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Brewers 2002 Draft Overview

By Jim Callis
May 17, 2002

Scouting Director: Jack Zduriencik (first year: 2000).

2000 Draft (First three rounds, picking 11th)
1. David Krynzel, of, Green Valley HS, Henderson, Nev.
2. (Choice to Braves as compensation for free agent Jose Hernandez).
3. Dane Artman, lhp, Westminster Academy, Fort Lauderdale.

2001 Draft (First three rounds, picking 12th)
1. Mike Jones, rhp, Thunderbird HS, Phoenix.
2. J.J. Hardy, ss, Sabino HS, Tucson.
3. Jon Steitz, rhp, Yale.

2002 Draft
Brewers pick seventh in rotation.

Overview
If teams were being contracted solely on the basis of on-field performance, commissioner Bud Selig's beloved Brewers would be in grave danger. They haven't had a winning record in a decade, and their playoff drought has been twice as long. Milwaukee hasn't been able to snap out of its doldrums in large part because it hasn't been able to bring enough talent into the organization.

Ben Sheets fell into the club's lap as the 10th overall pick in 1999. But the first-round picks in the previous three years were outfielder Chad Green, who's no longer in the organization, and righthanders Kyle Peterson and J.M. Gold, who have spent much of their pro careers on the disabled list. Aside from 1998 second-rounder Nick Neugebauer, the Brewers found little talent in those drafts.

Milwaukee's outlook is starting to get brighter, though, and not just because Miller Park will give the team more money to spend. Early returns on the Brewers' 2001 draft indicate it could be the club's best in years. Mike Jones was one of the highlights of an exceptionally deep crop of high school righthanders, and Jon Steitz gave Milwaukee a second power arm. On the subject of power, few high school hitters had as much as first baseman Brad Nelson (fourth round). Athletic shortstop J.J. Hardy has also opened eyes with his bat.

Each of Jack Zduriencik's two drafts with the Brewers has had a distinct high school flavor. His initial effort in 2001 yielded speedy outfielder David Krynzel and several other bats in catcher Jason Belcher (fourth round), outfielder Bill Scott (eighth) and first baseman Corey Hart (11th). Among that group, only Scott was a college product.

It looks like Milwaukee will go the high school route in the first round for a third straight year. With Sheets and Neugebauer having graduated to the major leagues, the system is thin on pitching prospects. Righthanders Zach Greinke, Chris Gruler and Jason Neighborgall all could be tempting, as could offensive-minded shortstop Scott Moore. The Brewers also have the earliest pick among teams that are taking a serious look at powerful first baseman Prince Fielder.

The system will receive a boost if the Brewers can sign lefthander Manny Parra, a 26th-rounder in 2001 who is at American River (Calif.) Junior College, as a draft-and-follow.

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