On Tuesday, Doug Melvin announced that he planned to step down as the general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers at the end of the season. This news comes just 11 days after the non-waiver trade deadline, which saw the team trade arguably it’s biggest star Carlos Gomez. It was a move signaling a change of pace for a team that previously strove to compete every year.
Earlier this season, the Brewers relieved Ron Roenicke of his managerial duties. He had skippered the club since 2011, which saw him lead the Brewers into the postseason. In his place, the organization installed lifer Craig Counsell with a three-year contract and have since publicly backed him for the 2016 season and beyond.
These moves form what we now see as a series of significant changes — though they tragically began towards the end of the 2014 season. Long-time Brewers scouting director Bruce Seid passed away in September. Ray Montgomery, a former scout with Milwaukee, replaced him and headed what has been viewed as a successful 2015 draft.
With all of these changes, we are undoubtedly entering a new era of Brewers baseball. This movement, at least for now, will be focused on the future of the team. However, with so much happening in the last eleven months, I want to look backward. I specifically thought it insightful to look back at the drafts Bruce Seid oversaw.
The Brewers appointed Seid as scouting director on November 11, 2008 — which means his first draft came in the summer of 2009. His final one was the 2014 draft. That provides a window of six drafts on which to focus. Obviously, the more recent drafts will be harder to evaluate. Most prospects take several years to work their way though the minors, and until they’ve had a chance to do that, it’s difficult to determine if a particular draft was successful.
Notable Names From 2009: RHP Eric Arnett (1st rd), OF Khris Davis (7th rd), SS Scooter Gennett (16th rd), RHP Tyler Cravy (17th rd), RHP Mike Fiers (22nd round)
The top of this draft has proven to be an absolute disaster. Of the thirteen picks the Brewers had in the first ten rounds, only two players remain in the organization and only Khris Davis has had an impact on the major-league roster. However, he is not the only member of this draft to reach the majors. Before being traded to Houston in June, Mike Fiers had been with the big-league club in some capacity since 2012. Scooter Gennett is the starting second baseman. He’s struggling this year, but has shown an ability to hit right-handed pitching in the past. Tyler Cravy has surpassed expectations and pitched in the majors.
The results are mixed. It’s painful to have so many picks in the top-ten rounds but only have one of them pan out. However, walking away from a draft with two starting position players and one starting pitcher with the chance of a second is actually quite good.
Notable Names From 2010: RHP Dylan Covey (1st rd), RHP Jimmy Nelson (2nd rd), RHP Tyler Thornburg (3rd rd), SS Yadiel Rivera (9th rd), 1B Jason Rogers (32nd rd)
Dylan Covey is the only first-round pick during Bruce Seid’s tenure not to sign. During his routine medical exam, it was discovered that he had Type-1 diabetes. Upon learning this, the right-hander understandably chose to stay near family and pitch at the University of San Diego in order to best learn how to manage his condition. Fortunately for Covey, it seems he has been successful in that, as he was later drafted by the Oakland Athletics, where still pitches.
The Brewers hit on their next selection in the draft, right-hander Jimmy Nelson. For most of his minor-league career, Nelson was something of an unheralded prospect. It wasn’t until the winter before the 2014 season that he finally made a Top-100 list, ranking 83rd. By July, he had rocketed to 38th on Baseball America’s mid-season list. This year, he has been the Brewers’ best starting pitcher and looks to be on the verge of taking another step forward.
An elbow injury has derailed Tyler Thornburg’s career. At one time, it seemed possible that he could stick in the rotation; however, the bullpen now seems more likely. Jason Rogers has made appearances with the major-league club, where he currently is. He hit all through the minors, but his likely role is a platoon or bench bat. Yadiel Rivera is an electric defender in the middle of the infield but has never hit much. If he can crack a major-league roster, it will likely be as nothing more than a utility infielder.
Again, these are mixed results. Fans cannot hold the Dylan Covey situation against the Brewers and Bruce Seid. And while Jimmy Nelson has the upside of a No. 2 starter, he appears to be the only starting-caliber player the Brewers drafted in 2010.
Notable Names From 2011: RHP Taylor Jungmann (1st rd), LHP Jed Bradley (1st rd), RHP Jorge Lopez (2nd rd), 1B Nick Ramirez (4th rd), OF Michael Reed (5th rd), RHP David Goforth (7th rd), LHP Mike Strong (10th rd)
Now we’re delving into territory where it’s hard to judge the draft. Taylor Jungmann and David Goforth have made their major-league debuts this year, but the book is very much out on them. The rest of the listed players could make their big-league debuts next year. Little is known about what role they could play or how good they could be.
Taylor Jungmann is a great example of this. Being their first pick in what was thought to be a stacked draft, expectations for him were likely set too high. I think fans expected an ace when he should’ve been viewed as a mid-rotation type. One thing upon which we can agree is that it took longer for him to reach the majors than expected. But he’s there now and looks like the mid-rotation starter it was hoped he would become.
Right-hander Jorge Lopez, on the other hand, was expected to take longer. He is currently enjoying an excellent season in Double-A Biloxi and looks like he might be taking a step forward in his development as a pitcher. He’s another guy that has mid-rotation potential.
If anyone in this group looks as if he could blow away the projections, it’s Michael Reed. He’s unlikely to be a superstar, but he’s gone from a relatively unknown prospect to potential starting right fielder. Squint a little bit and one can see a Nori Aoki-esque outfielder. That’s pretty good for a fifth-round pick
The feelings one has about this draft depend on how one evaluates players. If one looks at pure value, this draft stacks up pretty well. The team might have a pair of mid-rotation-caliber pitchers and a starting right fielder to go along with some bench players and relievers. If one puts it in context of a draft that had guys like Jose Fernandez and Sonny Gray available, then one probably thinks the return is a little light. I think that simplifies things a little too much, however, and relies too heavily on hindsight.
Notable Names From 2012: C Clint Coulter (1st rd), OF Victor Roache (1st rd), OF Mitch Haniger (comp rd), OF Tyrone Taylor (2nd rd), RHP Tyler Wagner (4th rd), RHP Damien Magnifico (5th rd), LHP Anthony Banda (10th rd)
This draft is very interesting. As yet, it’s impossible to accurately judge because none of these players have had a chance to play at the major-league level. Wagner made a spot start, but he is probably another year away from being ready. Also, two of these players have been traded.
Mitch Haniger and Anthony Banda were sent to the Diamondbacks for Gerardo Parra, who was in turn sent to the Orioles this year for Zach Davies. How does one factor that into the evaluation of this draft? I’m not sure. It’s hard to judge Haniger and Banda’s season, as they’re with a different club being coached and developed by different people.
Of the remaining group, Clint Coulter, Tyrone Taylor, and Ty Wagner stand above the rest. Coulter has been moved out from behind the plate to right field, but his bat looks like it can play there. Tyrone Taylor came into this season as the Brewers second-best prospect. Though his bat has stagnated, he’s young and projects to adroitly handle center field. Ty Wagner has done nothing except compile solid numbers in the minors and looks like he could stick in a major-league rotation as a back-end option.
Victor Roache has perhaps re-emerged as a legitimate prospect this year by mashing the ball at High-A and Double-A. Questions still remain about how his bat will play at the major-league level, though, and he’s limited defensively. There is a lot of power in that bat, so if he really has figured something out, it stands to reason that he could be a solid corner outfielder.
A lot of people can’t get over the fact that the Brewers passed on Joey Gallo. But many teams did. There could also be factors behind the scenes about which we’re ignorant. One thing we do know is that Gallo signed for over $2 million which is much more than the Brewers spent on any single player in that draft. The Brewers probably just couldn’t afford Gallo.
The overall draft looks solid. With a fair amount of luck, the Brewers gave themselves the chance for a complete outfield (LF- Roache, CF-Taylor, RF-Coulter). They also got a solid starting-pitching prospect and had assets leftover to acquire Gerardo Parra.
Notable Names From 2013: RHP Devin Williams (2nd rd), SS Tucker Neuhaus (competitive-balance rd), RHP Taylor Williams (4th rd), OF Omar Garcia (7th rd), OF Brandon Diaz (8th rd), LHP Hobbs Johnson (14th rd), 1B David Denson (15th rd)
Bruce Seid was hamstrung with this draft. The Brewers signed Kyle Lohse over the winter, and because of the new free-agent-compensation rules, the Brewers forfeited their first-round pick. While that hurt, most experts seemed to agree that the Brewers did well to grab Devin Williams at 54th-overall. He has arguably the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the Brewers organization. However, he’s pitching for Low-A Wisconsin and likely won’t make his major-league debut until 2018 at the earliest.
Taylor Williams looked like he was going to make some waves this season, but unfortunately suffered an elbow injury. They tried rehab. Ultimately, he underwent or will undergo Tommy John surgery this week. It’s probable that he will miss all of next season, which is a huge blow after missing all of this year.
The leftovers in this group project as role players, at best. Hobbs Johnson could succeed as a back-end starter or swingman. If David Denson can figure out how to hit, he has the kind of power profile you want to see in a starting first baseman. Omar Garcia and Brandon Diaz are both speedy outfielders who have likely ceilings of a fourth outfielder. Tucker Neuhaus is gifted defensively at third base but hasn’t quite figured out how to hit. He is still young, though.
At this point, I’m not comfortable making any kind of judgement on this draft. The players are too far off, and there were extenuating circumstances — namely, the fact that Bruce Seid didn’t get a first-round draft pick.
Notable Names From 2014: LHP Kodi Medeiros (1st rd), SS Jacob Gatewood (competitive-balance rd), OF Monte Harrison (2nd rd), RHP Cy Sneed (3rd rd), OF Troy Stokes (4th rd), RHP David Burkhalter (6th rd), RHP Javier Salas (10th rd), RHP Jordan Yamamoto (12th rd)
This would end up being Bruce Seid’s final draft. Like 2013’s draft, it’s far too early to proclaim it a success or not. The early returns, however, are encouraging.
Most viewed Kodi Medeiros to be a reach. He has a slight build and unorthodox mechanics. This led many to peg him as a future reliever. The Brewers gave him an aggressive assignment this year to Low-A Wisconsin, instead of another season in rookie ball. Unlike his other draftees that were given the same assignment, Medeiros performed well enough to stay. It’s encouraging for several reasons, but it could also speed up his major-league debut by a year which is significant.
Monte Harrison was one of the players, along with Gatewood and Medeiros, to be assigned to Wisconsin. The position players struggled and wound up being demoted to Helena to work on things. That’s what Harrison seemed to be doing (.299/.410/.474) before suffering a broken ankle. He’s expected to make a full recovery in time for spring training next year. Entering the season, he had the highest ceiling of the Brewers’ outfield prospects and little has happened to change that view (outside of the additions of Trent Clark and Brett Phillips).
Cy Sneed is looking like he might be the sleeper in this group. Drafted out of Dallas Baptist, he’s on a more accelerated path through the minors. He started the year in Low-A Wisconsin but received a mid-season promotion to High-A Brevard County. He has pitched well at both levels and appears that he may have the stuff to remain in a major-league rotation.
It’s hard to judge a draft. What is the criteria for success? Is it a success if you get one or two major-league regulars? If so, then the 2009 draft must be considered a success, despite the top of the draft not producing any major-league players.
Do you have to hold it in context of the total level of talent available that year? Because the 2011 might then not be considered a success. It looks like several major-league players will emerge from the draft. But that was a tremendous year for talent and the Brewers probably only got average to slightly above average major-league regulars instead of All-Star-caliber players.
How do you account for players traded? How much credit does Bruce Seid and the scouting department have to share with the player development staff when guys like Khris Davis, Mike Fiers, and Michael Reed surpass expectations? How do you account for injuries and the randomness of the universe? I don’t know the answer to all of these questions.
I do know that Bruce Seid did give the Brewers several major-league regulars over his six-year stint as scouting director. He also gave them some pretty high-ceiling talent in recent drafts. The dividends of those recent drafts won’t be seen for years to come, and I think a lot of people are going to overlook Seid’s contribution because of it.
The Brewers’ farm system is probably going to rank somewhere in the top half in offseason rankings. Not a small portion of that is due to a successful first draft for Ray Montgomery in addition to an active trade deadline. But a large portion of that is also due to the contributions of Bruce Seid.