Brewers take pair of college hurlers in first round

Brewers take pair of college hurlers in first round

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers spent both of their 2011 first-round Draft picks on big advanced pitchers from high-profile college programs, and amateur scouting director Bruce Seid used a word you don't often hear escape his lips.

First, the picks: University of Texas right-hander Taylor Jungmann went to the Brewers at No. 12 overall on Day 1 of the First-Year Player Draft on Monday, and Georgia Tech left-hander Jed Bradley was selected at No. 15. The Brewers had the extra selection at 15 because they didn't sign their first-rounder in 2010.

"There were some really good players taken in front of our picks, and we feel we were able to capture some needs and some guys that fit the criteria," Seid said. "These are successful college [pitchers]."

Did you catch it? That magic word was "need."

Seid and the Brewers don't typically discuss their Draft picks in terms of positional needs, opting instead to follow a "best available player" philosophy that guides many teams. This is not football or basketball, where draft picks plug right into NFL offenses or NBA starting fives. This is baseball, and even the most advanced picks have to toil their way through the Minor Leagues.

But the Brewers do have needs in the organization, partly because of the trades that fed the "win now" atmosphere in the Major Leagues and partly because of some high-profile disappointments in the two previous Drafts. The team's first-round pick in 2009, right-hander Eric Arnett, is 3-13 with a 6.18 ERA as a professional. The first pick in 2010, righty Dylan Covey, is at the University of San Diego, his future put on hold by a surprise Diabetes diagnosis last year.

"We're always trying to take the best player on the board," Seid said. "Pitching in our system right now, we do have some young players at our lower levels who are developing ... but at the same time, these two guys here hit the ground running. They have an opportunity to fit right in with the other players we're developing."

Seid mentioned by name a slew of promising pitching prospects; Brooks Hall, Tyler Thornburg, Austin Ross, Jimmy Nelson and Kyle Heckathorn. All were drafted since Seid took over from former scouting director Jack Zduriencik in 2009.

The Brewers have focused in recent seasons on big strong arms, and both Jungmann and Bradley fit that bill. Jungmann is 6-foot-6, 220 pounds and one of three finalists for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, which goes annually to the best player in amateur baseball. Bradley is 6-foot-4, 224 pounds and boosted his stock last summer in the Cape Cod League.

Both are coming off their junior seasons; Jungmann is 21 and Bradley will turn 21 on Sunday. Both have three established pitches; Jungmann a power fastball that reaches 93-95 mph, a hard curveball and a changeup, and Bradley a lively fastball, quality slider and a changeup.

Both also have well-known advisors. Jungmann will be represented by Alan Hendricks, and Bradley by Greg Genske.

Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at 11 a.m. CT on Tuesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft. Teams have until 11 p.m. CT on Aug. 15 to sign their Draft picks. The Bradley pick is unprotected, meaning the Brewers will not be compensated if he does not sign.

Jungmann is 13-1 with a 1.39 ERA this season for Texas, including a scoreless inning of relief earlier Monday in the Longhorns' regional win over Kent State. Texas advanced to the Super Regional for the eighth time since 2000. Brewers scout Jeremy Booth has followed him for three years, Seid said.

Bradley went 7-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 starts at Georgia Tech, and struck out 106 batters in 98 innings. Brewers area scout Ryan Robinson covered Bradley. Melvin said Bradley compares physically to former Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte.

"They both know how to pitch," Melvin said. "They're not guys who have to learn a couple of pitches. They're both aggressive and they can command their pitches. They've both been big winners and have pitched in big games."

Milwaukee has had mixed results drafting pitchers in the first round. Seid took over the team's top amateur scouting slot in 2009, and spent a first-round pick on University of Indiana hurler Arnett, who has struggled mightily as a professional and is currently at extended spring camp rehabbing a shoulder issue. Seid followed in 2010 with Covey, a prep right-hander from Pasadena, Calif., who was poised to sign last August when his physical exam revealed he was Type 1 diabetic. Covey opted to attend the University of San Diego instead.

Before Arnett, the Brewers had not used their first overall pick on a pitcher since prep righty Jeremy Jeffress in 2006. He was traded to the Royals last winter in the Zack Greinke deal. The team's top pick in 2005 was another prep righty, Mark Rogers, who is currently considered the team's top pitching prospect, but has dealt with shoulder problems in the past and a wrist injury this season.

The last first-round Draft pick to pitch an extended period of time with the Brewers was Ben Sheets in 1999. The team has had terrific success with top-end positional talent in the same timeframe -- left fielder Ryan Braun, first baseman Prince Fielder and second baseman Rickie Weeks were all first-round Draft picks.

"We've got more prospects than what people [say]," Melvin said. "We just don't go out and publicize it like other teams sometimes do. ... We've had some good drafts. Last year, we had an unfortunate situation with Covey, but we feel that by getting a college pitcher that he's going to be far more advanced than what Dylan would have been."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.