Today we continue our summer reviews of the pre-season Top 20 Prospects lists with the Milwaukee Brewers.
This is a review of the pre-season list.
It is not a new list.
These are the pre-season grades.
This list was originally published January 2, 2015
1) Orlando Arcia, SS, Grade B/B+: Excellent season at age 21 in Double-A, .300/.339/.445 with 34 doubles, eight homers, 23 steals, 26 walks, 64 strikeouts in 467 at-bats. Superior defender, bat has really improved over the last two years. An elite prospect at this point, Grade A-.
2) Tyrone Taylor, OF, Grade B: Hitting .261/.313/.327 with two homers, 28 walks, 46 strikeouts in 410 at-bats in Double-A at age 21. Scouting reports are still optimistic but bat has been stagnant, developing neither power or OBP ability.
3) Monte Harrison, OF, Grade B: Overmatched in Low-A (.148/.246/.247 in 162 at-bats), sent down to Pioneer League and has been much better (.299/.410/.474 with 14 steals), still retains high upside with premium tools, will try again in full-season ball next year.
4) Clint Coulter, OF, Grade B: Hitting .245/.327/.403 with 13 homers, 43 walks, 87 strikeouts in 469 at-bats. This is actually pretty decent for the pitching-oriented Florida State League, wRC+ of 125. Substantial reduction in strikeouts this year.
5) Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Grade B-: Very successful in the majors: 2.66 in 14 starts, 78/29 K/BB in 85 innings, 71 hits. Legit number three starter.
6) Devin Williams, RHP, Grade B-: 3.20 ERA with 76/34 K/BB in 79 innings in Low-A, 66 hits. A solid full-season debut campaign for 2013 second-rounder, workload has been managed carefully.
7) Taylor Williams, RHP, Grade B-: Tommy John surgery.
8) Tyler Wagner, RHP, Grade B-: Fine season in Double-A, 2.21 ERA with 109/41 K/BB in 138 innings, 117 hits, 2.71 GO/AO. Ground ball workhorse type starter projection.
9) Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Grade B-: 4.48 ERA in 88 innings in Low-A, 88/37 K/BB, 75 hits, 3.02 GO/AO. Like Devin Williams, has been managed carefully in the Midwest League. Strikeout/grounder combination is intriguing, ERA is misleadingly high, FIP is much better at 2.97.
10) Jorge Lopez, RHP, Grade C+: Excellent breakthrough season in Double-A, 12-5, 2.29 ERA with 134/50 K/BB in 138 innings, 101 hits. Big improvement in secondary pitches and general command, age 22, should be ready for a trial in 2016.
11) Wei-Chung Wang, LHP, Grade C+: Adequate season in High-A, 3.65 ERA with 85/39 K/BB in 131 innings, 140 hits, nothing spectacular but credible given the fact that he barely pitched in 2014 due to Rule 5. Still mid-rotation possibility.
12) David Goforth, RHP, Grade C+: 2.68 ERA in 47 innings in Triple-A bullpen, 34/27 K/BB, 1.97 GO/AO. Gave up 11 hits and five runs in nine major league innings but with nine strikeouts. Looking for a middle relief job.
13) Victor Roache, OF, Grade C+: Hitting combined .256/.329/.449 with 17 homers, 43 walks, 149 strikeouts in 425 at-bats between High-A and Double-A, production very similar at both levels. Still a lot of swing/miss here but production up over last year, retains impressive power.
14) Gilbert Lara, 3B, Grade C+: Brewers spent entire international bonus allotment on him last year. Results: .248/.285/.332 with one homer, nine walks, 41 strikeouts in 202 at-bats in rookie ball. Positives: youth at 17, raw power, better-than-expected defense at shortstop. Negatives: weak overall hitting performance, impatient, doesn’t get to the power often. Obviously young enough to improve.
15) Jason Rogers, 3B-OF, Grade C+/C: Excellent in Triple-A (.344/.449/.607), mediocre in part-time major league job (.238/.310/.362). At age 27, he is what he is. Pinch-hitting is tough.
16) Kyle Wren, OF, Grade C+/C: Hitting .280/.339/.323 with one homer, 31 steals, 40 walks, 65 strikeouts in 465 at-bats between Double-A and Triple-A. Speed and defense could make him a nice fifth outfielder.
17) Miguel Diaz, RHP, Grade C/C+: 2.21 ERA with 23/5 K/BB in 20 innings in rookie ball. Sample impressive but small, can hit mid-90s, age 20. Need more data from higher levels.
18) Jacob Gatewood, SS, Grade C/C+: Trouble with contact early in Low-A, sent back to Pioneer League, but now back in Low-A. Hitting combined .254/.316/.408 with 25 doubles, eight homers, 29 walks, 119 strikeouts in 346 at-bats. Enormous raw power at age 19, was expected to need polish and he does, defense has been decent.
19) Tyler Cravy, RHP, Grade C/C+: Decent in Triple-A (3.97, 75/31 in 95), hit hard in major league trial (6.67, 18/13 in 27, 34 hits), just went on DL with shoulder trouble. Basic utility pitcher if healthy.
20) Jed Bradley, LHP, Grade C: Converted to relief with mixed results, decent in Double-A (3.75, 19/6 in 24) but hammered in Triple-A (9.00, 15/10 in 26, 45 hits). Remember when he was so good at Georgia Tech?
The Brewers are in the midst of a difficult major league season: 53-73, 20 games under .500, in fourth place in the National League Central. Changes are coming to the front office this winter. Whoever takes over will find a farm system that entered 2015 in essentially average condition but will move into 2016 looking quite a bit different due to trades and draftees.
Among holdovers, the most pleasant surprise in the majors has been excellent pitching from rookie right-hander Taylor Jungmann. Corey Knebel (acquired after this list was published last January) has been a decent reliever and could take a larger role going forward. Shortstop Orlando Arcia has emerged as an excellent all-around prospect and should be ready for a trial sometime next year. Right-hander Jorge Lopez is another breakthrough player in Double-A who should see Milwaukee sometime in 2016. Tyrone Taylor and Monte Harrison have been disappointing but both retain the tools to keep scouts intrigued.
Lefty Hobbs Johnson could be a useful fifth starter. First baseman David Denson made headlines this summer as the first openly gay player in affiliated baseball. He has legitimate power potential but is still looking for the right approach at the plate. Rookie ball right-hander Marcos Diplan has breakout potential.
The 2016 list will include new outfielders Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana, acquired in the Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers trade with the Houston Astros. Santana is in the majors now and Phillips should be up sometime in ’16; both have the tools to be highly-productive regulars, Santana as a slugger and Phillips as a more complete type with multiple skills. Southpaw Josh Hader came over in the same trade and should also be ready for a trial next year. Right-hander Adrian Houser was also in the deal and has pitched brilliantly since the trade (2.17 ERA, 26/3 K/BB in 29 innings in Double-A). Right-hander Zach Davies, acquired from the Orioles for Gerardo Parra, has little left to learn in the minors and could be a solid fourth starter. This is a good trade haul.
The 2015 draft added outfielder Trent Clark, off to an excellent start in rookie ball (.309/.422/.442 with 20 steals), University of Virginia lefty Nathan Kirby and hard-throwing Cal Poly Pomona right-hander Cody Ponce could move quickly, while power/speed outfielder Demi Orimoloye (.292/.319/.518, six homers, 19 steals in rookie ball) has star potential if he can close up the holes in his approach (three walks, 39 strikeouts)
Overall, whoever ends up making the decisions here inherits a farm system with considerable upside and improving depth.