Thanks to the high school showcase and travel squad circuits, the Milwaukee Brewers were able to get a good early evaluation of their second selection of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, left-handed-hitting infielder Tucker Neuhaus, who can play either third base or shortstop.
It's fair to say that Neuhaus has projectable hitting skills, with potential homer power and the ability to hit the gaps for extra-base hits. Scouts observed raw potential in Neuhaus and projected his physical maturity as well as his skill refinement over time.
Observed primarily as a shortstop prior to the Draft, scouts felt Neuhaus was a future power-hitting infielder -- maybe at shortstop, perhaps at third base. That would be determined in the future.
Neuhaus, who is No. 13 on the Brewers' Top 20 Prospects list, turned 18 in June. However, his maturity and game mechanics are those of a much more seasoned, older player. Neuhaus' drive and desire may help direct his career in a positive manner.
Neuhaus experienced adversity and challenges while attending Wharton High School in Tampa, Fla. Those difficult circumstances helped to shape his outstanding character and outlook on life. The most difficult was the loss of his older brother in a car accident. Injuries also provided serious setbacks for Neuhaus, as he suffered through a ruptured eardrum from a bad-hop ground ball and a strain of his quadriceps that cost him time in his senior season.
Instead of accepting a scholarship to play for the University of Louisville, Neuhaus chose instead to sign with the Brewers. Prior to the Draft, it had been reported that the Chicago Cubs were very interested in selecting him. Neuhaus had visited Wrigley Field before returning to Tampa prior to the Draft.
The Brewers had an opportunity to see Neuhaus play both shortstop and third base in the recently concluded Arizona League. He played 27 games at third and 24 at shortstop in the hot Arizona summer. I saw Neuhaus several times in his first professional season.
Over a span of 51 summer games, Neuhaus hit .231 with no home runs and 24 RBIs. He had 219 plate appearances, earning 23 walks, but striking out 56 times. Neuhaus stole six bases.
Neuhaus is 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, with more strength likely to come. His upper body in particular should be the beneficiary of more strength as he enters a weight program and fills out naturally.
Neuhaus has a disciplined, very measured and compact stroke with good hitting mechanics at a very young age. He doesn't get much loft on the ball at this early stage of his development, but that should come in time.
When I scouted Neuhaus, he was more of a pull-side hitter than one who could effectively use the entire field. He could benefit from waiting just an instant more on pitches to drive the ball up the middle with more frequency.
For me, Neuhaus projects better as a third baseman. His range at shortstop is somewhat limited, and I believe his arm strength and accuracy are better suited at third than at shortstop. And of course, a left-handed power-hitting third baseman would be a terrific asset to any club, especially when that player has the good hands of Neuhaus.
Neuhaus has enough speed to run the bases well without being a burner, and he should be able to steal his share of bags. He's is still a work in progress, and a bit of patience and additional instruction are essential.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff; on Twitter.