|Jim Callis' Quick Take|
|The first huge surprise for me on draft day was the Brewers taking Florida first baseman Matt LaPorta at No. 7. He was one of the best college bats in the draft, so he's talented, but I don't see him as a left fielder, which will have to be his position with Prince Fielder in Milwaukee. You have to take the best available player at the top of the draft, and there were some very talented pitchers Baseball America rated ahead of LaPorta. High school arms Jarrod Parker, Phillipe Aumont and Blake Beavan would have made more sense to me, though I'll acknowledge that scouting director Jack Zduriencik has had a string of nice drafts. Getting Louisville-Lafayette catcher Jonathan Lucroy in the third round could prove to be a nice value.|
MILWAUKEE--The Brewers decided not to look at the position as much as the bat in selecting Florida's Matt LaPorta with the seventh selection in the first round of the draft.
LaPorta's position officially was listed as "catcher" when his named was announced. The Brewers prefer "left fielder."
"We submitted his position as 'left fielder' but they already had their cards made up," said assistant general manager Gord Ash, one of the club's representatives at the first-televised draft at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Orlando.
"We worked him out there the other day and we're confident he can play in left. If it turns out he can't, we can adjust in a few years. We think his bat is the most important thing."
LaPorta, 22, is a client of agent Scott Boras but he also was a college senior, so "signability" was not an issue for the Brewers. He missed most of his junior season at Florida with an oblique injury and slid to the 14th round of the 2006 draft, where he was selected by Boston.
LaPorta chose to return to Florida and had a big senior year, batting .402 with 20 home runs, 52 runs batted in and 55 walks. He recently was named a finalist for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, given to the nation's top amateur.
"We are happy to have secured the rights to one of the top college power hitters in the country," said scouting director Jack Zduriencik. "Matt has had a solid college career and is certainly ready for his next challenge."
The 6-1, 215-pound LaPorta, a righthanded hitter, is not known for his foot speed or agility, but as Ash pointed out, neither was Carlos Lee, who manned left field for the Brewers for 1 1⁄2 years before being traded to Texas in July 2006. With not much power to speak of in their system, the Brewers focused on that tool, which is LaPorta's calling card.
The Brewers also were enamored with LaPorta's eye at the plate, an unusual trait for a power hitter. He led the nation with a .579 on-base percentage and also with a 1.432 OPS.
"He's a guy who makes contact, puts the ball in play," said Ash. "We feel he's one of the best, if not the best college hitter in the draft. When Jack put his board together, he was high on our list. There were other players we liked but we felt at No. 7 they were going to be gone.
"This is a guy we feel can come quick with the bat. We think he can make the transition to the outfield."
As for LaPorta's association with Boras, Ash said, "We know he's going to sign."