The Brewers wasted no time in signing 41st overall pick Jacob Gatewood, inking him to a contract that included a $1.83 million signing bonus.
Slot value for the pick was $1,384,900, meaning the Brewers will have to make up the $445,000 on other draft picks.
A year ago at this time Gatewood was considered a lock to be a top ten picking in the draft. Instead he slid all the way to the competitive balance round where the Brewers were waiting with open arms.
Gatewood,a 6'5" shortstop out of Clovis High School in California, separated himself from other prospects with his extraordinary power. Many scouts claim that his raw power tool is the best of any prospect in the draft.
His swing, at present, is designed to produce power to the pull side which it is very successful at. However that approach also comes at the expense of hard consistent contact. Gatewood's draft status fell based on his "yank-heavy" approach. The thing that startled scouts more than anything was his reluctance to move away from this approach.
When his "lift and yank" swing comes into play, his backside is collapsing, leading to the lack of consistent hard contact and many swings and misses. Hitters who struggle with staying tall on their backside usually struggle with low batting average and tons of strikeouts very early in their minor league careers. This is a problem that has plagued Brewers' minor leaguer and former first round pick Victor Roache through his career thus far. The key to Gatewood's development will be if the Brewers can rid him of the backside collapse and get him to trust his bat speed to produce power.
With those negatives, Gatewood is still a risk worth taking for the Brewers. His power is very real already at this point in his career and will only improve. As he matures as a hitter I would expect an improved approach that leads to a more polished overall hit tool.
If the Brewers find a way to develop Gatewood as an overall hitter the sky is the limit. It remains to be seen where he will end up as a defender. As his frame fills out more, he may lose the quickness required to stay at shortstop and instead have to shift to third base.
The Brewers swung for the fences with the selection of Gatewood and that is exactly what they needed to do. Where the Brewers are strong in minor league role players that can help at the major league level; they have no potential star power. Gatewood very well could change this. If his development goes smoothly the Brewers are looking at what could be the steal of the draft.