COMMENTARY | With the direction this season is heading for the Milwaukee Brewers, they are looking at a potential Top 5 selection in next year's MLB First-Year Player Draft. Currently, Milwaukee features the third-worst record in baseball behind two teams clearly attempting to rebuild -- the Miami Marlins and Houston Astros.
We're not saying the Brewers should go in all-out tank mode -- at least not yet. There are over 100 games remaining in the 2013 season, but if July rolls around and Milwaukee is showing no signs of turning things around, it's time to sell, no questions asked.
As far as players the Brewers should try and ship off in exchange for prospects, we'll save that for another day. The 2013 MLB draft kicked off on June 6, and while the Crew is setting itself up nicely for a high pick in 2014, it was without a first-round pick this year because of the Kyle Lohse signing.
That pick (No. 17) was awarded to the division rival St. Louis Cardinals, who also received a pick in the compensatory round (No. 28) as a result of losing Lohse in free agency.
It's now OK for Brewer nation to collectively face palm.
Milwaukee has traditionally drafted for immediate need in the high rounds. In other words, players that appear to be more polished with less upside as opposed to players who may need more work with a high ceiling and lots of upside. In recent years, this strategy hasn't exactly paid off, especially on the pitching front (see: Eric Arnett, Evan Frederickson).
To be fair, Milwaukee has also had some success over the past few years. For example, it took both pitcher Jimmy Nelson and first baseman Hunter Morris in 2010, two highly regarded prospects in the Brewers' system that could be on Milwaukee's opening day roster in 2014.
This year, the Brewers seemed to take a different approach with their first two selections. It's time to meet the two newest members (potentially) of the Milwaukee Brewers' organization (assuming they sign in the coming weeks).
Round 2, Pick 54: RHP Devin Williams, Hazelwood (Mo.) West High School
Putting it bluntly, Milwaukee has had little success drafting pitchers out of college. While the hope is that the experience the pitcher gains during college results in less "work" required -- and therefore less time to reach the Major League level -- that simply hasn't been the case, at least for the Brewers and their scouting department.
Enter Devin Williams, an 18-year-old right-handed pitcher who is committed to the University of Missouri. ESPN.com's Keith Law had Williams at No. 20 on his big board, so Williams' selection became one of the five picks Law said he loved from the first day of the draft.
Baseball America also had Williams listed higher than where he was picked (No. 43 overall), so based solely off these rankings, Williams appears to be a nice selection for Milwaukee. He's 6'3" and weighs in at 172 pounds, so his frame can clearly stand to take on more bulk.
Williams' fastball rates high and falls between the 90-93 MPH range, and he also throws a changeup and slider, both pitches that have nice movement, but need to be further developed. At just 18 years of age, Williams is being picked for his upside and athleticism, and he has first-round talent. All in all, he looks to be a steal at this point of the draft for the Brewers, but he should be expected to move slowly through their farm system. You can read more about and watch video of Devin Williams over at Brew Crew Ball courtesy of Alec Dopp.
Round 2 (Comp B), Pick 72: SS/3B Tucker Neuhaus, Wharton (Fla.) High School
A selection that appeared to be a bit more of a reach for Milwaukee, Tucker Neuhaus was another prep player picked on Day 1 of the draft by the Brewers. Baseball America listed the 17-year-old as the No. 84 prospect in the 2013 MLB draft, but he did not earn a ranking from ESPN's MLB prospect guru.
Of course, that doesn't mean the 6'3," 200 pound Neuhaus won't turn into a big-time player someday for the Brewers. Scouts project him to play shortstop moving forward, but he's also skilled enough to play third. There's also that guy named Jean Segura, only 23 years old, currently occupying the shortstop position for Milwaukee.
In the past year, Neuhaus has endured plenty of hardships, including a nagging injury and the death of his older brother (via Joel Anderson of the Tampa Bay Times). Neuhaus appears to have strong character and looks to be an upside pick with great athleticism as well. He has a nice swing from the left side along with some pull-power and throws right-handed.
Neuhaus is committed to play at the University of Louisville, so there is no guarantee he will sign either, but he and Williams combined for a tweet that made it sound like both are ecstatic to join the Brewers' organization (h/t Williams' Twitter).
That's good news for Milwaukee, a team that put together a solid first day in the 2013 MLB draft with the absence of a first-round pick.
Dave Radcliffe is a resident of a little known Milwaukee suburb who is an avid follower of Wisconsin sports. He has contributed to JSOnline, as a featured columnist on other sites and publications, and been a guest on multiple sports talk radio shows.
You can get the discussion going and follow Dave on Twitter @DaveRadcliffe_ .
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