BY DAN ZIELINSKI
Teams that suffer through a miserable season are awarded a higher pick in the MLB First-Year Draft. This pick is a crucial moment for the franchise as it attempts to go from bottom feeders to playoff contenders.
In the 2017 draft, the Milwaukee Brewers held the ninth overall selection. Connected to well-regarded high school outfielders in the months leading up to the draft, the Brewers went in a surprising direction on draft night, selecting injured UC Irvine second baseman/outfielder Keston Hiura.
Hiura is a legitimate college bat, hitting .442 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs in 56 games this spring. But Hiura hasn’t played the field in nearly 14 months as he’s dealt with an elbow injury since last April. Without a true defensive position in pro ball, Hiura will potentially need Tommy John surgery at some point soon, if his elbow isn’t fully recovered.
Although Hiura could turn into a respectable big league player, he doesn’t have the star potential teams crave when selecting towards the top of the draft.
Instead, the Brewers should have drafted Louisville prep outfielder Jo Adell. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Adell is a centerfielder with five-tool potential. He is an outstanding defender with above-average speed and arm strength. He also has enormous raw power offensively.
As a senior at Ballard High School this spring, Adell earned Gatorade Kentucky Baseball Player of the Year honors after hitting .562 with 25 home runs, 61 RBIs, 22 stolen bases and a .667 on-base percentage in 35 games.
Adell ended up going 10 overall — one pick after Hiura — to the Los Angeles Angels, who believe they drafted a future franchise player.
Would you rather have an injured college player with less potential than a five-tool prep star that could develop into one of the game’s biggest stars? The Brewers might be satisfied with their first-round pick right now, but when they look back on the draft in 10 years, they will wish they selected Adell.