MILWAUKEE—Brewers' 2009 first-round selection Eric Arnett has scuffled to a 6.18 ERA in two pro seasons, finding little success even at the low Class A level.
But if not for the Yankees' largesse during the winter months of 2008, then Milwaukee would have been positioned to draft dynamic center-field prospect Mike Trout. As the draft played out, though, Trout went to the Angels at pick No. 25, one spot ahead of the Brewers, who took Indiana righthander Arnett.
"Our policy is not to talk about where we had players rated on our board," scouting director Bruce Seid said, "but (Trout) certainly was ranked high."
For the full story, we travel back to July 7, 2008, when Milwaukee traded four prospects to the Indians for C.C. Sabathia, who almost singlehandedly pitched the Brewers into the playoffs that October. As a Type A free agent, Sabathia stood to deliver two draft picks to Milwaukee if he signed with another club.
His December 2008 signing with the Yankees for $161 million accomplished just that. The Brewers netted New York's selection at No. 25 overall in the '09 draft.
They never got to use that pick, however, because the Yankees weren't done spending. In January '09, New York signed free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira away from the Angels for $180 million. Because Teixeira was a higher-ranked Type A free agent than Sabathia, the Angels inherited New York's first-round pick, while the Brewers moved back to the Yankees' second-round slot at pick No. 73.
"(The free-agent compensation rules) hurt us that particular year," general manager Doug Melvin said. "The only player we could lose that (first-round) pick on was Teixeira, and the Yankees signed him."
Club executives and fans were left to ponder what could have been as Trout shot to a No. 2 ranking among all prospects heading into 2011. Rubbing salt in the wound, he hit one of his six Midwest League homers off Arnett on May 9.
The player the Brewers selected with their compensation pick from the Yankees also has struggled. Prep outfielder Max Walla batted .252/.335/.364 in 143 at-bats last year and has yet to graduate from Rookie ball.
• The Brewers outrighted righthander Roque Mercedes to Triple-A Nashville when they signed veteran Mark Kotsay to a big league deal.
• The Brewers rewarded 33-year-old minor league first baseman Erick Almonte with a late invite to big league spring training. He batted .320/.377/.415 in 325 at-bats for Nashville last season.