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Crew hopes to restock with extra Draft picks

LOS ANGELES -- Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid agrees with the widely-held notion that this year's Draft class is a muddled one, and he sees that as a big advantage for Milwaukee.

For the second straight year, Seid owns multiple picks in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft, albeit much lower this time by virtue of the Brewers' franchise-best 2011 regular season.

They will pick 27th and 28th, the former pick from the Tigers as compensation for departed free agent Prince Fielder, and the latter the Brewers' regular slot. The Brewers will also get a second compensatory pick for Fielder -- No. 38 overall -- sandwiched between the first and second rounds.

"I think you can get the same type of potential with a player from the 30th or 40th pick of this year's Draft as the 10th pick," Seid said. "There is quality in the middle part and later in the first round.

"So, we feel really good about we can get down there. We think we can get some real good, impact players to help this organization."

Some extra study went into this year's Draft prep. The new collective bargaining agreement included some major changes to the process, including assigned bonus pools and stiff taxes on teams that exceed their allotted spending.

In other words, Seid said, teams no longer can "buy out" high school players with massive bonuses.

"More than ever, you really have to know the player, know what he wants to do," Seid said. "That would be the difference. We are doing a lot of pre-'signability' work. You're not going to buy out players like teams used to.

"But at the same time, we're going to line up the players on our board and pick them the way we've always done."

Here's a glance at what the Brewers have in store as the Draft approaches:

In about 50 words
"We're all, scouting directors and personnel involved in this, looking to see how this will shake down," Seid said. "But the thing is, the numbers are out there. The advisers know what they are -- they tell me. They know what to expect. In reality, I haven't heard many complaints."

First-round buzz
The Brewers feel good about the future of last year's co-first rounders, right-hander Taylor Jungmann and left-hander Jed Bradley. But they won't sway the Brewers toward more college picks in 2012, Seid said. He remains open to aiming for home runs with high schoolers, like the Brewers did with Prince Fielder in the first round in 2002 and Yovani Gallardo in the second round in 2004.

"We're still going to draft the players on our board that we feel will make the biggest impact, high school or college," Seid said. "We've never had a plan to go only for one or the other. We want to get as much value in the system as we can, and I think we have done that in the past few years, especially with pitching."

Money matters
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.

Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.

Shopping list
The Brewers have made a slight shift toward pitching at the top of recent drafts, but will continue stockpiling arms, the lifeblood of winning teams. For years the team has avoided drafting for need, but it would not be surprising to see the Brewers stock up on some shortstops, a relatively thin position throughout the system.

Trend watch
For the second straight year, the Brewers have a pair of picks in the first round, making Draft Day -- Monday -- and signing day crucially important. The new CBA bumped the signing deadline to 5 p.m. ET in mid-July (July 13 this year) versus midnight ET in mid-August in past years.

The Brewers were scrambling that night last year, because both of their first-round picks were unsigned. With multiple picks once again, the potential exists for the same sort of hectic deadline.

"I feel -- I know -- that myself and my scouts have really good relationships with these families, and we are not going into this blindly," Seid said. "We have a chance to look at a few slightly creative ideas."

Seid, as usual, declined to say what those creative ideas might be. He also passed on saying exactly how many players were under consideration for those first-round picks.

Recent Draft History
Rising fast
Second baseman Scooter Gennett, a 16th-round pick in 2009 who received an above-slot bonus, just turned 22, but has been tearing up the Double-A Southern League. He's batted better than .300 at every level and dazzled the Brewers in big league Spring Training games this year. He went 9-for-20, including a game at Surprise, Ariz., in which he hit for the cycle. He's looking more and more like the Brewers' eventual replacement for former second overall Draft pick Rickie Weeks.

Brewers' recent top picks
Year Player Position Current team
2011 Taylor Jungmann RHP Class A+ Brevard County
2011 Jed Bradley LHP Class A+ Brevard County
2010 Dylan Covey RHP Did not sign
2009 Eric Arnett RHP Class A+ Brevard County
2008 Brett Lawrie 3B Toronto (MLB)
2007 Matt LaPorta 1B Cleveland (MLB)

Cinderella story
You have to like the Mike Fiers story. From a Florida high school not known for baseball, Fiers attended three different colleges, missed a year after falling asleep at the wheel and enduring a bad car crash in 2008, and never met a scout until the Brewers' Charlie Sullivan introduced himself during Fiers' senior season at Nova Southern University. The Brewers took him in the 22nd round of the '09 Draft and Fiers delivered a gem in his first Major League start on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, pitching seven strong innings.

In The Show
Infielder Taylor Green is doing his best to stick with the Brewers, though he's dealing with limited playing time. A 25th-round Draft pick in 2005, Green twice has been the Brewers' Minor League Player of the Year.

Milwaukee Brewers