A New Brew

The Brewers landed a power arm in Indiana's Eric Arnett





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MILWAUKEEIt makes a scouting director smile when organizational need merges with the top name remaining on his draft board.

That convergence led the Milwaukee Brewers to select Indiana righthander Eric Arnett with the 26th pick in the first round of the draft. Arnett, 21, was the first college pitcher taken by the Brewers in the first round since Ben Sheets in 1999.
QUICK TAKE
The first day went well as the Brewers got two first-round targets in RHPs Eric Arnett (26th overall) and Kyle Heckathorn (47th overall), and two offensive OFs in Kentrail Davis (39th overall) and Max Walla (second round). The rest of the draft was a nice mix of prep and college products, with interesting players to follow this summer in Alabama LHP Del Howell (15th) and Florida prep IF Scooter Gennett (16th).
—JOHN MANUEL

"We didn't draft for need; we drafted the best player available," said scouting director Bruce Seid, conducting his first draft for the Brewers. "This kid just blossomed this year. And we still feel he has more upside."

Arnett went 12-2 with a 2.50 earned run average during his junior season at Indiana, with 39 walks and 109 strikeouts in 108 innings. He tossed six complete games and held opponents to a .212 batting average.

At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Arnett is a power pitcher whose fastball has registered consistently in the mid 90s (mph). He has a sharp slider in the mid 80s that also serves as a strikeout pitch and a developing changeup.

Arnett was a workhorse at Indiana, averaging nearly eight innings per start and completing six games. He was named Big Ten co-pitcher of the year and first-team all-Big Ten, and second-team All-American by Louisville Slugger and Collegiate Baseball News.

A native of Pataskala, Ohio, Arnett was an outstanding all-around athlete in high school, where he also played football and basketball. He was a wide receiver and safety as well as a power forward but decided to concentrate on baseball when Indiana offered a scholarship.

As it turns out, the Brewers had an unofficial scout at Indiana in basketball coach Tom Crean, who left Marquette to take over a Hoosiers program left in tatters by the recruiting scandal of Kelvin Sampson. Short of players, Crean had Arnett work out with the team and travel as a practice player but he never suited up for games.

Hearing of the Brewers' interest in Arnett, Crean gave general manager Doug Melvin a call to vouch for Arnett's character and competitiveness.

"You know how Tom is; he gets pretty excited," Melvin said. "He said Arnett is a great individual, very competitive and grasps coaching and teaching. And he's another kid who wants to get out and play."

Arnett attended a pre-draft workout the Brewers held for several draft-eligible players at Miller Park, so he knew Milwaukee was interested in him.

"I felt if I got there (to No. 26), I knew I had a good chance of going to Milwaukee," Arnett said during a conference call. "I knew I was a potential prospect for them."

The Brewers always place a premium on the signability of draft picks and Arnett seemed eager to get his professional career going.

"I'm looking forward to signing as soon as possible," said Arnett. "I'm a fairly 'signable' guy. I don't think it would take too long."

Microbrews

• The Brewers added another big, righthanded power pitcher out of college when they took Kennesaw State's Kyle Heckathorn in the supplemental first round with the 47th overall pick. "These are big, physical guys with power arms," Seid said of Arnett and Heckathorn. "And they're athletic, too. These are a couple of pitchers we think have a chance to be top-line guys."

• With their other supplemental first-round pick (No. 39), the Brewers selected Tennessee outfielder Kentrail Davis, a sophomore-eligible player whose performance didn't match his talent on a poor team this year. Compact and strong at 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds, Davis batted .308 with nine home runs and 30 RBIs.

• With the Nos. 73 and 74 picks in the second round, the Brewers selected two prep players, outfielder Max Walla of Albuquerque (N.M) Academy and catcher Cameron Garfield of Murietta (Calif.) High. Walla, only 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, nevertheless packs a big punch in his swing and was impressive in a pre-draft workout.