The Milwaukee Brewers decided to get even younger during the 2018 MLB Draft, using six of their first nine picks on high school prospects. In fact, their first three picks were all high school position players. Signability will be an issue for the Brew Crew, but if they are able to ink their prized selections they will be retooling an already solid farm system while building a foundation for serious contention in a few years.
Here’s a quick glance at the Brewers most notable draft selections from last week:
1.21 – Brice Turang, SS, Santiago HS
Turang performed so well the summer after his sophomore year of high school that many scouts had him as a potential candidate to go first overall in 2018. However, the following summer was rough for the 17-year-old, who booted a lot of balls at shortstop and didn’t show the confidence at the plate that many were expecting.
Turang turned it around toward the end of last season, enough for the Brewers to snag him at No. 21 overall. Turang has a plus hit tool and has shown advanced plate discipline for a player his age, good signs that he will develop into a solid big league contributor with the stick. Most scouts also project that he will be able to stick at shortstop, which is a huge part of his value.
The question is his power. Turang is six-foot-one and 165 pounds, with plenty of room to fill out. If he is able to develop some loft behind his smooth left-handed swing, the Brewers could be looking at a 20/15 threat who can handle the shortstop position. If not, he still looks like a big league regular even at his floor.
2.60 – Joe Gray, OF, Hattiesburg HS
Brewers fans must be foaming at the mouth after seeing MLB.com compare second round pick Joe Gray to former Twins legend Torii Hunter. The Ole Miss commit was picked 60th overall, with a slot value of $1.11 million dollars. Assuming the Brewers are able to sign him, they’ll be getting a player with two plus tools – his power and his arm. Gray posted a .491 average as a senior at Hattiesburg high school, hitting six home runs and stealing 19 bases. His power is likely to come when he fills out his six-foot-one, 195 pound frame. Offensively, this is a kid who has the potential to go 20/20 in his prime (a la Hunter).
Defensively, he has an absolute rocket for an arm. Scouts ranked his arm the best in the high school class, with his throws from the outfield being clocked at a blistering 98 miles per hour. The Brewers will have to fork over a pretty penny to sign both Turang and Gray, but if they do they’ll have two foundational pieces to their future lineup.
CBB.73 – Micah Bello, OF, Hilo HS
The Brewers used their competitive balance pick, No. 73 overall, to take a Hawaiian outfielder by the name of Micah Bello. Bello, who was committed to St. Mary’s, had a monstrous senior year. He hit .563 with a .667 on base percentage. He also stole 16 bases.
Bello’s calling card will be his speed. He might become the fastest player in the Brewers system as soon as he signs. He has flashed solid contact skills and good plate discipline. While he doesn’t have an above average power tool, he projects as a top of the order table setter with good speed and a glove that can play all three outfield spots.
St. Mary’s is not a baseball powerhouse, so no doubt Milwaukee believes they can sign Bello at or just over slot value. A plethora of outfield talent in the farm system, especially with the addition of Joe Gray, should allow Bello to be carried along very slowly. He may not even reach the affiliates until next year, as the team may choose to stick him in rookie ball for the rest of the season.
Still, a future outfield with the speedy Bello and the slugging Gray could be a lot of fun for Milwaukee fans in a few years.
4.125 – Aaron Ashby, LHP, Crowder College
Aaron Ashby is a left-handed pitcher out of the Junior College ranks. He is committed to play at Tennessee next season if he isn’t signed, although most project that the Brewers will be able to lock him up. Ashby, the nephew of former big leaguer Andy Ashby, post some video-game like numbers at Crowder last season. His K/9 ratio was a staggering 18.8, with 156 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings pitched.
Ashby’s fastball gets up to 95 and sits 92-94. He has a plus curveball and a plus slider, with a changeup that has developed rapidly in the last year. Because of his solid four pitch mix, most scouts believe he has what it takes to stick in the rotation through the minor leagues and potentially all the way into the show.
5.155 – Justin Jarvis, RHP, Lake Normah HS
With Milwaukee’s fifth pick they took their fourth high schooler, a six-foot-two right-hander from North Carolina. Jarvis was ranked by MLB.com as the No. 199 prospect, so Milwaukee must have felt very confident they could sign him. He is committed to UNC-Wilmington, although he has said he will ‘probably’ sign with Milwaukee.
Jarvis has a 60-grade fastball that sits in the low 90’s and can get up to 95. Although his fastball movement is limited thanks to his upright mechanics, most scouts believe he can add velocity once he fills out his skinny frame. Both his changeup and curveball get 50 grades from MLB Pipeline. Apparently, his draft stock plummeted thanks to major concerns about his curveball. Obviously, if Jarvis can’t develop at least an average big league curveball, he may be destined for a bullpen role. A fastball in the high 90’s and a 50 grade changeup will at the very least make him a serviceable middle relief arm. Any improvements to his change could land him in a set up role down the line – if starting doesn’t work out.
The Rest of the Draft
Milwaukee went with signability in round six and seven, drafting Oregon State senior right-hander Drew Rasmussen in the sixth and Northwestern State senior catcher David Fry in the seventh.
The Brewers also took a shot in the dark in round 29, grabbing elite high school shortstop Nander De Sedas from Montverde Academy. De Sedas was ranked as the No. 55 prospect by MLB Pipeline, but was drafted a cool 820 spots later thanks to signability concerns. Obviously, De Sedas is unlikely to forego his commitment to Florida State to sign with the Brewers.
That’s all for now. A full-length update on Milwaukee’s farm system will be coming out shortly.
Featured image of Brice Turang – via MLB Network on Twitter