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Brewers’ future begins with draft

June 3, 2015

For the Milwaukee Brewers, the future begins Monday.

They haven’t had much success in recent drafts, and that’s much of the reason the Brewers are the worst team in baseball. Over three days next week, amateur scouting director Ray Montgomery and general manager Doug Melvin will take the first big step toward turning things around.

There’s no way of knowing how successful those picks will be until years down the road, but looking back now, it’s clear the club has swung and missed several times in the first round. Since taking Ryan Braun with the fifth overall pick in 2005, the Brewers’ best draft picks have amounted to little more than pieces of three major trades. In fact, four of their five first-round picks from 2006-08 were dealt for starting pitching.

Jeremy Jeffress (’06) and Jake Odorizzi (’08) went to the Kansas City Royals in the Zack Greinke trade, Matt LaPorta (’07) was shipped to Cleveland for CC Sabathia, and Brett Lawrie (’08) headed to Toronto in exchange for Shaun Marcum. Those three starters — Greinke, Sabathia and Marcum — were crucial to the Brewers’ playoff runs in ’08 and ’11, but also combined to make just 127 starts for the team.

Now, Jeffress has returned to Milwaukee, and trading Greinke brought back several prospects as well, but first-round picks are players you hope will have a Braun, Rickie Weeks (’03), Prince Fielder (’02) or Ben Sheets (’99) type long-term impact on your club. There’s no guarantee anyone of that caliber will be there for the Brewers at No. 15 in Monday’s first round, but that surely is the goal.

Following Lawrie and Odorizzi in 2008 — and Jack Zduriencik’s departure for Seattle — the Brewers have drafted the following players in the first round: Eric Arnett, Kentrail Davis, Kyle Heckathorn, Dylan Covey, Taylor Jungmann, Jed Bradley, Clint Coulter, Victor Roache, Mitch Haniger and Kodi Medeiros. Not one of those players has logged a single inning in the major leagues.

The last two Brewers first-round picks to make their major league debuts with the club? Braun in 2007 and Jeffress in 2010.

Montgomery was brought in from the Arizona Diamondbacks to replace Bruce Seid, who passed away unexpectedly in September. Seid’s tenure was one that found value in later rounds of the draft — Khris Davis (7th), Scooter Gennett (16th) andMike Fiers (22nd) — but did not have much first-round success. It did appear to have some recent upward momentum, however, as Medeiros, Coulter, Roache and Jungmann rank among the team’s top prospects.

The new era begins now as Montgomery oversees his first draft with the Brewers.

Some have speculated that Milwaukee will begin trading its veterans following the draft, another integral component of the rebuilding project. But the Brewers won’t get very far without more high-level homegrown prospects.

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Categories: Uncategorized
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