MILWAUKEE -- Friday was the last day of school at Union High in Camas, Wash., a city of about 20,000 just over the Oregon border from Portland, but senior Clint Coulter was half a continent away, eager to get to work. Coulter, a catcher, and Georgia Southern outfielder Victor Roache both signed with Milwaukee only four days after the Brewers called their names in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft, Coulter at No. 27 overall and Roache at No. 28. It marked the formal start to professional careers that could lead to Miller Park someday.
"These are two players who have only taken a few days to sign their contracts," general manager Doug Melvin said. "They're both very anxious." That was evident by the timing of the signings, and the fact that Coulter was the rare first-round Draft pick who did not negotiate through an agent. A baseball source said Coulter received a $1.675 million bonus, the figure allotted in Major League Baseball's new Collective Bargaining Agreement for the 27th overall selection. Roache, advised by agent Larry Reynolds, signed for $1.525 million, slightly below slot. Both are likely to begin their professional careers in Phoenix, Coulter with the rookie Arizona Brewers and Roache at the team's rehab facility there. He might have been a top 10 pick in this Draft had he not suffered a serious wrist injury in February, and now is not expected to play until the fall instructional league. "For me, being hurt, I sat out the whole season, only played six games, and it was a very long season," Roache said. "Signing early for me was a big thing. I told my dad and Larry a bunch of times, I want to get the deal done, get my rehab done and get out on the field as fast as possible." Coulter was in a different situation, but felt the same sense of urgency. "He was injured so he didn't get to play a lot, and I was from the Northwest and it was raining so much that I didn't get to play a lot, either," Coulter said. "We were both itching to get out there on the field. We wanted to get this done and start getting to work. We've got a lot to learn, a lot to grow on." The Brewers did not formally announce any other Draft signings on Friday, but a number of picks are already locked up, including University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee right-hander Eric Semmelhack, the Brewers' 12th-round selection, and 25th round pick Lance Roenicke, an outfielder from the University of California-Santa Barbara and the son of Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. Lance Roenicke signed Thursday, a day after he was drafted. "He's pretty excited," Ron Roenicke said. Other top-20 picks who have signed early include seventh-rounder David Otterman, a left-hander from the University of British Columbia; 13th round pick Alan Sharkey, a first baseman from Coral Springs (Fla.) High School; and 16th rounder Adam Giacalone, a first baseman Neosho County Community College in Chanute, Kan. Sharkey was the only prep pick other than Coulter known to have signed with the Brewers as of Friday afternoon. Both Coulter and Roache attended a pre-Draft workout at Miller Park hosted by Brewers amateur scouring director Bruce Seid. It gave the Brewers a chance to see Coulter's defensive skills both behind the plate and in the outfield -- he will begin his pro career as a catcher, Seid reiterated on Friday -- and to meet Roache and have him examined by team medical officials. Seid said the Brewers drafted four or five players out of that workout. But the team's relationship with both Coulter and Roache began years before. Coulter played as an 8-year-old on an All-Star team coached by Shawn Whalen, who is now the Brewers' northwest area scout. Roache played more recently for Mike Farrell, the Brewers' scout who covers the Midwest, including Roache's home state of Michigan. "This is the product of grassroots scouting," Seid said. "This is a product of knowing the players, evaluating them over the course of many years and drafting them on June 4 and having them today." Now the clock begins on their professional careers. Coulter is 18, so the Brewers can evaluate him for five seasons before they must protect him on the 40-man roster. Roache is 20, so the Brewers have four seasons including 2012, even if Roche does not play. They tried on Brewers jerseys with some important numbers in franchise history. Coulter was assigned former All-Star catcher Darrell Porter's No. 15 -- which would later belong to Cecil Cooper and Ben Sheets. It appears the assignment was random; Coulter said he wore No. 12 in high school, which is currently owned by Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado. Roache wore Prince Fielder's No. 28, the same number he wore at Georgia Southern. Asked about the comparison, Roache said, "I've got big shoes to fill." "Victor's got big power," Melvin said. Roache hit 30 home runs with 80 RBIs in just 62 games in 2011. He was denied a chance for a follow-up when he was injured after six games in 2012. Coulter, a former state wrestling champion, batted .405 with three home runs, 14 RBIs and 18 stolen bases as a senior at Union High School. His coach there was former big league catcher Tom Lampkin, who played for the Brewers in 1993. "I'm ready to get out there and conquer each level," Coulter said.