Ray’s Potential Excites Brewers

MILWAUKEE—The Brewers said they would stick with their “best available player” draft philosophy, and they weren’t kidding. Never mind their glut of center fielders.

With the fifth pick of the draft, the Brewers selected Louisville center fielder Corey Ray, a multi-dimensional performer with an aggressive style of play whom general manager David Stearns called “an exciting player.”

It didn’t matter that the Brewers took a center fielder with their first-round pick last year, though Trent Clark came out of the prep ranks and will take longer to get to the majors. Or that prospect Brett Phillips, who is playing at Double-A Biloxi, is widely viewed as the club’s center fielder of the future.

“If you can get an up-the-middle player who has that kind of power, speed and defense, we’re going to gravitate toward that,” scouting director Ray Montgomery said.

“Trent is off to a good start and has his career going, but in Corey’s case, we took the best player available. That’s what we feel we did.”

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Ray, a lefthanded hitter, has a rare combination of power and speed. He also has a compelling story, having emerged out of the south side of Chicago, where he attended Simeon High.

“It speaks to his determination and what he can ultimately continue to do to become as a major league player,” Stearns said. “He is a guy who has persevered through a lot. He has a tremendous personality. It is exciting to add that type of complete-package person to the Brewers organization.

“He’s an exciting player to watch. He has the ability to impact the game in multiple ways, which is something we were looking for in this pick. He’s an up-the-middle position player with above-average speed. He gets on base, and once he gets on base, he has the ability to interrupt the other team.”

Ray, whose Cardinals advanced to the Super Regionals round, batted .319/.396/.562 with 15 home runs, 60 RBIs and 44 stolen bases this season. He scored 55 runs and collected 16 doubles and earned all-Atlantic Coast Conference honors.

One of the questions regarding Ray entering the draft was whether he would be able to stay in center field or move to a corner at some point. Montgomery said Ray would begin his career in center but left open the door for a move.

“For us, he fits as a center fielder,” Montgomery said. “I see no reason why he won’t stay there.”

With no one player standing out from the field in this draft, Montgomery said the Brewers narrowed their choices to 10 or so players, with no clear-cut favorite.

“Then we zeroed in and got a good feel on Corey and where he might be,” he said. “It’s tough. Every draft, every year brings a different set of parameters and pool of players.”


• The Brewers selected third baseman Lucas Erceg in the second round out of Menlo (Calif.). They targeted him when he was an All-Pacific-12 Conference performer at California and stayed with him after he became academically ineligible and transferred to NAIA Menlo.

• Milwaukee promoted lefthander Josh Hader to Triple-A Colorado Springs after two dominant months at Biloxi, where he was 2-1, 0.95 in 11 starts. Hader struck out 73 in 57 innings with a 1.00 WHIP.

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