It’s been quite a sight to watch David Stearns rebuild the Brewers over the past few seasons. With strong trading and decent drafting, Milwaukee has built one of the top farm systems over his tenure. Many of these players have already made an impact on the major league level, while others have been used to acquire… well, Christian Yelich. Even after shipping Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, and Isan Diaz out of town, the Brewers still have a nice collection of talent. A strong 2017 draft class has brought reinforcements in the shape of Keston Hiura, Tristen Lutz, and Caden Lemons. This makes for a nice mix of talent across all levels, with players like Hiura, Jake Gatewood, Lucas Erceg, and Freddy Peralta all likely a year away. Others on the cusp like Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Brett Phillips, look ready to contribute in 2018. The Brewers have their projects too in the form of Trent Grisham, Corey Ray, Ernesto Martinez, and Chad McClanahan. All lower minors talents with tools and projection to varying degrees. It’s a real life melting pot of talent for your reading pleasure. It’s the Milwaukee Brewers Top Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball.

 

1) Keston Hiura, 2B | Age: 21 | Level: A | 2027 Stats: .371/.422/.611, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 2 SB

The most major league ready bat, and possibly player in the 2017 Draft. Kiura raked in his pro debut, mastering the rookie level AZL from the start before continuing his assault in the full season Midwest League. The only questions with Hiura surround his defensive home. He was relegated to DH duty his junior year at UC Irvine after partially tearing his elbow. He had progressed nicely through his throwing program last I heard and was taking reps at second in instructs. He split time between second and the outfield in college, but could be a major score in fantasy leagues should he stick at second. His offensive game is a nice combination of plus contact, plus approach, and above average raw power. He’s not going to be a basestealing threat but should be a source of .280+ batting average with 20 homer power. An easy choice at the top after Brinson and Harrison were moved for Christian Yelich. ETA: 2019

2) Tristen Lutz, OF Brewers | Age: 19 | Level: RK | 2017: .311/.398/.559, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 3 SB

One of my favorite bats from the 2017 draft and another great pick by the Brewers. Over the last few months following conversations with scouts, as well as Fangraphs Eric Longenhagen my excitement has been confirmed. Not only by the excellent production in his debut, but also from an anecdote Eric shared on his Fantrax Baseball Show appearance. While recently returning colleague Kiley McDaniel was in the Braves front office he was present for Lutz’s pre-draft workout, and raved about his multiple 110+ MPH exit velocity readings, as well as his bat to ball skills and athleticism. Lutz has it all bat speed, quick hands, strong wrists, and plus raw power. He’s an above average runner at the moment that might offer some stolen base upside early in his career. He’s in centerfield for now, but should end up a prototypical corner outfielder with a middle of the order bat. ETA: 2021

3) Corbin Burnes, RHP | Age: 23 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: 8-3, 145.2 IP, 1.67 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 140 Ks, 36 BB

The 4th rounder out of St. Mary’s was absolutely stellar in his first full season of pro-ball. The above numbers speak for themselves don’t they? In case they don’t, here’s the skinny. Burnes modified multiple parts of his mechanics in 2017, first adjusting at high A Carolina, to allow more drive with his lower half. Then while at Biloxi, the righty transitioned from a modified stretch to a traditional windup. Burnes throws tons of strikes, aggressively attacking the zone, and he’s not afraid to throw inside. None of his four pitches standout, but he’s confident in all of them. His plus control, mix of secondaries, and quick arm action all help his stuff play up. His pitch mix consists of an above average fastball that sits 92-95 with cut, two breaking balls (curve + slider), and an upper 80’s split-changeup. Burnes stuff is good enough that his combination of pitchability and moxie make him up for the challenge of Colorado Springs this season. Beyond that it wouldn’t shock me if he ends up a high upside three, with a shot to hit number two starter status should he max out. ETA: 2018

4) Brett Phillips, OF | Age: 23 | Level: MLB| 2017 Stats: .305/.377/.567, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 12 SB

Some prospects you get sick of writing about, in fact you’ll often hear it referred to as Prospect fatigue. I’ll never get sick of writing about Brett Phillips. From the laugh to the stories of games of one on one with WWE Legend Randy Savage, Phillips is likable. “Maverick” is no slouch on the field either, with above average tools in his hit, power, speed, and fielding. He has a well rounded game, to go along with a strong work ethic. Should be in the mix for fourth outfielder duty in Milwaukee this season, though his playing time will not be ideal in the shirt term. Shoudl carve out a niche as a nice 5th outfielder type in fantasy one day. ETA: 2018

5) Brandon Woodruff, RHP | Age: 24 | Level: MLB | 2017 Stats: 6-5, 75 IP, 4.30 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 70 Ks, 25 BB

The stout righthander broke out in 2016, after he led the minor leagues in strikeouts. The big change in Woodruff’s game was he began working at an accelerated pace and it allowed him to find the rhythm he previously lacked. Much like the aforementioned Burnes, Woodruff mixes above average offerings led by a mid-90’s fastball. His secondaries consist of an above average slider and a changeup and all play up due to his plus control. I don’t expect him to replicate his 2016 production even in his peak years, but he should be a nice 3 or 4 starter down the road. ETA: 2018

6) Lucas Erceg, 3B | Age: 22 | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: .259/.310/.421, 15 HR, 83 RBI, 2 SB

It’s been a long and winding road to get to this point for Erceg. Some off the field problems led to his dismissal at Cal, he surfaced at NAIA Menlo College where he built up his Draft stock enough to go to the Brewers in the second round. His game is predicated on plus bat speed and the ability to mash what’s given to him. He was one of the top “breakout” hypes from this time last year, and I got swept up a little. It’s tough not to when you see a player put up a nearly .900 OPS in their pro debut. His approach leaves much to be desired as he walked only 35 times in 531 plate appearances. His splits were pretty ugly this year as well, slashing .253/.289/.374 in same side matchups. In an interview with Baseball Census, he discussed adjusting his approach vs. lefthanders, as well as the amount of southpaws in the Carolina League last year. The rest of Erceg’s game is solid, he’s an above average fielder with a plus arm that should keep him at third, and he’s a good base runner for a corner infielder. Ultimately the skills are there for Erceg one day reaching mixed league viability as a power hitting corner bat, particularly if he can improve his approach and clean up his split issues. ETA: 2019

7) Freddy Peralta, RHP | Age: 21 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: 3-8, 120 IP, 2.63 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 169 Ks, 62 BB

A small righthander with the ability to miss bats in bunches. Truly a player after my own heart. He mixes a deceptive low to mid 90’s four-seamer, with good movement, a slider and an above average changeup. His delivery is a funky crossfire delivery makes it hard for hitters to pickup the ball coming out of his hand. It’s likely the root of some of his walk issues as well, which remain the only stain on an otherwise stellar profile. Seriously, he led all of MiLB in BAA at .177, and struck out 12+ per 9 IP across multiple levels. While everyone is clamoring to own Burnes and Woodruff, it might be Peralta that ends up the most fantasy relevant of the bunch. The knocks are obvious, his lack of size (he’s 5’11 175 lbs), and funky delivery. Personally I’m buying Peralta everywhere I can. He’s deceptive with three pitches he can throw for strikes, and employs a smart and instinctual approach to sequencing. ETA: 2019

8) Corey Ray, OF | Age: 22 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .241/.313/.372, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 24 SB

The best way to describe Corey Ray in 2017 is “Our Pets Heads are Falling Off”. His approach and power were nowhere to be found, he chased junk outside the zone, looked behind against pedestrian fastballs, and wasn’t even as efficient on the bases as his perfect 44 for 44 his Junior year at Louisville suggested. He headed to the Arizona Fall League, struggled there too, and heads into 2018 looking to shake the bust label. I can’t believe Ray is really this bad, and am willing to be at least be guardedly optimistic he rebounds in 2018. That said, there’s mechanical flaws in his swing, and a lack of confidence he needs to overcome. ETA: 2020

9) Trent Grisham, OF | Age: 21 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .223/.360/.348, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 37 SB

The artist formerly known as Trent Clark took his mother’s maiden name after the 2017 season. So far in his professional career the former first rounder has struggled to find consistency. Last year he showed flashes of rebounding from a tough full season debut in 2016. He walked 98 times, and stole 37 bases in 42 attempts. He still struggled to make contact, hit for power, and avoid swings and misses. He tinkered with his batting stance and mechanics looking to find the player that was so heavily touted coming from the Texas prep ranks. He still possesses some exciting tools, but there’s some risk the hitting never comes together. ETA: 2020

10) Luis Ortiz, RHP | Age: 22 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: 4-7, 94 IP, 4.01 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 79 Ks, 37 BB

Ortiz is one of those guys that has a lot of fans, but I’m not so sure I understand why. At least from a fantasy standpoint. First the good: He has two plus pitches in his fastball and slider that he throws from an identical release point. He maintains velocity deep into games and looks like he’s developing a very usable changeup. The bad side is he’s big bodied, poorly conditioned, and frequently hurt. He has a tendency to work in the zone too much and leave some mistakes  over the plate, and most of all for fantasy, he doesn’t miss that many bats. Go ahead and chase Ortiz, but I wouldn’t own him outside an 18 team head to head dynasty. ETA: 2019

11) Josh Pennington, RHP | Age: 22 | Level: A | 2017 Stats: 1-3, 32.1 IP, 2.78 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 31 Ks, 8 BB

Yet another piece that came over from the Red Sox for Tyler “[email protected]&$ing” Thornburg. Pennington has had multiple elbow issues dating back to high school, under going TJ back in 2014. He had bone spurs removed from his elbow in the 2016 offseason and missed a large chunk of the 2017 season. He returned to make 9 starts for Wisconsin the Brewers Midwest League affiliate, posting a 2.97 ERA, with a .211 BAA and 29 Ks over 30 innings. He displayed solid control for a player coming off an elbow procedure, walking 8 batters. If Pennington can stay healthy, his plus upper 90’s fastball, and fringe plus curveball, should allow him time to develop his changeup as a viable third pitch. If he can do that there’s a very good chance Pennington ends up a fantasy relevant third starter. ETA: 2020

12) Jake Gatewood, 1B/3B | Age: 22 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: .264/.333/.441, 15 HR, 62 RBI, 10 SB

A former first round supplemental pick as a shortstop, Gatewood has grown into a 6’6 power hitting first baseman. He’s yet another success story from the wonders of contacts. It led to improved plate discipline, and better use of the whole field. With plus bat speed, raw power, quick hands and strong wrists Gatewood should have the offensive chops for the bat to play at first. ETA: 2019

13) Mauricio Dubon, SS/2B | Age: 23 | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: .274/.330/.382, 8 HR, 57 RBI, 38 SB

Another piece from the Tyler Thornburg gift, Mauricio Dubon is the perfect utility middle infielder with upside. He’s always been able to hit, score runs, and steal bases dating back to his pro debut in 2015 while with the Red Sox. His career minor league batting average across 1760 at bats is .297, to go along with 293 runs, and 111 steals in 150 attempts. He can play both second and short, and is a fun player to watch as he plays the game with tons of energy and passion. Should carve out an early career in the majors as a utility player, but should eventually find an everyday shot. ETA: 2018

14) Ernesto Martinez Jr., OF | Age: 18 | Level: Rookie | 2017 Stats: .232/.383/.368, 3 HR, 17 RBI, 2 SB

A 6’6 Cuban signing with big power projection, and a history of producing as an amateur back in Cuba. He’s got a very raw and long swing, typical of young Cuban players. He uses a big leg kick and hits off his front foot. He’s 6’6 225 lbs, but chiseled like a young Aaron Judge. He flashes plus approach walking at an 18% clip between the DSL and the Arizona League. He does have holes in his swing, and the whiffs caught up with him in the AZL, but he has a long way to go. Really exciting upside to dream on. ETA: 2021

Next Five: K.J. Harrison, C; Phil Bickford, RHP; Caden Lemons, RHP; Chad McClanahan, 1B/3B; Jacob Nottingham, C

Find all of the 30 Minor League Previews, and Offseason Rankings on the Minor League Index
On Twitter as @ProspectJesus

  1. Notorious D.A.N. says:
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    Would you go Lutz or Jhailyn Ortiz?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Notorious D.A.N.: It’s close, but I lean Lutz, he has the advantage everywhere but raw power. I think he could make a big jump in the next 12 months.

      • Jose says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:

        I will take them both one in LF and one in RF. and hope they each hits 30+ Bombs.

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Jose: Same!

  2. Regan says:
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    Doing a slow auction draft and Julio Urias is on the board for 2. I can get him for $3 and stash him on the DL for most of the year. We have 3 spots so not that big of a deal. It’s really for next year, he would cost $7 if i kept him. So do you think it would be worth it? I know hes super young but the upside is off the charts right? Need your expert opinion on this one. Thanks!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Regan: Might be, seems like an okay gamble.

  3. Regan says:
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    I had to pull the trigger..down to 1 min on the auction. I think i made the right call. Could of bought another crappy closer but its a keeper dynasty jackpot league so have to aim high. Spent my last $4 on him. I can keep him for as many years as i want with $4 inflation built in. So next year he would cost 8 then in 2020 he will be 12 and hopefully at ace level and i got a bargain. Plus i can DL him now and open up another roster spot. Giddyup!

    • Regan says:
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      @Regan: This is how the team ended up. Its a 6×6 Batting – OBP, SLG, HR, RBI, SBN, R Pitching – QS, IP, SV, ERA, WHIP, K/9

      C Brian McCann 1
      1 Freedie Freeman 43
      2 Dozer 24
      3 Anthony Rendon 28
      SS Jack Cozart 3
      MI Cesar Hernandez 3
      CI Kyle Seager 8
      OF Byron Buxton 28
      OF Tony Pham 23
      OF Eddie Rosario 8
      OF Aaron Hicks 2
      UT Boom Stick 27
      B Starlin Castro 2
      B Jackie Bradley Jr 1

      SP Justin Verlander 26
      SP Luke Weaver 11
      SP Rich Hill 8
      SP Drew Pom 7
      SP Blake Snell 6
      SP Felix 3
      SP Trevor Williams 1
      SP Julio Urias 4

      RP Mark Melencon 11
      RP Brandon Morrow 9
      RP Blake Parker 4
      RP Juan Minaya 3
      RP Carl Edwards Jr 1
      RP Tyler Lyons 1
      RP Michael Givens 1
      RP Drew Steckenrider 1

      Plan to roll out 2 starters and 7 relievers every day. IP league so i guess we gonna be streamin!

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Regan: Nice! I like the squad. Your OF us either going to win you the ship or sink you like the Titanic’s iceberg.

        • Regan says:
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          @Ralph Lifshitz: ha! tell me about it. Im a little nervous but you gotta believe! I got a couple extra closers to trade if i need to fill a hole.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Regan: I like it, and screw closers who aren’t elite stuff guys in their 20’s in dynasty, that’s what the wire is for.

  4. Lance

    Lance says:
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    Where do you think Burnes lands on your top 100? He was a tough one for me to rank.

    Valuing guys with a bit of a nice floor next to arms with upside we go gaga over is an art that I am not a master of haha

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Lance: He’s the kind of guy that I’ll rank at 65-80 and look back a year from now and say, “I was too low!” Or “Why did I rank that dude?” I think Burnes is the former and not the latter. I have a feeling it might be a different story with Woodruff if he keeps leaving his change high in the zone.

  5. Member Berries says:
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    Ralph!
    Youre killing it with all these post and videos.

    Thoughts on DSmith going in to 2018 and top first base prospects to target

    Any chance Braun moves to 1B?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Member Berries: Thanks Member!

      I don’t think he’s going to get the gig out of camp. So it’s pretty murky in regards to playing time. He was 63rd JB exit velo which is solid. He has a future I’m just not sure how much of it is 2018 value.

      Yordan Alvarez, Nick Pratto, Bobby Bradley, Pavin Smith, Evan White, Peter Alonso, Brendan McKay

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: and of course Ryan McMahon

      • Member Berries says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:

        You still believe in P Smith?

        • Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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          @Member Berries: enough to be 5th in that list.

  6. Swfcdan says:
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    Valar morghulis!

    In middle of a terrible dull prospect draft for me, won’t go into specifics why. Anyway I do have to make one swap to get an U-20 player so who to cut is the main issue:

    Z Collins (not even in BA top 100 howcome?), D Fisher, F Martes. Would rather keep an offensive catcher (esp as OBP league) unless his stock plummeted for some reason.

    As for who to pick, I’ll just use Ralphie’s ranks of course!

  7. Mark Bellhorn says:
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    Hey Ralph,

    Big fan of the site and your prospect rankings! I’ve been in a dynasty league for about 10 years now and have made the playoffs every year but have failed to bring home a championship. Hoping to change that this season. Anyway, with the various prospect lists coming out I knew I was going to start receiving some offers on my prospects but never in a million years would I have thought this offer would come through (have a 6 player minor league system) and we play in a 16 team head to head points league, no contracts or anything crazy like that

    I was offered Clayton Kershaw for Kopech and Honeywell.

    Just wanted to get your thoughts on that offer and see if it’s something I should pull the trigger on…i’m a sucker for prospects

  8. Kevin M says:
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    Hey wanted to get your opinion on my dynasty team 12 teams 20-35 keepers 7×7 avg obp hr runs rbi xbh sb….wins loss whip era saves ks quality starts…..ty

    C Wilson Contreras
    1b Eric Hosmer
    2b Ozzie Albies
    3b Alex Bregman
    SS Trea Turner
    OF Andrew Benintendi
    OF Khris Davis
    OF Kris Bryant
    UTI Rafael Devers
    UTI Kyle Schwaber
    Bench Yoan Moncada
    Bench Ketel Marte
    Bench Ryon Healy
    Bench Joc Pedersen
    Bench Hunter Renfroe
    Bench Colin Moran

    Na Tyler O’Neill
    Na Estevan Florial
    Na Royce Lewis
    Na Harrison Bader
    Na Blake Rutherford

    Sp Madison Bumgarner
    Sp Sean Manaea
    Sp Jameson Taillon
    Sp Alex Reyes
    Sp Gerrit Cole
    Sp Jose Quintana
    Sp Trevor Bauer
    Sp Alex Cobb
    Sp Luiz Gohara
    Sp Dylan Bundy
    Sp German Marquez
    Sp Brandon Finnegan
    Rp Brad Ziegler
    Rp Alex Claudio

    Na Michael Soroka
    Na Michel Baez
    Na AJ Minter
    Na Justus Sheffield
    Na J.B. Bukauskas

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