The Milwaukee Brewers went a little out of character with their Day 1 selections in the 2023 MLB Draft. They still went a different route than they've done in recent years on Day 2, but the strategy has become quite clear.
The Brewers had eight selections on Day 2 of the Draft and they used them to add a whole ton of upside to their farm system. A large chunk of that upside, however, came in two selections, high school shortstops Eric Bitonti and Cooper Pratt in the 3rd and 6th rounds, respectively.
These two prep bats were surrounded by college pitchers as Milwaukee made sure they had the money available to sign those bats.
The Brewers' selections of Eric Bitonti and Cooper Pratt give them two big, high upside hitters that make this whole draft class look like one of the best in the league this year.
Milwaukee kicked off their Day 2 picks with a big upside play in Eric Bitonti out of Aquinas HS in California. Bitonti was on the Brewers Area Code team last year, which is run by Brewers scouts. They know the kid well and they like him a lot. Bitonti was ranked the 68th overall prospect by MLB Pipeline.
After going with two likely under-slot college bats on Day 1 mixed with an over-slot prep pitcher, the Brewers have some money saved to likely have to go over-slot on Bitonti, another Day 1 talent that fell to them.
The Day 2 strategy for Milwaukee became fully clear once the 6th round pick of Cooper Pratt rolled in. Pratt was ranked as the 45th overall prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was a consensus Day 1 talent. As the 5th and 6th rounds came about and he was still on the board, it was believed that Pratt would be going to college and honoring his commitment to Ole Miss. Instead, the Brewers took him with the 182nd pick and they strongly believe he's going to sign.
It's all about money at this point in the Draft. Pratt's draft spot carries a slot value of $309,900. It's going to take a lot more than that to sign him.
The rest of the selections on Day 2 were all about securing enough money to be able to sign these two high school hitters, stocking up on college pitchers.
It started in the 4th round with Jason Woodward out of FGCU. He just underwent Tommy John surgery in March and while there's good pitch metrics, he's a massive under-slot selection. The 5th round had the Crew's obligatory junior college pitcher selection, Ryan Birchard out of Niagara County CC. Good pitch data and feel to spin, but he's likely a reliever and under-slot.
Following the selection of Pratt in the 6th round, the Brewers went with four consecutive college senior pitchers in rounds 7-10. LHP Tate Kuehner of Louisville is a funky lefty reliever type in the 7th round. 8th rounder Indiana RHP Craig Yoho had TJS in the past, but returned to the mound this year and looked good, and he could come out as a starter, but he's got a good chance to be a big leaguers either in the rotation or the bullpen. 9th round pick LHP Mark Manfredi of Dayton is a sidewinding 23 year old lefty reliever. 10th round pick RHP Morris Austin of Houston Christian hasn't pitched much but has some pitch metrics the Brewers like.
All four of those seniors in the final four rounds of the day will be taking signing bonuses well below slot in order for the Brewers to have enough bonus pool money left over for Bitonti and Pratt.
These two prep hitters were Milwaukee's true targets on this day and really in this Draft overall. While the Day 1 selections tend to garner the most headlines, it's these prep bats on Day 2 that may end up being the best players of this class.
For Day 3 of the Draft on Tuesday, which is rounds 11-20, the Brewers are not likely to have any bonus pool money left over for top high school players to keep them from going to college. These two picks were the upside plays. The strategy is apparent. There may be some high school picks on Day 3 where the Brewers know they're going to school, but it'll be a lot more of the college variety for Milwaukee.
Bitonti and Pratt really make this Draft potentially something special for Milwaukee. They took five of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Draft prospects, that's tied for the most in the league with the Twins, Reds, Giants, and Mariners.
The Brewers went away from college hitters on Day 2, stocked up on older college arms that could move quickly through the system, and added two high profile talents. It was a very good day for Brewers scouting director Tod Johnson.