On his first night as a professional baseball player, Eric Brown made his first wise business decision.
A family friend of Brown’s owns an axe-throwing venue, Bayou Ax Co., near his home in Louisiana and rented out the building for the night as the infielder prepared to be selected Sunday night in the Major League Baseball draft. Brown, though, was not going to be found in the vicinity of any sharp objects, as he waited to hear his name called.
“I stayed away from the axes tonight,” Brown said.
Brown, instead, stayed close to his phone. It ranks a couple hours into the draft as the Milwaukee Brewers keyed in on him with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the draft, making it another year and another up-the-middle defender from the college ranks taken by the team.
In selecting Brown, a shortstop out of Coastal Carolinafollowing a trend in recent years under vice president of domestic scouting Tod Johnson.
Brown becomes the third consecutive middle-of-the-field defender and college bat selected by the Brewers in the first round, joining outfielders Garrett Mitchell of UCLA in 2020 and Sal Frelick of Boston College in 2021. The team also selected a prep shortstop, Brice Turang, in 2018 following college second baseman Keston Hiura and college centerfielder Corey Ray the previous two years.
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“We’ve talked before of we like guys that can stay in the middle of the field,” Johnson said. “With (Brown) there, it was a chance to grab somebody we liked at that spot.”
Brown has a chance to stick at shortstop — and Milwaukee will give him a chance to do so — but could wind up at second base depending on how his arm progresses. Either way, his wide range and instincts should allow him to be a positive defender.
“I believe that I’m a shortstop but I’m willing to play anywhere,” Brown said. “I’m willing to do anything. I’ve played short, second, third, so I feel natural in all three positions but I feel shortstop is my home.”
Brown, 21, batted .330/.460/.544 with seven home runs and more walks (39) than strikeouts (28) in college this season.
Brown, 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, was ranked as the No. 53 prospect by Baseball America and 63rd by MLB Pipeline.
One of the best college shortstops, Brown presents an unusual setup as a hitter, fully extending his hands above his head before launching into a deliberate leg kick and swing from the right side.
The unorthodox stance draws natural comparisons to Craig Counsell, but Brown modeled his swing after a different current member of the Brewers: Christian Yelich.
“The crazy thing is and this is what makes it perfect, is that I grew up throughout high school watching Christian Yelich,” Brown said. “I like to sink into my legs and he’s a guy that sinks into his legs a lot. He was one of the guys that kind of convinced me. I told myself my sophomore or junior year of high school, if he could sink into his legs and catch up to 95, I can do it in high school.
“I continued to watch him throughout my entire high school career. Then as I got older and started getting deeper into baseball, I found more people that I watch. I watch Yelich, Mookie Betts, Mitch Haniger. I watch a bunch of guys, but it all started with Christian Yelich. Now being in the same organization as him, which is crazy.”
Brown’s greatest attribute may be his strike zone control and hand-eye coordination that allows him to put the barrel on the ball despite a lot of moving parts in his swing. He walked in 14.2% of his college plate appearances while striking out in just 13.2%.
“I take great pride in that,” Brown said. “One of my biggest pet peeves in baseball is striking out. I hate strikeouts. So I tried to limit them as much as possible and always give myself the best opportunity. I believe that I’m going to swing at my pitch and I’ m never going to swing at a pitcher’s pitch. If a pitcher is able to paint the corners, I’ll tip my cap.”
A native of Bossier City, Louisiana, he is a strong athlete who stole 23 bases and was caught nine times over the past two seasons at Coastal Carolina.
“It’s his well-rounded game as far as being both an offensive contributor as well as, we think, a pretty good defender,” Johnson said. “That was certainly a piece of it. And we love the kid. He’s a good kid, as well, and a hard worker. All the stuff we have on his character is really good. We talked a lot with his coaches and that kind of thing and dug deep on that.
“So, pretty excited about all that, those parts of it. The combination of those things was what really pushed us there with him.”
Milwaukee Brewers picks Jacob Misiorowski in the second round of MLB draft
In 2018, the Brewers took a highly projectable arm with major velocity and an impressive breaking pitch out of Crowder College.
Four years later, they repeated history.
The Brewers selected righthander Jacob Misiorowski with the 63rd overall pick in the second round on Sunday, following the path they set when they selected lefty Aaron Ashby four years prior.
There is still plenty that separates the two, however.
“They’re coming from pretty different spots developmentally,” Johnson said. “Obviously, we do have some level of comfort with what we’re getting from guys from that school, but it wasn’t a huge factor. ‘Miz’ is his own guy and really good on talent. That stood on its own. ”
That talent? The 6-foot-6 Misiorowski can throw 100 mph with impressive spin and carry that simply dominated junior college hitters at Crowder in small-town Neosho, Mo. He also features a sweeping slider that sits in the upper-80s in velocity, a curveball and changeup that he has rarely thrown but the Brewers feel could be a plus pitch.
“It’s electric stuff,” Johnson said. “Four-pitch potential. He’s 6-6, pretty thin still, there’s some filling out to come still. Touches 100 right now, already, with strength to come in the future.
With some of the best pure stuff in the draft, Misiorowski popped in front of scouts at the MLB Draft Combine last month.
“Pretty pumped to get him down there,” Johnson said. “It was one of the best pure arms in the draft, probably, so that was exciting.”
During the season at Crowder, the 20-year-old Misiorowski struck out 136 batters over 76 innings while pitching to a 2.72 earned run average. Command is the biggest question mark with him, as he walked 45 in that span.
Out of Grain Valley, Mo., in the greater Kansas City area, Misiorowski barely pitched for Crowder, making two appearances and walking five with four runs allowed over 2 ⅔ innings. He suffered a knee injury that season, which, coupled with missing his senior year in high school due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a five-round draft that year, kept him from getting any draft looks.
That didn’t keep him from committing to LSU before throwing any games in 2022, though, as the righthander also held offers from Missouri, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M.
With every start at Crowder, his chances of stepping foot on campus in Baton Rouge decreased. The Brewers, led by area scout Riley Bandelow, had been on Misiorowski since his high school days and were quick to jump on him during the draft.
Milwaukee Brewers take University of Arkansas infielder Robert Moore to complete the day
In a draft full of players with well-known fathers around baseball, the Brewers got in on the mix by selecting University of Arkansas infielder Robert Moore with the 73rd overall pick in the Competitive Balance B round.
Moore is the son of Kansas City Royals president of baseball operations Dayton Moore who, despite playing three years at Arkansas, won’t turn 21 until next March and was the youngest three-year college player in this year’s draft. He’s an aggressive-swinging, switch-hitting middle infielder who beat .264/.381/.486 in his career with the Razorbacks.
“We think there’s a lot of upside with that development,” Johnson said of Moore’s age.
Baseball America had Moore ranked as the No. 98 player in the draft and MLB Pipeline ranked him 108th while FanGraphs had him 44th overall.
His best season was his sophomore year when he posted a .942 OPS with 16 homers in 61 games, earning a spot as a contender for a first-round pick this spring.
He took a step back at the plate in 2022, however, batting .232/.374/.427. His average decreased noticeably but he still had the same number of extra-base hits despite his homer total dropping from 16 to eight and he drew 42 walks in 65 games.
“He had kind of a rougher year last year and that’s why he was available to us at 72,” Johnson said. “He didn’t show the same amount of power but we really like a lot of the foundation of what he was good at offensively that was still there. He still controlled the zone.”
Scouts were high on Moore’s instincts, base running and defense as a prospect. He won a collegiate Gold Glove award for his work at second base this season and likely projects there going forward but could get the job done at shortstop, as well.
The Brewers raved about his mental makeup and work ethic, believing that his best baseball will be played once in a professional environment.
“He’s a super hard worker,” Johnson said. “He’s not gonna get out-worked. We’re excited about letting him get into pro ball, get into the everyday routine and we think he will really take off with that kind of structure and set-up for him.
“He loves baseball. I mean, I think he does fine in school, but he loves baseball. He wants to go play baseball.”