06/04/2002 2:21 pm ET
Fielder has Major League genes
High school first baseman is Brewers' first selection
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
Brewers' round-by-round picks
MILWAUKEE -- His dad hit the longest home run in the history of Milwaukee County Stadium, a 502-foot bomb on Sept. 14, 1991. Are similar feats in Prince Fielder's future at Miller Park?
The Brewers took Fielder, a 6-foot, 245-pound slugging first baseman from Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne, Fla., with the seventh overall pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft Tuesday.
“It’s a great day for me right now,” Fielder said. “This is a dream come true for me, really. To be drafted in the top 10, plus being drafted by Milwaukee, that’s great too. Everything is great right now.”
Fielder, 18, is the son of former American League home run champion and three-time All-Star Cecil Fielder.
"We've liked him all along," Brewers Director of Scouting Jack Zduriencik said. "In our estimation he was the best power-hitter in the draft. But he's not just a power-hitter, he's a guy that can hit."
Fielder bats left-handed and plays first base. Zduriencik said he was impressed with his power to all fields, and termed Fielder a more agile athlete than his burly body-type would suggest.
Cecil Fielder manned first and was a designated hitter in 13 Major League seasons, when he hit 319 home runs and drove in more than 1,000 runs. Cecil Fielder won the American League home run crown in 1990 and 1991 while with the Detroit Tigers, and averaged 37 home runs in seven seasons from 1990-1996.
Whether or not Prince can match his All-Star father's power remains to be seen, but the Brewers like the bloodline.
"He's not going to be in awe of walking out on a professional baseball field for the first time. That's not going to happen," Zduriencik said. "He's been on Major League fields, played catch with Major League players and watched his dad go through this. I think that works to his advantage.
"We've got a kid here that will handle the -- we call it 'the ride' -- from the day you sign to the Major Leagues. He's going to handle 'the ride.'"
Brewers Senior Advisor Bill Lajoie was the Tigers' general manager when young Prince blasted home runs at Tiger Stadium in batting practice, and knows the Fielder family well.
"Bill had input, without a doubt," Zduriencik said. "Outside of us evaluating his ability ... Bill was always there to say, 'hey, this is what I know about the family. This is the kind of people they are.' We felt very, very comfortable with our decision."
The Brewers have scouted Fielder for three years, beginning when he was in 10th grade and pushing 300 pounds. Cecil hired a personal trainer to get Prince's weight to its current listed 245 pounds, and Zduriencik said the Brewers would be strict about keeping his weight in check.
"He sees himself as a big league player, he knows what he has to do to be a big league player," Zduriencik said. "He's a better athlete than you might think."
After meeting with reporters following the first round, Zduriencik returned to complete day one of the two-day draft. When it is over, the team will focus on signing their picks.
In 1995 and 1996, Cecil Fielder was reportedly the highest-paid player in the Major Leagues.
"Every scouting director in every organization is aware that there are limitations on what you can spend," Zduriencik said. "You have budgets you have to stay in. So there are a lot of players you'd love to have, they all view themselves as first-rounders and they view themselves as players who are deserving of first-round money.
"Therefore you make the best selections with the players that you feel want to play the pro ball the most."
Fielder was the third position played selected in the first round. The Devil Rays took 17-year-old shortstop B.J. Upton with the second overall pick, and the Royals took 18-year-old shortstop Donald Greinke at No. 6.
Zduriencik, 51, led a team of Brewers officials in a "war room" behind the left field foul pole on the Club Level at Miller Park.
The group included General Manager Dean Taylor and Vice President-Player Personnel David Wilder, Lajoie, National Cross-Checker Larry Doughty, Special Assignment Scout Alan Regier, Assistant Scouting Director Tom Flanagan, three regional scouting supervisors and other support staff.
"We said this a few years ago -- that there was a lot of work to be done," said Zduriencik, whose first Brewers draft came in 2000, when the team picked speedy centerfielder David Krynzel with its top pick. "Until you get to a point where you have the system stocked the way you want it stocked I still think you have to take the best player available. And that's what we do."
Adam McCalvy covers the Brewers for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Eau Gallie HS
Wide, heavy frame, especially through hips and thighs. Not sculptured look of most athletes, but better athlete than he looks. Excellent upper body strength. Son of former Major Leaguer Cecil Fielder. Quick, powerful stroke, short to ball with excellent bat speed through zone. Ball explodes off bat. Plenty of strength to hit with power