Brewers Hope to Churn up New Brew of Prospects

The Brewers have historically failed at developing a good farm system. Since myworld has been rating farm systems beginning in 2008 the Brewers have been in the top ten just once, that was in 2017. From 2011 to 2015 they appeared in the bottom five four of the five years. They traded many of the top prospects from that 2017 list (Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz and Isan Diaz) and one player graduated to the Brewers major league roster (Josh Hader), but they made the playoffs. That is all that counts. Last year the Brewers had six players rated in Top 100 lists (Brett Phillips, Luis Ortiz, Corey Ray, Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Keston Hiura). Qualifying for the playoffs make it that much more difficult to draft elite players since you are picking later in the draft. Being a small market team, the Brewers have to compete taking advantage of younger, cheaper players.

The current farm system is short on pitchers but has a few scattered position players ready to make a contribution. The best of the group is Keston Hiura, the number one pick of the Brewers in 2017. His bat has batting titles written all over it. Elbow issues prevented him from showing off any defensive tools until mid-season of 2018. It does appear he will able to handle second base. While his hit tool is exceptional his other tools are average or just above average. If his arm gets better left field could be another possibility.

Brice Turang was the Brewers first round pick last year. As one of the top players on the 18 and under gold medal winning team the Brewers have got to be happy Brice dropped to him with the 21st pick. The tools are there to play short and he showed excellent patience at the plate in his first year with a 31/34 walk to whiff ratio. The only perceived weakness to his game at the present moment is his lack of power. Last year he slugged .352 with one homerun in over 150 at bats.

The Brewers still have hope that Lucas Erceg pans out. He shows a lot of power but that power rarely appears in a game. The Brewers were hoping for 20 dingers a year once he takes over third but he has yet to hit more than 15 in the minor leagues. He also struggles to make hard contact, his batting average dropping each of the last three years. With a full year at AA last year and Travis Shaw showing he can play second 2019 could be the year Lucas makes his major league debut.

The Brewers traded a 40 homerun bat in Kris Davis to acquire Jacob Nottingham from the Athletics. A couple injuries limited his minor league time to 50 games but he did make his major league debut. At 6′3″ he has power in his bat, but that height can make it awkward for him to maneuver behind the plate. He has enough skills to be the Brewers starting catcher in a couple years.

Mauricio Dubon got off to a fast start in AAA (.343 average with .922 OPS) but a torn ACL limited him to just a little over 100 at bats. Some question his ability with the bat, especially his lack of power so the 2019 season will be crucial to show that his fast start to the 2018 season was not a fluke. Dubon is a smooth fielding shortstop who could fill a utility role if he fails to make it as a shortstop.

The farm lacks a first base prospect but they are loaded in the outfield. Corey Ray was supposed to be a superstar after being drafted in the first round in 2016. A poor 2017 knocked the shine out of his status but he came back in 2018 with 27 homeruns. A propensity to strikeout (176 times last year) could keep his average low (.239). He has the speed to steal bases (39) and patrol centerfield and the arm to shift to right if that should prove necessary. The 2019 season should be his major league debut but better contact will improve his chances.

Joe Gray was a second round pick in 2018 who carries a lot of tools. His arm shoots rockets from right field and his bat can carry the ball a long way. The big concern with Gray is making consistent contact. Last year he had a 18/25 walk to whiff ratio in 24 games, showing good patience at the plate, but a .182 average was disappointing. The Brewers still have time to develop him.

Triston Lutz was a 2017 first round supplemental pick. Power will get him to the Brewers. A strong right arm will make right field a perfect fit. His struggles making contact will drop his average down to the .250 range. Last year he struck out 139 times in 119 games dropping his average to .245.

On the pitching front the pickings are a bit slim. Corbin Burnes has a shot to make the starting rotation next year. He barely qualifies as a prospect after pitching 30 games in relief for the Brewers last year. A good fastball/slider combination kept hitters off balance when called up to the major leagues with the opposition hitting him at a .199 clip. When he was starting in the minor leagues he was hit at a .275 clip. He also has a curveball and change so there are the quantity of pitches necessary to start, but his fastball and slider are so good that the bullpen could be his best role when limited to his best two offerings.

That is the extent of the pitchers that myworld can get excited about. Zack Brown put up some good numbers (9-1, 2.44 ERA) but we don’t know that much about him. A 6′1″ righthander that was drafted in the fifth round in 2016 out of college deserves a pause for caution. If he replicates those numbers in 2019 then we’ll get excited.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.