The Brewers have preferred up-the-middle college performers in the MLB draft in recent years. It was a demographic they had an interest in leading up to the draft, with most expecting them to go in that direction again this year.
On Sunday, the Brewers flipped the script and went in a different direction. They selected two college third basemen and one prep right-handed pitcher on Day 1.
The Brewers selected Wake Forest power-hitting third baseman Brock Wilken with the 18th overall pick. They added New York prep right-handed pitcher Josh Knoth with their competitive balance pick and Omaha third baseman Mike Boeve in the second round.
Brock Wilken, 3B, Wake Forest
Wilken is one of the best power hitters in this year’s draft class. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound right-handed hitter boasts above-average power to all fields. He increased his average, doubled his walks and cut down on his strikeouts this spring. He also showed improvement against breaking pitches.
Defensively, Wilken has above-average arm strength and solid hands at third base. He needs to improve his lateral quickness, based on my live looks of him and from talking to scouts. But likely can stick at third base in pro ball. He will slide over to first base if he needs to move off the position.
In recent years, the Brewers have targeted college position players in the draft. But typically, they prefer polished up-the-middle players. The change in philosophy could pay off. Wilken’s power will play, and if he can continue to refine his approach and defense, the Brewers will end up with a quality MLB third baseman down the line.
The slot value for the 18th overall pick is $4,021,400. Wilken will likely command less than that figure, allowing them to use the savings on other players in the draft.
Josh Knoth, RHP, Patchogue-Medford (N.Y.) HS
The Brewers have targeted pitchers with unique characteristics in the draft. Knoth fits that profile. The New York prep righty enhanced his draft stock this spring to put him in first-round consideration.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound righty throws a fastball, curveball and changeup from a tight three-quarters arm slot and quick arm action. Knoth is athletic and uses simple mechanics.
Knoth is primarily a two-pitch pitcher. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, topping at 98 mph. He boasts an above-average curveball with elite spin rates of at least 3,000 revolutions per minute. It’s not uncommon for a prep pitcher not to have a distinct third pitch, but Knoth must develop his changeup to have a shot at starting in pro ball.
Mike Boeve, 3B, Omaha
The Brewers added another college third baseman Boeve with their second-round pick. Boeve has an entirely different profile than Wilken, though.
Boeve was a lightly-recruited high school player, only having two Division I offers, and made major strides in his three years at Omaha. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound left-handed hitter is one of the best contact hitters in college baseball. He doesn’t hit for a ton of power right now, though, only having 13 homers in three years.
Boeve has above-average bat-to-ball skills and a strong feel for the strike zone. He uses a quick and compact swing to hit line drives consistently. Scouts believe he can tap into more raw power in the future with some slight mechanical tweaks.
Defensively, Boeve profiles as a third baseman in the pro ranks due to his athleticism and arm strength. He projects as an average defensive player.
Boeve hit .401 with 15 doubles, four home runs, 32 RBIs and six stolen bases in 211 plate appearances. He had 32 walks to nine strikeouts.
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.