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!
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