Notes: Team sticks to Draft philosophy
2001 top pick may have to undergo Tommy John surgery
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' tough luck drafting high school pitchers in the first round will not deter them Thursday if a high school hurler is deemed the best player on the board, general manager Doug Melvin said this week.
The 2007 First-Year Player Draft begins Thursday afternoon and will be televised for the first time. At the same time, right-hander Mike Jones, the 12th overall Draft pick in the 2001 Draft lauded at the time for a near-flawless delivery, could be undergoing Tommy John surgery in Milwaukee to repair a torn elbow ligament. He saw a team doctor on Wednesday, and surgery was considered likely, but the Brewers had not announced officially a decision.
Another high-school draftee of the Brewers, 2004 first-round pick Mark Rogers, underwent shoulder surgery in January and could miss all of 2007.
"But college pitchers can get hurt, too," Melvin said. "In fact, you would rather have a high school guy get hurt than a college guy. Look at Rogers, he can come back from surgery and still be 22 [next year]. If a college guy gets hurt, you're talking about a 26-year-old when he comes back."
Before Jones, the Brewers picked right-hander J.M. Gold out of a New Jersey high school in the first round of the 1998 Draft and Nick Neugebauer from California in the second round. Neugebauer reached the Majors, but his career and Gold's were both cut short by injuries. In 1993, the Brewers selected right-hander Jeff D'Amico from a Florida high school in the first round, and he pitched parts of eight Major League seasons but also was dogged by injuries.
But there have been early round high school successes as well, most notably 2004 second-round pick Yovani Gallardo, who has been dominant at Triple-A Nashville and likely will see action in the Majors at some point this season. The Brewers have also had tremendous success drafting high school position players, including first baseman Prince Fielder (first round, 2002), shortstop J.J. Hardy (second round, 2001) and outfielder Corey Hart (11th round, 2000), all of whom were in the starting lineup against the Cubs on Wednesday.
The team is hoping for good things from last year's first-round pick, high school right-hander Jeremy Jeffress from South Boston, Va. The hard-throwing Jeffress went 2-5 with a 5.88 ERA in the rookie Arizona League last summer and was targeted to begin this season at rookie-level Helena. But injuries to the staff at low Class A West Virginia prompted the Brewers to assign Jeffress there last month, and he went 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA in his first two starts.
"He may stay there," Melvin said. "It depends on what we get in the Draft, and how he pitches from here on out."
Led by amateur scouting director Jack Zduriencik, the Brewers pick seventh overall in the first round Thursday. Because they forfeited their second-round pick when they signed free agent pitcher Jeff Suppan during the offseason, the Brewers will not pick again until No. 102 overall.
Making adjustments: After serving as the team's closer for most of the past two seasons, Derrick Turnbow admitted he is still adjusting to the setup role. That is especially evident when he enters appearances mid-inning.
"I think it's different for any pitcher who comes in with a clean inning," Turnbow said. "You can start fresh. But [inheriting runners] is part of the game and you have to deal with it. You try to get outs, 1-2-3, and if you don't you to minimize the damage as much as possible."
Turnbow has not done a great job in that department, allowing four of his six inherited runners to score. His first 12 appearances this season came at the start of an inning, usually the eighth, but since then he has entered in the middle of an inning five times.
The worst of those outings was May 14 at Philadelphia, when Turnbow relieved Brian Shouse with two runners on base and the Brewers leading, 6-2. Both of those runs scored and Turnbow surrendered four runs of his own in an eventual loss. In each of his two most recent outings in which he entered a game mid-inning, Turnbow's inherited runner has scored. That included Tuesday, when he walked a batter and allowed two Cubs hits before Brewers manager Ned Yost turned to closer Francisco Cordero for a four-out save.
"You still have to focus on getting the hitter," Yost said. "The one-walk-a-game has been killing [Turnbow]."
Shhhh: Hart set up one of the Brewers' runs on Tuesday when he advanced from second to third on a groundout to the left side of the infield, a gutsy play the Brewers have worked on since Spring Training.
Hart also notched his team-best ninth stolen base in that game and, even at 6-foot-6, is one of Milwaukee's fastest runners. He led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with 31 steals in 2005, and won the Brewers' 60-yard dash competition in Spring Training this year.
Yost would rather everybody not pay attention.
"I actually try not to make a big deal about his speed," Yost said. "[Opponents] aren't stupid over there, but I think that you look at him and his speed is so deceiving."
Five alive: Over the weekend, the Brewers became the only team in Major League Baseball to use just five starting pitchers this season.
They shared that distinction until Sunday with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who shook up their starting staff late last week and used a sixth pitcher, J.P. Howell, on Sunday and a seventh, top prospect Andy Sinnanstine, on Tuesday. The Rays demoted Casey Fossum to the bullpen and shipped Jae Seo to Triple-A to make room.
The Brewers have stuck with the same starting five all season: Ben Sheets, Chris Capuano, Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush and Claudio Vargas.
On deck: The Brewers will begin a nine-game Interleague road trip on Friday in Texas, where Chris Capuano will start against Rangers right-hander Robinson Tejada. After three games in Texas, the trip continues in Detroit and Minnesota.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.