Special to Hawaii 24/7 by MLB.com
Kodi Medeiros was focused on the hitters, but he also saw the Brewers scouts, and he had a feeling they liked what they were seeing.
He was right. Medeiros, a left-handed prep pitcher and recent Waiakea High School graduate, performed well enough in a showcase at Miller Park last week to cement him as the Brewers’ first-round selection in the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday. Medeiros went No. 12 overall, marking the second straight season that the Brewers used their top pick on a high school arm.
“I think my workout went really well because I could see some of the expressions on the faces after I threw several of my pitches, especially my slider,” Medeiros said. “My velocity was really good at that event, I overheard from a scout.”
The Orioles and Yankees did not have first-round selections.
He heard he touched 97 mph, though Brewers amateur scouting director Bruce Seid and GM Doug Melvin said that number was high. Instead, they lauded the combination of Medeiros’ low- to mid-90s velocity with terrific movement, and expressed hope about adding him to a growing stable of Brewers starting pitching prospects.
Medeiros became the highest left-handed Draft pick in franchise history, and the highest Hawaiian-born Draft pick ever. He was the first of three prep players selected by the Brewers on Day 1 of the Draft, with shortstop Jacob Gatewood (No. 41 overall in Compensation Round B) and outfielder Monte Harrison (No. 50 overall in the second round.)
“[Medeiros] just came here and emphasized that he was a guy we were really high on,” Seid said. “No one ever said the workout was the end-all, but it certainly was the exclamation point.”
Medeiros lives in Hilo, down the road from the Cardinals’ Kolten Wong, a first-round pick in 2011 out of college, and received a “good luck” text on the eve of the Draft from another Hawaiian, Shane Victorino of the Red Sox.
He models his game after two top Major League left-handers, Madison Bumgarner of the Giants and Chris Sale of the White Sox. In his senior season at Waiakea High School, with Brewers area scout Josh Belovsky keeping tabs, Medeiros was 7-1 with a 0.97 ERA in 43 1/3 innings. He walked 15 batters and struck out 83.
Medeiros is represented by adviser David Matranga and committed to Pepperdine University if he does not sign with the Brewers, but the slot value assigned the 12th overall is significant: $2,805,700.
“It’s just a dream come true,” Medeiros said at MLB Network’s studios in Secaucus, N.J., where he attended the Draft. “All the hard work and sacrifices and all the help from my family and my brother and everyone else who helped me along the way. It just paid off.”
The hard work included that showcase at Miller Park one week earlier, when Medeiros impressed Seid and his staff with his performance on the field and off, where he and other prospects underwent a battery of psychological and physical tests. Medeiros checked in at 6-foot-2 and 196 pounds, topping some pre-Draft sources, and retired all four hitters he faced in an exhibition game. Medeiros said he struck out two of the batters and induced a pair of weak groundouts.
He also met with Brewers officials in Arizona, but remained unsure Thursday morning about where he’d end up.
“It was just a mixture of teams, from the Brewers to Diamondbacks, Royals, Indians and Red Sox, but I never had a ‘for sure’ feeling from any team,” Medeiros said. “So it actually really surprised me. I think my performance at that workout really made an impact on me getting selected at 12.”
Medeiros throws from a low arm slot and has notable movement on his fastball. Of the arm angle, Medeiros said, “It’s just all different opinions. Some scouts say they like my style, they think I’m a starter, and some people think I’m better off as a reliever. I like the slot I throw from. I’ve got good deception on the slot and my ‘velo’ is still up there even when I throw from that slot. So that’s why I do it. I’m comfortable throwing from that slot.”
“He cannot throw a fastball straight,” said MLB Network analyst John Hart. “Some people question start/relief. I don’t. I like this guy as a starter.”
So do the Brewers, according to both Melvin and Seid.
“Hitters talk about they don’t like going up there facing him, and some catchers have trouble catching him, so he’s a lot about movement,” Melvin said. “This isn’t a guy that throws 97-98. His velocity could increase, but if it doesn’t he’s got an above-average breaking ball. We saw him here, he worked out here and it gives you an opportunity to talk to the individual, to do the physical, the psychological stuff. A lot of things you do to get more information that in past years you didn’t have the opportunity to do that.”
MLB.com Draft guru Jonathan Mayo told an MLB Network audience that the Brewers got an “unbelievable haul” if they are able to lure all three Day 1 selections away from college and into the professional ranks.
“The idea is always to try to hit home runs” with Draft picks, Seid said. “I don’t know if we ever went safe. We’ve made some picks before that have been pretty good, and some that have missed. But it’s like anything else — we’re trying to bring in some serious talent, and we feel these three guys fit that bill.”
The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10.
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