Enjoy this run while it lasts Milwaukee. Excitement is understandably high for Brewers fans with their team about to begin the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They also haven’t lost a game in weeks and have an offense clicking on all cylinders right now. Even if this series doesn’t go according to plan, they still have most of this core around for the next couple of seasons, including NL MVP frontrunner, Christian Yelich. So why did you say “enjoy it while it lasts” Eric? What are you hinting at here? That the Milwaukee Brewers prospects in the system right now aren’t an overly inspiring bunch? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
Overall, this Milwaukee farm system has one rock-solid, cant-miss prospect, followed by a slew of question marks. There are some toolsy outfield prospects, but most of them are of the high-risk variety. And don’t even get me started on the pitching. You’re going to have to do some scrolling before you find my top Brewers farm arm.
Overall System Grade: D+
Other Team Prospect Reports
Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A: San Antonio – Pacific Coast League
Double-A: Biloxi – Southern League
Single-A (Advanced): Carolina – Carolina League
Single-A (Full): Wisconsin – Midwest League
Short-season Single-A: None
Rookie: Colorado Springs – Pioneer League, teams in Dominican Summer League and Arizona League.
Milwaukee Brewers Prospects Report 2018/2019
New Top-25 Milwaukee Brewers Prospects
1. Keston Hiura, 2B, Bats: R, DOB: 8/2/96, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (A+/AA): .293/.357/.464/.821, 34 2B, 13 HR, 15 SB, 6.7 BB%, 19.3 K%, 485 AB
The narrative on Hiura has always been a plus hit tool with average power and speed. Not anymore. He hasn’t magically turned into a 30/30 threat, but he’s also not the second coming of D.J. LeMahieu either. Hiura finished the season on a near 20/20 pace, though, he was only successful on 57.7% of his attempts. That 2o-steal pace is currently a best case scenario for his speed, but there’s more power potential in Hiura’s bat. Hiura makes consistent hard contact and can drive the ball to all fields with some decent loft to his swing. Ultimately, Hiura should develop 25-30 homer pop. It shouldn’t be long until we see this advanced bat in the Milwaukee, possibly as soon as late-2019.
Keston Hiura second round of pre-Futures Game BP. pic.twitter.com/XjTcAiazGx
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) July 15, 2018
2. Corey Ray, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 9/22/94, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA): .239/.323/.477/.800, 32 2B, 27 HR, 37 SB, 10.0 BB%, 29.3 K%, 532 AB
If you just look at the HR/SB totals, you might find yourself drooling a little bit. Both the 27 homers and 37 steals were easily career highs for Ray and he even upped his stolen base percentage from 70.6% to 84.1%. This level of power and speed might not have been expected this soon, but it’s always been lurking dating back to Ray’s days at Louisville. Unfortunately, the hit tool has lagged behind his plus raw power and speed in a big, big way. Ray chases too many pitches out of the strike zone and just flat out doesn’t make enough contact. If he wants to hit above the .230-.240 range, he’ll likely need to shorten up his swing and sacrifice a little power. Expect him to start 2019 in Triple-A.
3. Brice Turang, SS, Bats: L, DOB: 11/21/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (RK): .283/.396/.352/.758, 6 2B, 1 HR, 14 SB, 16.1 BB%, 17.7 K%, 159 AB
This ranking speaks to both Turang’s abilities and the futility that is the Milwaukee Brewers farm system. All it took was 159 at-bats for Turang to put his two most prominent tools on display. Those, of course, being his hit tool and speed. Turang has a clean left-handed swing with good bat speed and a direct swing path through the strike zone. He covers the plate well and can draw a walk when needed. The power is minimal, but as he matures and adds strength, 10-15 home runs annually shouldn’t be ruled out. Defensively, he’s solid. His footwork, range, and throwing arm are all above-average which should keep him at shortstop long term.
4. Joe Gray, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 3/12/00, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (RK): .182/.347/.325/.672, 5 2B, 2 HR, 6 SB, 18.4 BB%, 25.5 K%, 77 AB
Maybe this is a tad high for an 18-year-old with less than 100 professional plate appearances under his belt, but I’m a believer. Gray falls under the “toolsy but raw” category. Offensively, the upside is massive. Gray’s plus-plus bat speed and strength generate plenty of raw power already, and he’s still maturing physically. If he can add a little more strength to that slender frame of his, middle of the order power will follow. Maybe not 40-plus homers, but 25-plus should be attainable.
2018 Joe Gray taking BP at PG National tonight pic.twitter.com/l8ORzhfR4Y
— Perfect Game USA (@PerfectGameUSA) June 18, 2017
Currently an above-average runner, Gray will likely lose a little speed as he fills out but double-digit steals should still be expected with some 20-plus steal seasons likely. Lastly, Gray has a cannon of an arm and solid range in centerfield. He should remain there for the near future and has plenty of arm strength for any outfield position. It might take a while, but Gray has oodles of upside.
5. Mauricio Dubon, 2B/SS, Bats: R, DOB: 7/19/94, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AAA): .343/.348/.574/.922, 9 2B, 4 HR, 6 SB, 1.8 BB%, 16.7 K%, 108 AB
I’ll admit I’m higher on Dubon than most. Back in his Red Sox days, I got to see him with Double-A Portland and was impressed with his bat to ball skills and quickness on the bases. He’s by no means a burner, but has the speed and smarts to steal 20-plus bases on a regular basis. At the plate, Dubon is very much contact over power with a line drive oriented spray approach. Where he slots in a batting order is up in the air. While his hit tool is solid, he doesn’t draw as many walks as he used to. After missing 3/4 of the 2018 season recovering from a torn ACL, expect Dubon to return to Triple-A to start next season. The Dubon/Arcia Milwaukee shortstop of the future debate is about to begin.
6. Lucas Erceg, 3B, Bats: L, DOB: 5/1/95, ETA 2019/2020
2018 Stats (AA): .248/.306/.382/.688, 21 2B, 13 HR, 3 SB, 7.3 BB%, 16.1 K%, 463 AB
I usually don’t start out with defense, but man, can Erceg sling it. “Erceg” must be some foreign word for frozen rope or something. As a fielder, his range and footwork at the hot corner are okay, but nothing special. Luckily for him, he can make up for mistakes with a cannon for an arm. Offensively, there’s some upside that hasn’t quite translated into statistical production yet. Erceg has above-average raw power, but has the tendency to get too pull happy. In 2018, Erceg pulled 41.2% of the balls he put in play and 42.9% for his minor league career. Overall, there’s .260/25 upside here.
7. Tristen Lutz, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 8/22/98, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A): .245/.321/.421/.742, 33 2B, 13 HR, 9 SB, 9.1 BB%, 27.6 K%, 444 AB
The Brewers 2017 #34 overall pick, Lutz is the epitome of a solid, yet unspectacular prospect. The bat speed and raw power are there, but Lutz can get too pull-happy (48.4% for career) and struggle with pitches on the outer half, leading to higher strikeout totals. Learning to keep his head on the ball and take pitches the other way would do wonders for his batting average moving forward. Lutz has some solid speed, both on the bases and in center field, with an above-average throwing arm. Overall, Lutz should wind up as a solid starting outfielder.
8. Je’Von Ward, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 10/25/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (RK): .307/.391/.403/.794, 13 2B, 2 HR, 13 SB, 11.8 BB%, 21.0 K%, 238 AB
No, I haven’t been drinking. A prospect like Je’Von Ward excites me. He’s very raw as a prospect, but has plenty of tools and projectability. At 6’5, Ward has room to fill out that skinny frame and add even more strength to his already average raw power. While not as prominent as his power, Ward’s hit tool has some upside. Ward has a tendency to get out in front at times which causes issues making consistent contact on offspeed pitches. He’s at his best when he keeps his weight back and uses his frame and bat speed to drive the ball. With all that being said, speed is his best tool. Even at his size, Ward projects as a solid base stealing threat and has solid range in centerfield.
9. Trent Grisham, OF, Bats: L, DOB, 10/1/96
2018 Stats (AA): .233/.356/.337/.693, 10 2B, 7 HR, 11 SB, 15.6 BB%, 21.5 K%, 335 AB
No matter what his last name is, the last couple seasons haven’t seen much development from Trent Grisham. His pitch recognition has improved, but unfortunately, that’s about it. A hamstring injury zapped a lot of his speed this season and he’s yet to make the adjustments needed at the plate to tap into his offensive potential. Both his hit tool and power have further upside, but only if he becomes more aggressive and adds loft to his flat swing. For right now, he’s a wait and see kind of prospect.
10. Micah Bello, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 7/21/00
2018 Stats (RK): .240/.324/.325/.649, 4 2B, 1 HR, 10 SB, 10.3 BB%, 23.6 K%, 154 AB
When the Brewers drafted Bello in the Competitive Balance B round, they potentially found the man that will lead off in front of Keston Hiura down the road. Bello possesses plus speed and solid contact skills with a quick line-drive-oriented swing. He can work a walk when needed and should be able to post OBP marks of .350 or higher routinely.
11. David Fry, C/1B/3B, Bats: R, DOB: 11/20/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (RK/A): .312/.400/.550/.950, 15 2B, 12 HR, 2 SB, 10.7 BB%, 16.7 K%, 231 AB
A 7th round selection back in June, Fry is an advanced collegiate bat that should move quickly through the Milwaukee system. Drafted as a catcher, Fry has also spent time at both corner infield spots, but his long-term defensive home is still up in the air. Offensively, he’s displayed an above-average hit tool with 20-HR pop. After a late-season promotion to Single-A, expect Fry to remain at that level to start next season.
12. Zack Brown, RHP, DOB: 12/15/94, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA): 127.2 IP, 2.40 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 8.4 K/9, .210 BAA
I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand. Whoops, wrong Zack Brown. I mentioned in the intro that I wasn’t overly crazy about the pitchers in this system and the fact that I have their top pitching prospect ranked 11th overall speaks to that. That’s no disservice to Brown, who has mid-rotation upside thanks to three average or better offerings and solid control. He should start 2019 at Triple-A with a late-season Major League debut likely.
13. Jake Gatewood, 1B, Bats: R, DOB: 9/25/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (AA): .244/.302/.466/.768, 19 2B, 19 HR, 2 SB, 7.2 BB%, 29.4 K%, 352 AB
You’ve probably heard of the three-outcome hitter (HR/BB/K). Well, Gatewood is more of a two-outcome hitter. He’s displayed an improving power stroke over the last couple seasons and slugged 19 home runs and 19 doubles in 94 games this season, but his contact skills and plate discipline need major work. After a couple positional changes, Gatewood has settled in at first base and has displayed adequate defense.
14. Troy Stokes Jr., OF, Bats: R, DOB: 2/2/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (AA): .233/.343/.430/.773, 23, 2B, 19 HR, 19 SB, 11.8 BB%, 26.7 K%, 467 AB
A 2018 minor league gold glover winner, Stokes has quietly become a prospect worth monitoring. He finished 2018 just a hair shy of the 20/20 club and has displayed above-average raw power and speed throughout his minor league career. On the bases, he shows good reads and smarts, which led to a 90.5% succes rate stealing bases this season. His contact skills are below average and he has the tendency to get way too pull-happy with 54% of his batted balls this season going to his pull side. This leaves him vulnerable to pitches on the outer half, especially off-speed.
15. Chad McClanahan, 1B/3B/OF, Bats: L, DOB: 12/22/97, ETA, 2021 – McClanahan looks the part of a corner infield slugger at 6’5, but doesn’t much loft on his swing. Some added loft and additional strength on his slight frame could translate into 25-plus homer pop to go along with a decent batting average. Where he lands defensively is still in question, but it’s starting to look like that will be at first base where he would be an adequate offensive producer.
16. Jacob Nottingham, C, Bats: R, DOB: 4/3/95, ETA 2019 – The prospect gleam for Nottingham is slipping. He has above-average raw power but struggles with contact and consistency. Solid behind the plate defensively and can play first base as well.
17. Trey Supak, RHP, DOB: 5/31/96, ETA, 2019/2020 – A big right-hander with a low-90’s fastball and two above-average secondary pitches. Mixes pitches well and pounds the strike zone. Has the upside of an SP4.
18. Carlos Rodriguez, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 12/7/00, ETA 2022 – I would love to put Rodriguez higher due to his upside, but he’s still just 17 with a lot of work to be done. Offensively, he has a clean swing with good bat speed, but lacks any type of power at the moment. Has the range and speed to remain in center even if his throwing arm isn’t anything special.
19. Marcos Diplan, RHP, DOB: 9/18/96, ETA 2020 – Control woes and lack of a consistent changeup have hindered his development and have me questioning whether his future is in the pen. His fastball/slider mix could make him a decent set-up man.
20. Larry Ernesto, OF, Bats: S, DOB: 9/12/00, ETA 2023 – Another high upside international signing. Ernesto makes hard contact with solid bat speed and drives the ball into the gaps with regularity. There’s plenty of room to add strength to his frame which should lead to added power upside in the future.
21. Aaron Ashby, LHP, DOB: 5/24/98, ETA 2021 – The Brewers 4th round pick this year might have the highest upside of any arm in their system. Ashby’s arsenal consists of a low-90’s fastball with life, a serviceable changeup, and a plus curve with good tilt. Consistency is the question here, both with his delivery and control. If he can simplify things and improve his command, Ashby could end up as a solid #3 starter.
22. Tyrone Taylor, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 1/22/94, ETA 2019 – A 2nd round pick back in 2012, Taylor initially struggled against advanced competition but has shown some gains over the last two seasons. Could develop into a decent 4th outfielder with some pop and speed.
23. Payton Henry, C, Bats: R, DOB: 6/24/97, ETA 2021 – Your prototypical backup catcher. Solid defensively with some pop but struggles to make consistent contact.
24. J.T. Hintzen, RHP, DOB: 6/1/96, ETA 2020 – Hintzen was drafted in the 10th round this June and should move quickly. Throws a low-90’s fastball with life and a plus curveball that misses plenty of bats. Future is as a middle reliever.
25. Eduarqui Fernandez, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 11/20/2001, ETA 2024 – Sure, why not. He’s not even 17 years old yet, but the upside is worth keeping an eye on. Fernandez makes hard contact, but has some swing and miss tendencies due to an aggressive approach. But he’s 16, that’s normal. If everything goes according to plan with Fernandez’s development, the Brewers could have themselves a starting outfielder with 20/20 potential.
Up – David Fry, Micah Bello, Je’Von Ward.
Down – Jacob Nottingham, Marcos Diplan, Jake Gatewood.
Keep An Eye On – Carlos Rodriguez
This is an overall weak system without much upside past the top-5 or so. However, one that could blossom into a special talent is Rodriguez. As mentioned above in the top-25, Rodriguez has a chance to hit for a solid average with 25-plus steals annually while playing above average defense in the outfield. He’s still miles away from the big leagues, however, and is very raw as a prospect. It will be interesting to see how he fares against advanced competition and if he can add any power.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB writer and prospect analyst here on FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.