Much has been made about how important the Milwaukee Brewers' fifth-overall pick is in the run up to the 2016 MLB Draft, which takes place in less than two weeks. Ray Montgomery will make the organization's highest first round selection in over a decade and should have the opportunity to pick one of the several dynamic talents that are being projected to go near the top of the draft.
Of course, being a dynamic talent and manifesting those skills into a successful major league career are two very different things. As Nick Zettel explored last week over at BP Milwaukee, an organization is generally lucky to get 10 WAR cumulatively from their draft class, let alone pick and develop even one all-star caliber player. That's why it's important to remember that the draft is just one of the many different instruments available for a team to acquire talent.
The draft is essentially a crap shoot, but a poor draft class can leave an organization starving for depth and replacement players during a competing season. While the 2014-15 Brewers under Doug Melvin were originally designed as possible contenders if things broke right, that obviously didn't work out in part due to a lack of MLB quality replacement players from within the organization when injuries and under performance ravaged the team.
The 2012 Draft class should have been part of the group of players to make up this necessary organizational depth, but unfortunately that was not the case. The late Bruce Seid was at the helm making the selections in those days, and Milwaukee had three first round picks that year (27th, 28th, and 38th) after the departure of Prince Fielder to Detroit. Seid was known for his affinity for power bats, and he used those three selections on prep catcher Clint Coulter, college outfielder Victor Roache, and college outfielder Mitch Haniger. Notable first round selections that the were available when the Brewers made their first pick in 2012 include Jose Berrios of the Twins (32nd), Kevin Plawecki of the Mets (35th), Stephen Piscotty of the Cardinals (36th) Joey Gallo of the Rangers (39th), and Lance McCullers of the Astros (41st).
Only two players chosen by Milwaukee in 2012 have played in the major leagues, but just one of those, RHP Tyler Wagner, made his debut while playing for the Brewers (the other, RHP Buck Farmer, was drafted in the 15th round but did not sign). Wagner made three starts for our local nine in 2015, posting a 7.24 ERA in 13.2 innings with a 5:7 K/BB ratio while accruing -0.3 bWAR. Remember though that not every player's value to an organization comes from their contributions on the field and new GM Slingin' David Stearns leveraged Wagner as a trade piece during the offseason, sending him with Jean Segura to Arizona in return for Aaron Hill, Chase Anderson, and Isan Diaz.
Also worth mentioning is that any value that current MLB rotation member Zach Davies provides to the Brewers is essentially a function of the 2012 draft class. The Brewers traded two '12 selections, Haniger and LHP Anthony Banda (10th round) to Arizona in exchange for Gerardo Parra in the summer of 2014. The next year, Milwaukee traded Parra to Baltimore and received Davies in return.
There's still time for the Brewers to get median value out of their 2012 class, however it just may come later than they probably hoped for at that time. Coulter, Roache, Tyrone Taylor (2nd round) and Damien Magnifico (4th round) are currently ranked in the club's top 30 prospects according to MLB Pipeline. Angel Ortega (6th round), Preston Gainey (11th round), Alan Sharkey (13th round), Brent Suter (31st round), and Taylor Brennan (37th round) aren't ranked as top prospects but are experiencing success at various levels of the farm system and could turn out to be big league contributors at some point, as well.