The 2017 MLB Draft is less than two weeks away. The front office of the Milwaukee Brewers is looking to add talent to an already deep farm system. You can read everything you need to know before the draft here. Here are three first base prospects who should be available for the Brewers on the first night of the draft.
The Milwaukee Brewers have been relatively thin at the first base position throughout the system for years now. The Brewers have been searching for a long term replacement at first since Prince Fielder left in free agency. Previous attempts were made by Mat Gamel, Hunter Morris, Adam Lind, and Chris Carter among others.
There are no true first base prospects in the Brewers farm system. Jake Gatewood is currently playing first base for the Carolina Mudcats, but he’s best suited for third base. He’s only playing first base now after Lucas Erceg forced him off the position.
Milwaukee Brewers GM David Stearns hasn’t acquired any first base prospects in any trades since taking over the job, so the position is still thin. The way to deepen that position is through the draft. There are a couple of options available for Stearns and Director of Amateur Scouting Tod Johnson to address first base early.
Pavin Smith, 1B, University of Virginia
Smith stands out as the most polished hitter in a weak class of college bats. He will likely be a top 10 selection. With the Milwaukee Brewers making their first selection at No. 9, there’s a decent chance Smith will be there.
Smith has hit .346/.429/.571 with 12 homers and 72 RBIs so far this season. What really stands out about Smith is his plate discipline. He has 36 walks and has struck out only nine times all season while playing in a tough ACC conference.
He has above average hit and power tools and has a pretty good arm for a first baseman. Smith can drive the ball to all fields and is just a solid all-around hitter. He has played left field, but sub-par speed will limit him to first base defensively.
Most mock drafts have Smith selected one or two spots before the Brewers make their pick at No. 9. The Twins are also known to be looking into Smith as a possibility with the first overall pick. Depending on how the top of the draft plays out, Smith could fall to the Brewers at ninth overall and could fit the best player available mantra the Brewers use. College bats are generally considered the safest picks in the draft and don’t be surprised if he’s the pick at No. 9.
Nick Pratto, 1B, Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS
The Milwaukee Brewers have been connected to a number of the top high school players available in the first round. The USC commit is used to the big stage, having hit a walk-off single in the Little League World Series back in 2011. Pratto is not only a great first baseman, but he can throw 88-90 MPH as a left-handed pitcher.
With high school players, signability is a big concern, but Pratto is likely to sign. He’s expected to go somewhere in the teens on draft night, but could go earlier if a team wants to cut a deal below slot value in the top 10. Pratto may be in a spot to get drafted by the Brewers. Pavin Smith is the most polished college bat, while Pratto looks like the most polished high school bat in this class.
For Pratto, his ceiling depends on how much his home run power develops. High school first basemen are tough to project and at 6’1 and 193 lbs, Pratto isn’t a very big guy. But he should hit for a high enough average to be a solid future first baseman.
The Brewers could follow the route the Atlanta Braves took last year, drafting a player they know they can sign cheaply and use the savings to sign their later picks. Pratto could sign for below slot value at pick No. 9 but it’s unlikely the Milwaukee Brewers will take a first-base only prep player without all five tools.
Brent Rooker, 1B, Mississippi State
MLBPipeline ranks Rooker as the 49th best prospect in the draft. There is a very good chance for the Brewers to select him at either pick 34 or 46, assuming they don’t select Smith or Pratto with their first pick. Rooker has had a tremendous 2017 campaign for Mississippi State, going .404/.505/.843 with 21 homers and 76 RBIs.
Rooker ranked among the most productive college bat this season. He seems to have hit his way into a likely Day 1 selection after getting drafted by the Twins in the 38th round last year. He’s managed to draw 41 walks while striking out 48 times. He runs well for a first baseman and has 18 stolen bases in the toughest conference in college baseball, the SEC.
The Milwaukee Brewers love versatility and Rooker not only plays first base, but he can handle a corner outfield spot as well. The combination of his offensive ability and defensive versatility make Rooker not only a possible selection, but a likely one. He has developing power, hits for a good average, runs well, and can play defense at multiple positions.
Recent moves have made it clear the Milwaukee Brewers favor toolsy athletes that can play up the middle. But given the overall depth up the middle the Brewers possess, Stearns and Johnson could look for corner position players early in this draft. The Brewers offense at the Major League level shows a propensity for the long ball and Smith, Pratto, and Rooker fit that profile well.
Smith or Pratto are unlikely to be the pick at No. 9, but there are scenarios where they could make the most sense. Rooker is the most likely option to selected by the Brewers in either the compensation round or round two.