MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' yearlong Draft prep enters the home stretch Monday, when a group of front office officials and scouts gather in the "war room" at Miller Park to begin ordering players on the team's board.The three-day Draft, beginning June 12 with Rounds 1-2 on MLB Network and MLB.com,
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' yearlong Draft prep enters the home stretch Monday, when a group of front office officials and scouts gather in the "war room" at Miller Park to begin ordering players on the team's board.
The three-day Draft, beginning June 12 with Rounds 1-2 on MLB Network and MLB.com, marks the Brewers' first under new amateur scouting director Tod Johnson, a 44-year-old former Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard data analyst who started in the Brewers' IT department before branching into scouting and baseball operations. The Brewers' first selection is No. 9 overall, and as many as 10-12 players are still under serious consideration for that pick, Johnson said.
"I don't know if this is a good analogy or not, but it's like when you have to do projects in school all year, and then the final exam comes and it's almost a relief to get there," Johnson said. "All of that work has gone into this point. So we'll spend Monday to Monday in meetings getting players on our board where we want them."
Like all Major League teams, the Brewers are searching for the best blend of traditional, on-the-ground scouting and dispassionate statistical modeling. Baseball has made strides in that area in the professional ranks thanks to technology like Statcast™ and similar systems across the Minor Leagues. But the amateur area is entirely different.
For example, how to quantify the difference between a high school pitcher from Hawaii and an outfielder from a collegiate baseball powerhouse? Both can produce first-rounders. The Brewers picked left-hander Kodi Medeiros from Waiakea High School 12th overall in 2014 and center fielder Corey Ray fifth overall from the University of Louisville last year.
"That's one of the reasons I love this job. It makes it really hard," Johnson said. "In amateur scouting, there is always going to be a huge amount of subjective information that's part of the process. Our scouting reports are always going to be the foundation of everything we do in amateur scouting."
But even that subjectivity is subject to "calibration," as Johnson called it. The Brewers invited their amateur scouts to Spring Training this year for three days of observation and discussions about grading.
"It was a really good reset of what you're looking for," Johnson said.
Some veteran amateur scouts said it was their first Spring Training. Johnson is hoping to implement other new ideas.
"I don't want to give the impression that we are reinventing anything," Johnson said. "We're building on what Ray [Montgomery, who ran the Brewers' past two drafts before taking the title of vice president of scouting] has already started the last couple of years, and even some stuff we were doing when Bruce was here [the late Bruce Seid passed away in 2014].
"So we've been moving in this direction from a process perspective the last few years. We're going to try a few different ways of putting things together. We're going to experiment with some of that stuff."
Asked if he could be more detailed, Johnson said, "It is a hard question to answer without giving away what we hope we're doing that is better than other teams. We started last year, or even two years ago, using something of an analytics approach, because there is so much information available on these guys, you have to have some way to organize it. So this just really helps us organize this organization. We've been doing that for the past couple of years, but this is version 2.0 of that."
The 2017 Draft will take place from Monday, June 12, through Wednesday, June 14, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 5 p.m. CT on the 12th. MLB Network will broadcast the first 36 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 75 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, starting at noon CT. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on June 14, beginning at 11 a.m. CT.
Go to MLB.com/draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLBPipeline.com analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.
"It's really exciting. I think on Draft day it's going to be a thrill," Johnson said. "There's some nerves that I'm sure are going to be part of it. But it's the culmination of the whole year's -- or more -- work for all of us. It's essentially our Super Bowl."
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.