The 2020 MLB Draft has concluded after just five rounds. That means there will be a larger number of undrafted free agents than usual to go after. Who should the Brewers target?
Well that draft was fun! But it wasn’t quite as fun as it could’ve been. Normally, the MLB Draft runs 40 rounds over three days, but this year it was just five rounds. The Brewers held just five picks and decided to stock up on up-the-middle bats.
Despite most Brewers fans pushing for more pitching to be added to the organization, scouting director Tod Johnson went in the opposite direction. The Brewers went heavy on college pitchers in last year’s draft and went heavy on college bats this year. All five picks were Division I collegiate position players.
While that’s an intriguing strategy, the Brewers likely won’t completely ignore pitching when it comes to the undrafted free agent market.
Considering that undrafted players are limited to $20,000 maximum signing bonus, high school players are unlikely to sign if they weren’t drafted. Let’s take a look at some undrafted free agents the Milwaukee Brewers should target to add to their organization.
Andrew Abbott, LHP, Virginia
A smaller, 6’0″ lefty that has a future in the bullpen, Andrew Abbott succeeds with two plus-pitches in a mid 90s fastball and a power curveball. MLB Pipeline ranked him No. 116 on their Draft list and says that Abbott can use this repertoire over multiple innings out of the bullpen.
He has a future as a closer or late inning setup man that can go two or three innings if needed. He sounds like a lighter version of Josh Hader, lacking the elite fastball and elite hair, but can still succeed as a lefty in the bullpen covering multiple innings, which is what Craig Counsell loves.
Justin Fall, LHP, Arizona State
A different kind of lefty, Justin Fall stands at 6’6″ and has a potential future in the rotation. Fall has easy heat in the mid-90s with a fastball that has plenty of movement as well. He has an effortless delivery and there is a lot to work with there. His secondary stuff is meh and will need refinement, plus his control is going to have to improve.
His numbers this spring didn’t look that good with a 5.68 ERA in four starts, although that ERA was largely inflated by one poor outing against Nebraska where he gave up six earned runs in three innings. Without that game, Fall had a 3.38 ERA. There’s a lot of work and development to do with Fall, but a 6’6″ lefty with easy mid-90s velocity and a chance to stick in the rotation should be a coveted player.
Trenton Denholm, RHP, UC-Irvine
The same school that gave us Keston Hiura can give the Brewers another player. Trenton Denholm was the Friday night starter for UC Irvine this year and had a very strong spring, including throwing seven innings of no-hit ball against Rice back in February.
Denholm is undersized for a starter at 5’11”, and is more pitchability than stuff. His fastball sits in the low-90s and he pairs it with a nasty changeup that might be one of the best in this class. He also throws a curveball and possibly a slider as well. Denholm has great command of all his pitches. He also dominated the Cape last year, pitching to a pristine 0.00 ERA over 25+ innings. The Brewers seem to have targeted players who played well in the Cape in this draft.
Jack Leftwich, RHP, Florida
Similar to Denholm, Jack Leftwich pitched well in the Cape Cod League, posting a 3.64 ERA in six starts. Dissimilar to Denholm, Leftwich is a power pitcher that doesn’t have great command at present. He has a mid-90s fastball, a power slider, and a good changeup. He was the Saturday night starter for Florida this spring.
In four starts, Leftwich had a 4.15 ERA, although that was inflated by one bad outing against Troy where he allowed six runs in three innings. In his other three games, Leftwich had a 1.98 ERA. He’s got the stuff to be a solid starter in the big leagues, but he needs to figure out his command.
Tyler McDonough, OF/2B, NC State
I’ve been pounding the drum for Tyler McDonough for a few weeks now. He went all five rounds without getting selected and is now eligible to sign with anyone. McDonough fits into the rest of the Brewers draft class extremely well. He’s a switch hitter that makes quality contact, gets on base, has great speed, and is strong enough defensively to play anywhere on the diamond, including center field.
He’s a toolsy guy that has positional versatility. The Brewers clearly displayed that they love players like that and McDonough fits that mold perfectly.
Mason Erla, RHP, Michigan State
It’s a little bit of a surprise that Mason Erla wasn’t selected in the five round draft. MLB Pipeline ranked Erla as the No. 91 prospect coming into this draft. He had a very strong spring, posting a 1.04 ERA in four starts, going 26 IP with 42 strikeouts and only six walks allowed. Erla has a solid three pitch mix with a mid-90s fastball, a nasty slider, and a changeup that looks promising.
Erla should be able to stick in the rotation and his command is solid. He’d be a great addition to the farm system.
Look for the Brewers to try to stock up on pitching in the undrafted free agent market. They got some high upside bats in the draft and now can balance out their incoming 2020 prospect class. Players can’t sign until two days after the draft. After that, it’s a free-for-all.