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Milwaukee Brewers will pick 20th overall in 2020 MLB Draft

They've never picked there before.

2019 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins, and Kansas City Royals all lost over 100 games this season. The crown for worst team in baseball for 2019 went to the Detroit Tigers as they lost 114 games. As a result the top picks in the draft will go to Detroit, Baltimore, Miami, Kansas City, and Toronto (losers of 95).

By virtue of winning more baseball games than they lost and achieving their second playoff berth in a row for the first time since 1981 and 1982, the Milwaukee Brewers will not have a very high draft pick. Milwaukee will be picking at #20 overall. St. Louis will pick at #21 and the Chicago Cubs will pick at #16. Rounding out the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds will have the twelve pick in the first round of the 2020 draft, and the Pittsburgh Pirates will pick at #7.

Milwaukee has never picked at #20 prior to the 2020 season. Not to worry, there are some pretty good players that have been drafted in that spot. Mike Mussina was drafted #20 overall by the Baltimore Orioles in 1990 out of Stanford. Based on his recent Hall of Fame induction, one could surmise that was a good pick. Torii Hunter was drafted with the twentieth pick out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in 1993. He was alright. And our old friend, C.C. Sabathia was drafted #20 by the Cleveland Indians out of high school in 1998.

What might the Brewers be looking for with the 20th pick? Will they stay true to form and look for athletic up-the-middle types like they have in previous drafts under David Stearns and Company (Brice Turang, Keston Hiura, and Corey Ray). Or will they go for a pitcher? Are they looking for the best hitter they can get in the draft, a la Keston Hiura? The likelihood is that Stearns and Company will just have to wait and see how the draft shakes out, and the person highest on their board that is yet to be drafted will get the call from Mr. Stearns.

While Milwaukee currently possesses the #20 pick overall, the draft is going to be subject to change based on trades and qualifying offers made to pending free agents as well as compensation made to teams that were unable to sign players drafted from the previous season’s draft. The first round draft picks of every team are theoretically safe as every teams highest first round pick is protected from forfeiture. However, what happened in terms of free agents that rejected qualifying offers might change the draft. No first round draft picks from the 2019 draft went unsigned, so the draft is likely safe there. To better understand the qualifying offer system and how it might impact the draft, the following very simplistically written rules are here to guide us based on the team losing the free agent with an attached qualifying offer as well as the team acquiring that free agent.

  • A team that exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season will lose its second- and fifth-highest selections in the following year’s Draft as well $1 million from its international bonus pool. If such a team signs multiple qualifying offer free agents, it will forfeit its third- and sixth-highest remaining picks as well.
  • A team that receives revenue sharing, like the Brewers were in 2019, will lose its third-highest selection in the following year’s Draft (#104 pick for Yasmani Grandal for example). If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its fourth-highest remaining pick. If that team loses a free agent, it will be awarded a pick between the first round and Competitive Balance Round A if -- and only if -- the lost player signs for at least $50 million. If the lost player signs for less than $50 million, the team’s compensation pick would come after Competitive Balance Round B, which follows the second round.
  • A team that neither exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season nor receives revenue sharing will lose its second-highest selection in the following year’s Draft as well as $500,000 from its international bonus pool. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its third-highest remaining pick.

The Brewers are generally one of the teams granted a competitive balance pick. That pick will either come in Round A immediately after the first round or Round B immediately after the second round. This is important to remember because this is where Milwaukee could be affected if they were to sign a player attached to a qualifying offer. And as I mentioned their pick could be affected by pick compensation related to qualifying offer compensation as well as compensation related to failing to sign draftees. There are some very interesting names that could be attached qualifying offers that include: Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, Didi Gregorius, Anthony Rendon, and J.D. Martinez. Every one of those players is likely to get a qualifying offer from their current team, and there is a strong possibility that each would reject it.

With that in mind, if any of those players or any other player receives a qualifying offer, he has ten days to accept or reject the qualifying offer. If the player accepts the qualifying offer, he is signed for the following year at a predetermined rate, which is the mean salary of the league’s 125 highest paid players. In 2019 if a player accepted the qualifying offer, he made $17.9 mil for the season. That number is likely to increase for 2020.

If the player rejects the qualifying offer, he hits the free-agent marketplace. The team that signs a player who rejected a qualifying offer will lose one or more draft picks as compensation to that player’s former team. As previously mentioned, the team’s highest first-round pick is exempt from this process, but additional first round picks are eligible as are competitive balance picks. Thus, while Milwaukee would not have to give up the #20 pick in the draft, they would forfeit their competitive balance pick as well as further draft picks on down the draft.

This very much came into play for the 2019 season. Milwaukee traded away their competitive balance pick in Round B of the 2019 draft to acquire Alex Claudio from Texas. When the Brewers signed Yasmani Grandal they had only to forfeit their third highest pick, which in that case was a third round pick at #104 overall. That happened with Milwaukee because:

As free agents attached to qualifying offers sign, they may impact the sequence of the draft. A good example of this would be how the Arizona Diamondbacks, In 2019, the Diamonbacks drafted #16 in the draft. The also received the #26 pick in the draft because they failed to sign Matt McLain from the previous year’s draft. (As an aside, the Brewers actually dropped two spots because of first round draft picks granted because teams did not sign draft pick from previous season’s draft).

The Diamondbacks received picks in a Compensatory Round that granted them the #34 and #35 picks in the draft for the losses of Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollack. Both signed contracts north of $50M in total contract value. As compensation for their loss the Diamondbacks received the Dodgers’ and National’s second highest picks as well as picks #34 and #35.

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While the Brewers are likely to hang on to their #20 draft pick or something close to it, there really is no way to know what direction the Brewers would go in this draft. That said, here are some possible collegiate players that may or may not be around for the Brewers to draft:

Casey Martin fits the type of profile that David Stearns likes. Martin played shortstop for the University of Arkansas and is said to have the best power/speed combination in the college ranks.

Nick Gonzales fits the Stearns’ type as well. He played 2B for the University of New Mexico and hit .432 with an OPS og 1.305. He is not great defensively. This sounds like a profile of someone else that Brewer Nation knows.

Patrick Bailey is a catcher out of North Carolina State. He is a switch hitter who makes consistent hard contact. He is considered, for the time being, to be the best college catcher available. With catching at a premium, could he actually fall to Milwaukee?

Any of those names might have to fall in order to reach the Brewers as each is ranked in the top 13 by Jim Callis as best college 2020 draft prospects. Maybe Milwaukee will go with a high end high schooler like they did last season with a similar draft slot when they chose Brice Turang? Some names that may or may not happen include:

Tyler Soderstrom is a catcher out of California. His father was the #6 overall pick in 1993. He is a left-handed hitter that produces good exit velocities. There is concern if he can stick at catcher, but he is said to be athletic enough to transition to 3B or a corner outfield spot.

Zac Veen is an outfielder out of Florida. He is said to be one of the best all-around hitters on the showcase circuit for the left side of the plate using the whole field. He has speed and power, so he has the feel of a Corey Ray or Trent Grisham.

Carson Montgomery is a right-hander pitcher out of Florida. Montgomery sits in the low to mid 90s and gets a lot of swing and miss with his slider. He already shows a penchant for command.