Brewers have found Draft talent from top to bottom
A round-by-round look at the club's most significant picks as 2014 chapter approaches
MILWAUKEE -- The 2014 First-Year Player Draft is right around the corner, and much of the focus will be on the first round, where the Brewers will have the 12th overall pick. That's not entirely off-base, since so much of baseball's top talent takes root early in the long, three-day event, but there is talent to be found in the later rounds, as well.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 5 p.m. CT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 6 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. CT on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's a non-scientific list of the best picks in Brewers franchise history (including the brief tenure of the Seattle Pilots) from rounds 1-15:
Round 1: Robin Yount, 1973
With a statue standing outside Miller Park and a retired number hanging from the rafters, Yount is the greatest player in franchise history and the Brewers' best first-round pick from a list that also includes Paul Molitor in 1977, Gary Sheffield in 1986 and Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun in more recent seasons. Yount played all 20 of his Major League seasons in Milwaukee and is the franchise leader in games, runs, hits, home runs, RBIs and total bases. In 1999, he became the first player inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame wearing a Brewers cap.
Round 2: Yovani Gallardo, 2004
Gallardo, an Opening Day mainstay in recent years, edges Moose Haas (1974) and J.J. Hardy (2001) on the strength of four consecutive fine seasons from 2009-12 in which Gallardo made at least 30 starts, reached 200 strikeouts and posted ERAs below 4.00. He made the All-Star team in 2010 and finished seventh in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2011. A solid case could also be made for Haas, who pitched 10 Brewers seasons and was part of the 1982 American League pennant-winning team, or Hardy, who began in Milwaukee before moving on to Minnesota and Baltimore.
Round 3: Jonathan Lucroy, 2007
The Brewers believe Lucroy's best seasons are still ahead of him, but he's already done enough to top Jamie Navarro (1987) for this spot. Pushed to the Major Leagues in 2010, when other Brewers catchers suffered a spate of injuries, Lucroy learned defensive duties on the job while developing into one of baseball's top offensive catchers. His 18 home runs and 82 RBIs last season were career highs, and Lucroy is near the top of the Major League leaderboard with 21 doubles this season.
Round 4: Mike Birkbeck, 1983
It's a surprisingly quick drop-off in Round 4 -- only eight of Milwaukee's picks have played a day in the Majors, and, amazingly, Mat Gamel (2005) leads the group with 106 games. Birkbeck gets the nod here by virtue of his 46 starts and three relief appearances with the Brewers from 1986-89.
A sentimental honorable mention goes to Brewers pitching coach Rick Kranitz, who was Milwaukee's fourth-round pick in 1979 out of Oklahoma State University. He pitched in the Brewers' Minor League chain through 1983, topping out at Triple-A Vancouver, and has served on the Brewers' coaching staff since November 2010.
Round 5: Charlie Moore, 1971
The Brewers are back on track in Round 5, which produced a two-time Opening Day starter (Bill Wegman, drafted in 1981), an American League Rookie of the Year (Pat Listach, drafted in 1988) and one of the Brewers' best what-ifs in Nomar Garciaparra, who was drafted by the Brewers out of high school in 1991 but went to college instead, and wound up being Boston's first-round pick three years later.
The top prize goes to Moore, a franchise mainstay during the Brewers' formative years. The catcher/outfielder ranks fifth in Brewers history with 1,283 games played over 14 seasons, and batted .385 during the 1982 postseason.
Round 6: Bill Hall, 1998
Bill Travers (1970) made an All-Star team and Randy Ready (1980) had a 13-year Major League career, but Hall probably had the biggest impact on the Brewers. He hit 102 home runs with 367 RBIs over parts of eight seasons with the Brewers, including a 35-homer, 85-RBI campaign in 2006 that earned Hall a contract extension.
Round 7: Mark Loretta, 1993
Loretta, a product of Northwestern University, had the brains to go with his bat. He was an important link between the Brewers clubhouse and the MLB Players Association during his eight seasons in Milwaukee, topping 100 games played five times. The Brewers traded him to Houston in 2002 for Wayne Franklin and Keith Ginter, each of whom played prominent roles in Milwaukee for a short time.
Round 8: Lary Sorensen, 1976
Sorensen is tied with Teddy Higuera for fifth in Brewers history with 50 complete games, including seven shutouts, and made the All-Star team going 18-12 with a 3.21 ERA in 1978. That was the year the Brewers jumped to prominence in the AL East with a 26-win improvement over the previous season. Sorensen was later part of the package of players sent to the Cardinals in a December 1980 trade for Rollie Fingers, Ted Simmons and Pete Vuckovich.
The eighth round is also notable for producing a pair of big league managers (Tom Kelly in 1968, when the Pilots were building their club, and Mike Matheny in 1991) and current Brewers television analyst Bill Schroeder, who was the team's eighth-round pick in 1979.
Round 9: Dennis Sarfate, 2001
A black hole on the Brewers' Draft board. Only two of Milwaukee's ninth-round picks ever played for the Brewers -- and both were limited to eight games of relief work. Sarfate gets the nod over 1997's Matt Childers.
Round 10: Dave LaPoint, 1977
The left-hander made all of five appearances in a Brewers uniform but played a key role in franchise history when he was packaged with Sorensen, David Green and Sixto Lezcano and sent to St. Louis for Fingers, Simmons and Vuckovich. It remains the best trade in Brewers history.
Round 11: Jeff Cirillo, 1991
Cirillo, Corey Hart (2000) and Darryl Hamilton (1986) were all 11th-round picks of the Brewers, with Cirillo and Hart each representing the team as All-Stars. Hart played parts of nine Brewers seasons to Cirillo's eight, and out-homered Cirillo, 154-73, but we'll give the nod to Cirillo based on his slightly superior OPS as a Brewer (.831 to .824) and WAR (26.2 to 15.9, per Baseball-Reference.com's measure). Among players with at least 2,500 Brewers plate appearances, only Braun has a better career batting average than Cirillo's .307.
Round 12: Jim Gantner, 1974
One of the most popular players in franchise history, Fond du Lac-born Gantner played all 17 of his Major League seasons for his home-state team, teaming with Yount and Molitor to form the most recognizable trio of teammates in club history. Only Yount and Molitor played more games for the Brewers than Gantner's 1,801, and only Yount, Molitor and Cecil Cooper had more Brewers hits. Gantner also served as equal parts on-field enforcer and clubhouse clown, endearing himself to teammates. He remains a fixture at Miller Park today.
Round 13: Troy O'Leary, 1987
After appearing briefly in the big leagues for the Brewers in 1993 and '94, the outfielder was plucked off waivers by Boston and had some productive seasons, including a 28-homer, 103-RBI effort for the Red Sox in 1999.
Round 14: John Jaha, 1984
Only two 14th-round picks made it to the Majors for Milwaukee, and Jaha gets the easy nod over reliever Donovan Hand (2007). Jaha played parts of seven seasons in a Brewers uniform and hit 105 home runs before departing via free agency and making the American League All-Star team with the A's in 1999.
Round 15: Jim Slaton, 1969
Picked by the Pilots, Slaton debuted with the Brewers in 1971, and his longevity made him one of the most accomplished pitchers in franchise history. Slaton tops the Brewers' all-time leaderboard in starts, innings, wins and shutouts, not to mention losses, hits, runs, home runs and walks. His 292 2/3 innings in 1976 is the third-highest single season total in club history, and he made the AL All-Star team the next season.
Home-grown left-hander Jerry Augustine (1974), now a part of the Brewers' TV team, was another notable 15th-round pick.