Crew focuses on college arms on Day 2

July 13th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers scouting director Tod Johnson promised a pitcher on Day 2 of the MLB Draft, and with the team’s first pick on Monday, he delivered.

The selection of TCU left-hander Russell Smith at No. 51 overall led off the Brewers’ nine selections on the second day of the three-day event, snapping a streak of seven consecutive college players selected drafted by Milwaukee dating to the start of last year’s shortened Draft, and including Boston College center fielder Sal Frelick and Wright State second baseman Tyler Black on Sunday night.

The Brewers have until Aug. 1 to sign Frelick, Black, Smith and all of their other 2021 picks. Every one of their selections so far through the end of Round 10 has come from the college ranks.

"It's not a strategic choice to take a lot of college guys, but that's just the way that it fell this year,” Johnson said. “And then, you know, budgets and that kind of stuff as well, managing that becomes a piece of it also."

The Draft concludes on Tuesday with Rounds 11-20, starting at 11 a.m. CT on

Here’s more on Milwaukee’s Day 2 selections:

Round 2, 51st overall: Russell Smith, LHP, TCU

Notable Skill: His size (6-foot-9, 235 pounds) might make you think power, but Smith’s command is considered his best asset. Scouting reports put his velocity at a relatively modest 88-93 mph, but he struck out 101 batters versus 20 walks while going 7-3 with a 3.83 ERA over 82 1/3 innings as a fourth-year junior for the Horned Frogs; Smith missed the 2019 season following Tommy John surgery.

Fun Fact: Smith was a four-year letter-winner at Midlothian (Texas) High School and was drafted by the Cubs in the 37th round in 2017 after throwing two no-hitters during his senior season.

Quotable: “The strides I’ve made from last year to this year with my breaking ball, command, changeup, I feel really confident in everything I’m doing,” Smith told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram earlier this year. “I know who I am as a pitcher. With that, I attack with my plan and make adjustments during the game.”

Round 3, 86th overall: Alex Binelas, 3B, Louisville

Notable Skill: One of the top college bats in this Draft, Wisconsin-born Binelas puts the barrel to the ball. After the shortened 2020 season, which was even shorter for the left-handed-hitting Binelas because of a hamate injury, he returned in '21 and he rallied from a slow start to finish with a .256/.348/.621 slash line with 19 home runs in 195 at-bats for Louisville. And he put on a show during MLB’s first pre-Draft combine.’s Jim Callis reported that, according to the Rapsodo data available, Binelas led all hitters in terms of maximum distance (446 feet), as well as both average and maximum exit velocity (98.244 mph and 109.3 mph, respectively).

Fun Fact: According to unofficial Brewers historian Mario Ziino, Binelas, who went to Oak Creek High School in Milwaukee’s southern suburbs, is the highest Wisconsin-born Brewers Draft pick ever. Before this year, that distinction belonged to Oshkosh native and UW-Milwaukee right-hander Josh Uhen, the Brewers’ fifth round in 2013. The Brewers' best pick of a Wisconsin kid, of course, was UW-Oshkosh infielder Jim Gantner in the 12th round in 1974; he went on to amass 22.5 bWAR over a 17-year Major League career with Milwaukee.

Quotable: “Growing up in Milwaukee, watching a lot of Brewer games, I want to bring a World Series to Milwaukee,” Binelas said Monday. "I want to be a part of that one day. That’s always going to be in the back of my head, working up through the farm system and every workout that I go through.”

Round 4, 116th overall: Logan Henderson, RHP, McLennan Community College (Waco, Texas)

Notable Skill: Considered a darling of analytics, the 19-year-old stands 5-foot-11 and doesn’t throw as hard as some other prospects, but he has a knack for missing bats with his best pitch: a plus changeup. Henderson struck out 31 batters over a pair of eight-inning starts in leading McLennan Community College (Waco, Texas) to the second Junior College World Series championship in school history.

Fun Fact: Henderson led all national junior college pitchers in strikeouts (169) and innings (97 2/3) while ranking second in strikeout rate (15.6 per nine innings) and third in ERA (1.66). It marked the second time in three years that the Brewers took a JUCO pitcher with gaudy strikeout numbers; 2019 second-rounder Antoine Kelly led the junior college ranks with 19.1 strikeouts-per-nine at Wabash Valley CC (Mount Carmel, Ill.) that year.

Quotable: “Logan Anderson was arguably the most dominant JUCO pitcher in the country this year,” Johnson said. “Obviously he's not a big physical specimen, but when you get that kind of performance and stuff that we think has great feel and will play. He's got a great changeup, so you know that kind of fits with a lot of -- that was kind of [2019 first-round pick Ethan] Small's calling card as well."

Round 5, 147th overall: Ethan Murray, SS, Duke

Notable Skill: Just like Frelick and Smith at the top of the Brewers’ Draft, Murray makes good contact and gets on base. He started 54 of Duke’s 55 games at shortstop and led the team in walks (34) and triples (four) while hitting .297.

Fun Fact: Murray has twice experienced the thrill of winning the final game of a season. While in high school at Miller School of Albermarle in Charlottesville, Va., he pitched and hit to help the school win the Virginia state championship in 2017 and ’18. He also helped Duke win its first ACC title in 61 years this season.

Quotable: “To 'win' this quarantine, I want to come out of it in the best shape of my life,” Murray told the Duke Chronicle when sports were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. “I think it is a very unique opportunity where I’m basically just stuck at home with nothing better to do than lift weights, run fast and hit the ball hard.”

Round 6, 177th overall: Carlos Rodriguez, RHP, Florida SouthWestern State College (Fort Myers, Fla.)

Notable Skill: Not to be confused with Brewers No. 14 prospect Carlos Rodriguez, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic, this Carlos Rodriguez throws strikes. He had a 0.67 ERA and earned All-Dade County honors as a senior at Miami Christian School before going 7-2 with a 2.11 ERA in 10 starts for FSW in 2021. He struck out 62 batters vs. 12 walks in 47 innings.

Fun Fact: Rodriguez’s selection was notable, according to the Naples Daily News, because it was FSW’s highest draft pick since right-hander Kerry Ward went in the fourth round of the 1993 Draft to the Pirates when the school was known as Edison State College. The school’s most prominent pro was probably pitcher Joel Piniero, who went to Seattle in the 12th round in 1997.

Quotable: “He pitched for our fall scout team that we sent to a Jupiter [Fla.] tournament, so we’ve had him in a Brewers uniform,” Johnson said. “He’s probably 5-foot-11, but it’s good stuff. He’s a good strike-thrower and all of that.”

Round 7, 207th overall: Tristan Peters, OF, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Notable Skill: The Brewers appeared to target hitters, particularly left-handed hitters, with high contact rates, and Peters has the highest of all of them -- 46 walks versus 28 strikeouts in 217 at-bats this season. He started all 60 games in center field while batting third or fourth in the order, and he led the Salukis to their winningest season since 1990 while leading the Missouri Valley Conference in on-base percentage, walks and doubles.

Fun Fact: Peters, from Manitoba, is the second Canadian-born Brewers Draft pick in 2021 after supplemental first-rounder Tyler Black, and like both of Milwaukee's Day 1 picks, Peters played hockey growing up.

Quotable: "He's got such good bat-to-ball skills, there's really no zone -- up, down, in, out -- that he can't cover," SIU coach Lance Rhodes told the Southern Illinoisan newspaper. "He stays in the zone a long time with his swing, so he's a high-contact-type guy. He might not be the prototype No. 4 hitter, as far as the amount of home runs he hits, but the amount of hard contact that he has in the four-hole is exactly what our team needs. … The biggest thing is the moment never gets too big for him. He's super confident, knows the strike zone exceptionally well. He's just a heckuva player.”

Round 8, 237th overall: Zack Raabe, 2B, Minnesota

Notable Skill: Another player who had more walks (20) than strikeouts (17) in 2021. In 36 games, Raabe led Paul Molitor’s alma mater in batting average (.315), runs (18), hits (39), slugging percentage (.532), walks and on-base percentage (.407) in 2021.

“They’re good hitters,” Johnson said of the Brewers’ run on high-contact hitters. “The zone control thing has always been a factor in our Draft process. This year, the group that popped in that space, we went that route, whereas other times maybe we didn’t when that demographic was not the top guy on our board. This year, there were a number of guys like that who got pushed down the board and we were excited to take a chance on.”

Fun Fact: He’s the son of former Twins, Rockies and Mariners utility man Brian Raabe, who had cups of coffee in three seasons in the Major Leagues from 1995-97. He’s now the head baseball coach at Division III Bethel University.

Quotable: “[Zack Raabe] is a leader. They follow along with him, they learn a lot from him, he’s helped a lot of the younger players,” Gophers head coach John Anderson told the Minnesota Daily newspaper.

Round 9, 267th overall: Brannon Jordan, RHP, South Carolina

Notable Skill: Jordan’s results may not have always matched his stuff in college, but scouting reports suggest there are plenty of tools to work with, starting with a mid-90s fastball and a plus breaking ball. He made 15 starts on the mound for the Gamecocks in 2021 and was 5-6 with a 4.58 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings, ranking sixth in the SEC with a .203 opponents’ average.

Fun Fact: Jordan has already spent a summer in Wisconsin. He pitched for the Northwoods League’s Eau Claire Express and made the circuit’s All-Star team after going 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings.

Quotable: “Inconsistent,” said’s Callis on the Draft show. “He came into the year and I thought he might have been their top pick out of that South Carolina staff. … At his best he’s 94-97 [mph], a lot of 88-92. Pretty good curveball, solid slider. He may be better as a reliever in pro ball.”

Round 10, 297th overall: Wes Clarke, C, South Carolina

Notable Skill: Power. Clarke, 21, started all 57 games in 2021, and he hit .271 with nine doubles, 23 home runs and 55 RBIs. The Brewers have liked him for a while; Clarke was selected in the 40th round of the 2018 Draft by Milwaukee, but he opted to attend college. There are questions about his defensive skills behind the plate, but the Brewers always like to give players a chance to stick there if they want to play the position.

Fun Fact: Clarke's 23 home runs tied Florida State’s Mat Nelson for most in college baseball in 2021. Nelson was drafted 35th overall by the Reds on Sunday.

Quotable: “Bernie Brewer is going to like him, because this guy hits home runs and Bernie is going to get to slide a little bit,” Callis said. “Big, strong guy. He draws a lot of walks. He’s had success hitting with wood bats in summer leagues. It’s a power-oriented swing, so we’ll have to see how that plays against pro pitchers. He has some catching experience and they’ve announced him as a catcher. That might be a little bit of a stretch long-term. I think he’s more of a first baseman. You’re buying the power here.”