. Oh, and Medeiros has some nasty stuff, as filthy as there was among the available pitchers. So maybe it comes from a slightly unorthodox arm slot. It's not like that hasn't been happened before.
The Brewers also saved more than $300,000 from the assigned pick value when they signed Medeiros. That would come in handy with the players they aggressively pursued with their next two selections.
Most felt shortstop Jacob Gatewood and outfielder Monte Harrison, both high schoolers, would go somewhere in the first round. Sure, there were questions about Gatewood's swing-and-miss tendencies, but his raw power would be too good to pass up. So would Harrison's tremendous athleticism. Yet Gatewood was on the board at No. 41 in the Competitive Balance Round A and Harrison was yet to be taken by the time Milwaukee chose again at No. 50 overall in Round 2.
The Brewers knew signability had come into play, and they had set the proverbial wheels in motion to figure out how to make it work as the Draft made its way down to their second and third picks of the night.
This is where the work of a team's scouts come into play. While signability had become an issue, Milwaukee had a strong sense that these two high-ceilinged prepsters wanted to sign and play. So there was little hesitation when the opportunity came to take both of them.
"Not signing them never came into the equation," Brewers scouting director Bruce Seid said.
Sure enough, Harrison signed almost immediately, with Gatewood doing the same not long after. Both required deals well above pick value, but Milwaukee was prepared for that. As a result, both will be on the roster of the Brewers' affiliate in the Rookie-level Arizona League and will get a ton of experience there and then in the instructional league heading into the offseason. Add in Medeiros and that AZL squad will be a fun one to watch.
Milwaukee did go after some senior signs to offset the costs a bit, but I actually like third baseman Dustin DeMuth, taken out of the University of Indiana, as one who I believe will perform (they're not all just money-savers). And the club took two other high schoolers in the first 10 rounds, though neither was ranked among our Top 200 Draft prospects.
But the Brewers are my pick almost entirely because of what they did on the first night of the Draft. They saw an opportunity to go for it and didn't flinch. Maybe it's a high-risk proposition, but because the rewards from Medeiros, Gatewood and Harrison could be so high, the gamble was more than worth it.