Whatever your thoughts are on the state of the current Milwaukee Brewers rebuild, it’s hard to argue that such a process couldn’t take place without a strong farm system.
Playoff runs in 2008 and 2011 cost the Brewers some talented young players like Michael Brantley, Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain in order to obtain the likes of CC Sabathia and Zach Greinke. And while I don’t think you’d find many Brewers fans who wouldn’t make those deals again for the chance to enjoy the thrill of playoff baseball in Milwaukee, it’s also pretty clear that those “buy now, pay later” deals are, in part, what led the Brewers to their current state. (Bad free agent contracts a la the Kyle Lohse deal that cost Milwaukee a first round pick also play a pretty big role.)
Following the Brewers acquisition of Greinke, they entered the 2011 season ranked dead last according to Baseball America’s Organizational Talent Rankings. While the team thrived at the Major League level, they struggled to produce prospects in the minor leagues due to some pretty bare cupboards.
Milwaukee slowly started to rebound, moving up to 25th in 2012 and 22nd in 2013, but tumbled again in 2014, finishing ranked 29th, ahead of only the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim among Baseball America’s rankings.
An exciting draft in 2014 that included highly thought of high schoolers like Kodi Medeiros, Jacob Gatewood and Monte Harrison moved the Brewers to their highest ranking since 2010 (when they finished ranked #14) at #21, boosting the team to the upper edge of the lower third of teams throughout baseball.
The Brewers went into full rebuild mode last summer and in a remarkably short time, were able to re-stock their farm with lots of high upside talent that could push them even higher in the future.
Aramis Ramirez netted Milwaukee a valuable reliever in Yhonathan Barrios, before a blockbuster deal with Houston brought back outfielder Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips and pitchers Josh Hader and Adrian Houser in exchange for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. The Brewers weren’t done with the trade deadline deals either, acquiring pitcher Zach Davies from Baltimore in a trade for Gerardo Parra and flipping Jonathan Broxton to St. Louis for outfielder Malik Collymore.
Milwaukee further added to their depth this past offseason, turning Francisco Rodriguez, Adam Lind, Jason Rogers, Jean Segura and others into a bevy of young prospects including Javier Betancourt, Trey Supak, Keon Broxton, Garrin Cecchini, Daniel Missaki, Carlos Herrera, Freddy Peralta and Isan Diaz as well as established Major League players such as Jonathan Villar and Chase Anderson.
All of those trades coupled with another strong draft class in 2015 have not gone unnoticed. The Brewers vaulted up ten spots in Baseball America’s 2016 rankings, checking in at number nine overall.
The Brewers rebuild is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take some time and not all of the players they have acquired since last July are going to turn out to be as advertised. But it’s plain to see that the depth of talent throughout the Brewers organization has increased dramatically in just a few months and if you stick with this team through their growing pains, odds are that the Brewers and their fans will be greatly rewarded with more playoff baseball at Miller Park as these youngsters join the mix in Milwaukee.