The Milwaukee Brewers were not really known for drafting well during the 2010’s, a narrative that was only strengthened by their 2015 draft class.
They say it takes 4-5 years after a draft to be able to truly grade how a team performed that year. It’s now been five years since the 2015 MLB Draft, and it’s time to look back on that class of players the Milwaukee Brewers selected.
It’s not pretty.
At the time of the draft, the class was viewed as a risky one, with huge boom or bust potential. For the most part, it busted.
Let’s take a look at the top picks.
The 2015 Brewers Draft Class
It started off with Trent Clark, now known as Trent Grisham, in the first round. The 15th overall selection, Grisham was a high schooler out of Texas that had a big bat and an unusual grip. Initially, Milwaukee wanted him to change his grip, which resulted in his offensive struggles from 2016-18, which almost made him a failed prospect.
But in 2019, Grisham went back to his old grip and it worked for him, pushing from being an afterthought in Double-A to a key piece on the Brewers roster in the second half. He accumulated 0.6 WAR per Fangraphs in his two months in Milwaukee and was traded this winter to the San Diego Padres along with Zach Davies for Luis Urias and Eric Lauer.
He’s the only member of this draft class to have any big league time in Milwaukee, so far.
As for the rest of the top end of the class, the Crew’s next pick, Nathan Kirby, had a high ceiling but has battled a ton of arm injuries since being drafted. He’s only pitched 83.2 innings since being drafted. He threw 12.2 innings in 2015 right after getting drafted, then blew out his arm, missed all of 2016 and 2017. He bounced back for 71 innings in High-A Carolina in 2018 with a 4.82 ERA and then spent all of 2019 in extended spring training, injured again.
Nash Walters, the Crew’s 3rd round pick, also missed all of 2017 and 2018, and in 2019 he pitched in 13 games for the Rocky Mountain Vibes, posting a 3.40 ERA. He has yet to pitch above Rookie ball, but is still just 22 years of age.
4th round pick Demi Orimoloye was traded to Toronto for Curtis Granderson in 2018. 5th rounder Blake Allemand is a switch hitting utility infielder that made it all the way up to Triple-A last year, but has yet to crack the big leagues. He hit just .225 last season in only 120 at-bats.
There’s a few other names fans might know, depending on how much attention they pay to the minor leagues. Nate Griep was the 8th round pick that year, and was Double-A Biloxi’s franchise career leader in saves. He was selected away from the Brewers in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft this past December. 13th rounder Max McDowell made it up to Double-A in 2019 but is a defense-first catcher that’s mostly backing up in the minors.
Other than that, there’s not much from this draft class. They drafted Jonathan Lucroy‘s brother in the 20th round, but he hasn’t pitched since 2016. Jon Perrin in the 27th round was a solid reliever in the minors, but didn’t make it to Milwaukee.
In the 26th round, the Brewers selected Jonathan India out of high school. He was going to college no matter what, and a few years later was the 5th overall pick in the draft. But he’s not a Brewer.
Overall Draft Class Grade
For years, this looked like a garbage draft class. The top pitchers were always hurt or underperforming, Grisham struggled, and there wasn’t any high-end talent or rising players. Grisham saved this class from a straight ‘F’ in 2019.
Grisham gave them at least one solid big leaguer from this class, and even though he only provided 0.6 WAR, the players he helped bring back in the trade could be key players for years to come in Milwaukee. Cody Ponce bringing back Jordan Lyles, who performed extremely well down the stretch, is the other highlight of this class.
So the two best players from this class helped this team mostly by being traded elsewhere. That’s not really what you want from the top of your class.
There was a lot to like about the first five picks in that draft for Milwaukee, but three of them have since been traded and the other two have been hurt most of the time. This was then-Scouting Director Ray Montgomery‘s first draft with the Brewers, and it certainly wasn’t great.
Poor draft classes are the reason why the Brewers farm system is in such poor shape. This was just one in a string of poor drafts throughout the 2010s.