Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin admitted surrendering the 17th pick in the MLB draft to sign Kyle Lohse is a risky proposition. He pointed out that Cole Hamels was a 17th pick and CC Sabathia was an 18th pick (actually, 20th).
Well, sure, you can do that all day long. Roy Halladay was also a 17th pick. Roger Clemens was a 19th pick. Mike Mussina and Torii Hunter were 20th picks. Matt Cain and Mike Trout were 25th picks. And so on.
So, yes, of course there's risk in losing that pick.
Back in January, I did a quick study of first-round picks since 1990. The 17th pick has yielded an average of 6.4 WAR per player. Obviously, the total will increase as Hamels continues to accumulate value or recent picks surface in the majors. The best No. 17 picks have been Halladay, Hamels, Jeromy Burnitz, David Murphy and Brad Lidge. Other No. 17 picks in recent years, however, have included A.J. Pollock, David Cooper, Blake Beavan, Matt Antonelli, C.J. Henry and Scott Elbert.
Actually, 17th picks have done pretty well. The 18th pick has averaged just 0.6 WAR per player and the 19th pick 3.4 WAR per player.
The Brewers lose maybe a 1-in-10 chance of drafting a star. They also get a pitcher who can help them win now. Considering Ryan Braun is at his peak and players like Aramis Ramirez, Norichika Aoki and Rickie Weeks aren't going to get better, it makes sense for the Brewers to go for it now.