Coincidentally or not, the Brewers went heavy after lefthanders in the 2019 draft, beginning in the first round when they selected Mississippi State lefthander Ethan Small with the 28th overall pick.
With just two picks among the first 132 selections, the Brewers went for a lefthander in the second round as well, drafting Antoine Kelly of Wabash Valley (Ill.) JC. The Brewers traded their supplemental first-round selection to the Rangers in December for lefty reliever Alex Claudio and forfeited their third-round pick for signing free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal.
That left the Brewers with the second-lowest draft bonus pool among the 30 teams, so it made sense to place an emphasis on college players. Among their 39 selections, 18 were college pitchers, including eight lefties, six of whom were taken in the first 13 rounds. Overall, the Brewers drafted 21 pitchers.
“We took some shots on some upside guys in that mix,” scouting director Tod Johnson said. “We didn’t necessarily target lefthanded pitching. We are not going to draft for need. The pitchers we landed on ended up being primarily lefthanded.”
Mississippi State’s appearance in the College World Series delayed Small’s signing with the Brewers, but the Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year throws mostly in the low 90s with his fastball. He led the conference with 160 strikeouts in 96 innings, and he issued just 27 walks while holding opponents to a .190 average.
Meanwhile, the 6-foot-6 Kelly led all junior college pitchers with an average of 19.1 strikeouts per nine innings, and he signed for $1,025,100, the full slot value for the 65th overall pick.
“He has well above-average velocity,” Johnson said of Kelly, who regularly throws in the upper 90s. “We’re pretty excited because it’s some of the best lefthanded pure stuff in the draft.”
— The Brewers’ 32nd-round pick, 18-year-old righthander Jefferson Figueroa, didn’t attend a physical high school. Instead, he was drafted out of Florida Virtual School, an online school with no baseball team. Figueroa moved to the U.S. from Venezuela and played on travel ball teams, which helped him draw the attention of scouts.
— The Brewers drafted Texas shortstop David Hamilton in the eighth round despite the fact he missed the entire season with a torn Achilles tendon. The Brewers knew Hamilton would not be able to play professionally until 2020, but they expect him to make a complete recovery.