The Brewers have struggled to draft and develop young pitchers with any kind of consistency. Rather than look at the drafts of all teams, I set the Brewers against the Royals, one of four expansion teams that entered the MLB in 1969. I was thinking teams like the Cardinals,Yankees and Dodgers already had established minor league pitching systems in place while the Royals and Brewers were starting from scratch. I listed the top 10 pitchers for each team. (ranked by career WAR)
|NAME||#pick||YEAR||WAR||Max WAR||NAME||#pick||YEAR||WAR||Max WAR|
|David Cone||74||1981||57.5||6.7 (1997)||Ben Sheets||10||1999||24.2||6.3 (2004)|
|Brett Saberhagen||480||1982||54.4||8.6 (1989)||Jim Slaton||357||1969||16.5||3.8 (1976)|
|Mark Gubiza||34||1981||34.8||7.3 (1988)||Bill Wegman||124||1981||16.2||4.7 (1992)|
|Tom Gordon||157||1986||34.4||4.0 (2004)||Moose Haas||30||1974||15.6||4.6 (1980)|
|Dennis Leonard||42||1972||24||5.1 (1977)||Dan Plesac||26||1983||15.5||2.7 (86/87)|
|Zach Greinke||6||2002||22.8||9.0 (2009)||Cal Eldred||17||1989||14.4||4.0 (1993)|
|Jon Leiber||44||1992||21.4||3.5 (2001)||Larry Sorenson||172||1976||12.2||4.9 (1978)|
|Paul Splittorff||575||1968||20.8||3.5 (1973)||Steve Sparks||123||1987||8.8||4.2 (2001)|
|Danny Jackson||1||1982||16.4||4.7 (1988)||Scott Karl||164||1992||8.6||2.9 (1996)|
|Scott Bankhead||16||1984||10.1||4.2 (1989)||Yovani Gallardo||46||2004||7.8||2.4 (2009)|
I think the Royals were the most prolific in developing young arms, but clearly an all or nothing franchise. When the Royals were going good, they produced pitchers in bunches, most noteably in 1981-82 when Gubiza, Saberhagen, and Jackson were drafted and eventually led them to a World Series Championship in 1985. And when they were going bad like three consecutive 100 loss seasons (2004-2006), Greinke was one of the few drafted Royals. And nowadays with their #1 ranked farm system, Kansas City is hoping to win once again with home growns.
The Brewers have never had a reputation for excellent pitching. When they’ve won, it’s been about scoring more runs than the opposition. In contrast to the Royals, drafting and developing pitchers has not typically translated into winning seasons for the Brewers. It was true in 1987(Higuera, Wegman, Plesac, Nieves, Bosio, Crim, Aldrich), but certainly not the case in 1982 when other than Moose Haas, the most effective pitchers were Caldwell, Vukovich, McLure, Fingers, and Sutton or in 2008 when other than Sheets, the most effective ones were Bush and Sabbathia. Either way, the big lows like the 100 loss season in 2002 or 13 consecutive losing seasons might have been avoided with a stronger emphasis-investment on developing young arms. Maybe we should be ranking Brewer scouts and low level pitching coaches rather than actual players drafted.
Regardless of the past, Brewers pitching is looking better and better for the future. I’m thinking about the influence Greinke and Marcum will have on the entire pitching staff; on Mark Rogers learning to control his excellent stuff…on Yovani Gallardo pitching a little bit more to contact. …on the baseball community seeing the Brewer’s organization in a new light. So come trade deadline, pitchers will follow Greinke’s lead and reconsider Milwaukee as a favorable destination. And in the near future, like next June when the Brewers have two first round picks, amateur pitchers won't think twice about signing with Milwaukee.