Brewers Take A Swing At Sluggers

MILWAUKEE—After stockpiling pitchers in recent drafts, the Brewers went back to a formula that worked well in the past for them.

The Brewers went for three hitters with power as they made three selections among the first 38 picks in the draft.

The Brewers took catcher Clint Coulter of Union High (Camas, Wash.) with the 27th overall selection before grabbing outfielder Victor Roache out of Georgia Southern one pick later. In the supplemental first round, with the 38th pick overall, they selected Cal Poly San Luis Obispo outfielder Mitch Haniger.

All three players are righthanded hitters who project to hit with power. The Nos. 27 and 38 picks were compensation for losing free agent Prince Fielder to the Tigers last winter.

Before concentrating on their pitching shortage in recent years, the Brewers advanced a series of hitters to the big leagues such as Corey Hart, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun, and used Brett Lawrie in a trade to acquire righthander Shaun Marcum. Now, comfortable with the pitching prospects in the system, they went back to the bats.

 "We feel pretty good walking away from this today," Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid said. "That's the way the board was lined up. We were just happy the bats got to us. We were a little nervous for a second.

"They all have tools that eventually may enable them to be impact-type players. We feel these guys have a chance to hit the ball out of the park. They have a chance to play defensively, which is something we definitely took into consideration. And we feel these guys have superb makeup. So it's a good combination."

Coulter, 18, has a strong arm but is raw and unpolished behind the plate. He said he would like to remain a catcher and Seid said Coulter would be given every opportunity to do so but a change to third base or outfield is not out of the question for a player who will advance via his offensive skills.

Coulter, a physical specimen at a chiseled 6-foot-3, 200 pounds was a state wrestling champ as a sophomore. He hasn't hired an agent and made it clear he plans to go pro rather than use a scholarship to Arizona State, one big reason the Brewers were in on him for some time.

"Starting my pro career now is definitely important to me," he said. "I'm not getting any younger. Hopefully, we can come to an agreement. I'm not looking for any crazy signing bonus. That's probably why I got drafted because I'm not trying to break the bank. You don't make your money in the draft. I'd like to get out playing and start getting better."

The selection of Roache involved some risk because he missed most of the 2012 with a badly fractured left wrist that required six screws, two pins and a metal plate to repair. He is still on the mend and will not be ready to play professionally this summer.

The Brewers brought Roache to Milwaukee to be examined by team physician William Raasch and medical operations director Roger Caplinger, who also examined his records and spoke with his doctors.

"There is some risk as to will he get to 100 percent," Seid said. "But at this point, we feel very confident in the makeup of the kid to work hard and that the injury will heal and he'll be who we think he'll be."

If Roache, 20, makes a full recovery, the Brewers could have a steal taking him late in the first round, As a sophomore at Georgia Southern, he led all Division I players with 30 home runs in 2011, then performed well that summer in the Cape Cod League.

"Every one of our guys who saw him said this guy is a premium power type guy who's athletic," Seid said.

Roache, who broke his wrist diving to make a catch in the sixth game of the season, said he is on the mend and is determined to show the Brewers made the right choice.

"Everything happens for a reason," he said. "I'm very thankful to still be considered a first-round pick. That means a lot to me for the Brewers to still have faith in my talent and take a chance and draft me in the 28th spot. That motivates me even more to give irt 100% and get back on the field as soon as possible, and produce for them for the next 10-15 years."

Haniger, 21, played center fielder for Cal Poly but has a strong arm and the pop in his bat to profile as a right fielder down the road. He didn't think the Brewers would take him after selecting Roache in the first round but said he was pleased that they did.

Haniger was the 2012 Big West Conference player of the year, batting .346 and leading the league with 13 homers and 64 RBIs.

"I don't want to put emphasis by saying this is going to be a 40-home run guy but I will say Mitch Haniger is a pretty damn good baseball player," Seid said. "He can hit, has power, has a chance to play center field. He's a smart, heady baseball player. Defensively, his arm can stop the running game and he likes to stop the running game."

"We're pleased with all three guys," general manager Doug Melvin said. "One of the things in pro baseball, in the minor leagues that we think there's a shortage of is power. In the draft, there was a shortage of power, too.

"But all three players aren't just power, softball-type players. These guys are all guys that can play a position. With us drafting pitching last year, these are guys that fit what some of our needs are in the organization. The thing I like the most is the makeup of these players."


• Righthander Wily Peralta, considered the No. 1 prospect in the organization, was in a bad funk at Triple-A Nashville. Peralta lost five consecutive starts to fall to 1-7, 6.83 through 11 outings.

• High Class A Brevard County righthander Jimmy Nelson was selected to play in the Florida State League all-star game after going 4-4, 2.08 in 11 starts. He was 2-1, 1.21 in is first four home outings.