Brewers go with IU pitcher

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Associated Press
June 10, 2009
— For what it’s worth, the Milwaukee Brewers’ latest addition comes highly recommended by a guy with some local ties: Indiana University basketball coach Tom Crean.

The Brewers selected Hoosiers pitcher Eric Arnett with the No. 26 overall pick in Tuesday’s Major League Baseball first-year player draft. Arnett, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, was 12-2 with a 2.50 ERA as a junior last season, throwing six complete games and holding opponents to a .212 batting average.

But Arnett also was close to Crean’s rebuilding Indiana basketball team, working out with the players and incorporating their weightlifting program into his workout regimen.

“He’s a great guy,” Arnett said of Crean. “He’s even helped me through baseball. He talked to the Brewers. He talked to a lot of people. He’s been great.”

Crean, who left Milwaukee’s Marquette University to coach Indiana last season, noted Arnett’s selection on his Twitter account.

“I am going to really miss my season tickets now,” Crean tweeted.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said he considers Crean a reputable reference, given his expertise in evaluating athletes—even if he’s usually watching basketball players.

“Tom gave a very, very glowing report,” Melvin said.

Arnett, who throws in the mid-90s according to a scouting report on mlb.com, says his game often is compared to that of Boston Red Sox pitcher Jonathan Papelbon.

“I’m always compared to Papelbon, but I don’t think I have the look he does,” Arnett said.

Milwaukee went on to make five more picks on the first day of the draft.

With a pair of supplemental first-round picks, the Brewers took Tennessee outfielder Kentrail Davis with the 39th overall pick and made right-hander Kyle Heckathorn from Kennesaw State the 47th overall selection.

In the second round, Milwaukee took outfielder Maxwell Walla from Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico and catcher Cameron Garfield out of Murrieta Valley (Calif.) High School. The Brewers then took shortstop Joshua Prince from Tulane in the third round.

The draft runs through Thursday.

The picks are the first major decisions for Brewers director of amateur scouting Bruce Seid. He replaced longtime draft whiz Jack Zduriencik, who took over as the general manager of the Seattle Mariners.

“I feel with the selection of Eric Arnett, we took the best player available,” Seid said. “He is someone that will be a great fit in our organization and will make us a better as a whole.”

And Arnett made it sound like negotiations on his first contract shouldn’t be too troublesome.

“I’m definitely looking to sign soon,” Arnett said. “I’m a fairly signable guy.”

Nationals select Strasburg

Drafting pitcher Stephen Strasburg was the easy part for the Washington Nationals. Signing him could be much more difficult.

Strasburg was selected by the woeful Nationals with the first pick in baseball’s amateur draft Tuesday night, a move that was long expected.

Considered one of the most talented prospects in the event’s 45-year history, the right-hander features a blazing fastball that’s been clocked at 102 mph—and some nasty breaking stuff, too. He went 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA this season for San Diego State, leading the Aztecs to their first postseason berth since 1991.

“He’s a tremendous pitching package,” Nationals acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. “We weren’t going to pass on the best player in the draft.”

But signing him might be a major challenge, because agent Scott Boras is sure to seek a record contract—perhaps worth approximately $50 million.

Teams have until Aug. 15 to sign draft choices, otherwise they lose their rights.

With the second pick, the Seattle Mariners chose North Carolina slugger Dustin Ackley, who has batted at least .400 for three consecutive seasons.

The San Diego Padres were the first team to go for a high school player, tabbing outfielder Donavan Tate at No. 3.

Eleven of the first 15 picks were pitchers, considered the strength of this unpredictable draft class.

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