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Brewers' top prospect on the fun of trade rumors

Futures Game participant Hiura says Minor Leaguers joke around to handle the uncertainty
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- For every Manny Machado or Noah Syndergaard rumor, there's a Keston Hiura on the other side, a top prospect waiting to see what the looming non-waiver Trade Deadline sends rippling through the Minor Leagues. In a Double-A Biloxi clubhouse teeming with top prospects, players have made it a running joke.

Someone gets pulled from a game?

WASHINGTON -- For every Manny Machado or Noah Syndergaard rumor, there's a Keston Hiura on the other side, a top prospect waiting to see what the looming non-waiver Trade Deadline sends rippling through the Minor Leagues. In a Double-A Biloxi clubhouse teeming with top prospects, players have made it a running joke.

Someone gets pulled from a game?

He's getting traded.

Manager Mike Guerrero steps foot in the clubhouse?

Someone's about to be gone.

:: 2018 Futures Game coverage ::

"It's just all fun and games," said Hiura, Milwaukee's top prospect per MLB Pipeline (No. 30 in MLB Pipeline's Top 100), and thus, the subject of some of those rumors. "I think that's how people cope with it and relax a little."

Hiura was relaxed on Sunday, though he struck out in both of his at-bats as the designated hitter for the U.S. team in a 10-6 win over the World squad in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park. It was a who's who of baseball's future, stocked with players who can relate to Hiura's familiarity with trade rumors.

While his name has not been mentioned much in the Machado derby -- Machado, the Orioles shortstop, is a free agent at season's end, and the Brewers almost certainly wouldn't part with a player of Hiura's caliber for a rental -- he has surfaced in discussions about potential trade pieces with more club control. Think Jacob deGrom or Syndergaard, if the Mets opt to trade one of their top arms, and the Brewers opt to go big to fortify their starting pitching.

The other Brewers prospect in the Futures Game, right-hander Luis Ortiz (Brewers' No. 4 prospect), has reportedly been part of the Machado talks. But the Orioles are believed to want Major League pitching in the deal, and Ortiz has been pitching for Biloxi.

Video: WLD@USA: Ortiz gets Diaz to ground out to end 9th

"There's a lot of talk," said Hiura. "With all the trade talk, we've been joking around with each other that someone's going to be gone soon. But it's been fairly easy for me to focus. Whatever happens behind the scenes, I can't control that.

"Family-wise, my dad always freaks out a little when he gets a text from me. He's like, 'Did you get traded or something?' So there's a lot of talk, but I've been able to handle it pretty well."

Hiura has handled everything pretty well since the Brewers made him the ninth overall pick in the 2017 Draft. Hiura, a hitting prodigy out of UC Irvine, was mostly limited to DH duty last year and at the start of this season over concerns about his right elbow, but he has avoided surgery and has played 43 games at second base between advanced Class A Carolina and Biloxi while slashing a robust .308/.370/.498.

Recently, Hiura missed about a week with a sprained thumb after tangling with a first baseman, but he reported for Futures Game duty at 100 percent, he said.

"I've never seen anybody hit like him," said Ortiz. "There's only one guy probably -- [Atlanta Braves All-Star] Ozzie Albies. I faced him in 2016 and he's by far one of the best hitters I've seen, and Keston reminds me of him. He's short to the ball and he just doesn't miss."

Ryan Braun (2006) and Corey Ray (2017) are the only other players to participate in the Futures Game the year after being drafted by the Brewers. Hiura's path so far is most similar to Braun's, who made it to Double-A midway through his first full professional season.

"It's been a quick 13-14 months. There's been a lot to it," Hiura said. "Playing at four different levels in that time, getting adjusted to the professional baseball lifestyle. It's been interesting. I've learned a lot about myself in the last year.

"I always felt I was ready to compete with the best around. Being able to move up quickly in the system is definitely something I wanted to work toward. I was always up to the challenge."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Keston Hiura

Prospects Knizner, Ortiz added to Futures Game

MLB.com

Top prospects Andrew Knizner of the Cardinals and Luis Ortiz of the Brewers have been named replacements for the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday at Nationals Park in Washington.

Knizner will take the spot of A's catcher Sean Murphy, who was placed on the disabled list on Monday. The right-hander Ortiz will fill in for righty Forrest Whitley of the Astros, who left his start on Monday with an injury.

Top prospects Andrew Knizner of the Cardinals and Luis Ortiz of the Brewers have been named replacements for the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday at Nationals Park in Washington.

Knizner will take the spot of A's catcher Sean Murphy, who was placed on the disabled list on Monday. The right-hander Ortiz will fill in for righty Forrest Whitley of the Astros, who left his start on Monday with an injury.

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game rosters

Knizner, 23, is ranked the Cards' No. 5 prospect, and is hitting .318/.386/.430 between stints at Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis. Power may be the last raw tool that eludes him as he continues his ascent toward the Majors; he has just three homers in 223 at-bats this year. Knizner spent three weeks with Memphis earlier this season -- the first time he's reached that level -- when Carson Kelly was called up to St. Louis to fill in while Yadier Molina recovered from emergency surgery following a pelvic injury. In that stretch, Knizer impressed with a .333/.400/.444 line.

:: 2018 Futures Game coverage ::

Taken with what was touted as a sneaky solid pick in the seventh round in 2016 by St. Louis, Knizner had his true break out during the Arizona Fall League last season.

Ortiz, 22, is Milwaukee's No. 4 prospect, and remains at Double-A Biloxi as he works toward a season in full health after battling forearm and hamstring issues early in his young career. He's on his way to exceeding the career-high 94 1/3 innings this year, now at 49 frames with a career-high 4.41 ERA across 12 outings. He also has 51 strikeouts and a 1.235 WHIP.

Ortiz, who was drafted by the Rangers with the 30th overall pick in 2014 and came over in the Jonathan Lucroy trade with Texas in 2016, got his first glimpse of Spring Training with the big league club this year. Scouting reports indicate that if Ortiz can remain healthy and condition his body to fully exploit his 6-foot-3 frame, he has the potential to be a No. 3 starter in a big league rotation.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Andrew Knizner, Luis Ortiz

What to expect from Burnes with Brewers

MLB.com

After a quick ascent through the Minor Leagues, Corbin Burnes is ready to make an impact at the highest level.

The Milwaukee Brewers selected the contract of Burnes, the club's No. 2 prospect and No. 56 overall, from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday, marking one of eight roster moves made by the Crew to close out the week. Expected to pitch exclusively in relief, Burnes will bolster a Brewers bullpen that currently ranks third in the National League with a 3.14 ERA.

After a quick ascent through the Minor Leagues, Corbin Burnes is ready to make an impact at the highest level.

The Milwaukee Brewers selected the contract of Burnes, the club's No. 2 prospect and No. 56 overall, from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday, marking one of eight roster moves made by the Crew to close out the week. Expected to pitch exclusively in relief, Burnes will bolster a Brewers bullpen that currently ranks third in the National League with a 3.14 ERA.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Burnes' promotion comes amidst a stretch of three straight scoreless relief appearances for the Sky Sox during which he allowed just two hits across 4 1/3 scoreless frames. The outings were a marked improvement compared to Burnes' first three relief outings, when Burnes permitted seven earned runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 frames.

The Brewers shifted Burnes to the bullpen from the starting rotation in mid-June, after the 23-year-old right-hander had pitched to a 4.96 ERA over 69 innings and 13 starts for the Sky Sox. Despite his struggles in the role, Burnes still managed to complete at least five innings in 10 of those 13 turns, all while registering 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

Overall, Burnes posted a 5.15 ERA across 19 games in the Pacific Coast League, compiling 81 strikeouts and 31 walks in 78 2/3 innings.

Burnes' Draft stock took off behind his strong showing in the 2015 Cape Cod League, and he built upon that performance the following spring as St. Mary's Fright-night starter. The Brewers made Burnes their fourth-round pick in the 2016 Draft, signed him for slot value and then watched him advance to Class A Wisconsin in his professional debut.

Assigned to Class A Advanced Carolina to begin his first full season, Burnes made quick work of the Carolina League, going 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 10 starts en route to a late-May promotion to Double-A Biloxi. The Bakersfield, Calif. native was even more impressive during his time in the Southern League, registering a 2.10 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 84 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings (16 starts).

He ultimately garnered honors as Milwaukee's Minor League pitcher of the year after finishing second in the Minors with a 1.67 ERA to go along with a 0.95 WHIP, .200 opponents' average and 140-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 145 2/3 innings (26 starts).

Burnes offered Brewers fans a glimpse of his impressive stuff and bullpen potential this past spring with three strong relief appearances, two of them scoreless, in his first big league camp.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder demonstrates advanced feel for executing and sequencing four average-or-better pitches, all of which play up thanks to his above-average command.

A lightning-fast arm enables Burnes to generate a 92-95 mph fastball that has natural cutting action and could play up a few ticks in short bursts out of the bullpen. He pounds the strike zone with the pitch, using it to attack hitters on both sides of the plate, and he maintains velocity deep into starts.

Burnes' above-average curveball, thrown with a high spin rate and late, downer action, is his best secondary offering, and he also shows earns above-average grades from evaluators for his mid-80s slider. Burnes rounds out his arsenal with an effective changeup that has splitter-like action in the mid- to upper-80s, giving him a weapon against left-handed hitters.

Though he'll be utilized in relief in his first taste of the big leagues, Burnes still projects as a starter long term for the Brewers. That, of course, was also said about Josh Hader at the time of his first callup in 2017, and the left-hander has since developed into one of the more valuable bullpen assets, headlining a Milwaukee bullpen replete with strikeout artists.

Regardless of his future role, Burnes, with his combination of stuff, pitchability and overall aptitude on the mound, has the potential to immediately impact a Brewers club that currently sits atop the National League Central with a 54-36 overall record and 1.5-game lead over the second-place Cubs.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Milwaukee Brewers

Cain activated; prospect Burnes called up

Braun, Pina to disabled list among flurry of roster moves
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Lorenzo Cain returned from the disabled list, Ryan Braun and Manny Pina hit the DL and the Brewers promoted top pitching prospect Corbin Burnes amid a flurry of roster moves on Sunday.

It was a week's worth of transactions packed into one busy morning:

View Full Game Coverage

MILWAUKEE -- Lorenzo Cain returned from the disabled list, Ryan Braun and Manny Pina hit the DL and the Brewers promoted top pitching prospect Corbin Burnes amid a flurry of roster moves on Sunday.

It was a week's worth of transactions packed into one busy morning:

View Full Game Coverage

• Cain (left groin) activated from the 10-day DL
• Braun placed on the 10-day DL with a back strain
• Pina placed on the 10-day DL with a left biceps strain
• Burnes selected from Triple-A Colorado Springs
• Catcher Jacob Nottingham recalled from Triple-A
• Infielder Nate Orf recalled from Triple-A
• Pitcher Aaron Wilkerson optioned to Triple-A
• Pitcher Mike Zagurski designated for assignment

"I don't know that I've been in a situation where you make [this many] moves in a day and feel completely comfortable with what's coming back to replace it," Brewers general manager David Stearns said. "Getting 'LoCain' back is a huge boost for this club."

Cain had been on the DL with a left groin strain but passed a final test on Saturday, just before Braun was scratched with tightness in his back and right side.

"Today was just the combination of a lot of circumstances. It all just came to one day," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

Wilkerson was sent back down to Triple-A after an effective start on Saturday against the Braves, and Zagurski was designated for assignment to make room for Burnes, the 23-year-old ranked second on MLB Pipeline's top Brewers prospects behind second baseman Keston Hiura, and No. 56 in the Top 100.

Video: ATL@MIL: Wilkerson strikes out Swanson in the 4th

Zagurski, a 35-year-old journeyman left-hander, was ineffective in two Brewers appearances, including Saturday when he yielded back-to-back RBI triples to left-handed hitters Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis in a three-run eighth inning that sealed Milwaukee's 5-1 loss.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers. Zagurski was effective in Triple-A, and the Brewers hope to keep him in the organization, Counsell said.

Timing played role in Braun, Pina moves
The pending All-Star break, which is one week away, played a role in the Brewers' decisions to place Braun and Pina on the 10-day DL with injuries that might have been treated as day-to-day matters in a different segment of the schedule.

Braun said the issue was related to a bout of back tightness last week while the Brewers were in Cincinnati.

"Counsell talked to me after the game yesterday, and where we're at as a team and the timing of it, the fact that I've been dealing with this for a while now, we just felt like it was the right thing to do," Braun said. "I irritated it a little bit again the other day to the point where it's painful to swing.

"I've played through these intercostal-type things plenty of times, but once it gets to that point, you have to shut it down. Sometimes it's two days, sometimes it's 10 days. You just don't know."

Video: ATL@MIL: Brewers make multiple roster moves

Pina said he felt biceps pain on a swing in his second at-bat against the Braves on Friday. He managed to stay in the game before undergoing an MRI on Saturday morning that confirmed a muscle strain.

"There was some debate whether we needed [the DL], but it's close enough with the All-Star break that we can just get him good for the second half, and he'll be active after the break," Counsell said. "It's not a bad injury, but it's enough that DL time is required, especially with a catcher." 

Erik Kratz and Nottingham are expected to share starts over the next week. Nottingham, MLB Pipeline's No. 25 Brewers prospect, made his Major League debut in April and played in three games, including two starts.

Burnes set for MLB debut
The Brewers see Burnes as a starter long term, but they recently shifted him to relief at Triple-A to give him experience in that role in the event of a callup. He will be used out of the bullpen.

Like left-hander Josh Hader last year and right-hander Brandon Woodruff this year, it can take some time for prospects accustomed to the routine of starting games to adjust to the bullpen. Of his six relief appearances for the SkySox, Burnes allowed seven total runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings in two of them, and pitched scoreless ball in the other four. His three most recent outings were scoreless.

"We had shortened his length in between appearances and amended his prep time," Counsell said. "When you call down there, how fast can you get ready? And that's a big issue, when you're starting and you have this use at the time, or the phone rings and it's two hitters later. That's the biggest adjustment those guys make. We feel like we got through that and he handled it very well."

Last call
• Left-hander Wade Miley will rejoin the Brewers on Monday in Miami and is an option to fill the next opening in the starting rotation on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Miley, on the 60-day DL with a right oblique strain, pitched four scoreless innings on 57 pitches in his latest rehab start for Double-A Biloxi on Saturday and is eligible to come off the DL beginning Monday.

• Woodruff's most recent start for the SkySox was cut short after four innings on Monday, and he did not pitch again before the Triple-A schedule reached its All-Star break on Sunday night. That was by design, according to Stearns.

"There's nothing up with him. He's fine," Stearns said. "We got the Triple-A All-Star break coming up, managing innings. We've got a lot of [Major League] innings coming this week, and we're likely going to need a couple of pitchers to cover those innings. We want to make sure we're giving ourselves flexibility." 

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain

Top prospect Hiura chosen for Futures Game

MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- One day after the Brewers signed 2018 first-round Draft pick Bryce Turang, last year's top pick was named to the prestigious SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.

Futures Game roster revealed

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MILWAUKEE -- One day after the Brewers signed 2018 first-round Draft pick Bryce Turang, last year's top pick was named to the prestigious SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.

Futures Game roster revealed

View Full Game Coverage

Fast-rising infielder Keston Hiura, MLB Pipeline's No. 1 Brewers prospect and No. 30 on the overall Top 100 list, will be Milwaukee's lone representative at the prospect showcase on July 15 at Nationals Park in Washington.

Tweet from @Kestdaddy: Blessed and excited to represent @Brewers at this year���s #FuturesGame ! Hope to see you all out in DC July 15th! https://t.co/oHeWTZG2By

The Brewers drafted Hiura ninth overall last year, and he was limited to designated hitter duty while recovering from a right elbow injury. He has split time between second base and DH this year and remains a hitting machine at Class A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Biloxi, entering Friday with a .322/.381/.523 slash line between the two stops.

Hiura was sidelined recently with a mild strain of his left thumb, but returned to Biloxi's lineup on Friday.

He's one of 30 members of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects slated to take part in the game, which will stream live on MLB.com. MLB Network will exclusively televise the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at 3 p.m. CT, with Greg Amsinger, Harold Reynolds, Lauren Shehadi and Jim Callis calling the contest live. The game will also be available to SiriusXM subscribers.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Turang motivated to prove doubters wrong

MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Playing with a chip on his shoulder worked for one notable Wisconsin athlete. Perhaps it will work for another.

Sounding a bit like Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers after he slipped to the Green Bay Packers at No. 24 in the 2005 NFL Draft, California prep shortstop Brice Turang said he was determined to make teams regret letting him fall to the Brewers at No. 21 in the MLB Draft last month. Turang signed Thursday for $3.4111 million, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis.

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MILWAUKEE -- Playing with a chip on his shoulder worked for one notable Wisconsin athlete. Perhaps it will work for another.

Sounding a bit like Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers after he slipped to the Green Bay Packers at No. 24 in the 2005 NFL Draft, California prep shortstop Brice Turang said he was determined to make teams regret letting him fall to the Brewers at No. 21 in the MLB Draft last month. Turang signed Thursday for $3.4111 million, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis.

View Full Game Coverage

"Obviously, there were some teams that didn't like me and some teams that did," said Turang, who was mentioned as a possible top overall pick before his senior season at Santiago High School in Corona, Calif. "It happened to work that way, and I'm happy with where I'm at. I'm going to go out there and put a chip on my shoulder and play as hard as I can to pretty much show what they lost.

"That's just kind of how I am."

Video: Draft 2018: Brewers draft SS Brice Turang No. 21

Turang had a scholarship waiting at LSU had he opted not to sign with the Brewers, and he said the decision went nearly down to the wire. It wasn't until Wednesday, Turang said, that he knew for sure he was going the professional route. He put pen to paper at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix on Thursday, a day before the deadline.

In the run-up to that life-altering decision, Turang tried to keep things as normal as possible.

"I went out and hit, I hung out with my friends," he said. "I wasn't quite thinking about it. Then we were kind of getting to the deadline and I was like, 'OK, let's try to figure this out.' So we did. Now I'm out here in Arizona playing for the Brewers."

Tweet from @BriceCturang: So happy to be a brewer thank you for all the love and support! God bless ������ @Brewers pic.twitter.com/XD7zw7SBR3

It was "extremely hard" to pass on a scholarship to play for LSU, he said.

"I'm not going to look behind," said Turang. "I wish LSU the best of luck. They're going to go out here and win a national championship. I know they will. It was a tough call, but I'm excited to be out here."

Turang will begin his professional career in the Rookie-level Arizona League, but the Brewers have shown a willingness to advance high school picks to the Pioneer League in their first year of pro ball. That was the path of outfielder Tristen Lutz last year after the Brewers drafted him 34th overall. This year, Lutz is playing at Class A Wisconsin as a 19-year-old.

"[Turang] hasn't seen live pitching in quite a while, so we'll get him ramped back up down there in Arizona and let him get his feet wet on the routine of being a professional baseball player," Brewers amateur scouting director Tod Johnson said. "Then, we'll see."

The Brewers struck one other agreement on deadline day with 20th round pick Joey Matulovich, a right-hander coming off his junior season at Cal. His bonus was lower than $125,000, so it did not count against Milwaukee's pool. The Brewers signed fewer players than in past years -- 23 of 40 Draft picks, plus eight undrafted free agents -- but still exceeded their pool by nearly four percent and will pay a tax on that overage. Milwaukee used its remaining dollars to make some last-minute offers Friday to players with college offers, but none bit.

"I think we took an 'aggressive' class, as far as a lot of high school kids after the 10th round," Johnson said. "They obviously have options, and junior college players as well, to go to school if we don't reach an agreement. In other cases, for instance with [12th rounder] Korry Howell and [12th rounder] Reese Olson and [24th rounder] Wade Beasley and [25th rounder] Pablo Garabitos, we were able to get those guys to sign. We feel good about that."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Crew nears deals with 3 Top 30 int'l prospects

MLB.com

The Brewers signed more than 35 international prospects during the 2017-2018 signing period, and the total is close to 50 prospects from nine different countries when the previous period is included.

The Brewers signed more than 35 international prospects during the 2017-2018 signing period, and the total is close to 50 prospects from nine different countries when the previous period is included.

:: 2018 International Signing Period ::

Expect the club to be busy unearthing talent again.

According to industry sources, the Brewers agreed to deals with outfielder Eduarqui Fernandez, who ranked No. 18 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list and shortstop Branylan Jaraba, No. 26, for $1.1 million each.

The Brewers are also the favorite to land No. 20 Eduardo Garcia, who is not eligible to sign until he turns 16 on July 10, for a bonus amount similar to Jaraba and Fernandez. There's also a deal for $500,000 with outfielder Erys Bautista of the Dominican Republic.

The club did not confirm the deals.

Fernandez, who is from the Dominican Republic, is an aggressive hitter with some pop and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. He profiles as a center fielder, but could end up in one of the corner outfield positions because of his size and overall skill set. He has been compared to a young version of former big leaguer Alex Rios.

Garcia, who is from Venezuela, is one of the top defenders in this year's class. The teenager could hit 10-12 home runs in the big leagues one day, but it will be his glove more than his bat that will propel him through the Minor Leagues and make him an everyday player.

As for Jaraba, the teenager from Colombia is a big-bodied athlete with a plus bat, plus power and plus arm potential. He's a decent shortstop now and projects to be an above-average defender at third base in the future.

According to the rules established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, clubs -- like the Brewers -- that received a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the MLB Draft received a pool of $6,025,400, while clubs that received a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Draft received $5,504,500. All other clubs received $4,983,500.

Teams are allowed to trade as much of their international pool money as they would like, but can only acquire 75 percent of a team's initial pool amount. Additionally, signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward a club's bonus pool, and foreign professional players who are at least 25 and have played in a foreign league for at least six seasons are also exempt.

 

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Peralta: Miller Park debut will be 'like a dream'

Counsell will continue to rotate starts at second base and shortstop
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Freddy Peralta's Miller Park debut is finally almost here.

After making his first three Major League starts on the road and seeing a home start pushed back due to Wednesday's rainout in Pittsburgh, the rookie will take the Miller Park mound for the first time on Tuesday against the Royals, giving fans their first look at one of the club's top prospects.

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MILWAUKEE -- Freddy Peralta's Miller Park debut is finally almost here.

After making his first three Major League starts on the road and seeing a home start pushed back due to Wednesday's rainout in Pittsburgh, the rookie will take the Miller Park mound for the first time on Tuesday against the Royals, giving fans their first look at one of the club's top prospects.

View Full Game Coverage

"I'm very excited," Peralta said. "It's like a dream, pitching in Miller Park."

The right-hander started his career on Mother's Day in Colorado, striking out 13 over 5 2/3 scoreless innings in front of his family, who were visiting from the Dominican Republic and had never seen him pitch as a professional. Instead of seeing him pitch that day for Triple-A Colorado Springs, Peralta was called up for his debut when Chase Anderson became ill.

Video: MIL@COL: Peralta strikes out 13 over 5 2/3 in debut

Anderson went on the disabled list, which led to Peralta's second start at Minnesota on May 19, when he allowed four earned runs over four innings while walking six and striking out five. Sent back down to Triple-A after the start, Peralta was called up to pitch on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, when he struck out seven over six shutout innings.

"I had good command of the fastball and confidence in myself and my teammates," Peralta said. "Just was using my fastball a lot, going to it, and it worked on the corners and everything went pretty well."

Video: MIL@PIT: Peralta K's 7 over 6 scoreless innings

Peralta, who turned 22 on June 4, is 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his first three big league games, all of which the Brewers have won. In 59 innings in Triple-A this season, he is 6-1 with a 2.75 ERA with 84 strikeouts, and he's replicating his success at the Major League level.

"I know that [Major League hitters] are smart, but I just have to pitch the same and believe in myself, trust my ability in making pitches," Peralta said. "I know they're better hitters than in the Minor Leagues, and I just have to make the adjustments, but it's all the same for me."

Middle-infield shuffle continues

Adding Brad Miller to the Major League roster on Saturday, the Brewers have plenty of options in the middle infield. Just look at the second base-shortstop pairings manager Craig Counsell drew up for Milwaukee's four-game series against the Cardinals: Jonathan Villar and Eric Sogard started on Thursday, Villar and Orlando Arcia on Friday and Sunday and Miller and Hernan Perez on Saturday.

Villar, Perez and Sogard all have at least 19 starts at second base this year for the Brewers, and Arcia and Sogard each have at least 21 at shortstop and Tyler Saladino has nine (which would be more if not for an ankle injury in late May).

It's a lot of shuffling, and Counsell said it will continue for the foreseeable future.

"It's not a strict platoon in any way," Counsell said, "but I think you will see some different sets of players in the middle infield going forward here."

The Brewers are hoping one of their many options up the middle begins to stand out offensively. Perez entered Sunday's game hitting .260, but his ability to play everywhere but catcher makes him a valuable asset. Saladino hit .324 in 16 games, but he's still recovering from an ankle injury. Sogard raised his average to .146 after recording a hit as a pinch-hitter on Friday and Saturday. Arcia is hovering around the .200 mark and was sent down to Triple-A earlier this season, while Villar has maybe been the best offensive option, batting .261 going into Sunday.

And then on Saturday the Brewers added Miller, who went 1-for-2 with a RBI and a walk in his debut at second base.

Video: STL@MIL: Miller hits an RBI single in 1st Brewers AB

Miller, who also can play in the outfield, thinks consistent playing time will come down to who is able to seize their chance.

"I feel like they always do a good job of communicating [what the situation is], but whoever takes advantage of opportunity, it's all about performance," Miller said. "We've got a lot of good players, so we're in a good spot. It'll be kind of fun to mix and match and go get 'em."

Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen__Cohn.

Milwaukee Brewers, Freddy Peralta

2nd-rounder Gray signs with Crew, meets idol

Outfielder, 18, plays catch alongside Yelich before game
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Joe Gray Jr. signed a contract to play professional baseball on Friday, and when he came to Miller Park, the thing he was most excited for was to meet Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich.

"That's my favorite guy, no offense to anyone else on the team, but that's my guy," said Gray, the Brewers' second-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. "When I got to the park, I really wanted to make sure I met Yelich and [Lorenzo] Cain before I left."

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MILWAUKEE -- Joe Gray Jr. signed a contract to play professional baseball on Friday, and when he came to Miller Park, the thing he was most excited for was to meet Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich.

"That's my favorite guy, no offense to anyone else on the team, but that's my guy," said Gray, the Brewers' second-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. "When I got to the park, I really wanted to make sure I met Yelich and [Lorenzo] Cain before I left."

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When Gray was playing catch in foul ground on the first-base side of the field before Friday's game between the Cardinals and Brewers, Yelich was right beside him.

On if that was cool, Gray nodded and smiled, "That's, mm-hmm, yeah."

Tweet from @stephen__cohn: Introducing Joe Gray Jr. ��� the #Brewers��� 2nd round pick. pic.twitter.com/cSVIXf3K5N

Gray's goal is to one day be manning the outfield at Miller Park alongside Yelich, but the 18-year-old -- the Brewers' first Draft pick born in the 2000s -- has a way to go.

"I had a little bit of knowledge about the Brewers," Gray said. "It's a phenomenal organization, they're really playing well this year, and I hope I can be a part of that the next few years."

2018 Draft Tracker: Every Brewers pick

The Hattiesburg, Miss., native made the trip to Milwaukee on Friday with his mother, father and younger sister, but he is headed to Arizona to begin his professional career Saturday. He had been committed to Ole Miss to play college baseball. Gray, the 60th overall pick, signed for the full slot value at $1,113,500, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis.

Tweet from @Brewers: #Brewers 2nd round pick @JoJo2Gray took BP at Miller Park for the 1st time today. He also got to wear some pretty sweet threads. #ThisIsMyCrew pic.twitter.com/c66sZvsN8M

At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Gray hit .474 with seven home runs and 45 RBIs last season, and comes from the same high school program that has produced five Major Leaguers, including former outfielder Wendell Magee.

"It's always a great day when there's an opportunity for somebody to start their dream," said Brewers scouting director Tod Johnson. "We're happy it came together for us."

Video: Draft 2018: Brewers draft OF Joe Gray No. 60

Before heading off to Maryvale, Gray is just a kid soaking it in and standing next to his idol.

"It's an unreal situation right here," Gray said. "It's what every kid would dream of, and I can't be any happier."

Milwaukee's first-round pick, shortstop Brice Turang, has not signed, but Johnson said the organization is "still working through the process." Ninth-round pick Arbert Cipion also remains unsigned inside the top 10 rounds. The deadline for players to sign is July 6.

Video: STL@MIL: Stearns on Draft picks, team's defense

Barnes continues to attack
Jacob Barnes was a fixture in the Brewers' bullpen a season ago, but he was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs on May 12. Since being recalled May 28, he has appeared in nine games and allowed zero runs over 9 1/3 innings.

"Jacob has been really good since he got back," said manager Craig Counsell. "For him it's all about attacking hitters, go after the hitters. When he does that, he always gets good results."

The strikeout numbers are down for Barnes -- he had eight since returning from Triple-A and just one multi-strikeout appearance after having six such outings over his first 10 appearances -- but his ERA is down to 1.91 after reaching 2.84 at the time of the demotion.

"When he's on the attack, making them swing the bat or offering pitches right on the end of the strike zone, he's going to have success," Counsell said.

Amid a stretch of 24 games in 24 days leading into the All-Star break, the Brewers need options in the bullpen, especially because no starter has worked into the eighth inning this season. Brent Suter has lasted seven innings twice in his past two starts, and Jhoulys Chacin finished seven frames once.

Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen__Cohn.

Milwaukee Brewers

Dubon rehabbing from season-ending surgery

MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers prospect Mauricio Dubon is slowly easing his way back toward baseball activity after season-ending ACL surgery in May.

Dubon, No. 10 on MLB Pipeline's list of the Brewers' top prospects, was playing with Triple-A Colorado Springs on May 5 when he sustained a torn ACL to his left knee in an eighth-inning rundown. His routine has become daily leg and quadriceps exercises, as well as a steady diet of watching baseball games and highlights. The Brewers expect Dubon to be good to go by 2019 Spring Training.

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MILWAUKEE -- Brewers prospect Mauricio Dubon is slowly easing his way back toward baseball activity after season-ending ACL surgery in May.

Dubon, No. 10 on MLB Pipeline's list of the Brewers' top prospects, was playing with Triple-A Colorado Springs on May 5 when he sustained a torn ACL to his left knee in an eighth-inning rundown. His routine has become daily leg and quadriceps exercises, as well as a steady diet of watching baseball games and highlights. The Brewers expect Dubon to be good to go by 2019 Spring Training.

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"He will handle this very well, no question," farm director Tom Flanagan said. "He is passionate in everything that he does, and we are confident that Mauricio will come back from this better than before."

The 23-year-old is eager to continue his work that he began putting in during the 2017-18 offseason, when he was telling his trainers and his father that he would knock 20 home runs this year -- despite never hitting more than eight in a single campaign.

If Dubon didn't sustain the injury, the numbers say the shortstop would have had a chance to reach the milestone. Or -- more likely -- he would've made his Major League debut before he even hit 20.

Video: MIL@LAA: Dubon serves an RBI single to right field

"At the time, I knew something had happened," Dubon said of the injury. "I was disappointed because I knew a chance was coming, but it wasn't bad because I had good people behind me who supported me."

Dubon, a native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, credits his host family in Sacramento, his birth family in Honduras and his girlfriend for all helping him mentally through the recovery process.

But that hasn't made it any easier knowing what could have been in 2018.

"I watched the play two to three times, but now every time I watch it, I get upset," Dubon said. "I keep telling the guys that I remember the play vividly, what happened, when it happened. It was a freakish accident. It happened, and you can't control that."

The Red Sox selected Dubon in the 26th round of the 2013 MLB Draft before the Brewers acquired him as part of the deal that brought Milwaukee its starting third baseman, Travis Shaw. Dubon hit .343 with four home runs and 18 RBI in 27 games for the Sky Sox before going down this season.

Flanagan says Dubon has continued to impress the front office since the December 2016 trade.

"He was really putting together an excellent start to the season and on his way to big things at the time of his injury," Flanagan said. "Both he and the organization see really big things ahead for him."

Dubon says he owes his career-best numbers to a "mindset change" -- and Sky Sox teammate Nate Orf.

"If you catch the ball in front, it'll free your hands," Orf told Dubon last summer.

Making the adjustment throughout the offseason, Dubon entered the spring looking to be able to drive the baseball, and then things started to click.

Dubon started the 2018 season in Triple-A, but he likely would have been called up during the summer due to a lack of production from Milwaukee's middle infielders at the Major League level. Instead, Dubon's roommate, Freddy Peralta, was the one who made his big league debut this year and struck out 13 batters on Mother's Day in his first start.

"We used to talk about that every night when we were on the road," Dubon said. "We talked about how our Major League debut would be."

And Dubon knows that his time is likely to come when he'll be manning shortstop at Miller Park.

"I have a lot of trust in myself, a lot of confidence," Dubon said. "I'm going to be one of the guys next year. Hopefully next year I can help the Brewers win."

Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen__Cohn.

Milwaukee Brewers, Mauricio Dubon

Brewers hone in on pitchers on Day 3 of Draft

MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- After using just five of their first 10 selections in the 2018 Draft on pitchers, the Brewers went all out on adding arms during Day 3.

Starting the afternoon with Auburn right-hander Davis Daniel in the 11th round and finishing with Liberty Christian Academy catcher Wes Clarke in the 40th round, Milwaukee selected 21 pitchers out of 30 picks on the Draft's final day.

MILWAUKEE -- After using just five of their first 10 selections in the 2018 Draft on pitchers, the Brewers went all out on adding arms during Day 3.

Starting the afternoon with Auburn right-hander Davis Daniel in the 11th round and finishing with Liberty Christian Academy catcher Wes Clarke in the 40th round, Milwaukee selected 21 pitchers out of 30 picks on the Draft's final day.

Draft Tracker: Every Brewers selection

"Day 3 is less filling needs and more making sure that you have enough developmental time for the guys you like and are going to sign," Brewers scouting director Tod Johnson said. "Overall, I'm happy about how it went, but it's hard to be sure how it went until we're at the end, and we'll see from there."

Right-hander Alec Barger, a native of Champaign, Ill., who has already had stops at Northern Illinois and Polk State College and is now committed to North Carolina State University, was Milwaukee's 16th-round pick. He has an idea of why the Brewers picked so many pitchers, especially those with only junior college or high school credentials.

"The younger guys, [the Brewers] want to get their hands on them earlier, so they can be the ones to develop them their own way," Barger said. "That's instead of a Division I guy who, when they come, are ready to go in their own way."

Brewers Draft recaps: Day 1 | Day 2

Quite the height difference
The Brewers added their shortest and tallest draftees -- both pitchers -- within three rounds of each other early on during Day 3, and they might be some of their most accomplished selections.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

Clayton Andrews, a left-hander standing at 5-foot-6 and drafted in the 17th round, is one of the most decorated pitchers in Long Beach State history. Andrews became the first Big West pitcher to win four consecutive Pitcher of the Week awards, a feat he accomplished during his final month of his junior year in May (4-0, 0.24 ERA, four walks, 48 strikeouts).

"He does a lot of good things, but he is 5-foot-6," Johnson said. "We took advantage of the opportunity that he's not your standard-sized pitcher."

At the other end of the tape measure is 6-foot-6 right-hander Peyton Zabel. A native of South Dakota, Zabel is committed to Augustana University to play both football and baseball. He led his football team to a state championship, was named the Class AA Basketball Player of the Year and has a fastball that gets up to about 90 mph, according to the Argus Leader. In short, the Brewers added quite the athlete in the 19th round.

Adding potentially impactful position players
The Brewers also added a few interesting position-player prospects on Day 3.

Korry Howell, a shortstop at Kirkwood Community College (Iowa), hit .401 and stole 40 bases in 60 games as a sophomore. Milwaukee selected Howell in the 12th round, and MLB.com's scouting report projects that he could transition into a center fielder.

Johnson loves to add athletic up-the-middle guys to the organization because of the flexibility they offer.

"[Korry] is one of the best players ever to play at Kirkwood," Kirkwood head coach Todd Rima said. "He brings a tremendous amount of athleticism, can really run, has more power than what is expected, and my favorite thing about him is that he's a better kid and will represent any organization the right way."

Howell is currently committed to the University of Iowa, and Rima said Howell and his family will decide whether he signs with the Brewers or goes to college over the coming days.

"I know he wanted to be in a position where he could make a decision," Rima said. "He felt comfortable with the Brewers going in, but he also knows he has a great option at the University of Iowa."

The only other non-pitcher the Brewers picked between rounds 11 and 27 on Day 3 is outfielder Elijah Cabell, a student at TNXL Academy in Florida -- a school that lets athletes focus on baseball while taking online classes. Cabell is committed to college powerhouse LSU and is ranked No. 101 in MLBPipeline's Top 200 Draft prospects. Scouts rave over his raw power and strong arm, but Milwaukee is going to have to convince him to sign now rather than go to college.

Video: Draft Report: Elijah Cabell, High School outfielder

The Brewers ended a string of drafting 13 consecutive pitchers in the 28th round with University of Hawaii catcher Kekai Rios.

A Seminole instead of a Brewer
Nander De Sedas, Milwaukee's 29th-round selection out of Montverde Academy, ranked No. 55 on MLBPipeline's Top 200, but he seemed to have a fairly strong commitment to Florida State University.

The shortstop confirmed that commitment later on Wednesday afternoon via Twitter.

Video: Draft Report: Nander De Sedas, High School shortstop

"I will like to start by thanking the Milwaukee Brewers organization for drafting me in this year's draft!" De Sedas wrote in a note. "I have decided to attend [FSU]! And keep developing as a student and also as a baseball player!"

For a kid with that high of a ceiling, it was definitely worth a shot for the Brewers to pick him and hope for the best.

"We knew [De Sedas and Cabell] well," Johnson said. "It was a situation that we took the opportunity that if they decide at a later point potentially before the signing deadline that they're interested in starting their pro careers, then we've gotten the opportunity for that to potentially happen."

Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen__Cohn.

Milwaukee Brewers

Elite LHP Ashby headlines Draft Day 2 for Crew

Southpaw's college coach: Brewers 'getting one of the highest-character kids around'
Special to MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Day 2 of the Brewers' 2018 MLB Draft started a round later than most teams, due to the loss of their third-round selection after signing outfielder Lorenzo Cain over the offseason.

Draft Tracker: Follow every Brewers Draft pick

MILWAUKEE -- Day 2 of the Brewers' 2018 MLB Draft started a round later than most teams, due to the loss of their third-round selection after signing outfielder Lorenzo Cain over the offseason.

Draft Tracker: Follow every Brewers Draft pick

But when it did get going with the 125th overall pick in the fourth round, Milwaukee selected one of the top junior college arms in the country: a strikeout machine named Aaron Ashby.

Ashby, a left-hander out of Crowder College, led all Division I JUCO pitchers in strikeouts (156) and strikeouts per nine innings (18.8) last year, as well as featuring a fastball that has maxed out at 95 mph. Scouts also cite a plus curveball, sharp slider and a changeup -- although he doesn't use the change too often.

Ashby's college coach, Travis Lallemand, echoed his ability to use four pitches, and he sees Ashby settling into a starter's role in the Brewers' organization.

Video: Draft Report: Aaron Ashby, College pitcher

"He has a fourth pitch with the changeup that can turn him into a starter, and he's not necessarily just a two-pitch guy," Lallemand said. "He got punchouts all year with all three [pitches] at this level, and things will have to be polished in professional baseball, but he's still growing and getting better."

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

But, according to Lallemand, who coached Ashby for two seasons at Crowder, it's the person the Brewers are getting that should have the organization and fans excited.

"[The Brewers are] getting one of the highest-character kids around. I have a three-year-old son, and Aaron treated him like his own," Lallemand said. "One of those guys who didn't have too many bad days."

And Tuesday was definitely not one of those bad days for Ashby.

The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at noon ET.

Round 5 (155th overall): RHP Justin Jarvis, Lake Norman HS
Sneaking just into MLB Pipeline's Top 200 Draft Prospects, Jarvis, who was ranked 199, threw an 18-strikeout perfect game to open his senior season in 2018. He stands at 6-foot-2 and 168 pounds.

He is currently committed to UNC Wilmington, but Jarvis is considered "fairly signable," according to his MLB.com scouting report. Jarvis' fastball sits in the mid 90s, and scouts cite a solid curveball and good command of pitches.

Video: Draft Report: Justin Jarvis, High School pitcher

Round 6 (185th overall): RHP Drew Rasmussen, Oregon State University
The 2018 Draft isn't Rasmussen's first rodeo -- he was drafted 31st overall by the Rays in 2017, but he didn't sign due to some discrepancies in his pre- and post-Draft medical exams. After having a second Tommy John surgery last fall, Rasmussen missed the entire 2018 season and fell into the Brewers' lap in the sixth round.

"It's a first-round arm, and we'll continue to work and look at the medical as we go through the signing process and see where he is," said Brewers scouting director Tod Johnson. "We have a lot of confidence in our medical staff in getting him back."

When healthy, Rasmussen was at the top of Oregon State's rotation, a team that perennially makes the NCAA Tournament and plays some of the country's top competition in the Pac-12. At 6-foot-1 and owner of a fastball that gets to 96 mph, scouts project that Rasmussen will be a bullpen guy -- and he can be a steal for Milwaukee if healthy.

Video: Draft Report: Drew Rasmussen, College pitcher

Johnson said Rasmussen plans on forgoing his final year of eligibility to sign with the Brewers.

"The injury was a factor in us being able to get him where we got him," Johnson said. "Having the opportunity to add an arm like that … it's a well-known risk factor we can take into account."

Round 7 (215th overall): C David Fry, Northwestern State University
The Brewers' first position-player selection on Day 2 came in the seventh round with the Northwestern State backstop.

"It's definitely something you dream about, and I didn't know if I would get drafted today or tomorrow [on Day 3]," Fry said. "But they contacted me early and said be ready for a call, and it just happened."

Fry was named the 2018 Southland Conference Baseball Player of the Year, hitting 12 home runs and driving in 55 RBIs -- both team-highs. He was one of the Southland Conference's top Draft prospects and set several Northwestern State records as a hitter.

"I'm coming in as a guy who is proven, and I've done that throughout the past four years," Fry said. "I want to be the older guy [in the rookie class] and show everyone how it's done."

Milwaukee is getting a good-hitting catcher, but also someone with a decent glove overall. Fry played first and second base early on in his four-year college career.

But Fry thinks he can excel as a professional catcher.

"I've gotten a whole lot better at catching," Fry said. "I probably got picked up as an offensive-type player, but I'm mature back there, and I think I can become a pretty good catcher."

Round 8 (245th overall): RHP Luis Gonzalez, PJ Education School (Puerto Rico)
The Brewers added another right-handed arm to their 2018 Draft class with Catalina, Puerto Rico native Gonzalez in the eighth round, who stands at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds.

Johnson said the Brewers invited Gonzalez in for a workout and got to see him throw off the mound at Miller Park.

"[Gonzalez is] relatively raw," Johnson said. "He's got a good arm -- fastball, breaking ball -- he's a developmental piece for us. He's a tomorrow-type guy."

Round 9 (275th overall): CF Arbert Cipion, Passaic County Technical Institute
According to Johnson, Milwaukee loves adding guys who play in the middle of the field -- second base, shortstop and center field -- because they give you flexibility and are typically the most athletic guys on the field.

Cipion fits that bill. He was the top outfield prospect in New Jersey, according to Prep Baseball Report, and his throws from the outfield top out at 89 mph. At 6-foot-2, Cipion has a short, aggressive swing and the physical attributes say he could be a five-tool player.

"Being from New Jersey, he's not heavily scouted, so he was a little off-the-radar probably," Johnson said. "We're really excited about up-the-middle athletic players, and he's another one who just turned 18 in May."

Cipion is currently committed to Division II Southern New Hampshire University.

Round 10 (305th overall): RHP J.T. Hintzen, Florida Southern College
Hintzen's college career started at The University in the South in Sewanee, Tenn., before he made the move to Florida Southern College for his final two years. It was a good move.

The senior went 14-0 with two saves last season. Hintzen struck out 114 batters and only walked 13 over 96 2/3 innings with a 1.96 ERA.

Drafted as a starting pitcher, it's a safe bet that Hintzen will move through the organization as a starter. Hintzen tossed eight shutout innings in late May as Florida Southern eliminated Texas A&M-Kingsville in the NCAA Division II Baseball National Tournament, and he finished the season by being named an All-American.

"He was very successful this year, and he'll have some interesting ingredients that he can hopefully develop," Johnson said. "He's a guy our scouts like, and to sign him for lesser dollars to manage our pool space was good news."

His strong performances aren't just limited to FSC, though. Hintzen pitched in 18 games with the Orleans Firebirds of the ultra-competitive Cape Cod Baseball League in 2017, finishing the regular season with a 1.95 ERA as a reliever against some of the country's top college competition.

Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen__Cohn.

Milwaukee Brewers

Brewers pick HS shortstop Turang at No. 21

Milwaukee also selects outfielders Gray, Bello on Draft Day 1
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- The first Draft pick in Brewers franchise history was a shortstop, though Gorman Thomas would make his Major League mark in the outfield. Four years later in 1973, the Brewers used their top pick on another prep shortstop in Robin Yount. Paul Molitor ('77), Dale Sveum ('82), Gary Sheffield ('86) and Bill Spiers ('87) were all drafted as shortstops and rose to the Major Leagues.

Draft Tracker: Follow every Brewers pick

MILWAUKEE -- The first Draft pick in Brewers franchise history was a shortstop, though Gorman Thomas would make his Major League mark in the outfield. Four years later in 1973, the Brewers used their top pick on another prep shortstop in Robin Yount. Paul Molitor ('77), Dale Sveum ('82), Gary Sheffield ('86) and Bill Spiers ('87) were all drafted as shortstops and rose to the Major Leagues.

Draft Tracker: Follow every Brewers pick

Not since Spiers had the Brewers spent their top Draft pick on a shortstop, but that drought ended Monday when the team took 18-year-old Brice Turang 21st overall with the first of their three selections on Day 1. Prep outfielders Joe Gray (No. 60 overall) and Micah Bello (No. 73) rounded out Milwaukee's picks.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

Turang, a 6-foot-1 left-handed hitter from Santiago High School in Corona, Calif., has ties to the Brewers. His father, Brian Turang, was Milwaukee's 20th round pick in 1987 who didn't sign but went on to play in the Majors with the Mariners.

Thirty-one years later, the Brewers called the name Turang again.

"He was someone we were interested in all year," said Brewers scouting director Tod Johnson, "and we're pretty excited it worked out the way it did tonight, to be able to acquire a quality player at a premium position." 

Earlier mock drafts had Turang going higher, but he slipped to the bottom third of the first round after hitting .352 with a .464 on-base percentage in his senior season. Milwaukee officials knew him as well as any player in the Draft. Turang played for the Brewers' Area Codes team in California for the past three years, giving area scout Wynn Pelzer, regional scouting supervisor Josh Belovsky and Johnson an opportunity to coach Turang and get to know the player and his family.

It's the second straight year the Brewers have used their top Draft pick on a player from Pelzer's and Belovsky's territory. They followed UC Irvine second baseman Keston Hiura before the Brewers took him at No. 9 overall in 2017.

Belovsky was already dreaming on a Turang-Hiura middle-infield combo. That will take time. First, the Brewers need to sign Turang away from a scholarship offer to LSU. Then, he'll have to navigate a longer Minor League road than Hiura, who was a more advanced hitter coming out of college.

"[Turang] has been on the map for years," Belovsky said. "As a freshman, he was on varsity and hit like .500. He's always had an innate ability to hit and barrel the baseball. At shortstop, he's a premium defender. You're getting a guy who could potentially be an All-Star that can hit at the top of the lineup for you. Plus runner, solid arm, leader on the field. Just a solid overall player."

Video: Brewers on selecting Turang with 21st selection

The 21st pick is assigned a value of $3,013,600.

"We'll see how that plays out, and I'm not concerned about it. I think we'll be able to reach an agreement with them," Johnson said. "His commitment to LSU is strong, and we know he has said previously and consistently that he likes LSU and is willing to go there, but he has also said he wants to start his professional baseball career.

"We're very familiar with him, been in the dugout with him, so that certainly helps us to some degree, but we'll see how that works out, but I expect that we will sign him." 

The Brewers used their other Day 1 picks on prep center fielders -- Hattiesburg (Miss.) High School's Gray in the second round, and Hilo (Hawaii) High School's Bello in Competitive Balance Round B.

Video: Draft 2018: Brewers draft OF Joe Gray No. 60

Gray is a toolsy right-handed hitter with power in his bat and in his throwing arm. Bello, who doesn't turn 18 until July, is a top-of-the-order hitter known for his speed and quick bat. They will join a farm system that lost two young outfielders (Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison) in a trade with the Marlins for Christian Yelich, but still has eight outfielders among MLB Pipeline's top 30 Brewers prospects, including Nos. 5-8.

Even with that depth, the Brewers see Gray and Bello in center field, Johnson said.

"I just saw [farm director] Tom Flanagan as I walked out, and he said, 'We'll find spots for them all to play,'" Johnson said. "Amassing additional talent is never a bad thing, even if they happen to play the same position."

Video: Draft 2018: Brewers draft OF Micah Bello No. 73

Like Turang, Gray entered the year ranked higher on some lists but dropped as the Draft neared, in part over concern about swing-and-miss.

"He's made some adjustments this spring that we're pretty excited about continuing with him and getting him in a professional development program to continue to work on his swing and develop that area and his pitch recognition," Johnson said. "And we're excited about getting that athletic package at that spot in the Draft."

The Draft continues on Tuesday with rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage beginning at noon.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers