The Brewers went all in on Monday’s second day of the MLB draft and pooled their signing bonus dollars into two well-regarded prep shortstops.
The Brewers had eight selections Monday. They had one of the best days, selecting California prep shortstop Eric Bitonti in the third round and Mississippi prep shortstop Cooper Pratt in the sixth round. Scouts considered both players second-round talents, giving the Brewers two premium prep players with high upsides.
They used their additional six picks on signable players who will command well below slot value, allowing them to shuffle the savings into signing bonuses for Bitonti and Pratt.
Below are breakdowns of Bitonti, Pratt and general thoughts on the additional selections on day 2.
Eric Bitonti, SS/3B, Aquinas (Calif.) HS
Bitonti is a 6-foot-5, 225-pound left-handed hitting shortstop known for his offensive toolset. He uses a slightly opened stance with a quick swing to consistently square up the baseball against premium velocity.
Bitonti hits for average and above-average raw power. He uses all parts of the field and profiles as an impact bat in pro ball.
Defensively, Bitonti is a high school shortstop. He is a quality athlete with strong instincts and body control at shortstop. He also shows above-average arm strength, as he occasionally pitched for his high school team and touched 94 mph with his fastball.
Bitonti hopes to remain at shortstop in pro ball. Some scouts believe due to his size, he profiles better at third base, where they project him as an above-average defender.
The Brewers drafted Bitonti with the 87th overall pick. The signing bonus slot value is $796,200. Bitonti will command significantly more than that number.
Cooper Pratt, SS, Magnolia Heights (Miss.) HS
Pratt is a 6-foot-4, 200-pound shortstop with a well-balanced toolset offensively and defensively.
Pratt, a right-handed hitter, is one of the better hitters in the 2023 prep class. He has quality bat-to-ball skills and strike-zone awareness. He also has a quick swing and makes consistent and hard contact to all fields. Right now, Pratt is a gap-to-gap hitter but figures to hit for power in the future.
Defensively, Pratt is an above-average defender with strong instincts and quality athleticism. He moves well for his size and has soft hands at shortstop. He also has above-average arm strength and throwing accuracy. Scouts believe Pratt can remain at shortstop in the future.
The Brewers selected Pratt with the 182nd pick. The signing bonus slot value is $309,900. The Brewers will likely sign Pratt, but he won’t come cheap. Most considered Pratt a tough sign coming into the draft. He’s an Ole Miss commit due to his relationship with head coach Mike Bianco and the university’s location, as he grew up about 10 minutes from campus.
Other Notable Picks
The rest of the day 2 picks consisted of players who will command significantly less than the suggested signing bonus figures. Although they don’t boast the potential of Bitonti and Pratt, they do have the skills to be MLB contributors down the line.
Below are three players that stood out from that group:
Ryan Birchard, RHP, Niagara County (N.Y.) College: The Brewers drafted the junior college arm in the fifth round. Birchard is a right-handed pitcher that throws a fastball, curveball and changeup. His fastball sits mid-90s and touches 98 mph. His curveball is an intriguing strikeout pitch. He needs to refine his pitch mix and mechanics. Birchard profiles as a reliever in pro ball.
Tate Kuehner, LHP, Lousiville: The Brewers selected the senior lefty in the seventh round. He is 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds and thrived as a reliever at Lousiville. Kuehner is a bullpen arm in pro ball, possessing a 92-95 mph fastball with some natural movement and a quality slider. He presents a difficult at-bat for left-handed hitters due to his pitch mix and arm slot.
Craig Yoho, RHP, Indiana: The 6-foot-3 righty is an intriguing player due to his limited track record and characteristics that appeal to teams that lean on analytics when developing pitchers. The eighth-round pick relies on a quality fastball-curveball combination and mixes in a sinker and changeup. His fastball touches 95 mph. Yoho has dealt with a lot of injuries, including two Tommy John surgeries. He’s an intriguing option as a starter but likely projects better as a reliever in pro ball.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for eight years. He has interviewed 433 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.