Brewers’ picks lead with pitchers
Milwaukee went for pitching with both its picks in the first round of baseball’s first-year player draft Monday, taking the right-handed Jungmann with the No. 12 overall pick and Georgia Tech left-hander Jed Bradley at No. 15.
Earlier Monday, Jungmann pitched a scoreless inning in relief as Texas beat Kent State to advance.
For the Brewers, the additions of Jungmann and Bradley are the first steps toward restocking a farm system that has been drained of top prospects in recent high-profile trades.
“Our scouting people do a good job of drafting, and then we make a decision whether to keep them for ourselves or to trade them to help us win and be competitive, highly competitive, at the Major League level,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. “So every draft is important.”
The Brewers had an extra pick because last year’s first-rounder, right-hander Dylan Covey, did not sign.
Brewers director of amateur scouting Bruce Seid acknowledged that taking a pair of pitchers in the first round helped Milwaukee “capture some needs,” but also made the case that the team’s system isn’t completely devoid of pitching prospects.
“We do have some young players at our lower levels that are developing ... but at the same time, these two guys here hit the ground running, and they have an opportunity to fit right in,” Seid said.
Jungmann is 13-1 with a 1.39 ERA in 17 games and 16 starts this season with the Longhorns, with 120 strikeouts and 29 walks. Bradley just completed his junior season with Georgia Tech, going 7-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 starts with the Yellow Jackets.
Melvin said Bradley was generally considered the second-best college left-hander in the draft behind Virginia’s Danny Hultzen, who was taken No. 2 overall by Seattle.
Melvin called Bradley’s 6-4, 224-pound build reminiscent of Andy Pettitte. Jungmann is a big guy, too, at 6-6 and 220 pounds.
“They’ve both been big winners, and they both have pitched in big games,” Melvin said.
Melvin hopes to get both players signed quickly to kick-start their progression through the Brewers’ system.
“If you look at the players that have signed for us early, and getting them out early and playing, some of them are in the big leagues (already),” Melvin said.
And plenty of the Brewers’ recent top prospects have moved on.
Of Milwaukee’s first-round picks the past five years, only right-hander Eric Arnett remains in the organization—and he’s struggling with inconsistency and injury.
The Brewers traded 2007 first-rounder Matt LaPorta, and other prospects, in the C.C. Sabathia deal that powered them to the playoffs in 2008.
Milwaukee unloaded two more first-rounders this offseason, giving up 2008 top pick Brett Lawrie in a deal with Toronto for Shaun Marcum, and 2006 selection Jeremy Jeffress in Milwaukee’s blockbuster deal for Zack Greinke.
In addition to Jeffress, the Brewers gave up several other highly regarded players for Greinke, including outfielder Lorenzo Cain, right-hander Jake Odorizzi and shortstop Alcides Escobar.
Melvin said those deals are proof that the Brewers are doing a good job drafting and developing players. And Melvin says the farm system isn’t as sparse as it’s perceived.
“We’ve got more prospects than what people (think),” Melvin said. “We just don’t go out there and publicize it like other teams sometimes do.”
Milwaukee’s 2010 first-round pick, right-hander Dylan Covey, chose to play in college after he was diagnosed with diabetes. Melvin called it an “unfortunate” situation—but said he expected this year’s college pitchers to advance more quickly through the system than Covey might have coming out of high school.
“We feel by getting a college pitcher, he’s going to be far more advanced than what Dylan would have been being a high school guy,” Melvin said.