Let’s take some time to look back on the Brewers draft class of 2014.
You can’t truly judge a team’s draft class until several years down the road. Teams need to develop these players and even the best don’t make the big leagues until a few years later. The Brewers will be the first to tell you that.
While we can’t fully judge the Brewers 2020 Draft class just yet, we are able to judge their 2014 Draft class, having been six years, almost seven, since it happened.
The Brewers 2014 Draft Class
It was a bust.
The Brewers gambled with their 2014 Draft class, and it didn’t pay off. They were playing Blackjack, had 16 in their hand, decided to go for it, and busted.
They had the 12th overall pick in the draft, a solid spot to grab a blue chip prospect, and went with the high school lefty from Hawaii in Kodi Medeiros. Medeiros struggled all throughout the minors and has stalled at Double-A. He was traded in 2018 for Joakim Soria and still hasn’t progressed.
That was the Brewers’ pick at 12. You want to know who was selected 13th overall, one pick later? That would be Trea Turner, star shortstop for the Nationals who has a career .296/.353/.480 slash line and has previously led the league in games played (2018), at-bats(2018), hits(2020), triples(2020), and stolen bases(2018).
Brewers could’ve had him, but they went with the raw high school pitcher instead of the advanced college shortstop.
Let’s move on to the other picks. The Brewers followed up the teenage Medeiros with two more prep players, Jake Gatewood and Monte Harrison.
Gatewood was a corner infielder with big raw power, but an inability to tap into it and make any sort of regular contact. He struck out 33% of the time and has a career .289 OBP in the minors. He’s now a minor league free agent as he’s gone six years in pro ball and hasn’t been added to the 40 man roster.
Monte Harrison had a bit of a slow start in the minors but had a strong 2017 season, hitting .272 with an .832 OPS and 21 homers. That performance showed the Marlins that he was one of the pieces needed in the Christian Yelich trade.
Because of what Stearns turned the Harrison pick into, you could say it was a great pick. But, as a player, Harrison is struggling to avoid striking out in big numbers and had a rough 2020 MLB debut, hitting just .170 while striking out 26 times in 47 at-bats. Blame his regression on the Marlins if you want, but neither team got what they thought they were getting with this pick.
Some other early picks include Cy Sneed, who was traded for Jonathan Villar, and Troy Strokes, who was a top 30 prospect for a while, but was DFAed at the end of 2019 and claimed by the Tigers.
Out of their first five picks, the Brewers got no big league production from any of them excluding who they were traded for. Even looking at how those players performed with their new teams once they were traded, they haven’t done well.
There is one saving grace from this 2014 Brewers Draft class, however. One player prevents this draft from being a total loss.
His name is Brandon Woodruff.
Woodruff was drafted in the 11th round out of Mississippi State, which makes him an absolute steal given his current level of big league production.
You may be wondering how a pitcher as good as Woodruff lasted until the 11th round. Let’s look at his college stats. His freshman year, Woodruff had a 2.65 ERA in 34.1 IP. Then in his sophomore year, he had a 4.34 ERA in only 18.2 IP. His junior year, the year he was drafted, Woodruff had a 6.75 ERA in 37.1 IP with 25 walks and 29 strikeouts. That’s hardly a stellar showcase year.
But the Brewers saw some upside and went with him in the 11th round, and that has certainly paid off. They’ve fixed his walk issue and developed him into a frontline starting pitcher.
Another intriguing member of this 2014 Brewers draft class is Jordan Yamamoto, a 12th round pick who was also in the Yelich trade. Other than that, there was nothing.
Poor drafting is what has hampered this organization for years. It’s the reason the rebuild had to happen in 2015, it’s the reason the Brewers weren’t able to get to the World Series despite the talent that they had on some of these teams in the past 12 years, and it’s the reason the farm system has been in rough shape for so long.
That appears to have been changing over the last few years, as the Brewers appear to have been nailing their early picks, something they certainly didn’t do in 2014. But at the time, some people thought the Brewers nailed it with their early picks in 2014, dreaming on the upside that hasn’t materialized.
That’s why you can’t make final grades on draft classes too early. But we can reach a grade on this group.
2014 Brewers Draft Grade: D+
Woodruff is the only thing that saves this Draft from being a complete failure. They found a really good player in him and one that will be a core part of this organization’s future. That bumps this class up a whole letter grade, and since this class also made up one-half of the Yelich trade and helped acquire some other key players, I’ll bump it up to a D+.
You don’t want to make a habit of judging draft classes by the players they’re traded to acquire, but Harrison and Yamamoto have at least made the big leagues and even though their success at that level is still up in the air going forward, they did make it.
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The Brewers have struggled with drafting from about 2007 onward through about 2015. Things have been looking up lately, but only time will tell.