Brewers Happy With Weeks As Consolation Prize
June 3, 2003
By Drew Olson
MILWAUKEE-- Rickie Weeks didn't get a lot of attention from college recruiters when he left Lake Brantley High in Altamonte Springs, Fla., and he was totally ignored by pro scouts.
Talk about overcompensating. Weeks, a standout from Southern University, was chosen by the Brewers with the second overall pick in the 2003 draft.
How does a player go from unknown to the earliest second baseman selected in draft history? After enrolling at Southern, Weeks grew two inches, gained 15 pounds of muscle, led the NCAA in hitting twice and was an All-American.
"He's just an outstanding individual," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said of Weeks, who eclipsed the previous second-base record of Todd Walker, the eighth overall pick by Minnesota in 1994.
"He took the challenge of not being drafted out of high school to go out there and get drafted. Who knows? He might take the challenge of not being the first pick and go out there and prove to prove to people that he should have been the first pick."
California prep star Delmon Young, the younger brother of Tigers slugger Dmitri Young, went to the Devil Rays with the top pick. Since Young and Weeks were regarded as the best players in the draft, the Brewers were in what Melvin termed a no-lose situation as they made their highest pick since taking B.J. Surhoff first overall in 1985.
Though they'd have been thrilled to take Young, the Brewers were equally pleased with Weeks, who is considered closer to the big leagues. With quick wrists and remarkable bat speed, Weeks has drawn comparisons to Hank Aaron and Gary Sheffield. As a junior, he hit .493, boosting his career mark to .473. In three seasons, he stole 65 bases in 66 attempts.
"This is a player who has a lot of tools," scouting director Jack Zduriencik said of Weeks, who has played for Team USA the past two summers. "He can run. He can throw. He can field. He can hit with good power. It's a nice combination.
"When we look at what we have at Double-A, I think if we have a chance for Rickie to step up with that group, it's going to be an asset for this organization for years to come."
Some scouts say Weeks will have to improve his hands and footwork in order to thrive at second base, but Zduriencik and area scout Ray Montgomery said they saw marked improvement as Weeks became more comfortable at the position.
"I just think with some coaching I'm going to be an all-star second baseman," Weeks said. "You've got to have some sort of confidence. You're always going to have critics, so you just have to let your game speak for itself on the field.
"To be an all-star, you have to work hard. You can't really worry too much about what people say about you. You listen to coaches, things of that nature, and hopefully you get to that level."
The Brewers will begin negotiating with Weeks, who should command the largest signing bonus in franchise history. Early estimates range from $3.5 million to $4 million, with the Brewers likely to take their cue from Young's deal with the Devil Rays.
Weeks is represented by Lon Babby, a Washington, D.C., lawyer best known for representing basketball stars Grant Hill, Tim Duncan and Shane Battier as well as the NFL's Rocket Ismail and several WNBA players.
Weeks is believed to be the first baseball player represented by Babby, who also defended John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot President Reagan in 1981, and served as counsel to the Orioles and Washington Redskins under then-owner Edward Bennett Williams. He is known in the sports industry for billing his clients by the hour rather than charging a commission on their salaries.
"Lon and I worked together in Baltimore," said Melvin, who held several positions with the Orioles.
The Brewers didn't get to draft Young, but they did get a player with significant bloodlines. In the second round, they chose San Diego State outfielder Anthony Gwynn, the son of former Padres star Tony Gwynn, who was the Aztecs' coach this season.
Gwynn is a spray hitter known for speed and defense, but he struggled at the plate this season. Many scouts are convinced he'll be a better player in the pros because he has been around big league clubhouses all his life and plays fundamentally sound defense.