Give the Milwaukee Brewers credit – they swung for the fences on the third and final day of the Major League Baseball draft on Tuesday.
Starting with third baseman Luke Adams in the 12th round, then following up with right-hander Zane Petty in the 13th, third baseman Ethan Lege in the 16th round, catcher Brady Neal in the 17th, pitcher-infielder Jurrangelo Cijntje in the 18th and right -hander Jaden Noot in the 19th, the Brewers took a chance by selecting a crop of talented players who are believed to have strong to very strong commitments to major college programs.
Adams (Michigan State), Petty (Texas Tech), Lege (Mississippi), Neal (LSU), Cijntje (Mississippi State) and Noot (LSU) comprise a group that is heavy on talent but will prove challenging to sign considering the players’ leverage as well as the fact the signing deadline is a mere 12 days away – and one day before the MLB trading deadline.
Milwaukee has an overall pool of $7,070,900 to sign its picks, a pool that ranks as the 22nd-largest in MLB.
“Obviously, those guys have excellent college commitments and strong commitments to those schools,” Tod Johnson, vice president of domestic scouting, said. “So, it’ll be difficult, but you never know. We’ll have conversations and see which direction it goes.
“We’ll see how it plays out over the next 12 days. It’s going to be quicker than usual, for sure.”
Cijintje, a native of the Netherlands, is a fascinating prospect in that he can throw with both arms and is also a switch-hitter.
Breaking down the Brewers’ entire class:
• 15 of their 20 picks were either college or junior-college players;
• 11 were pitchers (eight RHP, two LHP and one SHP in Cijntje);
• Six infielders (three shortstops and three third basemen);
• Four catchers;
• Zero outfielders.
“I don’t think there’s an overarching strategy other than trying to get as many good players as we can,” Johnson said of the organization’s approach to the entire class.
“A good blend from a positional perspective. Arms and bats, and the bats are kind of a good mix – we drafted three catchers, so we’re not uncomfortable with that. (Junior-college) guys, I wouldn’t say they were specifically a target but we’re certainly comfortable in that market.
“I think we talked a lot about contact, and the guys we took even today were guys we feel like have a good chance to make consistent contact at the next level.”
Following is a closer look at each of Milwaukee’s final 10 picks.
11th round: Cameron Wagoner, RHP
At 6-foot-5 and 187 pounds, Wagoner fits the physical profile of the pitchers the Brewers have sought in this draft, which is long and lanky.
Wagoner didn’t pitch in college this past season – Johnson said it was neither medical nor injury related but wouldn’t elaborate further – but went 2-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 18 appearances (three starts) with Eastern Michigan in 2021. He struck out 53 batters in 49 innings.
He’s since pitched in the Cape Cod League, and had an 8.59 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 7 ⅓ innings through six relief appearances for the Cotuit Kettleers.
A native of Tecumseh, Michigan, Wagoner was a 22nd-round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2019 before choosing to sign with Eastern Michigan.
“It’s a really good arm, good body,” Johnson said. “We like the pitch mix. Has the chance to be a starter but has the stuff to work out of the ‘pen as well. Didn’t pitch this year but is pitching (in the Cape Cod League) now and throwing pretty well.
“He went a little bit under the radar because he didn’t pitch at Eastern Michigan this year, so we felt like there was good value there. We actually talked to him a couple times on Day 2, too, in the latter part of the day.
“We weren’t sure how far he would last if we let him go (past the 11th).”
Brewers Day 1 MLB draft coverage:Brewers pick a college shortstop in the first round of the MLB draft, Eric Brown out of Coastal Carolina
Brewers Day 2 MLB draft coverage:On the second day of the MLB draft, the Brewers selected more middle position players with strong contact skills
12th round: Luke Adams, 3B
Measuring in at 6-4 and 210 pounds, Adams was primarily a third baseman in high school but also played some first base and outfield en route to earning all-state honors in Illinois.
Adams has committed to Michigan State.
“It’s an interesting profile,” Johnson said. “Cold-weather guy. He’s currently playing in a college summer league and he’s performing well, so that’s a really good sign. We feel like he has a pretty exciting bat profile that we want to get a chance to develop.
“We’ll definitely try to keep him on the dirt and make him a third baseman. He’s pretty good over there, pretty athletic, but if there’s a fallback there, it’s right field. But we’ll definitely give him a shot to stick at third.”
13th round: Zane Petty, RHP
A 6-0, 165-pounder from Corsicana (Texas) High School, Petty caught the eye of Brewers area scout Mark Muzzi early, helping set the stage for his selection.
Now comes the question of whether he’ll sign.
“We’ll have conversations with them over the next 12 days to see which direction it goes,” said Johnson. “I think Zane’s really interesting. He’s a pretty athletic projection-type, right-handed pitcher. Somebody with really good ingredients, a really good frame to add weight and strength to, and a really good arm action we think will eventually throw a lot harder.
“Tech does a really good job of getting guys to campus there so it won’t be easy.”
14th round: Aidan Maldonado, RHP
After drafting him out of Rosemount (Minnesota) High School in the 38th round in 2018, the Brewers took Maldonado yet again.
He’s developed quite a bit since then and is coming off being named the Golden Gophers’ Dave Winfield Pitcher of the Year Award winner this past season when he went 2-3 with a 3.91 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts) and struck out 90 in 73 ⅔ innings.
Maldonado started his collegiate career at a different Big Ten school – Illinois.
“Aidan’s had a journey,” Johnson said. “The things we liked about him in high school are still there, though. He’s still got a good arm, a good delivery. He’s had some assorted medical issues and other stuff and has landed back at Minnesota. We’re excited to be able to grab him there and more than likely sign him this time.”
15th round: Satchell Norman, C
Measuring 5-10 and 200, Norman hit .376 with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 52 games at Florida Southwestern State College.
He walked 25 times and struck out 24, helping him post an on-base percentage of .465 while also throwing out 36.4% of would-be base-stealers.
And, yes, he’s named after the legendary Satchel Paige.
“Another JUCO guy and another catcher, and also somebody that’s a high-contact guy,” Johnson said.
16th round: Ethan Lege, 3B
In 53 games for Delgado Community College (located in New Orleans) this past season, Lege hit .399 with four homers and 36 RBI.
Also notable were his 25 walks compared to just 12 strikeouts.
17th round: Brady Neal, C
The 17-year-old Neal, who played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, is a left-handed-hitting catcher who has committed to LSU, which boasts the No. 1 overall recruiting class heading into next season.
He’s considered to be one of the best high school catchers in this year’s draft, but the fact he slipped to the third day might seal his decision to play collegiately.
18th round: Jurrangelo Cijntje, SHP
That’s right – the native of the Netherlands who played this past season at Champagnat Catholic School in Hialeah, Florida, can throw with either arm.
He’s a natural lefty but his stuff is better from the right side.
Cijntje, also a switch-hitter, is committed to play next season at Mississippi State.
“First and foremost, he’s an amazing athlete,” said Johnson. “To be able to pitch like he does with both hands – at the Draft Combine he was up to 96 right-handed and in the low 90s left-handed – and I don’t know that every team sees it this way, but he’s also a very good infielder. He shows incredible body control and hands and actions on the infield and has a pretty good left-handed swing.
“His right-handed swing will probably take a little more work to get there. So, should we sign him, we’ll explore a lot of different options with him, potentially. I think the pitching thing is probably what’s gotten him to be the most famous, but I wouldn’t rule out him potentially making some waves as a position player, whether he goes to college and tries to do it or signs with him.”
19th round: Jaden Noot, RHP
Big, strong and hard-throwing, Noot comes from Sierra Canyon High School in Oak Park, California, and is committed to LSU.
It’s unlikely the Brewers will be able to sign him.
20th round: Noah Hall, RHP
A fourth-year junior, Hall went 3-5 with a 4.34 ERA in 15 games (12 starts) for the Gamecocks in 2022.
He struck out 78 in 76⅔ innings.
Hall was mostly a reliever his first two seasons in college, which were spent at Appalachian State.