Following rough season, Neuhaus picked by Milwaukee

Following rough season, Neuhaus picked by Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- When the Brewers selected prep infielder Tucker Neuhaus on Day 1 of the First-Year Player Draft, two picks from the end of a long night, it marked a fresh start for a player coming off a trying few months.

Neuhaus, a left-handed hitter who turns 18 in two weeks, missed most of his senior season at Wharton (Fla.) High School with injuries, including a ruptured eardrum suffered with Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid in the stands and a right quadriceps strain that dogged him much of the spring. He played for a team that was 0-10 in the regular season.

However, those troubles paled in comparison to his personal loss. Neuhaus' older brother, Tyler, was killed in an automobile accident in November.

"It really just made me tougher mentally," Tucker Neuhaus said. "Adversity builds character, and a lot of kids don't go through that type of adversity at this kind of age, or really ever, in their life. I knew that right away it's only going to be one more thing that lights the fire every morning. ...

"When I go through adversity in the Minors and the Majors, it's not going to compare to what I've already been through. I try to be positive with almost everything. It's a terrible thing that happened, but at the end of the day I try to look at it as a positive."

Neuhaus was the second pick of the Brewers on Day 1, going No. 72 overall in Competitive Balance Round B. The team's top selection was in the second round, right-hander Devin Williams of Hazelwood (Mo.) West High School at No. 54 overall.

Area scout Tim McIlvane brought Neuhaus to the attention of the Brewers. Neuhaus was coached in high school by Hall of Famer Wade Boggs. At some point in the process, the team called in one of its pro scouts, Cory Melvin, the son of Brewers general manager Doug, to add his own evaluation.

The team took one last look this week. Neuhaus was already on a Midwest tour, with a workout for the Royals in Kansas City on Sunday, for the Twins in Minneapolis on Monday and for the Cubs in Chicago on Tuesday morning. On Monday afternoon, McIlvane requested that Neuhaus make Tuesday a doubleheader. After his morning session at Wrigley Field, he hustled up to Miller Park.

"That work paid off -- it did everything for me," Neuhaus said. "I went over there for a private workout and got to hit on the field and meet all the guys. That was just a blast. Walking out of there, I remember saying to my dad, 'I don't know what it was about Miller Park, but that was my favorite out of all of them.'"

He remembered another conversation from weeks earlier, when he was called over to the fence by a stranger who apparently knew about Neuhaus' family tragedy and injury woes.

"He just said, 'It's good to see you have a smile on your face, that shows a lot about you,'" Neuhaus said. "I said, 'Thank you, sir,' and right at the end, he goes, 'By the way, I'm the scouting director with the Brewers.'

"That was the first time I really met [Seid]. The first impression was that after all the adversity, I was still staying positive. I think that first impression really helped me with Bruce."

His baseball tools helped. Seid sees Neuhaus as a left-handed hitter with power who could also hit for average.

"We did a good job scouting him early in the year and in the showcases," Seid said. "That's where we originally laid eyes on him. I saw him [at a showcase] and looked at my notes, and it said this was a good-bodied kid with a good swing. When our scouts started pumping reports in on him and said this is a guy we really need to keep an eye on, it all started to come together."

Neuhaus has a college commitment to Louisville, but sounded very eager to begin a professional career. He is represented by agent Barry Meister.

"My area scout came over today and we just talked about everything that's going to go down in the next few days and the summer," Neuhaus said. "My agent and advisor, I think, are just doing a little bit of negotiations right now, but I think that's going to be probably over by the end of the day. Hopefully I'll sign [Saturday] or Sunday and be out in Arizona by Tuesday."

If he does sign, he will begin his professional career as a shortstop, Seid said.

"There's a chance," Seid said. "I wouldn't rule it out. I'm not saying that's his ultimate position, but he's got good hands, he's got good feet and a good arm. When we sign him, we're going to send him out as a shortstop and see how far it goes. Worst-case scenario, he ends up as a pretty darn good third baseman."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for 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.