After not having a first round draft pick in the 2013 first year player draft, it was hard to judge if the selection of Devin Williams represented a change in draft philosophy for the Brewers. Now after day one of the 2014 draft, there is little doubt that the Brewers have taken a new approach to the amateur draft.
In the past, the Brewers have targeted "safe" players that they felt might have a lower ceiling, but the chance of them busting would be slim to none. Judging by the below average farm system and the lack of top notch impact talent, that strategy seems to have failed the team.
Things changed however, as the Brewers drafted LHP Kodi Medeiros 12th, Jacob Gatewood 42nd and Monte Harrison 50th on Thursday night, giving them the opportunity to sign three players that some had listed on the top 30 of their draft board.
The strategy behind it is very interesting as many felt that Medeiros was a bit of a reach given the names still on the board. I will make the assumption that the Brewers had a pretty good idea how the draft was going to play out and knew they would have the opportunity to draft Gatewood and Harrison with their later picks. By "reaching" a bit on Medeiros, they may be able to sign him for under the 12th slot value of $2,805,700. Allowing them to have more than the $1,384,900 million associated with pick 41 and $1,100,300 allotted to pick 50.
Gatewood, one of the best power bats in the entire draft, was expected to go anywhere in the range of 15-30 with some even thinking he could go as high as number seven. Many believe he fell all the way to 41 because his asking price was too high given the risk that comes with signing him.
Harrison is thought of as one of the best athletes in the entire draft. He is in fact such a great athlete that he has a full scholarship to Nebraska to play both football and baseball. This present an obvious dilemma in terms of getting Harrison signed to play. Many players in this position give teams a dollar amount that will get them out of the scholarship and on to the minor league ball field. I have not heard any such figure with Harrison, but I believe it is higher than the $1.1 million slot value.
From Brewers Scouting Director Bruce Seid on the Harrison situation, "We know it's going to be a tougher sign, but sometimes we have to take opportunities like that."
Even with three great prospects drafted into the Brewers system tonight; the quote from Seid may be the best part of the night for the Brewers. The team recognizes that drafting "safe" players like Eric Arnett, Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley is not the best way to operate. Calculated risks in the draft can take the Brewers from having a middle of the pack farm system back to having one of the better system's in baseball.
While I am excited about the picks, it is far from a guarantee that any of them will make the major leagues. All three have quite a ways to go and have a lot of question marks about their game. The thing I love about all three though is that they have skills that could develop into top, All-Star quality tools.
Stay tuned this weekend as I will go into more depth on these three as well as other Brewers picks.