2015 marked the first Rule 4 Draft that new Milwaukee Brewers’ Scouting Director Ray Montgomery. The Brewers hired Montgomery (a former scout with the organization) away from the Diamondbacks this past winter following the tragic death of Bruce Seid.
Seid has caught criticism for the lack of high end prospects that have come up through the system in recent years, whiffing on picks early like Eric Arnett and Kentrail Davis early on in his tenure as scouting director for the Brewers. During has last few seasons at the helm, however, Bruce changed his philosophy and added several young, high ceiling type prospects like Clint Coulter, Monte Harrison, Tyrone Taylor, and Kodi Medeiros to the system. With players like Coulter and Jake Gatewood, Seid often valued power in his early picks, hoping the hit tool would develop later on.
Montgomery built a top 10 farm system during his time in Arizona, developing a reputation for aggressively finding value that may have fallen through the cracks. This year, Montgomery continued the Brewers recent trend of pursuing “high ceiling talent” with many of his picks, though with a different approach to the type of players he pursued.
Montgomery’s new direction became evident right away with the pick of prep outfielder Trenton Clark from Richland High in Texas. Clark was considered one of the best high school bats in the country, a left hander with an advanced hit tool and solid speed with more power to come. According to MLB.com, Clark’s scouting report is: Clark has an unusual left-handed swing with a golf-style grip, but he makes repeated hard contact with his short stroke and above-average bat speed. Factor in his considerable strength and he should have at least average power. He also adds value on the bases with his solid speed and keen instincts. While he’s not a true burner, Clark has a chance to stay in center field as a pro.
With the selection of Clark at 15th overall, Montgomery and the Brewers departed from the “power first” mentality and selected a player with a more developed hit tool while waiting for the power to come. A contact first type player is a more likely bet to make it in the majors, as a high contact player (Nori Aoki) will generally have solid value at the plate while having plus power doesn’t mean much if you don’t make any contact (Juan Francisco). Baseball America ranked Clark as the #10 overall draft prospect, so there was plenty of surprise when he was still available when Milwaukee came to the podium. It’s been reported that Milwaukee has already signed Trent Clark, as well.
The Brewers’ selected a couple of collegiate pitchers with their next two picks, both of whom were ranked higher than their draft result. Nathan Kirby, a 21 year old lefty from the University of Virginia, anchored the rotation for the better part of two year before being slowed by an injury early on this spring. He throws a plus slider and a fastball that has gotten as high as 94 (though it was closer to 89-91 MPH this spring), adding a changeup as well. Kirby slipped to number 40 despite being considered a first round talent and ranked number 26 by Baseball America.
Cody Ponce, who the Brewers picked at #55, might be even more exciting of a prospect than Kirby. The 21 year old righty is listed at 6’6, 240 lbs and features four offerings, including a fastball that has hit 96 MPH. His secondary pitches still need work, but Eric Longenhagen of ESPN notes that his cutter and curveball could be plus offerings and offers a number three ceiling for the starter.
The Brewers took another tall right hander in the third round at #90 overall, this time 6’5″ prep right hander Nash Walters. The Texan has already signed with Milwaukee, and possess a 93-94 MPH fastball with a strong breaking ball, according to Jim Callis. At #121 overall, the Brewers got perhaps the biggest steal in the draft, getting Canadian prep OF Demi Orimoloye. Chris Crawford of Baseball Prospectus describes the 6’4″, 225 lb recent high school grad as having three 60 grade tools: power, speed, and arm. If the Brewers can sign Orimoloye (and indications look good), he could be a quick riser through the system with possible star potential.
Montgomery and the Brewers turned to collegiate players for the next four rounds, with two of them having already signed:
#151: SS Blake Allemand Senior Texas A&M
A switch-hitter, Allemand has showed plenty of patience and contact ability at the plate through his four years in college. He offers very little power, but his advanced collegiate bat should be able to jump to A-ball right away. Allemand projects as a utility player as a professional, but could become a useful bench piece in the future while also saving Milwaukee some bonus money. He has already signed.
#181: RHP Eric Hanhold Junior Florida
Hanholdis big (6’5″, 205 lbs) pitched out of both the bullpen and in the rotation for the Gators this year. Reports say that Hanhold throws from a high three-quarters arms slot, featuring a fastball in the 93-95 MPH range with slider that sits around 82-84 MPH.
#211 3B George Iskenderian Junior Miami (FL)
The right handed hitting Iskenderian can play all around the infield, and his defense was noted as improved over the last season, though still needing work. A polished hitter with some power potential, he led the ACC in hits last season.
#241 RHP Nate Griep Junior Kansas State
Griep tore up the collegiate ranks at KSU this year, posting a 2.63 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 13 starts. He features a 93-94 MPH fastball and a knuckling changeup. Griep has also already signed.
The Brewers rounded out the top ten rounds of “bonus baby” picks with another couple of arms, including one of my favorite picks in the draft. At #271, the Brewers selected (and have since signed) prep right hander Karsen Lindell. Lindell pitches from a high three-quarters delivery, offering a fastball that sits at 89-91 MPH and touches 93, a slider with an 11-5 break that ranges between 74-79 MPH, and a low 80s changeup, showing above average command for a recent high school grad. The Brewers chose Maryland lefty Jake Drossner at #301, who features a solid fastball/curveball/changeup repetiore, though he has struggled with his command (35 grade on the 20-80 scale). Still, with three average to above average offerings, Drossner as the potential to remain as a starter as he begins his career.
After the first two days of the draft (round 1-10) had been completed, the Brewers had been getting some national love for the talent they were able to add. Keith Law of ESPN noted in his draft chat that the Brewers hoard of talent as one of his favorites in all of the MLB, ranking them among his top three.
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Day three of the draft (rounds 11-40) is often thought of as “organizational filler day” but the Brewers have had several late round picks (Tyler Cravy, Khris Davis, Jason Rogers) appear at the major league level this season. Milwaukee added several intriguing talents in the later round, including several highly ranked high school prospects who are unlikely to sign with the Brewers. If the Brewers could convince even one of their “tough signs” to go pro, it would be a huge addition to their draft class. The Brewers could also be attempting to build some rapport with picks that don’t end up signing, showing Milwaukee would still be interested if the player were to re-enter the draft in a later year. Without further ado, here is the rest of the Brewers 2015 draft class:
#331 SS Jose Cuas Junior Maryland
Good speed, agile defender at third base who projects to be an average to above average defender. A right handed hitter with some contact and power potential, though needs refinement of his plate discipline.
#361 LHP Drake Owenby Junior Tennessee
Owenby has a big league fastball that ranges generally sits from 88-92 MPH and has hit 95, a mid 70s curveball that flashes plus, and an underdeveloped changeup. He’s shown an ability to miss bats, but has major control issues, though he improved his walk rates this season.
#391 C Max McDowell Junior UConn
McDowell has been noted as an “under-appreciated” catching prospect, combining a solid glove and power potential with above average athleticism and speed for a catcher.
#421 1B Tyrone Perry Prep-Lakeland (Florida) Senior High
The 19 year old Perry is a pull happy power hitter with tons of raw power, but struggles with whiffs and going the opposite way. Projected as a below average defender with little speed, Perry will need to rely on his prodigious power to move through the Brewers’ system.
#451 C Zach Taylor JUCO-Scottsdale Community College
Hit .253/.343/.336 in 42 games this past season, has a solid eye at the plate and threw out 27.3% of potential baserunners.
#481 RHP Conor Harber Junior Oregon
Harber features a “lively fastball” in the 93-94 MPH range, but struggled throwing his breaking ball consistently for strikes this season. A good athlete with projectable athleticism and arm strength who has shown an ability to miss bats.
#511 RHP Michael Peterson JUCO-Riverside Community College
Peterson is noted to have a fastball in the 97-98 MPH range, and could add more velocity as his 6’7″ frame fills out. Has trouble locating, and his breaking ball needs work.
#541 RHP Gentry Fortuno Prep-Charles Flanagan High School
Fortuno was the Class 6A-7A-8A player of the year for the state of Florida in 2015, finishing a career that saw him post a 1.06 ERA in 257 innings pitched, with a 299:36 strikeout to walk ratio and a 0.77 WHIP. He features an upper 80s fastball with an effective curveball and changeup.
#571 1B Steven Karkenny Senior The Masters College
Karkenny hold six school records on offense and led the Mustangs (NAIA) with 11 home runs, an 1.157 OPS and 30 stolen bases in 2015. Three-time All-GSAC also posted eight saves and an 0.59 ERA on the mound.
#601 RHP David Lucroy Senior East Carolina
The brother of Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who describes his younger brother as “88-92 mph, a sinkerball guy with a curveball and changeup.” Lucroy believes the right hander will benefit from some professional coaching in order to regain better mechanics and lost velocity.
#631 RHP Jon Olczak Junior NC State
Righty pitched in relief during college career, reported to feature a 92 MPH fastball, curveball at 77-78, and a solid changeup.
#661 RHP Willie Schwanke Junior Wichita State
Two-way player at Wichita State, throws a three pitch mix including 89-91 MPH fastball. Improving with command, but struggled on the mound overall. In 53 games, Schwanke batted .327 with six homers and 45 RBIs. As a pitcher, he posted a 4.64 ERA.
#691 SS Donovan Walton Junior Oklahoma State
Undersized shortstop flashed a solid eye at the plate and a decent amount of power to go along with smart baserunning during his collegiate career.
#721 LHP Christian Trent Junior Ole Miss
Trent experienced a very successful college career, posting a 2.83 ERA in 44 starts, compiling 283 innings and eight complete games. Demonstrated excellent control (1.78 BB/9) throughout his collegiate career.
#751 LHP Justin Hooper Prep-De La Salle High School
Ranked #39 by Baseball America, Hooper was the first of the Brewers “unsignable picks.” Strongly committed to UCLA, the 6’7″ lefty can reportedly hit 97 MPH on the radar gun.
#781 SS John India Prep-American Heritage School
A prep shortstop some had rated as a third to fourth round talent, India will almost assuredly be attending Florida in the fall.
#811 RHP Jon Perrin Senior Oklahoma State
Pitched in 65 games, starting 30, covering 240 innings during his collegiate career, recording a 3.18 ERA and 200 strikeouts.
#841 C Mitch Ghelfi Senior University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Local product has a reported history of quality defense with power upside; hit .356 for UWM this season.
#871 RHP Donny Everett Prep-Clarksville High School
Everett is a Vanderbilt commit who JJ Cooper calls a “first round talent…98-99 MPH fastball at best.” Highly unlikely he signs.
#901 SS Charlie Donovan Prep-Westmont High School
A University of Michigan commit, Donovan is unlikely to sign. He is small, but has a plus run and arm tool, per some reports. He hit .495 with 47 RBIs, 50 runs scored and 37 stolen bases in his junior season and was this year named to the Perfect Game Central All-Region 1st Team.
#931 RHP Colton Cross Senior Shorter University
Allowed only three home runs, walking 67 and getting 108 strikeouts in 144.1 innings pitched at Shorter, producing an ERA of 3.68.
#961 RHP Sean Chandler Prep-Papillion Lavista High School
Chandler put together a 2.20 ERA in 51 innings of work this spring, striking out 45 batters while walking 26 and posting a 1.22 WHIP.
#991 RHP Connor Baits Junior UC-Santa Barbara
Baits struggled overall in his collegiate career, posting a 5.37 ERA in 43 games (three starts) covering 57 innings. Struck out 43 batters while walking 27, posting a 1.81 WHIP over his career.
#1021 RHP Tristan Beck Prep-Corona Senior High School
If not for his strong commitment to Stanford, Beck would’ve likely been taken within the first two rounds of the draft. Four pitch mix with a fastball than can touch 96 (but sits closer to 92), with a curveball, knuckle-curve, and changeup.
#1051 LHP Quintin Torres-Costa Junior Hawaii
Described as a “flamethrower” according to one source, Torres-Costa missed most of 2013 after Tommy John surgery. He posted eight saves in 19 appearances, striking out 49 batters in just 36 innings.
#1081 RHP Jordan Desguin Junior Florida Gulf Coast University
Pitched 62 innings both starting and in relief this season, posting a 3.63 ERA with 58 strikeouts and just 11 walks, posting a WHIP near 1.00.
#1111 CF Brandon Gonzalez JUCO-Cypress College
An article about Gonzalez coming out of high school describes him as “a smooth-swinging lefty, hard throwing righty, and unfettered fielder…he drives the ball well and opens holes with his speed.”
#1141 RHP Scott Grist Senior Texas State
In 99 innings this season, the redshirt senior posted a 5.00 ERA, striking out 53 batters while walking 28.
#1171 RHP Nolan Kingham Prep-Desert Oasis High School
A Texas commit, Kingham has hit 97 with his fastball while also throwing a decent breaking ball and inconsistent changeup.
#1201 C Charles Galiano Junior Fordham
Galiano has started at least 49 games in each season at Fordham, and hit .301 with nine home runs in 2015, slugging .474.
All in all, the Milwaukee Brewers drafted 25 collegiate players, three junior college players, and 13 high schoolers in the 2015 draft. 26 pitchers were chosen (18 RHP and 6 LHP), along with three outfielders, five shortstops, one third baseman, four catchers, and two first baseman. Our friends over at Brew Crew Ball have put together a wonderful draft signing tracker that you can find here. You can find a list of all the Brewers draftees on Twitter courtesy of our friend @BrewerNation.