Brewers use top pick on prep righty Covey

Brewers use top pick on prep righty Covey

MILWAUKEE -- California prep right-hander Dylan Covey informed the world on Monday that his parents "are kind of cheap," and thus do not have MLB Network at the family's Pasadena home. So he gathered with more than 100 boosters at a friend's house for Day 1 of the First-Year Player Draft, and at some point, the 18-year-old looked around the room.

Draft Central

"I just stopped and thought, 'All of this stuff is for me,'" Covey said. "I've never looked at it that way before. I was always just going out and playing. I took a step back and realized this is the next chapter in my life. What's going to go on from here is a mystery."

The Brewers made Covey the organization's latest young power arm with the 14th overall selection, committing to Covey despite some mixed results in Milwaukee's recent history of drafting high school pitchers.

Covey, 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, throws a fastball in the 92-94-mph range, a power curveball "that put him over the top" for the Brewers, according to amateur scouting director Bruce Seid, plus an improving changeup. But history says he'll need seasoning in the Minor Leagues. The Brewers' best recent pick out of high school is 2004 second-rounder Yovani Gallardo, who pitched 3 1/2 seasons in the Minors before making his Milwaukee debut.

It marked the first time that the Brewers owned the 14th overall selection and the fourth time in the past 10 Drafts that they used a first-round pick on a high school right-hander. Mike Jones (2001) and Mark Rogers ('04) have seen their development slowed by injuries, though Rogers appears back on track at Double-A Huntsville and is still just 24. In '06, the Brewers drafted Jeremy Jeffress, who flashed a 100-mph fastball but three times has failed drug tests in the Minors. He is coming off a 100-game suspension for testing positive for a "drug of abuse" last year.

"I give the guys credit for not taking an easy way out and taking a college pitcher who might be able to get there quick and pitch in the bullpen," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "We've got beaten by some pretty good high school pitchers here recently in Adam Wainwright ... and Josh Johnson. ... Some teams will say, 'We're going to go college,' but if there's talented high school pitchers, we're not afraid to take them."

The Brewers remain very high on Rogers and Jeffress, but Seid and his staff obviously hope for fewer setbacks for Covey, who has drawn some comparisons to the Giants' Matt Cain and the Dodgers' Chad Billingsley for his pitching style. Covey told reporters Monday night that he models his attitude after the Mariners' Cliff Lee.

"He kind of has that humble aspect about him on the mound," Covey said. "I would like to model myself after him as a pitcher for his personality traits."

When the Brewers made him the 14th overall pick, "the whole house was just shaking from shouting and jumping up and down," Covey said. "It was awesome. I really wasn't expecting the Brewers. I met with them a couple weeks back, but they never really talked to me other than that and they didn't give me many phone calls. But I'm pumped."

Among the well-wishers were Covey's older brothers Brian, 37, and Nathan, 32. His mother, Angela, told the Los Angeles Times over the weekend of how she and Dylan's dad, Darrell, decided to stop having children after Nathan was born. She underwent surgery, but years later, changed her mind and had the procedure reversed. More years passed before she became pregnant with Dylan, whom mom described to the Times as her "miracle guy."

While Brewers fans get to know Covey, he'll be getting to know the Brewers. He admittedly knows little about the franchise, other than the fact that there's a big slide in the outfield at Miller Park.

"I don't even think I know how to spell Milwaukee," Covey said.

He may learn soon. Covey will turn 19 on Aug. 14, two days before the Aug. 16 deadline for teams to sign their 2010 Draft picks.

Covey has some leverage with a scholarship offer from the University of San Diego. The Brewers have done a very good job in recent seasons of signing their picks early and getting them started in the Minor Leagues, and in this case, there is familiarity. Covey's agent is Lenny Strelitz, who was Melvin's scouting director for the Rangers in the late 1990s. Strelitz now works in agent Arn Tellem's management company.

"I'm totally up for signing and playing with the Brewers," Covey said. "We'll see what happens. I'm not completely writing college off, but there's a good chance -- I would say a really good chance -- that I will sign."

In his senior season, Covey went 7-1 with a 0.40 ERA and three saves with 138 strikeouts compared to 20 walks in 70 2/3 innings pitched for Maranatha High School. He was recently named Gatorade's California Baseball Player of the Year, and in 2009 he participated in the AFLAC All-American Game at PETCO Park.

The Brewers have been scouting him since spring 2009. Area scout Dan Huston and West Coast crosschecker Corey Rodriguez saw Covey extensively, as did Seid and his assistant, Ray Montgomery. The Brewers also sent roving crosschecker Jim Rooney, a former Major League pitcher, to meet with Covey.

"We didn't know if he was going to get to us, but he did," Seid said. "It gave us an opportunity to take someone we really wanted. ... He's a high school kid. He's 18. You have to be patient."

"Dylan is the type of kid you can build around in the future," Rodriguez said. "Look at the World Series going back over the years -- it's made up a lot of those types of guys."

Covey was asked what makes him successful.

"I don't know if it's my style of pitching that makes me successful, I think it's that I'm willing to try anything out," he said. "I'm willing to listen to people who have been there and had success. That might be one of my better attributes."

He was the third high school pitcher selected in the Draft.

"That's pretty sweet," Covey said. "I'm kind of shocked. I don't even know what to say right now, because this whole atmosphere is crazy."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.