A few things stood out to me about a new Baseball America article.
And no, it isn’t that Houston is the best team at drafting hitters. They’ve drafted players like Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Jeremy Pena, and Kyle Tucker, some of the top players in the MLB. And no, it’s not that the Nationals are the worst. We know they haven’t drafted many Major League-ready bats since Bryce Harper in 2010 and Anthony Rendon in 2011.
It’s just how bad the Milwaukee Brewers have been at drafting hitters.
The team best at drafting hitters? The Astros
— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) July 4, 2023
Baseball America Shows Brewers Futility Drafting Hitters
Why Haven’t the Brewers Been Good at Drafting Hitters?
Baseball America compiled all the numbers from the 2012 MLB Draft to the 2022 MLB Draft. This is how Milwaukee’s number shook out
(Via Baseball America)
- 18 hitters from that draft have been called up to the Brewers
- .242 batting average
- .319 OBP
- .428 SLG
- 8912 PA
- 1,080 runs
- 1,916 hits
- 328 home runs
- 127 stolen bases
- 777 BB
- 2428 strikeouts
- 1,103.8 runs created
At first glance, you can see that these numbers indicate the Brewers as a franchise: not bad, not good, but hey, at least we’re not the Tigers or Nationals. Milwaukee, unlike the Astros, have been competitive year in and year out, so they’re never in a position for a high draft pick, which would have helped them on this list.
The majority of the blame needs to go to Milwaukee’s hitting development. The team in the early-late 2000s hit on gems like J.J. Hardy, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, Ryan Braun, and Jonathan Lucroy. Hitters by the Brewers that were drafted from 2012-2014 never made it to the Majors. The first hitter to make it to the Majors was Trent Grisham, who made his debut in 2019 and was traded later that year to the Padres for Eric Lauer and Luis Urias.
Milwaukee, during that 10-year span, had one top-five pick, which was Corey Ray out of Louisville. Ray did not make his debut until April 24, 2021, against the Chicago Cubs. Ray stayed on the Major League roster until he was sent down a couple of months later. Ray is currently a free agent. The 2016 Draft is tough to grade because the better players, such as Zac Gallen (Diamondbacks), Sean Murphy (Athletics), Shane Bieber (Indians), and Corbin Burns, went in the fourth round.
The MLB Draft is unlike any other draft because a can’t-miss prospect on the board could end up never signing with the team that drafted you, or that player could never make it to the Majors.
In recent years, Milwaukee has done a better job of drafting skill-position players. Brice Turang was selected 21st overall in the 2018 MLB Draft. Turang debuted for the Brewers this year and, for a young player, has shown promise in his defense and hitting.
2020, the team selected Garrett Mitchell 20th overall in the first round. Mitchell blitzed his way through the Minor Leagues, debuting in 2022, flashing his speed, and hitting prowess. Mitchell was expected to be a solid contributor for the team in the 2023 campaign, but a shoulder injury wiped out the rest of his season. Still, the future is bright for Mitchell.
A great value for the team in that same draft was current CF Joey Wiemer. Wiemer was selected in the fourth round and has flashed early on with his bat and glove.
In the 2021 Draft, the team selected Sal Frelick with the 15th pick in the first round. Frelick was in-line to make his debut after the season-ending injury to Mitchell but suffered a UCL sprain the same night Mitchell suffered his injury. Frelick missed almost two months with that injury but returned to action on June 10 for the rookie-level Arizona Complex League Game before returning to Triple-A Nashville on June 17. We’ll have to see if Frelick makes his debut later this season.
Does This List Mean Anything for Long-Term Success?
Drafting Major-League-ready talent is extremely hard. A team that is lower on this list than the Brewers is the Atlanta Braves. Via Baseball America, the Braves have called up only eight players in that 10-year span but won World Series in 2021, so this isn’t an indicator of team success. Winning a World Series is hard, but teams like Milwaukee, the Yankees, and the Braves are low on this list. Those teams have been competitive every year, so they don’t have the luxury of having a high-draft pick like the Astros have had in years past.
This doesn’t excuse Milwaukee from getting rid of premium talent too early like Mitch Haniger, Garrett Cooper, or Grisham but hopefully with the new wave of recent draft picks, this team can eventually parlay some of that good fortune drafting into a World Series.