The Brewers own the No. 18 pick in July’s MLB draft. It is one of their earliest picks in recent years, as they have only held one top-15 selection in the five previous drafts.
The Brewers don’t have a great track record of drafting in the first round. It has improved in recent years, at least on paper. They figure to add an impact player in this year’s draft, as it is one of the deepest and most talented drafts in years.
The Brewers have gone heavy on college players in the first round. They prefer up-the-middle college performers with high floors. They have selected a college player in the first round every year since 2019, with Brice Turang being their last prep pick in 2018.
Below is a look at the Brewers’ first-round picks in the last 10 years.
No first-round pick after signing free-agent pitcher Kyle Lohse
No. 12 overall: Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waiakea HS (Hawaii)
Most scouts believed the Medeiros would be a reliever as a pro due to his unorthodox arm angle. He struggled in his five seasons with the Brewers before they traded him to the Chicago White Sox in 2018. Medeiros was in the White Sox and Los Angeles Angels minor league systems.
Medeiros is 27 years old. He never made it to the majors and announced his retirement in March after eight years in the minor leagues.
No. 15 overall: Trent Clark, OF, Richland HS (Texas)
No. 40 overall: Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia
Clark, who now goes by Trent Grisham, made his major-league debut with the Brewers in 2019. But he was traded the following offseason to the Padres. He has had mediocre success at the plate, hitting for some power but a low batting average. Defensively, he has won two Gold Gloves in the outfield.
Kirby underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and didn’t resume pitching until 2018. He then missed the 2019 season after undergoing thoracic outlet surgery and fracturing a rib. The Brewers traded Kirby to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021. He didn’t make it to the majors, and the Pirates released him after last season.
No. 5 overall: Corey Ray, OF, Louisville
Ray was one of the top college position players in the 2016 draft, and scouts expected him to breeze through the minor leagues. That wasn’t the case for Ray. He struggled to display the feel for hitting scouts praised him for throughout his three years at the University of Louisville.
In pro ball, Ray struggled with injuries and posted high strikeout numbers.
Ray made his major-league debut on April 24, 2021, appearing in only one game for the Brewers. That was his only time in the major leagues, and he retired after the 2022 season. He’s now a bench coach in the Cubs’ minor league system.
No. 9 overall: Keston Hiura, 2B, UC-Irvine
Hiura was the first position player from the 2017 draft class to reach the majors when the Brewers called him up in 2019. Hiura hit .303 with 23 doubles, two triples, 19 home runs and 49 RBIs in 84 games in 2019. But he hasn’t come close to replicating that success.
Hiura has bounced between the minor leagues and major leagues in recent seasons. He has only played in Triple-A Nashville this season. In four MLB seasons, Hiura has hit .238 with 50 home runs, 380 strikeouts and 78 walks in 284 games.
No. 21 overall: Brice Turang, SS, Santiago HS (Calif.)
Scouts considered Turang in a small group of players for the first overall pick in the 2018 draft before his senior season of high school baseball began. Although Turang performed well, scouts nitpicked him in the months leading up to the draft. It allowed the Brewers to select one of the best players in the draft with their first-round choice.
Turang spent four years in the minor leagues, not counting 2020 when there wasn’t a season, before making the Brewers’ Opening Day roster this year. He was sent down to Triple-A this year but is now back with the Brewers. He has hit .206 with six doubles, three home runs, 49 strikeouts and 11 walks in 186 plate appearances with the Brewers.
No. 28 overall: Ethan Small, LHP, Mississippi State
Small is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound lefty who isn’t an overpowering pitcher. After the Brewers first drafted Small, he thrived in the lower levels of the system as a starter. His numbers have regressed recently, with his walk rate increasing.
Small made his major league debut in 2022, making two starts and allowing five runs in 6 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old made one relief appearance for the Brewers this season, surrendering five runs in three innings.
No. 20 overall: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
Mitchell arguably had the best set of tools in the 2020 draft but fell to the Brewers at No. 20. He was the team’s starting center fielder to begin this season but suffered a shoulder injury that ended his year in April.
Mitchell hit .259 with three home runs, 24 strikeouts and four walks in 62 plate appearances. The left-handed hitter struggled at times to impact the baseball. While he has the athleticism and plays quality defense, his development offensively will dictate his role and success in the major leagues.
No. 15 overall: Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
No. 33 overall: Tyler Black, 2B, Wright State
Frelick is a left-handed hitter who has a simple load and quick hands. He is a top-of-the-order hitter due to his strong plate disciple and ability to hit for average and power.
Frelick has quickly moved through the Brewers’ minor leagues and is now in Triple-A. It is somewhat surprising the Brewers haven’t promoted their second-best prospect to the majors yet. But regardless, he’s on the verge of making his MLB debut.
Black has performed well in the minor leagues despite some fluke injuries. He is off to a notable start in Double-A Biloxi this season, hitting .275 with 11 home runs and 40 stolen bases in 61 games. He also has displayed quality plate discipline. Defensively, he has bounced around the diamond, playing second, third, left field and center field during his minor league career.
Black is a player who isn’t flashy but can impact the game in many ways. He also provides value with his defensive versatility. He will likely make his MLB debut later this year or in 2024.
No. 27 overall: Eric Brown Jr., SS, Coastal Carolina
Brown is a well-rounded shortstop best known for his defensive skills. He is an above-average defender who covers a lot of ground due to his instincts, smooth actions and solid athleticism. He also has above-average arm strength.
Offensively, Brown has tweaked his swing since his pro career began. He is at advanced Class A Wisconsin, batting .261 with three home runs and 25 stolen bases in 47 games.
Brown is 22 years old and has a bright future. He is probably two years away from suiting up for the Brewers and has the potential to be a starting shortstop in the majors one day.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for eight years. He has interviewed 433 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.