MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers began Day 2 of the MLB Draft by adding to one of the thinnest positions in their system: Catcher.Oregon State junior KJ Harrison mostly manned first base this season, but the Brewers announced him as a catcher when they took him 84th overall in the third
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers began Day 2 of the MLB Draft by adding to one of the thinnest positions in their system: Catcher.
Oregon State junior KJ Harrison mostly manned first base this season, but the Brewers announced him as a catcher when they took him 84th overall in the third round Tuesday.
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"We think KJ has got the tools to catch," said Brewers amateur scouting director Tod Johnson. "He's got the right build for it, a durable, strong build. He can throw. … And we know for sure he has the desire to catch as well, which is a big part of it, definitely. … With the right tools and the right development, and getting him back there, he'll be able to catch. And if he's able to catch, it increases the value of the offensive impact."
Harrison hit a three-run home run off Vanderbilt's Kyle Wright -- drafted fifth overall by the Braves on Monday -- and drove in four runs on Saturday in a win that propelled Oregon State into the College World Series. It was Harrison's second home run in as many games, a good sign that his power is still there after a season in which he slipped below 10 home runs for the first time in three college seasons
Scouts cited opposing pitchers, who began to pitch Harrison away. Harrison adjusted to the tune of a .330 average, with 13 doubles, eight homers and a .396 on-base percentage.
When he signs, Harrison would join Jacob Nottingham (No. 14 on MLBPipeline.com's list of Milwaukee's top prospects) and 2016 Draft pick Mario Feliciano (No. 23) among the Brewers' top-rated Minor League catchers.
Round 4: LHP Brendan Murphy, Mundelein (Ill.) HS
Considered the clear top prospect in the state of Illinois, Murphy is the second big high school pitcher drafted by the Brewers within the first four rounds. He stands 6-foot-4, two inches shorter than second-round pick Caden Lemons, a right-hander from the Birmingham, Ala., area.
Like Lemons, Murphy's tall frame suggests he could add velocity to a fastball that sat at 89-91 and reached 93 mph during a senior season in which he went 9-1 with a 1.99 ERA and 91 strikeouts. He has a college commitment to Arizona State.
"It's always tough with northern high school kids because they get going so late during the year, and then it's an inconsistent schedule with the weather," Johnson said. "We did a lot of scouting with Brendan in the summer and fall of last year. Harvey Kuenn [Jr.], our area scout there, did a real good job of getting out and knowing the kid and understanding what we have there. We feel good about that. We feel like he's going to continue to get stronger and add some velocity. He's already got good feel for a northern kid. We were pretty excited to add him where we did."
"It's going to be cool," Murphy told the Chicago Tribune after getting the call from the Brewers. "I've looked at the locations of their Minor League affiliates and they have a team in Wisconsin. Maybe next year or two years, if I'm playing A ball, it will be close to home so I can have family come and watch me. That will be really fun. I'm really excited to see how it all plays out and what they have for me next and what's the next step."
Round 5: 3B Nick Egnatuk, Immaculata (Somerville, N.J.) HS
Egnatuk is another addition to a relatively thin position in Milwaukee's Minor League chain. The Brewers' top third-base prospect is Lucas Erceg, a second-round pick last year out of California's Menlo College who ranks seventh on MLBPipeline's list of Milwaukee's top prospects, and he is the only true third baseman on the list. While Erceg was regarded as an advanced college bat on his Draft day, Egnatuk is known for his prodigious raw power. Last fall, some Draft observers projected him as a Day 1 pick, but Egnatuk slipped during a so-so senior season.
The Brewers got a late look when Egnatuk attended the team's pre-Draft workout at Miller Park.
"He's somebody that our area scout up there, Jeff Carter, and our supervisor up there, Mike Serbalik, really knew well," Johnson said. "They spent a lot of time with him. Mike was the area scout there prior to this year and coached Nick on the Area Code and East Coast Pro Showcase team, so he really knows him well. We know the family really well. We were pretty comfortable with him and would have considered him higher, as well."
Egnatuk's father played two years of professional baseball, and his grandfather is in the Rutgers University baseball hall of fame. He has a college commitment to the University of Pittsburgh.
Round 6: SS Devin Hairston, University of Louisville
The Brewers love shortstops, and in Hairston they selected one they have seen a lot in recent years. Hairston was a college teammate of Corey Ray, the center fielder who went fifth overall to Milwaukee in last year's Draft.
Scouts were mixed on Hairston, according to his MLB.com scouting report, because of his 5-foot-7 frame and the fact he had surgery to relieve nerve pain in his elbow last fall. But he was the ACC defensive player of the year while consistently putting the bat on the baseball this season, hitting .306. Hairston ranked second on the team with 76 hits, just shy of D-backs second-round pick Drew Ellis' 81. More >>
Round 7: RHP Bowden Francis, Chipola College (Fla.)
It was a big day for the Francis Family of Tallahassee, Fla. After high school right-hander Harrison Francis was drafted by the D-backs in the fourth round, older brother Bowden went to the Brewers in the seventh. A 6-foot-5 sinkerballer who was drafted in the 18th round by the D-backs out of high school last year but did not sign, Bowden Francis draws comparisons to former big leaguer Derek Lowe.
"We like the frame, like the way the arm works, like how he goes about it," Johnson said. "We've scouted him fairly extensively over the last couple of years."
Francis came from the same junior college that produced infielder Mat Gamel, the Brewers' fourth-round pick in 2005 who made it briefly to the Majors. Current big leaguers Patrick Corbin of the D-backs, Adam Duvall of the Reds, Alvin Toles of the Dodgers, and Jose Bautista and Russell Martin of the Blue Jays also came from the school.
Chipola was the top-ranked junior college in the country entering the season and went wire-to-wire, winning the JUCO national title on June 5 in Colorado, with Francis starting the championship game. He went 12-2 with a 2.88 ERA this season and has a college commitment to Florida State.
Round 8: RHP Jayson Rose, University of Utah
Speaking of brothers, Rose was college teammates with older brother Josh, an outfielder for the Utes. Jayson was a two-way threat as a freshman, but focused on pitching beginning with his sophomore season, and the focus paid off. He was All-Pac-12 three times, earning first-team honors in 2016 and '17, and he set the school's all-time strikeout record while going 19-13 with a 3.23 ERA. In 2016, Rose set the school record with 106 strikeouts in 109 innings.
On the smaller side at 6-feet tall, Rose fires a fastball in the 90-94 mph range, sitting at 92 mph. His out pitch is a plus changeup, which Rose has shown a willingness to throw to any hitter in any count.
Round 9: Dallas Carroll, 3B, University of Utah
Make it back-to-back Utes for the Brewers, who followed Friday night starter Rose with Utah's leading hitter, Carroll. He ranked second in the Pac-12 in slugging percentage (.591) and on-base percentage (.465), while ranking fourth in the league with a .369 average and 52 RBIs. He led the team in all of those categories.
A two-time all-conference player and 2017 Pac-12 All-Defensive team member, Carroll was a fifth-year senior after redshirting in 2014 in the wake of a broken collarbone.
Carroll also continued the Brewers' streak of brotherly love. His identical twin brother, Dalton, pitched for the Utes from 2013-16 and was a 21st-round Draft pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2016.
Round 10: RHP Alec Bettinger, University of Virginia
Bettinger, a teammate with Brewers' 2015 supplemental first-round pick Nathan Kirby on the 2015 Cavaliers team that won the national title, pitched exclusively in relief this season. But he led the team with 71 strikeouts in 63 innings, including 15 multi-inning appearances in his 21 games. Bettinger ranked third in the ACC with a .170 opponents' average and fifth with a 2.43 ERA. He and Carroll were the only two college seniors among the Brewers' first 11 Draft picks.
"[The Cavaliers] ended up going pretty far … but they didn't have necessarily the starting pitching they've had most years, so they had to do a little piecing together," Johnson said. "Bettinger was a big piece of that, bridging gaps between their starters and the end of the game. He was pretty effective. We like the strikeout numbers. He just has a good mix with fastball-slider stuff."
The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 11 a.m. CT.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.