5. Gilbert Lara
The Brewers gave young shortstop Gilbert Lara a $3.1MM signing bonus in July 2014, which is still to this day a record for the club. He was the 4th ranked international prospect for that signing period and the Brewers paid a heavy price to get him, and they were very excited about his bat.
He had 60 grade power as a 17 year old and while his defense was seen as a work in progress, his raw power and big size (6 foot 4) was plenty to dream on. He spent the first few seasons in rookie ball, and didn’t really have great numbers, hitting .240 with a .606 OPS and one home run in 2015 and then hitting .250 with a .613 OPS and two home runs in 2016.
It was finally time to send him up to Low-A Wisconsin in 2017 and continue his development. But he was not ready for full season ball, hitting just .193 with a .496 OPS and three home runs for the Timber Rattlers.
What was weird was that Lara’s bat was the reason the Brewers wanted to sign Lara, and his defense was considered subpar, but he actually was playing a good defensive shortstop and his bat was nowhere to be found. It had somehow switched on the Brewers.
In 2018, Lara returned to Low-A Wisconsin and did better, hitting .249 with five home runs and a .634 OPS, but it seemed clear at that point the Brewers would not be getting a good return on their investment at the big league level. In August 2018, the Brewers traded Lara to the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez trade.
The Brewers probably paid Gio Gonzalez less money over the year-plus that he was a Brewer than they paid to get Gilbert Lara. But the Brewers certainly got more out of having Gio Gonzalez in their organization than they did with Lara.
Lara signed when he was 16, and is currently 22 years old, so there’s still a chance that he can turn into a solid big league player for the Nationals. In 2019, Lara hit 13 homers and made it up to High-A. There’s still time for him, but for the Brewers, the best thing they got out of signing him was trading him for Gio Gonzalez.
There are many more examples of Brewers prospects who never lived up to their hype or draft status. Just take a look at the Crew’s first round picks from 2009 through 2016 if you want to sadden yourself. There’s plenty of disappointing prospects to go around, and plenty of hype left unfulfilled.