2023 should be a bounce back year for Bernie and the Brewers, who finished 2022 one game behind the Phillies for a wild card spot and will retain all their elite pitching. Well, all their elite pitching except Josh Hader. The lineup is good, too. Rowdy Telez and Willy Adames combined for 66 home runs, which feels like an emblem of where this organization thrives: making room for talent that falls through cracks in other teams’ roster crunches. 

 

1. OF Jackson Chourio | 19 | AA | 2024

Chourio won’t turn 19 until March 11, giving him an outside shot to make his big league debut at age 19. It’s unlikely but within the range of possible outcomes for a player who has already defied the age-to-level curve in an extreme way, playing AA games at 18 and getting valuable winter league reps in a hyper-competitive environment. The numbers don’t matter a whole lot for a wunderkind like this, but the numbers are good: 20 HR and 16 SB in 99 games across three levels.

 

2. OF Sal Frelick | 22 | AAA | 2023

Hit machine. Walked (8.8%) more than he struck out (7.4%) in 46 games at Triple-A, slashing .365/.435/.508 with four home runs and nine stolen bases. I have no idea why he didn’t get called up. 40-man stuff, maybe. Brewers really crapped the bed down the stretch last year, and I suppose bad decisions can have a compounding effect and lead to more bad decisions. In this case, the Josh Hader trade created a need to see Esteury Ruiz at the major league level, so they brought him up, perhaps taking Frelick’s ticket even though they barely played Ruiz and then sent him back down.

 

3. OF Esteury Ruiz | 24 | MLB | 2022

The Ruizes aligned to send Esteury to Milwaukee in the Josh Hader trade. Seemed like a good move for his fantasy outlook, but it didn’t work out that way in the short term. Nobody had a better minor league season than Ruiz, a 6’0” 169 lb former infielder learning his way around the outfield. He had sort of fallen off the prospect map before slashing .332/.447/.526 with 16 home runs and 85 stolen bases in 114 minor league games across the two top levels. He also posted a 66-to-94 strikeout to walk rate in 541 plate appearances. After being caught just 14 times stealing in the minors, he got pegged twice in three attempts in the majors. Doesn’t mean anything. Just interesting. The Brewers have been a little baffling of late, so I’m hesitant to bet on any of these outfielders to get the playing time we need, but the catch is we’ll want any of them who breaks through.

 

4. OF Garrett Mitchell | 24 | MLB | 2022

I’ve never been real big fish on Garrett Mitchell, but some of that is other sources (Fantrax) pumping him up so high it left little room for profit in our game. The 2020 first-round pick played well last season and earned a promotion to the majors, where he struck out 41.2 percent of the time in his 68 plate appearances. Too small a sample to matter a whole lot, but the eight stolen bases leap off the page and will likely see him rushed up redraft rankings. He’s a 6’3” 215 left-handed hitter with elite defense in center field, so I don’t want to give the impression I don’t think he can play. If the hit tool can hang at the major league level, he’ll be a fantasy monster.

 

5. OF Joey Wiemer | 24 | AAA | 2023

At 6’5” 215 lbs, Joey Wiemer features double-plus power and plus speed, smashing 21 home runs and swiping 31 bases in 127 games across two levels last season. That’s nice and all, but the best thing Wiemer did was cut his strikeout rate from 30.2 percent in 84 games at Double-A to 19.5 percent in 43 games at Double-A. The main issue here, as with the rest of these guys, is where he’ll play and when. Not sure I’ve ever seen a team with this many elite outfield prospects on the cusp of the majors.

 

6. C Jeferson Quero | 20 | A+ | 2024

He’s not a big backstop at 5’10” 165 lbs, so it helps to set aside some preconceived notions about the catching position when considering his prospect stock. Quero is significantly more athletic in his core than the average catcher. He slashed .313/.329/.530 in 20 games as a 19-year-old in High-A, and the athleticism translates behind the plate, where Quero looks like a natural. It’s an underrated aspect of the game: catching a nasty pitch with a steady hand and making it look easy time after time. It doesn’t always matter for our game, but in this case, it accelerates the timeline on a great hitting prospect.

 

7. 2B Tyler Black | 22 | A+ | 2024

T.B. Tyler Black. Gettin down on Fri-day. But also the other days. He’s kind of always hit, and if you see him swing, you get it immediately. Some lefties just look born for the batter’s box. The 33rd overall pick in 2021, Black slashed .281/.406/.424 with four home runs and 13 stolen bases in 64 games, walking 45 times and striking out 44.

 

8. SS Brice Turang | 23 | AAA

Turang took a real step forward in 2022, boosting his isolated slugging percentage from .070 in 2021 to .126 in 2022. He traded quite a bit of his walk rate, which dropped from 18.2 percent to 10.8 percent, but I’m encouraged that he came back to Triple-A attacking after spending 44 games there as a 22-year-old. A left-handed hitter at 6’0” 173 lbs, Turang was an early contender to be top pick of the 2018 draft but landed at 21 overall to the Brewers, where he’s enjoyed a steady climb up the system despite less than stellar outcomes on offense.

 

9. SS Eric Brown Jr. | 22 | A | 2025

Milwaukee got a win at pick 27 in this year’s draft in Eric Brown Jr., who transitioned smoothly to pro ball. He stole 19 bases in 27 games across two levels, chipping in three home runs. This crop of young Brewers has incredible speed throughout the system, and Brown fits the mold but brings above average power in a 5’10” 190 lb frame.

 

10. 2B Felix Valerio | 22 | AA | 2024

Valerio stole 30 bases and hit 12 home runs in 113 games and posted a 10.0%-to-16.7% walk-to-strikeout rate against older competitors. He also slashed .228/.313/.357 and checks in at just 5’7” and 165 pounds. Some people really like him in the dynasty community. Fangraphs gives him a 70 future value hit tool, whatever that’s meant to mean. He slashed .314/.430/.469 in 85 Low-A games in 2021, so it’s not coming from nowhere. I just think it might be couched in a pre rag ball era. Perhaps we’re headed back to the juicy juiced days of 2019 someday, and if so, Valerio might be too low here.

 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

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thehombre
thehombre
27 days ago

No Hedbert? Sigh.

fivepoundbass
fivepoundbass
Reply to  The Itch
25 days ago

You’re not the only one

ChuckieMiller
ChuckieMiller
27 days ago

With the Top 5 being OF, where do you see them all fitting in? Or when? I am vested in Frelick in a dynasty, so love to see him at 2, but would also love to see him get 500 at bats sooner than later.

galica1234
galica1234
27 days ago

The Itch!

Awesome!!!

a. Again improving, your stacks are to the max, my man! This top 5 could be better than quite a few organizations. The only guy I wouldn’t want would be #10 Valerio. I bet you could sell sand and dust to a thirsty tourist in the middle of the Sahara desert!

b. Kind of bummed on Wiemer, had higher hopes for him. We’ll see though, as you say. Whoever busts out the top 5 first will see the most fantasy value in MLB23, right?

c. George Carlin quote of the day for November 9, 2022

‘So why is it they allow a man with big powerful hands get onboard an airplane? I’ll tell you why. They know he’s not a security risk because he’s already answered the three big questions. Question number 1: “Did you pack your bags yourself?” … … No. Carrot Top packed my bags. He and Martha Stewart and Florence Henderson came over to the house last night, fixed me a lovely Lobster Newburg, gave me a full body massage with sacred oils from India, performed a four-way around the world, and then they packed my bags. Next question! “Have your bags been in your possession the whole time?” No. Usually, the night before I travel, just as the moon is rising, I place my suitcases out on the street corner and leave them there unattended for several hours… just for good luck. Next question! “Has any unknown person asked you to take anything on board?” Hmm… well what exactly is an “unknown person”? Surely, everyone is known to someone. In fact, just this morning, Karim and Yusef Ali Bangaba seemed to know each other quite well. They kept joking about which one of my suitcases was the heaviest. And that’s another thing they don’t like at the airport… jokes. You know? Yeah, you can’t joke about a bomb. But why is it just jokes? What about a riddle? How about a limerick? How about a bomb anecdote? You know… no punch line, just a really cute story. Or suppose you intended to remark, not as a joke, but as an ironic musing, are they prepared to make that distinction? Why I think not. And besides, who’s to say what’s funny? Airport security is a stupid idea, it’s a waste of money, and it’s only there for one reason, to make white people feel safe. That’s all. The illusion, the feeling and illusion of safety cause the authorities know they can’t make an airplane completely safe; too many people have access. You notice the drug smugglers don’t seem to have a lot of trouble getting their little packages on board, do they? No and God bless them too!’

YOU ARE ALL DISEASED (1999)

Cheers,
Ante