Brewers system nets pitching reinforcements via Draft

Brewers system nets pitching reinforcements via Draft

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers already liked the pitching prospects who were climbing up the ladder of their farm system.

The 2013 First-Year Player Draft only solidified the position at every Minor League level, pending signings.

Milwaukee dipped into the high school pool with right-hander Devin Williams in the second round, but followed that with a slew of college arms that amateur scouting director Bruce Seid said would complement the current farm system group.

2013 Draft Central

"From Triple-A on down to our Low-A team, we have anywhere from two to four guys at each level that have a chance to be Major League pitchers," Seid said following the conclusion of the Draft Saturday night. "I'm confident in our development, I'm confident with the guys we're sending out and I think we are definitely strengthening the system."

Of the Brewers' 40 Draft selections, 23 were pitchers. They picked 17 right-handed hurlers and six left, with just two coming out of high school.

"It was balanced to some degree," Seid said. "We took some high-upside pitching early on, and I like the college guys we got. We've gotten some pitchers in past years who are making their way up to the higher levels and hopefully will get to Milwaukee pretty soon. Some very exciting guys."

Brewers fans have already watched a couple young pitchers rise to the next level this season in starter Hiram Burgos and reliever Donovan Hand. Burgos was a Brewers' ninth-round pick in 2009 and Hand was taken in the 14th round in 2007.

Top prospect Tyler Thornburg (3rd round, 2010 Draft) was also called up from Triple-A Nashville this season and made two relief appearances. He earned his first Major League win on Saturday, but was quickly dropped back down to Nashville to make room on the roster for closer Jim Henderson's return from the disabled list on Sunday.

Hand blossomed in the Brewers' system in his six-plus years rising from Rookie ball to Milwaukee's Triple-A affiliate in Nashville. He got the call up to the big leagues on May 26 and made his Major League debut the same day.

While working through the Brewers system, Hand said he played alongside plenty of capable pitching prospects such as Johnny Hellweg, Jimmy Nelson, Michael Olmsted and Rob Wooten who are each currently with Triple-A Nashville.

"I see a lot of arms and hopefully they develop into pitchers instead of throwers," Hand said. "When you draft somebody, you know they can throw the ball hard, you know they got good stuff. You hope they can develop into pitchers and can pitch at this level sometime."

Hand noted Triple-A as the biggest adjustment for young pitching prospects, playing against former and future Major League hitters.

"That league's not easy," Hand said. "That league makes you pitch. You have to pitch, you have to learn how to pitch or you won't be there long.

"You catch a lot of big league hitters that have been in the big leagues at some point. You face a lot of prospects too," he added. "The stuff plays anywhere as far as velocity, good breaking ball, good changeup. It plays anywhere, but when do you learn how to pitch? When do you learn how to throw 2-0 changeups or maybe 0-2 fastballs?"

Another recent callup, second baseman Scooter Gennett, noted the development process as a fragile one for a young player.

Gennett was drafted in the 16th round by the Brewers in 2009 and was called up and made his Major League debut on June 3.

"I've been through each level. Not Rookie ball, but Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A," Gennett said. "They let you work through your struggles and develop you the right way. Every player is different, but they go through the process and let you work through everything."

Seid seemed to agree.

"We have a development program that we feel is pretty good," Seid said. "Our staff in the Minor Leagues has worked hard the last few years developing these guys. I think we'll be pretty happy with the results in the next year or two."

Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.