Draft Grade: Brewers Breathe new Life into Farm System

With the 2020 MLB Draft in the books, let’s take a survey of the newest members of the Milwaukee farm, and see where their draft stands in our grade book.

I’ve talked at length about the Milwaukee Brewers’ league-worst farm system in the weeks and days leading up to the draft. It was a system in desperate need of a shot in the arm. Their 2020 draft class, headlined by UCLA’s electric outfielder Garrett Mitchell might be just what the doctor ordered.

The Brewers had plenty of directions to attack last week, and they chose to draft five college hitters, a much-needed jolt to a system with only one hitter in their top-10 (Corey Ray, No. 10) having even seen time at Triple-A to this point.

Round 1, Pick 20: Garrett Mitchell (OF) UCLA

Photo: UCLA Athletics

Mitchell’s best tools are a 70-grade run tool, and a 60-grade arm tool according to MLB Pipeline. He’s a center-fielder now, but I think he’ll likely end up in a corner outfield position. Either way, he’ll be no slouch defensively.

Offensively, Mitchell has a plus hit tool and led the nation in triples as a sophomore at UCLA. Mitchell has a sweet left-handed stroke, and has shown off plenty of pop in the cage, but hasn’t been able to translate that pop into games as of yet.

Despite the power not translating to games yet — six home runs in 2019 — Mitchell can flat out hit. He slashed .349/.418/.566/.984 in 62 games as a sophomore in 2019. He logged 14 doubles and 12 triples, showing off his power to the alleys and his elite speed. Mitchell swiped 18 bases on 22 attempts during his sophomore campaign.

His vision is great as well, evident by his 41 strikeouts and 27 walks in 293 plate appearances in 2019. That’s good for a strikeout about every seven plate appearances.

In total, Mitchell slashed .327/.393/.478/.871 in 121 collegiate games (including summer ball in 2018), with 8 home runs, 101 RBI, 121 runs, 27 doubles, 15 triples, 33 stolen bases, and 64 walks. Once the power translates, Mitchell will be scary for opposing pitchers.

Round 2, Pick 53: Freddy Zamora (SS) Miami

Photo: University of Miami Athletics

In the pre-draft rankings, Zamora checked-in at No. 100 and No. 74 respectively on MLB Pipeline and Baseball America’s big boards.

I spoke with Miami Hurricanes head coach, Gino DiMare this past Wednesday, and Coach DiMare believes that had it not been for Zamora’s unfortunate season-ending ACL injury, Zamora would have not only been ranked much higher on draft boards, but he could have had a chance to go in the first round.

“It’s a shame that he didn’t get a chance to play a full year,” DiMare said. “If he hid play a full year, and he’s healthy, honestly I think he’s a first-rounder. I think he’s one of the top shortstops, if not the best shortstop in the country.”

Zamora — who was primed for a big junior season — collided with another Hurricane’s player while running up the first baseline during practice, just days away from Miami’s season-opener.

It’s not just DiMare who feels this way. When speaking with Central Michigan skipper Jordan Bischel on Tuesday about fellow Milwaukee draft pick Zavier Warren, Bischel had high praise for Zamora.

“We had a chance to play Miami in the regional last year, and on a good day [Freddy] Zamora is as good of a shortstop as you will ever see,” Bischel said. “I know the numbers weren’t always there, but the way he played against us, my god. That kid’s got some ability, and that’s exciting for the Brewers.”

We know Zamora can hit. His smooth, short-to-the-ball swing produces plenty of extra-base pop, the hit tool is strong, and he’s tough to strikeout. But despite making more errors than you would like to see during his time at Miami, Zamora’s defensive profile should stick at the next level.

He’s got a plus arm and great body control at shortstop. Coach DiMare attributed his errors during his first two seasons with the ‘Canes to a lack of focus, not a lack of ability, and stressed that he looked strong in the fall and would have upped his defensive profile had he gotten the chance to play in 2020.

Round 3, Pick 92: Zavier Warren (INF/C) Central Michigan University

Photo: Central Michigan Athletics

Zavier Warren’s breakout season that really put him on the map came in 2019 under Coach Bischel’s first season as the head coach of Central Michigan. As a sophomore Warren led the Mid-American Conference in on-base percentage (.502), runs (73), doubles (23) and walks (54), and was second in hits (90) and RBIs (70).

Warren was in the top 10 for batting average (.369), home runs (8) and slugging percentage (.578). In the Cape Cod League last summer, Warren hit .315 with three homers and 24 RBIs through 42 games.

“His sophomore year really put him on the radar,” Bischel said. “That’s when a lot of the conversation and questions started, and then for him obviously going out to the Cape [Cape Cod League] is a big leap for anybody, but for a mid-major guy you really get a chance to show that the numbers you’re putting up and the success you’re having doesn’t really have anything to do with the level of competition, but more to do with the type of player that you are.”

Wherever Warren ends up playing in the Brewers system, his bat will likely play. But the Brewers aren’t worried about deciding that just yet, they’d rather let him keep doing what he was doing at the collegiate level and just focus on continuing his development at the dish.

Warren’s college head coach Jordan Bischel believes that Warren’s versatility defensively will be a perfect fit in Milwaukee.

“What I love about the Brewers, and what Craig does with that team, is he’s incredibly innovative,” Bischel said. “If you watched what they did with Travis Shaw and Mike Moustakas, people thought that he was completely nuts, but it worked just fine and helped put them in the playoffs.”

As long as Warren can hit, he’ll have a spot in the lineup.

Round 4, Pick 121: Joey Wiemer (OF) Cincinnati

Photo: University of Cincinnati Athletics

After landing a trio of high-upside position players, the Brewers stayed the course with their selection of Bearcat outfielder Joey Wiemer in the fourth round.

Wiemer hit .264/.379/.408 with 25 doubles, 12 homers, and 62 RBIs. Wiemer drew 71 walks over three years with 104 strikeouts as a Cincinnati Bearcat, but Wiemer brings some strong defensive tools to the table right off the bat.

Wiemer has an absolute cannon, a 70-grade arm that can uncork a 98 mph fastball Cincinnati used briefly out of the bullpen. He’s an above-average runner, and while he wasn’t known for his massive offensive upside in college, he’s got some raw power in the tank that he can tap into over the next few years in the Brewers farm system.

Round 5, Pick 151: Hayden Cantrelle (SS) Louisiana-Lafayette

Photo: Louisiana-Lafayette Athletics

The Brewers rounded-out their 2020 MLB Draft with Louisiana shortstop, Hayden Cantrelle. Not bad considering Cantrelle was ranked No. 55 on MLB Pipeline’s big board as recently as the start of the 2020 NCAA season and the Brewers snagged him at No. 151 last week.

As a sophomore in 2019, Cantrelle hit .309 as a sophomore, to go along with 9 home runs, 31 runs batted in, and 28 stolen bases. He earned himself a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection and then finished in the top-10 in multiple offensive categories in the Cape last summer.

Cantrelle told Tim Buckley of the Lafayette Daily Advertiser last weekend, that guys like him had to play the waiting game in order to get what they believed their value was. The Brewers over-slotted the former Rajun-Cajun, who was still available because he turned down multiple under-slot deals in the rounds leading up to Milwaukee taking him in the fifth and final round.

Final Grade: B+

The Brewers desperately needed an infusion of high-upside talent, and they got it last week. Between Garrett Mitchell falling to them at No. 20, them being able to take Freddy Zamora in the second round because of his injury this spring, their selection of the versatile Zavier Warren in the third, and the combo of Wiemer and Cantrelle to close it out, there’s a ton of talent there.

The Brewers had some things shake at their way, and great value up-and-down the board, and ended up with a draft class that will peel them out of the cellar in the MLB farm system rankings.

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