Image credit: (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Unlike the NBA or NFL drafts, MLB teams do not draft for immediate need. There’s good reason for that, as even the most MLB-ready draft prospects usually take two seasons to get fully established in the majors. But as we ready for the 2020 MLB draft, it is useful to look at where teams are deep and where they are thin at the MLB and minor league level.
Also of note:
2019 MLB RECORD: 89-73
STATE OF THE SYSTEM: The Brewers system has been thinned considerably by trades for veterans (Christian Yelich, Mike Moustakas) and prospect graduations (Keston Hiura, Brandon Woodruff), but the reward was back-to-back postseason appearances in 2018-19 for just the second time in franchise history.
BEST DRAFT PICK OF THE DECADE: 2B Keston Hiura (first round, 2017). The Brewers made some astute picks including Woodruff, Mitch Haniger and Jimmy Nelson. but Hiura is primed to be one of baseball’s top hitters of the 2020s. Hiura hit .303 with 19 home runs, 49 RBI and even stole nine bases in just over half a season as a rookie last year, a performance in line with his reputation as an elite offensive performer since college. With Ryan Braun nearing the end of his career, Hiura is set to be the Brewers’ next homegrown face of the franchise.
WORST DRAFT PICK OF THE DECADE: OF Victor Roache (first round, 2012). The Brewers drafted Clint Coulter and Roache with back-to-back picks in the first round in 2012. Both topped out at Triple-A and spent 2019 playing independent ball. Coulter at least showed promise at the lower levels, but Roache struggled to make contact from day one and hit .232 in six seasons.
DEEPEST POSITION(S): Catcher. Even in a thin system, the Brewers have one of the best collections of catchers in the minor leagues. Mario Feliciano won the Carolina League’s MVP award last year, Payton Henry is one of the minors’ best defensive catchers and Nick Kahle (draft) and Jeferson Quero (international) were two well-regarded 2019 additions. Omar Narvaez’s offense and Manny Pina’s defense complement each other well in the majors, and the powerful Jacob Nottingham is still around in Triple-A.
WEAKEST POSITION(S): Righthander. The Brewers have some intriguing lefthanded prospects, but they are light on righthanders throughout the organization. They traded Zach Davies and Chase Anderson in the offseason; Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta regressed badly in the majors last year; top righthanded pitching prospect Drew Rasmussen has had two Tommy John surgeries and No. 2 righthanded pitching prospect Zack Brown went unprotected and unselected in the Rule 5 draft last fall. Beyond Woodruff and, to a degree, swingman Adrian Houser, the Brewers are perilously short on reliable righthanded pitchers.
DRAFT TRENDS: The Brewers selected an up-the-middle position player with their top pick four years in a row until last year. They also have a history of going slightly off the beaten path with their second-round picks. The Brewers have not selected a single Division I college player in the second round since 2010. In that same time, they’ve drafted a Division II player, a juco player, an NAIA player, two high school players from Puerto Rico and another from Hawaii.