The Milwaukee Brewers had a strong 2011 regular season winning the NL Central. They went 96-66, and those 96 wins were good enough for a new franchise record. During the regular season, they proved to be one of the best teams in the league while playing at home. The offense was terrific as they led the NL in homeruns but this year the pitching really stepped up. The Brewers staff ranked amongst the best in the league in strikeouts. The bullpen also proved to be great and John Axford was one of the best closers in the league. The Brewers hopes of making it to the World Series were trumped as the Cardinals knocked them out in the National League Championship Series.
With 2011 out of the way, we can now look forward to the 2012 season. With the current situation that the Brewers are in, I believe that his upcoming MLB Draft is important for them. I mean, every draft is an important draft for a club but I see the 2012 draft as especially important for the Brewers for a couple reasons.
This offseason, the Brewers lost one of their most prized homegrown players in franchise history, Prince Fielder. Fielder is taking his talents to the motor city as he signed a nice little 9 year, $214MM deal with the Tigers. That is a huge void to fill in the lineup and the Brewers made it clear that they were not able to afford a big time first baseman via free agency. To fill this void, they will have to look to the draft, and while I am not saying they will find a Prince Fielder caliber player in the draft (or come close to it), it will be important for them to try and find a future bat for that lineup.
Over the past couple years, the Brewers system has been one of the worst in the league, mostly due to trades for big league talent but also poor drafting by the organization. Taking a look back at last years Baseball America Handbook, the Brewers system ranked dead last. The system did make some good strides in last year’s draft though as they picked up some great college players. Taylor Jungmann, drafted last year, ranked first overall on Jonathan Mitchell’s 2012 Brewers top prospects. Another 2011 draftee, Jed Bradley, ranked fourth on the list. Both are great college arms that were drafted in the first round and they’ll really help the system. Despite a solid draft last year, there is still more work that has to be done in this year’s draft.
What is really going to help the Brewers try and accomplish the things listed above are their early draft picks this year’s draft. They have two picks in the first round, one of them from the Tigers from the Prince Fielder signing. They have back to back picks at pick 27 and 28, something that you do not see happen too often. In the supplemental round, they also have pick 38 from the Fielder signing. While they do not have any early first round picks, they could really pick up some nice players with these picks. Baseball Americajust released their Top 100 draft prospects for 2012. This is a very very early preview and there are so many factors that could change this order by the time draft day comes around. You can still get a rough look at some of the possible players that the Brewers could target with those picks. I think with those picks they should look at guys that could move through the system fairly quickly.
The farm system that recently sported Ryan Braun AND Prince Fielder now looks to bounce back after a rough last couple years and this is a big draft for them to do so. I’m sure that the scouting department will be putting lots of work in this season and look to take advantage of their early picks.
On a side not: only a couple more weeks until pitchers and catcher report. Baseball season is very close.