Milwaukee Brewers: A Decade Of Hits And Misses In The 1st Round
In what has been rightfully perceived a depleted system after all the trades to bring in stars like C.C. Sabathia and Zack Greinke in addition to Shaun Marcum, the Brewers have tried to replenish their system while balancing the need to field a competitive big league club. Signing pitchers like Kyle Lohse, however, in lieu of making a first round selection showed misplaced confidence that they were a number three starter away from contending in the N.L. Central. Such decisions generally lead to sub-par organizational performance.
With that being said, let’s have a look at their first round drafts.
2013 Devin Williams, RHP, Hazelwood West HS (54th Overall, 2nd round)
Having forfeited their first round pick by signing Lohse, the Brewers selected Williams who signed for above slot value at $1.35M and was ranked as one of the top high school arms going into the draft. Sure enough in Rookie League, he’s impressed so far showing a 10.1/9 SO/9 while only allowing 28 hits in 34.2 IP. Typical of young arms though, he also has a 5.7 BB/9 which should get better as he hopefully is able to refine his delivery.
2012 Clint Coulter, C, Union HS (27th Overall)
Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern University (28th Overall)
Mitch Haniger, OF, California Polytechnic State University (38th Overall)
Roache and Haniger are the two players that stand out here putting in good performances in A ball this year before Haniger earned a promotion to High A Brevard County. Coulter on the other hand debuted right away after signing a contract, and played 49 games in Rookie League. He produced a .302/.439/.444 line and earned a promotion to Single A Wisconsin to start 2013. While there, he faltered earning a demotion back to Rookie League where he hit .350 and had a 1.026 OPS in 60 AB’s before switching leagues to Helena where again, he is faltering. While it’s too early to tell what is going on here, the Brewers should exhibit some patience with this first round pick.
2011 Taylor Jungmann, RHP, University of Texas at Austin (12th Overall)
Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Institute of Technology (15th Overall)
Jungmann, a highly touted college arm, and Bradley, not far behind, began their pro career in 2012 while being joined at the hip in High A Brevard. While Bradley is repeating High A and showing non-impressive numbers, Jungmann began 2013 in AA Huntsville and has shown an ability to not only provide innings, but also to elicit weak contact given that he’s only allowed 117 hits in 139.1 IP. The downside to Jungmann, although he’s had glimpses of success, is that he’s not a strikeout pitcher (5.3 SO/9) and walks too many thus far in AA (4.7 BB/9). If he can harness his command, he may have the ceiling of a back of the rotation starter.
2010 Dylan Covey, RHP, Maranatha HS (did not sign)
Covey actually was selected and signed with Oakland this past summer in the 4th round.
2009 Eric Arnett, RHP, Indiana University (26th Overall)
Kentrail Davis, OF, University of Tennessee (39th Overall)
Kyle Heckathorn, RHP, Kennesaw State University (47th Overall)
2009 is looking like a total bust. Arnett has yet to get above High A, and along with Heckathorn, both have been converted into relievers. At least Heckathorn has a chance to be a long man in a MLB bullpen. Davis has some speed, however he lacks power and his defensive numbers look bad in the outfield. Not much to be said for this draft year.
2008 Brett Lawrie, 3B, Brookswood SS (16th Overall)
Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Highland HS (32nd Overall)
These two players were used in trades to acquire Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke respectively in December of ’10 and both moves paid off as the Brewers finished first in the division in 2011 and advanced all the way to the NLCS. Although Milwaukee failed to advance to the World Series, I don’t think they would ever renege on these deals as Lawrie, with an explosive start for the Blue Jays, has failed to maintain the same level of hype, and Odorizzi has made only a few spot starts so far for both the Royals and Rays.
2007 Matt LaPorta, 1B, University of Florida (7th Overall)
LaPorta was part of the July 2008 C.C. Sabathia deal where C.C. successfully delivered the Brew Crew to the promised land which was their first playoff appearance since 1982. After being drafted up until the trade, LaPorta made three stops in the Brewers minor leagues and impressively improved his numbers upon each stop he made. Subsequently in Cleveland’s system, he struggled initially but then rocked Triple A Columbus in 2009 which prompted his MLB debut with the Tribe. What happened since then is what so many top prospects go through, failure and inability to produce in the majors. LaPorta is currently off of Cleveland’s 40-man roster.
2006 Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Halifax County HS (16th Overall)
Also part of the Greinke deal, Jeffress spent parts of two seasons with the Royals before being designated and selected by the Blue Jays. He’s currently off the 40-man, and is trolling in Triple A Buffalo. He’s the prototypical flamethrower who struggles with command, and although he’s had a pretty good minor league season, it remains to be seen if he’ll have a legitimate chance at having any staying power in the majors.
2005 Ryan Braun, 3B, University of Miami (5th Overall)
It took Braun less than two years to reach the majors as he pounded the ball at every level, and has been for all intents and purposes, Milwaukee’s franchise player and perennial MVP candidate and, might I add, their chosen son as Prince Fielder was left walking. However, now that he’s been caught red-handed in the Biogenesis Scandal, it remains to be seen if he’ll keep that label and live up to the rest of his contract where he has seven years and $113M remaining.
2004 Mark Rogers, RHP, Mt. Ararat HS (5th Overall)
In surprising news at the end of August, the Brewers outrighted Rogers off their 40-man roster effectively making him a free agent this off-season. Rogers was on a rehab assignment working his way back from a shoulder issue and subsequent decreased velocity, which affected him in the spring. While it is unfortunate for him, he has a chance to find another organization this winter who would be willing to see if he can regain some of the promise he showed in Milwaukee when he made seven starts in 2012 when he put up 41 K’s and 36 hits in 39 IP.
BHC Pick of the Litter: Braun
BHC Franchise Flop: I think it’s fair to say all college pitchers have not met first round expectations.
Analysis: Williams, Roache and Haniger are the most impressive prospects drafted of late, however the latter two may only project as fourth outfielders. Williams has had a good start, however his strikeout numbers are eerily similar to Arnett’s when he was in Rookie League and look what happened to him. Brewers GM Doug Melvin, Assistant GM Gord Ash and Scouting Director Bruce Seid have got to revamp something in order to start selecting and honing better talent in their system.