Baseball Prospect Journal

Brewers have lacked success in the first round

Brewers Hiura Associated Press

The Brewers own the No. 15 pick in July’s MLB draft. It marks the earliest the Brewers have picked in the first round since they drafted ninth in the 2017 draft.

The Brewers have not always had the best of luck drafting in the first round, despite owning two top 10 picks in the last five years.

In the last five years, the Brewers have used four of their five first-round picks on college players. They also have selected just one pitcher in that time frame.

Below is a look at the Brewers’ first-round picks in the last 10 years.

2011

No. 12 overall: Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas

No. 15 overall: Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgia Tech

Jungmann and Bradley were highly-regarded college pitchers in a loaded 2011 draft. Neither panned out and hardly did anything in limited major-league careers.

Pitchers Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray and Matt Barnes and outfielder Brandon Nimmo came off the board between picks 13-19.

2012

No. 27 overall: Clint Coulter, C, Union HS (Wash.)

No. 28 overall: Victor Roache, OF, Georgia Southern

No. 38 overall: Mitch Haniger, OF, Cal Poly

Coulter and Roache are still under 30 years old, but neither player has made it to the major leagues. Both played in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball last year. Coulter is currently playing for the St. Louis Cardinals Triple-A team.

Coming out of Cal Poly, Haniger displayed solid power and defensive abilities. The Brewers traded Haniger to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a two-player deal for outfielder Gerardo Parra in 2014. Now with Seattle, Haniger has developed into a solid everyday player. He was an All-Star in 2018 and likely will be again this year.

2013

No first-round pick after signing free-agent pitcher Kyle Lohse

2014

No. 12 overall: Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waiakea HS (Hawaii)

Most scouts believed the Medeiros would be a reliever as a pro due to his unorthodox arm angle. He struggled in his five seasons with the Brewers before trading him to the Chicago White Sox in 2018. Medeiros is still just 25 years old and pitching well as a reliever at Triple-A in the White Sox system this year.

The San Diego Padres selected shortstop Trea Turner with the following pick.

2015

No. 15 overall: Trent Clark, OF, Richland HS (Texas)

No. 40 overall: Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia

Clark, who now goes by Trent Grisham, made his major-league debut with the Brewers in 2019. But he was traded the following offseason to the Padres and has since become an extremely productive player, winning a Gold Glove last year.

Kirby underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and didn’t resume pitching until 2018. He then missed all of the 2019 season after undergoing thoracic outlet surgery and then fracturing a rib. After not pitching in an official game in 2020 due to the pandemic, Kirby, now 27 years old, has made 11 quality relief appearances at Double-A this season.

2016

No. 5 overall: Corey Ray, OF, Louisville

Ray was one of the top college position players in the 2016 draft, and scouts expected him to breeze through the minor leagues. That hasn’t been the case for Ray, though. He’s struggled to display the feel for hitting that scouts praised him for throughout his three years at the University of Louisville. 

In pro ball, Ray has not displayed the five-tool potential he showed throughout college. He has posted high strikeout numbers and hit for low averages during his pro career.

Ray made his major-league debut this year, appearing in one game with the Brewers. The 26-year-old profiles as a fourth outfielder at the major-league level.

2017

No. 9 overall: Keston Hiura, 2B, UC-Irvine

Hiura was the first position player from the 2017 draft class to reach the majors when the Brewers called him up in 2019. Hiura hit .303 with 23 doubles, two triples, 19 home runs and 49 RBIs in 84 games in 2019.

Hiura hasn’t come close to replicating the success he had in his first season. He led the National League with 85 strikeouts while hitting .212 in 59 games last year. Hiura has a .126 average this season with one home run, five RBIs, 45 strikeouts and eight walks drawn in 103 plate appearances.

The Brewers moved Hiura to first base this season because of his inability to play second base, especially due to his arm strength. It will be interesting to see how the Brewers handle Hiura moving forward, as he’s trending towards being a bust due to his lack of productivity in any facet of the game right now.

2018

No. 21 overall: Brice Turang, SS, Santiago HS (Calif.)

Scouts considered Turang in a small group of players for the first overall pick in the 2018 draft before his senior season of high school baseball began. Although Turang performed well, scouts nitpicked him in the months leading up to the draft. It allowed the Brewers to select one of the best players in the draft with their first-round choice.

The 21-year-old is performing well at Double-A this season. He is hitting .284 with four doubles, one home run and 17 RBIs in 25 games. He also has seven stolen bases.

2019

No. 28 overall: Ethan Small, LHP, Mississippi State

Small is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound lefty who isn’t an overpowering pitcher. He throws a low-90s fastball, but it plays up do to his solid command. His curveball and changeup are above-average offerings.

He made seven starts and recorded a 0.86 ERA with 36 strikeouts and four walks allowed in 21 innings between Rookie ball and Class A in 2019. After not pitching in an official game due to the pandemic last year, Small has a 3.27 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 17 walks allowed in 22 innings in five starts this season.

Small projects as a middle-of-the-rotation in the major leagues.

2020

No. 20 overall: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA

Mitchell had arguably the best set of tools in last year’s draft, but he fell to the Brewers at No. 20. The five-tool outfielder played well at major-league spring training and is hitting .438 with one triple, one home run, four RBIs and three stolen bases in six games at Class A-Advanced this season.

Mitchell is the Brewers’ top prospect. He has all-start potential if he can hit for power in pro ball.

Want to know who the Brewers might be considering in the first round this year? Read in-depth stories on top 2021 MLB draft prospects at Baseball Prospect Journal.

Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He has interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

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