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Brewers take 12 high schoolers06/07/2004 7:34 PM ET
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
So much for shifting philosophies.
With the Brewers' minor league system rated No. 1 based mostly on the depth of its positional prospects, some observers predicted the team would focus on college pitching in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, which began via conference call on Monday.
If that was the perception, it did not last long.
Led by first-round pick Mark Rogers at No. 5 overall, Milwaukee's first two selections and 12 of the team's 18 picks on Day 1 came out of high school. Six of the 12 high schoolers, including first-rounder Rogers and second-rounder Yovani Gallardo, are pitchers.
"I think there was this perception that Jack and I get in a room and fight over high school and college (players)," said Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, whose Texas Rangers clubs in the 1990s tended toward college draft crops. "I have to tell you that that's somewhat comical. Listening to the scouts talk about Mark Rogers, I have no problem with him."
Rogers, 19, put up "video game" numbers against relatively weak competition in Maine's short season. The hard-throwing righty went 9-0 with a 0.16 ERA and a whopping 142 strikeouts in 56 innings. He had back-to-back 20-strikeout performances and the only game he didn't win was a no-decision in which he struck out 22.
Second-round selection Gallardo came out of Trimble Technical High School in Dallas. Though he just turned 18 in February, Gallardo hit 96 mph with his fastball and also features a curveball and changeup, as does Rogers.
"Some guys make it through your system quick and others tend to take longer," Zduriencik said. "That's why I don't like putting timetables on guys once they're drafted. I look at it as, 'Let's get them out there and let it happen.' Obviously, we think those two guys have a good chance to be Major League pitchers."
With their third and fourth picks, the Brewers dipped into the collegiate pitching pool, considered the strength of this year's draft.
Third-rounder Josh Wahpepah, a 19-year-old from Cowley County Community College in Arkansas City, Kan., was an 18th-round selection of Detroit's last season but chose to up his draft stock. Tall and slender at 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, Wahpepah is of Native American descent.
The Brewers' fourth-round pick was Rice University right-hander Josh Baker, a member of the nation's most highly-touted rotation. Three of his teammates went in the draft's first eight picks: Philip Humber (No. 3, Mets), Jeff Niemann (No. 4, Devil Rays), and Wade Townsend (No. 8, Orioles), and Rice also sent Paul Janish (fifth round, Reds) and Chris Kolkhorst (10th round, Padres) to the pro ranks.
"He was pitching on the best staff in the country," Zduriencik said. "He was used in different roles, partly out of the bullpen. But he had a chance to get some starts when Niemann was out (following elbow surgery) and showed what he could do."
Baker, a big, 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander from Houston, was 9-2 this season with a 2.79 ERA and went 17-2 in his Rice career.
He was born one day late to be the oldest player in the Brewers' Day 1 draft crop. That honor goes to University of Notre Dame second baseman Steven Sollmann, the team's 10th-round pick, born on April 1, 1982.
The first non-pitcher selected by Milwaukee was fifth-rounder Angel Salome, a 17-year-old catcher from George Washington High School in New York City, where Boston's Manny Ramirez attended. Coach Steve Mandl called Salome "the best hitter I've seen since Ramirez."
At 5-foot-7 Salome is the shortest player in the Brewers' Day 1 draft crop but he is long on arm strength. He came to New York from the Dominican Republic four years ago.
"He may be short, but he is not little," Zduriencik said. "He can really throw. He's short but he is very, very strong. He's got some leadership ability and we really like him."
Stephen Chapman, a center fielder out of Marianna (Fla.) High School, could prove a steal in the sixth round. He was rated the 21st-best high school prospect by Baseball America.
Melvin and assistant general manager Gord Ash, both Canadian-born, likely will keep an eye on 12th round pick Andrew Albers, a left-hander from John Paul II High School in North Battleford, Saskatchewan and 16th-rounder Alexandre Periard, a right-hander from Poly Deux-Montagnes High School in St. Eustache, Quebec.
"You've got to give [Brewers special assistant] Dick Groch credit for those guys," Zduriencik said. "He's our Canadian coordinator and he got up there and got interested in them. Anytime you're talking about areas like Maine or Washington or Montana or Canada, it can be difficult to scout."
Periard, just 16 years old (he turns 17 on June 15), is the youngest player in the Brewers' Day 1 draft crop. He has pitched for Team Canada and was compared in build by one scout to Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina.
If Albers or Periard make it to the big leagues, they would add to the list of 200 Canadian-born Major Leaguers. The only active player born in Quebec is Dodgers closer Eric Gagne.
Three Wisconsinites were selected on Monday beginning with Southern Door High School (Sturgeon Bay) right-hander Erik Cordier, who went to Kansas City in the second round. Cordier was followed by a pair of left-handers from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh: Brady Endl (10th round, Braves) and Jordan Timm (14th round, Blue Jays).
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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