Thursday, June 6, 2013

Gems from the Second Round

Happy Draft Day, everyone!

Oh c’mon, is everyone still bummed out over ANOTHER premature report concerning Ryan Braun possibly, could be, maybe getting suspended? Well turn those frowns upside down! It’s on this day that the Brewers will hopefully draft their next big superstar.

...Alright, so maybe those odds are a little more slim than usual. As many of us are well aware, the Brewers forfeited their first round pick this year to the St. Louis Cardinals for signing free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse; something I imagine the team now wishes they could take back, considering their current standing.

So why get excited then? Because sometimes when you dig deep enough, you find a diamond in the rough. 

The best teams don’t win from drafting all their talent in the first round, they find solid contributors from all over the draft. And as their first pick isn’t until the 2nd round this year, I decided to take a peak back at all the best selections from that round in franchise history

Yovani Gallardo

Let's start it off with a current player. After being drafted in 2004 out of Trimble Technical High School in Fort Worth, Texas, Gallardo has spent a better part of his career as the Brewers’ #1 pitcher, and has done quite well in that role overall.

To call him a consistent performer, though, would be a bit asinine since he’s far from what you'd call a consistent pitcher, and 2013 has been no exception. However, it’s easy to forget just how good he’s been in the past, as he's currently carrying a career 3.73 ERA (right in line with his cumulative 3.67 FIP) to go with a 9.07 K/9. He's also coming off of his fourth consecutive 200 strikeout campaign, and has been worth a combined 15.2 (f)WAR, which is good for 6th all time in Brewers pitching.

Given where he was drafted and what he’s brought to the table, it’s really hard to complain about his production to date, especially when he’s been one of the few rocks in the rotation for Milwaukee for the past 5 years. With a contract expiring in 2 seasons, however, it's possible his time as a Brewer may soon be coming to an end. If that’s the case, he will surely be leaving quite an imprint from everything he and the team would have accomplished during his tenure.

JJ Hardy

In the midst of Seguramania, we've almost forgotten that the Brewers had themselves an All-Star shortstop just 4 years prior to this one. 

Hardy had recently graduated from Sabino High School in Tucson, Arizona when the Brewers selected him in 2001. Years later, he came up with a star-studded group of prospects that included Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, and despite a poor final season, he performed a lot better than people may give him credit for.

For one, Hardy played his position very well. Spanning over 4500 innings with the Brewers from 2005 to 2009, Hardy rated as the second best defensive shortstop in baseball, just behind Omar Vizquel (who is, by his own merit, certainly no slouch with the glove). He hit 75 home runs, and held a .320 weighted on base average (wOBA), which is by all means pretty good for a shortstop.

The unfortunate part for Hardy was all the while he was experiencing success with the major league club, the team had a whiz defensive shortstop coming up right behind him in Alcides Escobar. This meant that as soon as he got expensive/wasn’t pulling his weight, it was curtains for him. In a light turn for the team, though, the Brewers were also fortunate enough to acquire Carlos Gomez from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Hardy, which has worked out pretty okay, I guess, especially in the past season and a half.

Still, when all is said and done, Hardy will not just be regarded as one of the better 2nd rounders the Brewers selected, but also one of their best shortstops (even if Segura steals our hearts in the next 5+ years).

Moose Haas

An oldie but a goodie. Selected by the Brewers out of  Owings Mill, Maryland's Franklin High School in the 1974 MLB Draft, the right-handed Haas has gone down as one of the best pitchers in Brewers history. Remember that WAR list I mentioned with Gallardo? Haas ranks 4th on that list, just a little ways above Gallardo, with a career 20.9 (f)WAR as a member of the Crew.

Haas wasn’t so much a "world-beater" as a pitcher as much as he was a durable, effective starter. He made 231 starts for the Brewers, only once striking out over 113 batters, but also keeping a cool 2.37 BB/9. He averaged around 180 innings in a normal year, and finished a total of 56 games in his career, including one season in 1980 where he went the distance 14 times.

Though his career numbers wouldn’t necessarily “wow” anyone, Haas was a reliable part of the Brewers rotation, and stood as someone the team could count on year in and year out, especially during some of their more competitive years. For a second round value, that’s more than most teams would dream of even today.
There are certainly other worthy candidates that could have made this this list, and let’s not forget about recent up-and-comer Jimmy Nelson from the 2010 draft, who just yesterday was promoted to AAA Nashville and will likely be seeing time with the club this September. This is just a nice reminder that even without a first round pick, the Brewers could stumble on some gold if the right player falls to their position.

Enjoy the draft, reaction to hopefully come soon after in the days following.

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