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Milwaukee Brewers Draft Report Card

By David Rawnsley

Best Debut: The Brewers had a number of college outfielders who excelled in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, none more than all-star Ryan Knox (24), who hit .349, second-best in the league. Will Ford (11) and Steven Truitt (14) also hit over .300.

Best Athlete: RHP Ruddy Lugo (3) was considered a potential first-round talent as both a pitcher and shortstop. C Kade Johnson (2) has the agility and speed to play multiple positions.

Best Hitter: Ford, who has a smooth and easy lefthanded swing, appears to have recovered from the knee injury that cost him his 1998 season at Rice. He hit .341-5-46 at Ogden and could develop at least average power as he matures.

Best Power: Johnson hit a national junior college record 38 homers in the spring at Seminole State (Okla.) JC after transferring from Texas at mid-term. He signed too late to play but has excellent power potential.

Fastest Runner: Knox used his above-average speed to steal a league-leading 44 bases at Helena. SS Steve Scarborough (18) is a plus runner down the line, but he doesn’t have Knox’ baserunning instincts.

Best Defensive Player: Scarborough is a scintillating defensive shortstop, with plus arm strength and agility.

Best Fastball: RHP Ben Sheets (1) not only can touch 96-97 mph but he’s able to hold his velocity into the late innings–a rarity for any starting pitcher.

Most Intriguing Background: Lugo’s brother, Julio, is a top shortstop prospect with the Astros. He comes from the same Brooklyn youth program that has produced Manny Ramirez and Frank Rodriguez, among others.

Closest to the Majors: The Brewers had Sheets make two quick Rookie league starts to stretch his arm out before jumping him to the high Class A California League, where he went 1-0, 3.58 in five starts. He should be ready for the majors as early as next year.

The One That Got Away: RHP Dustin Lansford (5), a high school teammate of Johnson’s and the only unsigned Brewers pick in the first 15 rounds, returned to McLennan (Texas) JC but the Brewers retain his rights until right before next year’s draft. RHP Chad Clark (22) fulfilled his commitment to Southern California, where he could develop into a first-round pick in 2002.

Best Non-Draft Sign: OF Cristian Guerrero, a cousin of the Expos’ Vladimir and Wilton Guerrero, showed five-tool potential in his U.S. debut, hitting .310-5-28 with 28 steals at Ogden. RHP Jose Mieses, also from the Dominican, led the Pioneer League in wins (10) and ERA (2.67).

Summary: Sheets is a power pitcher unlike any the Brewers have seen in years, and he should assure that this was a rare solid draft for Milwaukee. The other Brewers’ pitching selections are much farther away.

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