Every Brewers player picked in the first round since 1998
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Major League Baseball draft, which will be held June 10-11, will be limited to five rounds.
With the truncated version this year, we thought we’d take a look back at Milwaukee Brewers drafts since 1998 – when the last two expansion teams were added – to see how the Brewers have fared in each round.
We’ll start with Round 1, which obviously has the most players making it to the majors. In upcoming articles, we’ll touch on rounds 2-5, 6-20 and 21-50.
Instead of ranking each player subjectively, we’ll order them objectively – by baseball-reference.com’s WAR (wins above replacement). Note: For pitchers, we’re using only their pitching WAR. To add in their hitting WAR seems a bit unfair, but we’ll include it in the capsule for reference sake.
Since 1998, the Brewers have 31 players drafted in the first round make it to the major leagues. Here’s the list, followed by the first-round picks who didn’t (or, have yet to) reach the bigs.
Ryan Braun, 3B, 2005
Having played 13 years in Milwaukee, winning the 2011 MVP and getting votes six other years, including a second- and third-place finish, capturing Rookie of the Year in 2007 and making six All-Star teams, it’s no surprise Braun tops the list (and by a wide margin). Drafted as a third baseman, that position didn’t work out so well his rookie year (.895 fielding %) but his bat immediately played in the majors, hitting .324 with 34 home runs. Moved to the outfield in 2008, Braun made his first All-Star team and won the first of his five Silver Sluggers. In over 1,700 games with the Brewers, Braun has slashed .298/.360/.533 (135 OPS+) and is the franchise leader in home runs with 344. He’s also second in RBI (1,128), third in runs (1,066) and third in steals (215).
Ben Sheets, P, 1999
WAR: 26.1 (25.6 with Brewers)
Batting WAR: -2.8 (-2.8 with Brewers)
Never a big winner in his eight seasons with Milwaukee, Sheets was, however, consistent, posting double-digit victories in seven of his eight years. He finished with an 86-83 record and 3.72 ERA with the Brewers, with a 1.201 WHIP and 1,206 strikeouts (7.6/9). A four-time All-Star, Sheets holds the franchise record for best strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.853) and his 18 strikeouts in a game remains the most for any Milwaukee pitcher. Sheets’ best season was likely 2004 when he set career bests in ERA (2.70), WHIP (0.983), innings (237), strikeouts (264), and K/9 (10.0). Sheets also pitched one year for Oakland and Atlanta, retiring at age 33 due to injuries.
Prince Fielder, 1B, 2002
WAR: 23.8 (16.8 with Brewers)
Injuries limited Fielder later in his career and he had to retire at age 32, else maybe he could have made a run at Braun for the top spot and certainly ahead of Sheets. In seven seasons with the Brewers (six full), he hit .282/.390/.540 with 230 home runs and 656 RBI. Fielder holds the franchise records for on-base percentage and slugging percentage (and, naturally, OPS), as well as adjusted OPS+ (143), Offensive Win % (.702) and intentional walks (115). He also holds the team’s single-season marks for home runs (50), RBI (141), runs created (150, tied with Christian Yelich) and extra-base hits (87, tied with Robin Yount). He’s the only player in franchise history to appear in all 162 regular-season games twice – only four other players have played in all 162 – and he also was in 161 games once. Fielder left for Detroit in free agency in 2012 and finished his career with Texas from 2014-16.
Brett Lawrie, 3B, 2008
WAR: 15.6 (DNP with Brewers)
Lawrie was dealt to Toronto on Dec. 6, 2010 for starting pitcher Shaun Marcum (4.2 pitching WAR, 0.3 batting WAR in two seasons with the Brewers). Injuries limited Lawrie’s playing career and forced him to retire early (a comeback bid with Milwaukee this year was aborted). Lawrie played six years with Toronto, Oakland and the Chicago White Sox, batting .261/.315/.419 (101 OPS+).
Jake Odorizzi, P, 2008
WAR: 12.7 (DNP with Brewers)
Batting WAR: -0.1
Four days after Milwaukee dealt Lawrie, the Brewers packaged Odorizzi in a trade which netted them Kansas City’s Zack Greinke (3.6 pitching WAR, 0.3 batting WAR in 1 1/2 seasons with the Brewers). Odorizzi only pitched two games for the Royals before being traded to Tampa Bay, where he pitched five years where, again, he was traded, this time to Minnesota. In eight years he’s gone 62-55 with a 3.88 ERA (106 ERA+). Last season with the Twins he was 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA and made his first All-Star Game.
Rickie Weeks, 2B, 2003
WAR: 11.5 (12.5 with Brewers)
Injuries – there’s that word again – limited Weeks’ playing time in Milwaukee during his 11 seasons. He ended up hitting .249/.347/.424 (103 OPS+) with 148 home runs and 126 steals. His 125 hit by pitches are most in franchise history. Weeks topped 20 home runs three times – each season from 2010-12 – and made the 2011 All-Star Game. Weeks wound down his career playing with Seattle, Arizona and Tampa Bay.
Mitch Haniger, OF, 2012
WAR: 10.5 (DNP with Brewers)
Traded to Arizona at the deadline in 2014 in a deal to acquire Gerardo Parra (1.8 WAR over roughly one season’s time with the Brewers), Haniger was dealt in November 2016 to Seattle. He’s played 350 games over four years in the majors, batting .267/.368/.480 (125 OPS+) but he’s topped 100 games just once – in 2018, when he batted .285 with 26 home runs and was named an All-Star.
Jeremy Jeffress, P, 2006
WAR: 7.6 (7.3 with Brewers)
Batting WAR: 0.0 (0.0 with Brewers)
Jeffress has had not one, not two but three different stints with Milwaukee. He was part of the Greinke deal, came back as a free agent in 2014 then traded to Texas during the 2016 season and acquired back from the Rangers in another deal at the 2017 trade deadline. While his career ERA is 3.16 and WHIP 1.347, with the Brewers its 2.66 and 1.234. He’s notched 43 of his 44 career saves with Milwaukee. In 2018 he made his lone All-Star team and finished the year with a 1.29 ERA, 0.991 WHIP and 10.4 K/9. Jeffress signed with the Cubs this past offseason.
Keston Hiura, 2B, 2017
As long as he can stay healthy, Hiura will certainly be climbing up this list. In his rookie year, in which he played just 84 games, Hiura slashed .303/.368/.570 (138 OPS+) with 19 homers, nine steals, 51 runs and 49 RBI.
Mark Rogers, P, 2004
Batting WAR: 0.1
Rogers pitched in a total of 49 innings over 11 games, with nine starts, in 2010 and ’12. He had a 3-1 record, 3.49 ERA, 1.122 WHIP and 9.6 K/9. Another career limited by injuries, Rogers appeared in 12 minor-league games for the Brewers in 2013 and two for Seattle in 2014.
Taylor Jungmann, P, 2011
Batting WAR: 0.4
Jungmann made 21 starts as a rookie in 2015, going 9-8 with a 3.77 ERA (105 ERA+), 1.282 WHIP and 8.1 K/9. But he struggled the next year, posting a 7.76 ERA with the Brewers and spending most of his time in the minors. He made only one appearance for Milwaukee again, in 2017 (2/3 of an inning). Jungmann pitched in Japan in 2018-19 and signed a minor-league contract with Texas this past offseason. His final totals with the Brewers: 9-13, 4.54 ERA, 1.384 WHIP.
Trent Grisham, OF, 2015
After retooling his swing after a few lackluster minor-league seasons, Grisham emerged once again as a prospect in 2019 and eventually was called up by the Brewers, where he hit .231/.328/.410 (90 OPS+) with six homers in 51 games. Grisham was dealt to San Diego in the offseason.
Dave Krynzel, OF, 2000
A left-handing hitting center fielder with some speed, Krynzel had a couple cups of coffee with Milwaukee in 2004 and ’05. In 21 combined games he went 9-for-48 (.188) with one extra-base hit (a double), no steals and 18 strikeouts. Krynzel bounced around the minors until 2009.
Jed Bradley, P, 2011
WAR: 0.0 (DNP with Brewers)
Batting WAR: n/a
A starter his first few years in the minors, Milwaukee converted Bradley to a reliever, but he still couldn’t make the big club with the Brewers, who sold his contract to Atlanta in June 2016. Bradley pitched in six games with the Braves (7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 6 BB, 4 K) that season, was waived, signed by Baltimore and retired during the 2017 season.
Matt LaPorta, 1B, 2007
WAR: -1.0 (DNP with Brewers)
LaPorta was a key piece in Milwaukee’s trade with Cleveland which netted the Brewers CC Sabathia in 2008. A power hitter, LaPorta slugged .539 with 22 homers in Double-A that year and then .530 with 17 homers in 93 games in Triple-A in 2009 before getting recalled to Cleveland. LaPorta ended up playing 291 games over four years with the Indians, hitting .238/.301/.398 with 31 home runs. He finished his career in the minors in 2013.
Dylan Covey, P, 2010
WAR: -2.6 (DNP with Brewers)
Covey is one of four first-round picks to not sign with Milwaukee (the others, all pitchers: Bill Bordley, 1976; Alex Fernandez, 1988; Ken Henderson, 1991). Covey was drafted in the fourth round by Oakland in 2013. In 2017, the White Sox selected him in the Rule 5 draft. In three seasons with Chicago he’s 6-29 with a 6.54 ERA.
Never/have yet to play in MLB
Ethan Small, P, 2019
Brice Turang, SS, 2018
Tristan Lutz, OF, 2017*
Corey Ray, OF, 2016
Nathan Kirby, P, 2015*
Kodi Medeiros, P, 2014
Jake Gatewood, SS, 2014*
Clint Coulter, C, 2012
Victor Roache, OF, 2012*
Eric Arnett, P, 2009
Kentrail Davis, OF, 2009*
Kyle Heckathorn, P, 2009*
Even Fredrickson, P, 2008*
Mike Jones, P, 2001
J.M. Gold, P, 1998
* – Brewers had more than one first-round selection in this particular year and this player was not the initial first-round pick.