This is the third part of my review of the Brewers past 20 drafts. Check out my previous post for years 2008 - 2015 and from years 2002 - 2007. Quite a few poor drafts and trades at the major league level left the minors in rough shape. By 2014, Baseball America ranked the Brewers minors 29th overall. As you can see from my last post, not a whole lot of help came from these last few years. Let’s pickup where I left off and discuss the 2015 season, where Ray Montgomery made his first selections as scouting director.
Note: In parentheses are their career WAR as calculated by Baseball Reference.
2015, draft order 15th, 41 players selected, competitive balance B pick
- Regular - Trent Grisham (7.4)
- Callup - Cody Ponce (-0.6), Eric Hanhold (-0.3)
- Notable minor leaguers - Nate Kirby (AAA Pittsburgh), Nash Walters (AA Brewers)
First rounder Trent Grisham is the best of this draft. He broke into the majors with a bang, but has struggled this year. Nate Kirby was selected in the second round and has pitched well at AAA and is due for a callup, but at age 28 is running out of time. Third rounder Cody Ponce is out of the majors after a brief callup. Nash Walters has a 4+ ERA at AA, but has pitched better of late. He is a minor league free agent at the end of the year and at age 25 still has a chance.
2016, draft order 5th, 41 players selected, competitive balance A pick
- All star - Corbin Burnes (9.9)
- Role - Cooper Hummel (-0.2)
- Callup - Corey Ray (0), Peyton Henry (0)
- Notable minor leaguers - Lucas Erceg (AAA Milwaukee), Mario Feliciano (AAA Brewers)
First rounder Corey Ray is running out of chances. He made the majors briefly, but was taken off the 40 man roster even though the Brewers biggest hole is CF. Erceg converted from a failed 3b to a left-handed fireball reliever. He still has a chance if he can learn to control his pitches. Comp B pick Feliciano has hit well in AAA and is likely to top out as a backup catcher at best in the majors. The big pick was 4th rounder Corbin Burnes, who will be racking up his WAR numbers for years to come (as well as Cy Young awards). Hummel and Henry are the only other players of note and they are currently backups in the majors which is likely where they will top out at.
2017, draft order 9th, 41 players selected, competitive balance A pick
- Regular - Keston Hiura (1.3)
- Callup - Bowden Francis (0), Alec Bettinger (-0.6)
- Notable minor leaguers - Tristan Lutz (AA Milwaukee), Caden Lemons (IL Milwaukee), Cam Robinson (AA Milwaukee)
Tod Johnson took over as scouting director and selected Keston Hiura in the first round. Keston made an immediate impact though his career has had plenty of bumps in the road. Going forward, he looks to be a DH that strikes out too much, but he has plenty of talent to succeed. Comp Pick Tristen Lutz is playing well at AA after some struggles. Though at best, he looks like a weak-side RF platoon in the majors with some pop. Second rounder Caden Lemons has a long list of injuries and inconsistent play but he is only 23 so still has a chance. Bowden Francis got a brief callup in 2022, but has struggled mightily in AAA. Cam Robinson (23rd round) is finally having success this year and recently was called up to AA. He has a chance to be a late inning reliever in the majors and is only 22 years old. There are eight more players from this draft still in the minors, including quite a few pitchers (File, Lazar, Hitt), but time is running out and they are long shots to succeed in the majors.
2018, draft order 21st, 41 players selected, competitive balance B pick
- Regular - Aaron Ashby (-0.5), Drew Rasmussen (2.4)
- Notable minor leaguers - Brice Turang (AAA Milwaukee), Joe Gray (A+ Milwaukee), Micah Bello (A+ Milwaukee), Justin Jarvis (A+ Milwaukee), David Fry (AAA Cleveland), Korry Howell (AA San Diego), Reese Olson (AA Detroit)
The top three picks have not made the majors yet, though first rounder Turang is on the cusp and is a top 10 prospect. Joe Gray and Micah Bello (comp pick) are oft injured outfielders who are in high A ball, but still have a chance. Fourth rounder Ashby has already made an impact in the majors and the Brewers have enough confidence in him to give him a five year extension. Rasmussen was part of the Adames trade and has been terrific for the Rays. He will be competing with Ashby for the best player picked by the Brewers in this draft. A number of other players are still working in the minors but they are likely to be at best backend starters (Jarvis, Olson) or bench players (Fry, Howell).
2019, draft order 26th, 39 players selected
- Callup - Ethan Small (-0.1)
- Notable minor leaguers - Antoine Kelly (A+ Milwaukee), David Hamilton (AA Boston), Darien Miller (A+ Milwaukee), Paxton Schultz (AA Toronto), Cam Devanney (AA Milwaukee)
The Brewers selected left handed pitchers with their first two picks. Ethan Small who has seen time in the majors this year and Antoine Kelly are among the Brewers top prospects. Both look to have a future in the majors. The Brewers traded their competitive balance pick for Alex Claudio and lost their 3rd rounder when they signed Yasmani Grandal so they were without a couple of their higher picks in this draft. Hamilton, Miller, and Devanney have a chance at being major league regulars but are more likely to be backups at best. Schultz has a ceiling as a 4th or 5th starter. There are 11 other players still in the minors, but none look to be major league players at this point.
2020, draft order 20th, 5 players selected
- Notable minor leaguers - Garrett Mitchell (AA Brewers), Freddy Zamora (AA Brewers), Zavier Warren (A+ Brewers), Joey Wiemer (AA Brewers), Hayden Cantrelle (AA San Francisco)
2020 was an odd year and the draft was no different. There were only 5 rounds and the Brewers selected all college hitters. Outfielders Mitchell and Wiemer have all kinds of talent and I expect both to at least make the majors if not excel at it. Zamora is a boom or bust type of player but still has plenty of time to develop. Warren and Cantrelle are both struggling this year and are at best role players. You could make the case that since the draft was so short, UDFA’s Evan Reifert, TJ Shook and Brandon Knarr should be included here. These are interesting pitching prospects who have a chance to catch on though probably not as stars.
2021, draft order 15th, 21 players selected, competitive balance A pick
- Notable minor leaguers - Sal Frelick (AA Brewers), Ty Black (A+ Brewers), Russell Smith (A+ Brewers), Alex Binelas (AA Boston), Carlos Rodriguez (A Brewers), Tristan Peters (A+ Brewers), Jace Avina (Rookie Brewers)
Sal Frelick is a fast riser in the Brewers organization and looks like a good bet to make the majors and excel. Ty Black was a comp pick and is a professional hitter that should contribute in some way in the majors. It's hard to judge the rest of the players as many are too far away from the majors. Overall, this looks like a pretty good draft with a chance for a number of players to make the majors. All 16 players who signed are still playing in the minors.
During the 2015 to 2021 drafts there were a few players who stood out. Corbin Burnes looks to be one of the better Brewer Pitchers ever. Rasmussen, Ashby, Small, and Kelly look to be solid starting pitchers. On the offensive side, Hiura, Mitchell, Wiemer, and Frelick all have the potential to be stars at the major leagues. It's just going to take a few more years until we find out.
Stay tuned for my next blog that would summarize these past 20 drafts to identify which year was the best draft. Add your comments below on what you think was the best draft.