Over the years, the Milwaukee Brewers have had stretches of success in the first round of the MLB Draft along with stretches of failure.
It’s not surprising to see that the stretches of success in the draft coincided with the big league club’s success on the field a few years later and the stretches of failure in the draft coincided with struggles on the field. Still, over the 50-plus year history of the Milwaukee Brewers, they’ve had some really good first round picks.
Using only first round draft picks the Brewers made and the accomplishments they had with the franchise, let’s assemble a starting lineup and see how good this team could be.
Best Brewers First Round Draft Pick At Starting Pitcher: Ben Sheets
This decision was pretty easy. The Brewers drafted Ben Sheets with the 10th overall pick in the 1999 MLB Draft. He then went on to dominate with Team USA in the 2000 Olympics to help that team win Gold before arriving in the big leagues in 2001.
Ben Sheets put up some excellent seasons even as he battled injuries in his career. He carried those early 2000s Brewers teams as much as he could and was as talented as anyone else in the league.
In 2004, he probably should’ve won the Cy Young, but because the Brewers were a bottom-feeder team in the standings, his case didn’t get much attention. Sheets posted a 2.70 ERA in 34 starts with five complete games. He led baseball in strikeout-to-walk ratio with over eight strikeouts for every one walk. Sheets had a 10.0 K/9 ratio and a walk rate of just 1.2 BB/9. That’s unheard of.
We think of Corbin Burnes as having impeccable command and never walking anybody, but Sheets was on another level. Burnes allowed 34 walks in 167 IP in 2021 and won the Cy Young. Sheets in 2004 had just 32 walks in 237 innings and finished eighth.
Granted, it was a different time and hitters didn’t look to draw walks back then like they do now.
Best Brewers First Round Draft Pick At Catcher: B.J. Surhoff
The Brewers have only drafted two catchers in the first round of the MLB Draft that made the big leagues. Those two are Darrell Porter with the 4th overall pick in 1970 and B.J. Surhoff with the 1st overall pick in 1985.
Both were with the organization for several years before continuing their playing careers elsewhere. Porter saw big success in Kansas City after leaving Milwaukee and then played with the Cardinals in the 1982 World Series. Surhoff got his first and only All-Star nod with Baltimore in 1999.
In the end, I’m giving this nod to Surhoff. Surhoff hit .274/.323/.380 in nine seasons with the Crew while Porter hit .229/.334/.375 in six seasons. Porter had more power, although Surhoff ended up with more home runs in a Milwaukee uniform as he played here longer. Surhoff also had some speed, stealing 102 bases in his time here while Porter had just 19. These are catchers so no one expects much in that category, but the fact Surhoff could provide that makes him stand out.
Surhoff may have never lived up completely to the lofty expectations of being a superstar that come with being a first overall pick, but he had a really nice career and had some good seasons with the Brewers.