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06/07/08 1:30 AM ET
Brewers go coast to coast during Draft
Club selects 54 players in 2008 First-Year Player Draft
By Dave Fultz / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Friday marked the end of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, and when all was said and done, the Brewers had a crop of 54 new players from across the continent. Scouting director Jack Zduriencik, general manager Doug Melvin and the team of scouts in the Brewers' Draft room tabbed prep catcher Brett Lawrie out of Canada with the 16th overall selection, but their work on Day 1 of the Draft was only just beginning. The Brewers owned six of the first 62 selections in this year's Draft, the first time the team has owned extra picks during Zduriencik's eight-year tenure as scouting director. Milwaukee received the Nos. 32, 35, 53 and 54 overall picks when Type-A free agent relievers Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink signed elsewhere following last season. As a result, the team had the most picks (10) of any team on Day 1 of the Draft and the feeling was that if Zduriencik and his team had a good draft, the Brewers could greatly strengthen their farm system and the organization for the future. "It's good for the game for guys to develop guys in your system and we've always done that," Zduriencik said. "The only guy in the field on Opening Day this year that wasn't drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers was Jason Kendall, so that tells you something. Developing the guys we draft is very important for us."
In the eyes of the club the two-day event was a success, but it always takes at least a few years to judge the impact any Draft has on a Major League team. "We really liked our Draft," Zduriencik said at the conclusion of the Draft. "The guys in our [Draft] room were pretty excited on both days with a lot of the guys we got." Having six of the first 62 selections in this year's Draft allowed Zduriencik and the Brewers to draft a lot more high-end talent, in terms of quantity, than they have in recent years. "The extra picks helped us a lot," Zduriencik said. "Last year we made our first pick and then didn't have another one until after pick 100 or so, but this year got a chance to play in that arena after we sat and watched a lot of guys fly off the board last year." With five more picks after Lawrie and before the end of the second round, the Brewers selected prep righty Jacob Odorizzi, college lefty Evan Frederickson, high school righty Seth Lintz, prep center fielder Cutter Dykstra and college righty Thomas Adams. "We felt really fortunate to get Brett Lawrie, we really feel like he has a lot of upside," Zduriencik said. "And I didn't think Odorizzi would get to us. In [Odorizzi] and Seth Lintz, we really feel like we got two of the top high school arms in the Draft." The Brewers targeted Lawrie early on and had a lot of opportunities to see him play against tough competition this spring. One of the knocks on him was that he might be a player who has yet to find a true position. "We are going to let him catch," Zduriencik said. "And if he ends up somewhere else, he'll still have that big bat. He reminds me of one of those throwback type of players, and I certainly welcome that in this organization." Odorizzi, who was scheduled to pitch Friday in the Illinois state playoffs, was 11-0 with a 0.00 ERA in his first 69 innings this season. He allowed just 18 hits and five walks with 116 strikeouts on the season. "We understand those are high school numbers, but nevertheless pretty spectacular," Zduriencik said. "We thought he had a terrific delivery, very nice arm action. He's a multi-athletic kid that excelled as a wide receiver in football. It was a nice selection there." The Brewers came out of the Draft with a variety of different positives to take away, according to Zduriencik. He was pleased with his team's ability to find value at many different positions. "This year I wanted to get some college arms and some projectable guys, and we did," Zduriencik said. "We also really feel like we got one of the better bats that we targeted, in Lawrie. We got very good value at nearly every pick." As the Draft went on, the team drafted arms over bats into the second day. The team ended up taking 34 pitchers out of its 54 selections over the two-day Draft. "As the thing unfolded, we wanted to take arms and it certainly fell that way," Zduriencik said. "We got a lot of arms, and we added some depth to the organization. You go through the [Draft], from top to bottom, and it looks good." The next step for the club is to get their picks signed and onto professional rosters at various levels of the Minor Leagues. The Brewers have been very successful at signing their players in the past, and pride themselves as an organization that gets guys from the Draft to the pros very quickly. Milwaukee has come to terms with every first-round pick since right-hander Alex Fernandez opted not to sign in 1988. "We've always been a club that has signed our guys early," Zduriencik said. "The guys that really want to play, will sign and play early. We've definitely been a club that treats guys fairly and gets our kids to the big leagues."
Brewers' top five selections
|16.||C||Brett Lawrie||Brookswood SS|
|32.||RHP||Jacob Odorizzi||Highland HS (Ill.)|
|35.||LHP||Evan Frederickson||U of San Francisco|
|53.||RHP||Seth Lintz||Marshall County HS (Tenn.)|
|54.||CF||Cutter Dykstra||Westlake HS (Calif.)|
|Complete Brewers Draft results >|
Dave Fultz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.