Brewers History

Milwaukee Brewers: The first rounder that could have been

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DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 17: Dylan Covey
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 17: Dylan Covey /
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Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jimmy Nelson did a great job keeping the pithing staff afloat this year. Then he got hurt.

That is something that Milwaukee Brewers fans have heard over and over again. Nelson joined the club as a second round selection back in 2010. He worked to become a regular arm in the rotation. To the point where he became heavily relied on during Chase Anderson’s absence.

But what about the guy drafted before Nelson? That former first rounder’s name is Dylan Covey. Who actually made his debut this year with an 0-6 record and 8.18 ERA. Except, his uniform read “White Sox” across the front of it. There is not telling what would happen if the uniform was Brewer Blue.

The trick here is that Covey never actually signed with Milwaukee. Signing him seemed as if it would happen, as with any first round selection. However, the 14th overall selection made the decision to go to the University of San Diego. That is always a possibility with guys taken right out of high school.

So, the question is, what drove Covey to turn down his first round honors to go to college? It was his diabetes. He made the decision to learn to handle his newfound disease before starting his track to the MLB.

A few years later, he rejoined the draft process. This time he would end up signing as a fourth round selection to the Oakland Athletics in 2013. He would work through the minors for three years through the 2016 season. Covey finally reached the MLB level in 2017 after the Chicago White Sox took him in the Rule 5 draft.

It leaves questions of where he could be now, should he have signed. Covey possibly could be alongside his fellow draftee, Nelson. Both playing the Milwaukee Brewers brand of baseball they learned throughout their years in the minors.

Other players from this 2010 class to see time in the majors include third rounder Tyler Thornburg, ninth rounder Yadiel Rivera, and 21st rounder Kevin Shackelford. Another notable selection is 19th rounder Rowan Wick, who did not sign. The Cardinals eventually took him and transitioned him into a pitcher. So, look out for him throwing against the Milwaukee Brewers in coming years.

While it is rare for first rounders not to sign, it does happen. Most recently, in 2014, first overall pick Brady Aiken did not sign with the Houston Astros due to health issues. In 2008, the Yankees missed out on Gerrit Cole as the 28th overall pick.

But 2010 was a weird year. Not only did the Milwaukee Brewers not retain Covey, but two other teams did not sign their top picks either. The Diamondbacks missed their sixth overall pick, Barret Loux during to injury concerns. And the Padres did not sign Karsten Whitson as the ninth overall pick because he did not want the challenge of the minors out of high school.

Next: Minor League players of the year

Especially amidst a playoff race, signing Covey after the draft just adds talent. Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen. First round draft picks are generally thought of as guys who will sign. But nothing everything is perfect in the game of baseball. The level Nelson performed at this season just adds to the mystery of what could have been with Dylan Covey on the Milwaukee Brewers.

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