Johnny come latelys like the Yankees and White Sox may think they’re hip for acquiring prospects. But the Brewers have been doing it since before it was cool. Starting with the trade of Carlos Gomez, the Brewers have brought in a bounty of talented youngsters. In fact 8 of the 17 prospects to be discussed were acquired via trade. Including 4 of their top 5. So good work Doug Melvin and David Sterns, you guys are the prospect hoarding dynasty league owners of MLB. Truthfully, they’ve made a lot of good moves, and have a solid, and deep up and coming core. With good young players like Orlando Arcia, Jonathan Villar, and Keon Broxton already in Milwaukee, the revolution has started. There’s lots of fantasy gold to uncover in the Brewers system, so I went a little longer than usual. I’m sure you won’t mind. It’s the Top Milwaukee Brewers Prospects.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Lewis Brinson, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA
One of the most highly sought after prospects in dynasty leagues for his elite power/speed combo. His hit tool ain’t too shabby either as it was deemed a 60 on the 80 scale by the evaluators over at Baseball America ( his speed and power also received 60’s). Brinson possesses excellent bat speed and athleticism, absolutely killing fastballs. 2016 was an inconsistent season due to a shoulder issue that forced him to the DL in June and watched him struggle, slashing .238/.280/.431. Following the trade to Milwaukee, he was assigned to AAA Colorado Springs of the PCL, and good things happened. He slashed a preposterous .382/.387/.618 with 4 homers and 4 steals in 89 ABs. He only walked twice though, so make what you will of that. But in my unhumble opinion it’s particularly troubling. After posting high walk rates throughout the first 3 ½ years of his career in pro-ball, the walk rates plummeted in 2016 to low single digits. This could limit his ability to make it as a potential leadoff hitter, which is where I see him having his most value as a fantasy player. Much of it comes down to major issues with breaking pitches, that’s another worry. As for his ETA, I see him breaking into the majors after super 2 has passed, and being a must add in all fantasy formats.
Josh Hader, LHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA
Throws like Sale and looks like Randy Johnson. A lefty with a big mid to upper 90’s fastball, a slider with sharp break, and an inconsistent changeup. Lots of deception in his ¾ arm slot, and a funky delivery from the first base side of the rubber keeps the suckas guessing. Anybody talking about the bullpen gets the gas face from your boy Ralph. There’s ace upside in them there hills, that’s prospector speak. I suppose his floor is a mid-rotation guy with some roofies and a lot of K’s. I SUPPOSE he could be a high leverage reliever, but I don’t want to discuss tragedy. It’s 2017 me, we’re all love and light in the 1-7! In that vein, let me say the obvious, Hader will pitch in Milwaukee in 2017. Though I’m not sure if he breaks camp or not. In order for Hader to make Ralph look smart he’ll need to improve his command and control. He’ll also need to do that if he’s going to be successful in general. Though my sterling reputation should be the driving force. I think the bullpen talk is bull, have I mentioned that?
Corey Ray, OF | Age; 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+/A-
The 5th overall pick in the draft, and one of the best all around skill sets in this year’s class. He’s similar to Brinson in the power/speed/hit tool department, but the lefty version. Brevard County is an awful hitter’s park, and scouts were encouraged by the power he showed, even if it’s not in the numbers. Ray has great bat speed, and makes loads of loud contact. Had arthroscopic surgery on his knee after tearing his meniscus in instructs, but should be ready for camp. If you’ve been following any of my first year player draft stuff you’d know this.
Isan Diaz, 2B/SS | Age: 20 | ETA; 2019 | 2016 Level: A –
Diaz was another Northeast kid with a Vandy commit when the Diamondbacks drafted him 70th overall in 2014. He scorned the Commodores for the D-Backs, and begin his career in rookie ball. The first year was a tough opening run through pro-ball, but in the season that followed, he took home the Pioneer league MVP with a sick line of .360/.435/.640. Last year was his first go at full season ball, and initially he struggled mightily, slashing .212/.287/.312 with 3 homers, and 3 steals in the first two months. Then he got his footing in June and hit .292/.393/.556 with 17 HR, 55 RBI, and 8 steals. Struggled in the AFL this offseason, but was young for the league at 20 having never played above A ball. There’s a lot to love about Diaz, beginning with the plus bat speed, excellent walk rates, and contact skills. Which in turn have led Diaz to draw Robinson Cano comps. He’s not without flaws though, as he does swing and miss a bit. But as many have said many times, that’s less of an issue in this day and age.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Luis Ortiz, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
Do you get your jollies from mid-rotation upside starters with high floors? Yeah, me either, but players like Ortiz have their place depending upon format, and I play in plenty of leagues where a player like Ortiz is valuable. So what kind of player is Ortiz, Ralph? Hold your horses I’m getting there. Ortiz mixes a mid-90’s fastball, a low 80’s slider with late break, and a fringe changeup. He’s also the proud owner of a big soft frame, kind of like a taller Bartolo Colon. IMO he needs to improve his conditioning, but he does maintain his velocity late into games. So what do I know? Ortiz has clean repeatable mechanics and throws from ¾ arm slot, this helps him maintain his control and command. Both of those things lend themselves to him consistently working low in the zone and generating a decent amount of grounders (45%).
Brandon Woodruff, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Levels: AA/A+
A major breakout candidate he was not heading into 2016, but he ended the season as one of the more under the radar risers. Woodruff throws a low 90’s fastball with good downhill plane, sink, and movement. He uses that to be what the kids call a groundball machine, generating gophers at a 50% GB rate. A lengthy history of injuries in college dropped him to the Brewers in the 11th round of the 2014 draft. Led the minors in strikeouts in 2016 with 173 punchouts, which is probably the most exciting part of Woodruff’s breakout, the K rate. He went from a middling 5.8 K/9 in 2015 to a 9.9 K/9. That’s what we call growth… He credits much of the new swing and miss to his speeding up his tempo on the mound, which he felt in turn helped him improve and repeat his mechanics. With good groundball rates, and raising K/9 totals, Woodruff looks like one to target in dynasty, though probably not in leagues where 150 or so minors are owned as of yet.
Mauricio Dubon, SS | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
I have no idea what to make of Dubon. The first half of 2016, he was the slap hitting speedster on the talented Salem Sox roster. Upon promotion to AA Portland, he continued to hit, but started to hit for power and run less. He’s continued to show his Portland persona with the Suprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League, connecting for 3 homers in 13 games. All in all Dubon’s tools rate average across the board. He’s a solid defender that should stick in the middle of the infield, and he’s got enough offensive ability to win an everyday job as a major league shortstop. Whether he has the ability to be a fantasy asset outside of 16+ team dynasty leagues remains to be seen. The trade to the Brewers certainly opened up more opportunity, but with Arcia penciled in at short for the next 6-7 years, and 2016 breakout Jonathan Villar sliding to the keystone, I’m not sure where he fits in the short term.
Brett Phillips, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA
Was a stud prospect in the Astros organization and the big chip coming Milwaukee’s way in the Carlos Gomez deal. Had major contact issues in 2016, after being a relatively good contact hitter in the past. Went from top 100 prospect to not mentioned at all, to the point his bodyguard’s Oochie Wally verse was better than yours. I’m not sure where I stand, though I’ve been high on him in the past. He’s always presented a nice hit tool with power and speed upside, with hit tool being the carrying one. Problem is you can’t go from .300 type hitter with 18-20% K rates in A ball to a .230 hitter with a 30% K rates, and still have me buying the hit tool. I’ve heard everything from his place in the lineup to early season injuries as the culprit behind the drop in production, but I think we must wait and see. Not an awful piece to buy low on, the price might be cheap if someone is dying to dump him.
Jorge Lopez, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA
After a ton of hype last year he got tattooed at AAA Colorado Springs, and it messed with his head. Sort of like I do with J-FOH when he’s getting mouthy. He throws a mid-90’s fastball that can be explosive, but his real bread and butter is his curveball with good shape and mid-70’s velocity. Which when he’s right, keeps hitters off balance. Unfortunately, it lost a lot of it’s break this year in Colorado Springs, things stay high in the C.O. He then tinkered with it, screwed up his mechanics, and his pet’s heads started falling off. Things snowballed for many in 2016. He’s said to be breaking out of a slump in winter ball down in Puerto Rico. I wonder what his slump buster looked like?
Phil Bickford, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+/A-
In another life Phil Bickford would be my homie. Not only does he seem super chill, he just can’t put down the water pipes. Phil’s and my drug issues aside, Bickford needs to get his head right. He’s been busted for his second offense for a drug of abuse (what a joke…), and is dangerously close to burning away a once promising career. Acquired in trade for Will Smith at the deadline, it was a little surprising to see him included with Andrew Susac, who probably was enough for Smith. The reports on Bickford as the 2016 season wore on were not good. Though he maintained solid production, his velocity dipped, and many view him as eventually a two-pitch reliever type. I do like his mid-90’s 4 seamer, as well as his 2 seamer with good sink. Also throws a slurvy slider, and change, both of which grade fringe. Now is not the time to buy Bickford, he’s a definite wait and see, let someone else take the risk.
Cody Ponce, RHP | ETA: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+
Big shouts out to reader Clint who tweeted our podcast link at Ponce on Tuesday and got a like. Damn he’s huge (6’6 240), I hope I said nice things about him on the podcast. Welp, here’s my chance if I didn’t. Ponce has real projectable upside, as a rotation horse, and innings eater, with a mid 90’s fastball he can ramp up to 98 when needed. He’s throws a upper 80’s cutter which is nasty on lefthanded batters, and mixes in an average curve, and fringe change. Was the 55th overall pick in the 2015 draft, and has a good shot of breaking out in 2017.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Lucas Erceg, 3B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A-/ RK
A big power bat, transferred out of Cal to Menlo in NiAi, which ultimately hurt his draft stock. Swings a thunderstick and showed it in his pro debut, hitting 9 homers between rookie and lo-A. Rookie’s balls and numbers are meaningless, but he did slash .400/.452/.552. Draws a lot of Chase Utley and Matt Carpenter comps, could be a name that flies under the radar in a lot of first year player drafts. Then again, not if your league is listening to Ralph and Halp, also affectionately known as Halph.
Gilbert Lara, SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: Rk
A young projectable player with good bat speed, and raw power. Lara is a long ways away so he’s one to dream on. Across the board his tools are very raw, but he’s only 19, so that’s okay. Worth an add if you play in leagues where 200 or so minors are owned, and you can stash someone for 4 years.
Marcos Diplan, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Levels: A+/A-
Signed for $1.3 million back in 2013 by the Rangers and later acquired in the Yovani Gallardo deal post-2014. Diplan is my wheelhouse, small righty. The things that I love about Diplan are many, let me count them. 1.Great feel for pitching at a young age. 2.Fastball sits 92-96 with late life. 3. His slider is a plus pitch already. 4. Lots of groundballs. The one draw back is his size and the need for him to develop the change. Which he is working on, so it doesn’t count as a drawback. The development of that change will ultimately determine where he ends up, rotation or pen.
Trent Clark, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level A-
The 15th overall pick in 2015 draft, is a toolsy prep outfielder, and a good athlete, with 5 tool upside. Though none of his 5 tools are plus, they could all project to be above average. After slashing .309/.424/.430 across two levels of rookie ball, he followed it up with an injury-marred 2016, as multiple hamstring injuries limited him to 59 games. Clark isn’t someone I’m dying to own in 16 team dynasties, though he does have some endearing qualities. Particularly not wearing batting gloves, a weird golf grip on his bat, his quick hands, and his compact swing. He also walks a ton which always gets my jollies on.
Jordan Yamamoto, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A
I wrote about Yamamoto a few times last year, including my first Mining The Numbers post, and my final Minor League Update of the year. Here’s my scouting notes from his most recent mention, “he mixes a a mid 90’s fastball, with a plus slider, and an average curveball to generate swings and misses. He also induces groundballs at a near 50% rate.” He’s a smallish righty so there’s some bullpen risk, but the K/9 of 10.18 and the 48% groundball rate make him very interesting as a dynasty prospect. He’s essentially Diplan with less upside. Still looks to be a steal as a 12th rounder in 2014 out of the alma mater of Marcus Mariota, Saint Louis High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. Led the Midwest League in strikeouts, while simultaneously slashing his walk rate. Yamamoto credited adjustments he made under the guidance of pitching coach Gary Lucas, who focused on getting the righty to attack the corners, and really challenge hitters with his elite stuff.
Kodi Medeiros, LHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A+
A reliever type IMO, but the Brewers are trying the starter route to not much success. Owner of a big fastball, that touches mid-90’s with deception and sink. Generates tons of groundballs (53%), but has yet to do him much good. Is mostly projection at the moment, but at 20 he’s still got time to right the ship. Though I don’t have a ton of faith. His delivery is a funky weird sidestep, with a long ¾ motion as he moves toward home. Not a wise investment.
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