Pitching pool catches Crew's eye entering Draft
After a year without first-round picks, Brewers eager to put big board to work
MILWAUKEE -- Bruce Seid's deep tan told the time of year. It's nearly Draft time.
Seid is in his sixth season as the Brewers' amateur scouting director, and he has been crisscrossing baseball country in recent months to prepare for his highest-ever selection. The Brewers own the 12th overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, a three-day event that begins today.
"From Jan. 24 of this year, I've been back in Milwaukee seven days," Seid said. "You have to be on the road to see the players, because the players don't come to you. It's a busy schedule for everyone, but honestly, I enjoy the challenges of the travel. You're waking up really early to get some of those flights, but when you get to the ballpark and see something you like, it's well worth it."
Seid has seen a lot of players he likes this year, and, unlike last year, when the Brewers surrendered their first-round pick to sign free agent Kyle Lohse, he will not have to wait as long to do something about it.
Beginning with No. 12 overall, the Brewers have three selections among the top 50. Seid and his scouts have spent recent days building a Draft board, which is done digitally these days.
That means no more clunky binders of medical records or piles of player names on magnets. Now, thanks to a collaboration among assistant director of amateur scouting and baseball research Tod Johnson, the Brewers' IT department and an outside technology firm, the Brewers have an advanced system of scouting reports and medical files that aids Seid & Co.'s decision-making during the rapid-fire rounds of the Draft.
"It's more than really good. It's outstanding," Seid said. "It saves so much time compared to the way we used to do things. I don't want to get too much into it, but we're really proud of the way we've developed this system."
The 2014 Draft will take place today through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network today at 5 p.m. CT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 6 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. CT on Friday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's a glance at what the Brewers have in store for the Draft:
In about 50 words
"We eliminated a couple of guys up front that we know won't get to us, but we did have a look at the majority of the players who have a chance to get to 50," Seid said. "We've definitely zeroed in. We blanketed pretty good."
Multiple mock drafts, including MLB.com's, have linked the Brewers to Vanderbilt right-hander Tyler Beede, while Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost, Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto and South Carolina high school right-hander Grant Holmes have also been mentioned.
As usual, Seid would not tip his hand, though he characterized the first round as deep with pitching.
"I think it's pretty good," Seid said, "from the standpoint of high-leverage arms and high school arms and college pitchers. There's not as many position players, but there are some that are out there who may wind up being pretty good upside players. I think through the whole first round and throughout the Draft, there's a lot of depth."
Under the 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.
Brewers bonus pool
This year, the Brewers have $7,605,600 for their first 10 picks, including $2,805,700 assigned for the 12th overall selection.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will face a 75 percent tax rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5 to 10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10 to 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.
"I think the way it's set up now and you're given a pool to work with, you can make the monies work if you feel that good about a guy," Seid said. "Signability is always an issue. You have to know a guy's desire to play. But where we're picking at 12, maybe there are a couple of players who would pass at that, but the vast majority of players would be ready to go out and play.
"As a matter of fact, since we started this new process, there have been more players signed, [including] more high school players, than in the past. The way this system has worked has been very advantageous."
Talent, talent and more talent. The Brewers have never drafted for need, though they did go pitching-heavy in Seid's first seasons in the top job in an attempt to balance the farm system. Instead, as with most organizations, the Brewers follow a "best player available" philosophy.
"I think as a group, as a scouting staff, our philosophy is we're not going to pass on a potentially premium player to take when others may think is a need," Seid said. "Because you may be passing on an All-Star player or a Hall of Famer to get a need player. You're taking what you perceive is the best player on the board, regardless of position."
After years of going hard for hitters with their top Draft picks (Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, etc.), the Brewers have swung in different directions in recent seasons. Seid took pitchers with his top picks in 2009, 2010 and 2011, then took two hitters (catcher Clint Coulter and outfielder Victor Roache) with Milwaukee's first-round selections in 2012. Last year, without a first-round pick, the Brewers split their selections on Day 1 of the Draft, taking right-handed pitcher Devin Williams from Hazelwood West High School (Mo.) at No. 54 overall and shortstop Tucker Neuhaus from Tampa, Fla., at No. 72.
* RECENT DRAFT HISTORY *
Brewers scouts remain very high on right-hander Taylor Jungmann, one of Milwaukee's two first-round picks in 2011. Jungmann, selected after a banner season at the University of Texas, was recently promoted to Triple-A Nashville and pitched six strong innings to win his first Pacific Coast League start. He is rated the Brewers' No. 8 prospect by MLB.com.
The Brewers made right-hander David Goforth a seventh-round pick in 2011, but he has shot up to No. 13 on MLB.com's rankings of Brewers prospects since a move to relief. He finished 2013 strong in the Arizona Fall League, and he is currently closing games for Double-A Huntsville.
In The Show
Seid's first Draft began with a bust (right-hander Eric Arnett was released this year) but was nonetheless a boon for the organization. Six players from that year have already played for the Brewers, including current left fielder Khris Davis and second baseman Scooter Gennett. The next to join the list could be 17th rounder Tyler Cravy, a right-handed pitcher, and others like pitcher Brooks Hall, catcher Cameron Garfield and outfielder D'Vontrey Richardson have a chance as well.
The Brewers' recent top picks
2013: No first-round pick
2012: C Clint Coulter, Class A Wisconsin; OF Victor Roache, Class A Advanced Brevard County
2011: RHP Taylor Jungmann, Triple-A Nashville; LHP Jed Bradley, Double-A Huntsville
2010: RHP Dylan Covey, did not sign
2009: RHP Eric Arnett, released