by Kevin Kimmes
In the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft, Milwaukee had the luxury of drafting 3 players in the 1st round: Clint Coulter (27th), Victor Roache (28th) and Mitch Haniger (38th). While Roache will start the season for the AZL Brewers of the Arizona League, both Coulter and Haniger will look to make a name for themselves right here in Wisconsin as members of the defending Midwest League Champion Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Last week during the team’s media day, I had the opportunity to talk briefly with both Clint and Mitch about where they come from and what they look to do in 2013.
Milwaukee’s 1st pick in the 2012 draft, Coulter is a catcher considered by many to be the best high school player in the Pacific Northwest. A versatile ball player, Coulter started as a shortstop before being moved to third and eventually landing at catcher due to his strong arm.
“I played every game in the Arizona League at catcher and all through the winter they sent me catching drills to do. All through spring training I caught, so if it’s not catcher I’m really going to be surprised.”
One advantage that Coulter has had right out the gate was having former Major League catcher Tom Lampkin as his high school coach. Lampkin, who played parts of 13 seasons for six different teams, including the Brewers in 1993, helped define the psychological aspects of the position for him.
“I didn’t get to work with him a ton as far as technical aspects of catching, but psychologically we still talk. I just talked to him before I came. He knows that it’s a grind and that he’s been there and done that so he’s been able to talk me through stuff like that.”
Drawing comparisons to catcher Mike Napoli, Coulter says that he based his game around that of Atlanta Braves catcher, Brian McCann.
“He’s definitely a really good catcher as well as a good hitter. In High School I switch hit a little bit, hit a little bit left handed. Now I’ve stuck solely to right handed. But also, it’s the leadership aspect. He’s really respected by his peers. As well as guys like Jason Varitek, he’s got the Captain on his shirt, so if you can be the leader, you’re the catcher, you run the ship. I just want to be that type of guy.”
Milwaukee’s 3rd pick in the 1st round of the 2012 draft, Haniger made a brief appearance with the Timber Rattlers in 2012 before being sidelined with an injury.
“I tore my PCL in my right knee on a bad slide into home plate and then tried to stay in the game. I don’t know if I hurt it worse trying to run to 1st on my next at bat, but that’s when I really felt it and had to come out of the game. I had to go to Arizona for the remaining 3 months of the year and just rehab and get healthy.”
When asked about how the knee is feeling this year, Haniger assured me that it’s feeling good and that he’s faster and stronger than ever before.
As an outfielder, Haniger states that his goals for 2013 are to focus on his defense, throwing, and hitting.
“I want to continue to play good defense and throw guys out from the outfield, continue to have good at bats, hit the ball hard and do what I can to help my team win.”
Additionally, for card collectors out there, it should be noted that Haniger made his initial cardboard appearances with Brewers cards appearing in both 2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects and 2012 Bowman Sterling.
“It’s pretty cool. I signed a few in the offseason, so I think I saw them before anyone else did, but that was pretty cool to finally see my name on a card.”
The Timber Rattlers play their first home game of the 2013 season this evening at 6:35 PM at Fox Cities Stadium. All fans in attendance will receive a Matt Erickson bobblehead.
Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and a 2013 MLB Fan Cave Top 52 Finalist. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.