Brewers introduce top pick Arnett
Newly signed righty 'just wanted to be treated fairly'
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' first-round Draft pick wasn't kidding when he said he wanted to begin his professional career in a hurry.
Indiana University right-hander Eric Arnett was the 26th overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday. He came to terms with the Brewers on a signing bonus on Friday, signed his first professional contract on Saturday and donned a Brewers jersey for the first time on Sunday morning, when the team formally introduced him in a press conference at Miller Park.
Not exactly a drawn-out negotiation.
"I knew before I even was drafted that [signing quickly] is what I wanted to do," said Arnett, who could have returned for his senior season at Indiana. "All I wanted was to be treated fairly, and they have done that. I knew it wasn't going to be a long process."
In Arnett's case, being treated fairly meant a $1.2 million signing bonus, the slot figure suggested by Major League Baseball. Last year, the figure for the 26th pick was $1.3 million, but MLB reduced its recommendations this year by 10 percent because of the economy.
"They got to where we needed to get quickly," said agent Joe Speed, "so what's the reason to sit around and wait?"
Arnett, 21, who went 12-2 with a 2.50 ERA this season for Indiana, joins a growing list of Brewers No. 1 picks to sign in a hurry. This decade, eight of the Brewers' 10 first-round picks have signed before the end of June. The exceptions were Rickie Weeks (Aug. 7, 2003), whose contract was complicated because it was a Major League deal, and Brett Lawrie (Aug. 5, 2008), who waited to sign because he was playing for the Canadian junior national team and then the Canadian Olympic team.
Arnett actually signed his contract on Saturday, but because the Brewers announced it on Sunday, he will go in the history books as signing on June 14, five days after he was drafted. Only 2006 first-rounder Jeremy Jeffress, a high school right-hander from Virginia, signed more quickly, two days after he was selected. Outfielder Dave Krynzel, the 11th overall pick in the 2000 Draft, signed six days after he was picked. Ryan Braun (2005) and Mark Rogers (2004) each signed 11 days after the Draft, and Prince Fielder signed 13 days later in 2002.
"You just never know how long the process is going to take," Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid said. "In [Arnett's] case, this is an individual with his family and his advisor that thought the best path for Eric was to get started. They just wanted to be treated fairly, and we were able to treat them fairly. He knew that to sit out a year, the whole season, was not in his best interest."
Seid formally announced 19 other signings on Sunday, some of which were already signed and sealed on Day 2 of the three-day Draft. The team also signed two undrafted free agents -- right-hander Mitch Miller of Jacksonville State University and shortstop Connor Lind of Furman University -- and Seid said three other Draft picks had agreed to terms and would formally sign Monday or Tuesday.
Arnett was close to becoming a Cleveland Indian. The Brewers and Arnett, an Ohio native, both knew that the Indians were high on the right-hander, but instead took University of North Carolina right-hander Alex White with the 15th overall pick. Like Arnett, White is a power arm.
"That would have been amazing, to be the 15th pick, but I knew that if I wasn't called there, I had a good shot at going here [to Milwaukee]," he said. "This was really the next team that I wanted to go to."
On Sunday, Arnett was joined at Miller Park by his parents and his younger sister. Arnett's younger brother is headed to the Air Force Academy this fall to play football.
Arnett was also joined by Mike Farrell, the Brewers area scout responsible for Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and western Pennsylvania. Farrell had seen Arnett in his freshman and sophomore seasons at Indiana, but grew more interested as he blossomed as a junior.
"As a scout, we're looking at frames and bodies, and the arm works really well," Farrell said. "He's got a slider that I looked at, and I thought it had a chance to be an 'out' pitch.
"I could get really technical, but I would just leave it at -- he has a quality arm, a good fastball, he has a slider that has a chance to be a really good pitch for him. There are certainly things he has to do for him to get here. I feel when you look down the line at the athleticism, the way his body moves, I think, over time, things will happen fairly quickly for him."
Arnett hopes that's the case. He will travel to Helena, Mont., on Monday for a minicamp before the start of the Pioneer League season on June 23.
"Growing up, you always want to say you're a professional baseball player, and today that dream came true," Arnett said. "I've got a lot of work to do. It's back to the bottom, and hopefully, I'll see you guys back here in a few years."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.