Hopes were once high for Ethan Small. Small, the Crew's first round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of Mississippi State was a highly touted pitcher that had the arsenal and pitchability to be a longtime starter in the big leagues.
Through his first few minor league seasons, Small showed just that, rising quickly through the system, hitting Triple-A during the 2021 campaign. But the past few years have not been kind to Small, who made just four appearances, including two starts, for the Brewers over the last two seasons and has been converted to a reliever.
Following the Corbin Burnes trade on Thursday, the Brewers designated Small for assignment to clear roster space and on Monday the Brewers announced Small had been traded to the San Francisco Giants for cash considerations.
The Brewers have traded 2019 first round pick Ethan Small to the Giants
This marks the official end to a disappointing tenure for the former first rounder. Small was drafted 27th overall in 2019 and there were high hopes that he could move through the system quickly and be a mainstay in the rotation for years to come, even as a likely back end starter. Small was well on his way with a sub-1.00 ERA in his debut season and a sub-2.00 ERA in 2021, which included reaching Triple-A.
But after getting to Triple-A, Small suffered a finger injury that kept him out for several weeks and he really hasn't been the same since. In 2022, his command backed up, he was called on a for a couple of spot starts but struggled to get through the 3rd or 4th innings in either of them and gave up too many walks.
After that tough year, the Brewers converted Small to a reliever, and he pitched pretty well for Nashville in his third season with that club, but walks were again a problem and despite the Brewers needing another left hander in their big league bullpen, they rarely called upon Small, only giving him two appearances. The writing was on the wall that his future was not in Milwaukee.
Small will get a fresh start in San Francisco. He has a minor league option remaining and perhaps there he can recapture the production that made him a first round pick in the first place. All the Brewers get back is some minor cash considerations after a disappointing few years for the southpaw.