Brewers recognize this draft critical
The Milwaukee Brewers built from within, getting top picks and
gems late in the draft to have the best farm system in baseball
only a few years ago.
The approach netted them top first-round talents such as Prince
Fielder (2002), Ryan Braun (2005) and Rickie Weeks (2003) as well
as Yovani Gallardo (second round), Jonathan Lucroy (third) and
Corey Hart (11th).
The culmination of their savvy work came in 2008, when the
Brewers reached the postseason for the first time in 26 years by
trading four prospects for CC Sabathia in the stretch run.
The deep farm system built by former scouting director Jack
Zduriencik allowed Milwaukee to trade its top pitching prospect for
2009 AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke and top hitting prospect
for Shaun Marcum.
Now, the young Brewers look thin again.
”People say our system is a little low, well, it’s to be
expected,” general manager Doug Melvin said. ”We traded for other
players, and we had players that weren’t ranked high.”
They’ve also had problems hitting early in the draft
The past nine first-round picks for Milwaukee since Braun are
either gone by trade, deep in the minors or never signed. Six of
the top seven prospects as recently as 2009 are no longer with the
Jeremy Jeffress (2006) was part of the Greinke deal along with
supplemental first-rounder Jake Odorizzi (2008). Matt LaPorta
(2007) went to the Indians for Sabathia. Brett Lawrie (2008) was
traded for Marcum.
Right-hander Eric Arnett (2009) went 1-9 with a 6.70 ERA in 20
appearances in Single-A Wisconsin last year and hasn’t pitched in
the minors yet this season. Milwaukee’s 2010 top pick, Dylan Covey,
opted for college after finding out he had diabetes. Covey went to
the University of San Diego instead.
With the system thinned, Melvin said the amateur draft that
begins Monday is critical for the Brewers again. Milwaukee will
pick 12th and 15th in the first round, followed by the 70th and
”We feel confident in the extra pick we’ll get this year, it
might be just as good as what Dylan would’ve been or even more
advanced,” said Melvin, who met with the scouting staff for three
days last week and again this week to prepare. ”I think the thing
we can do better at, we can do better going deeper in drafts.”
With Fielder eligible for free agency after the season, the
organization must find a way to bridge the gap again while drafting
and developing players such as Lucroy, who reached the majors in 2
1/2 seasons while never being considered a top 100 prospect.
Melvin said this year’s draft class is loaded with strong
Two players that could be around when the Brewers pick are
right-handers Sonny Gray of Vanderbilt and Matt Barnes of
Connecticut. They could go for a high school arm such as righty
Taylor Guerrieri or one of several polished outfielders such as
Mikie Mahtook of LSU or George Springer of Connecticut.
”We’re getting into the stages where you can’t say much as far
as the strategy goes,” Melvin said. ”The list will probably
change right up until the last day.”
Then, the biggest issue will be signing the players, something
that will certainly be part of Milwaukee’s decision-making process
Melvin said they want to pick the best player available, but
that usually means the organization believes they’ll be able to
sign them quickly after the draft instead of waiting until the Aug.
”The signing day has to be moved up. Development is a huge part
of what we do, our success,” Melvin said. ”It’s important to get
them signed early.”