Milwaukee Brewers

Original Published Date: Oct. 7, 2012

It’s taken me a while to do the research for the Top 10 Prospects for the Milwaukee Brewers and in particular, decide on the order.  While there is depth in the organization, there isn’t an elite prospect to get excited about, particularly now that Jean Segura has been promoted to big leagues.

The Brewers seem to be in love with very tall pitchers as Hellweg, Jungmann, and Miller could all play small forward for the Milwaukee Bucks.  At the top of the list are right-handed hurlers, Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg.  Both were September call-ups and both pitched well. Peralta has the better stuff but also struggles with his release point and therefore has a tendency to put a lot of base runners on via the walk.  6-foot-9 John Hellweg might have the highest ceiling of the group but given his size, he continues to struggle with his command.

The two top positional players are first baseman Hunter Morris and second baseman Scooter Gennett.  Morris is an intriguing prospect with massive raw power but lacks bat speed while Gennett profiles as a second division starter that at this juncture, has no chance to push Rickie Weeks to the bench.

1. Wily Peralta (RHP)

2013 Age: 23 BP: D.R.
Ht: 6-2 Weight: 240 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2012
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 AAA 146.2 154 76 9 3.41 8.78 4.66 1.58

Wily Peralta is a big boy.  At 6-foot-2 and weighing 240 pounds, he looks like a young Bartolo Colon.  Yes, Peralta is slightly taller, but his listed height feels generous.

Peralta’s stuff is really good, with his four-seamer averaging 96 MPH in his September call-up and his slider causing a lot of swing and miss.  His change is also above average but is still a bit of a “show me” pitch.  However, with three above average pitches, with his fastball being a plus offering, Peralta’s results should be better.

In Triple-A, his pitches were very hittable, with 154 hits in 146.2 innings.  You can point to his high BABIP as an excuse or even the PCL parks, but he had similar results in 2011 in Double-A.  In the games that I’ve seen, he doesn’t finish off his pitches consistently and his sequencing of pitches is poor.  While the mechanical problem is correctable and the sequencing is a matter of experience, I believe Peralta has a chance to be a number two starter in the big leagues.  Not a star, but a serviceable or even above average pitcher.

Fantasy Impact: Over the next couple of years, Peralta could serve as a nice back-end starter for your fantasy team with a lot of strikeouts but with downside risk to your ratios.

2. Tyler Thornburg (RHP)

2013 Age: 24 BP: Texas
Ht: 6-0 Weight: 190 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2012
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 AA-AAA 112.2 95 40 7 2.96 9.05 3.20 1.17

I could have easily put Tyler Thornburg ahead of Wily Peralta for the top spot in the Brewers organization.  His stuff is really good with his fastball sitting 92-93 with a plus change-up and a curveball that has improved a lot in 2012.  In his cup of coffee in September, his PitchFx data had his fastball averaging 93.5 MPH with both his curve and change-up showing a lot of swing and miss.

While the stuff is good and the command is also very good, the problem with Thornburg is the pitching mechanics.  First, there’s his height at 6-foot.  Typically, you want your front-line starters to be taller in order to generate a lot of downward plane in their pitches.  Secondly, is his all-out delivery, including an over pronounced stride, ala Tim Lincecum or Trevor Bauer.  Yes, all of that violence can work, but it’s really hard to keep your balance and kinetic energy focused when you are pitching all-out.  These warning flag might eventually move Thornburg to the bullpen.

Fantasy Impact: Tyler Thornbrug should only be considered a late round flyer for fantasy drafts next year.  However, keep a close eye on how he performs early in the season as Thornburg stuff has the chance to play up.

3. John Hellweg (RHP)

2013 Age: 24 BP: Michigan
Ht: 6-9 Weight: 210 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2013
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 AA 139.2 121 51 8 4.83 6.76 3.28 1.40

John Hellweg stands 6-foot-9 and weighs all of 210 pounds.  While not the perfect physical specimen, Hellweg has an electric arm that can hit triple digits.  He has two fastballs with his four-seamer sitting 95-97, a two-seamer that induces a ton of ground balls (2.56 G/F ratio), and a wicked curveball that is a true swing and miss pitch.  The problem…he can’t throw strikes.

In 139.2 innings, he walked 4.83 batters per nine, which was a significant improvement from what he did in 2011.  The biggest reason he can’t throw strikes is his height.  At 6-foot-9, there’s just a lot to align and find the proper balance in order to find consistency in his release point.  The good news is that his mechanics are pretty clean.  He doesn’t throw across his body and there is no scapular loading in his arm action.

While it may take a while, Hellweg is really the only pitcher in the Brewers organization that has top of the rotation stuff.  It will be about control first, followed by fastball command as to whether he achieves his ceiling or goes back to the pen and becomes a potential late inning reliever.

Fantasy Impact: I would definitely draft John Hellweg for my dynasty team.  There is potential with the noted warning signs.

4. Taylor Jungmann (RHP)

2013 Age: 23 BP: Texas
Ht: 6-6 Weight: 210 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2014
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 HiA 153.0 159 60 7 2.71 5.82 3.53 1.34

How can a guy who is 6-foot-6, who can hit 95 MPH on the gun, only strikeout 5.82 batters per nine?  The simple answer is that his secondary pitches are not yet developed but there are some odd pitching mechanics that are playing a role as well.

Jungmann was taken as the 12th overall pick in the 2011 first year player draft out of the University of Texas.  His fastball sits 92-93 with a lot of downward sink that he uses to pound the strike zone.  His two-plane curveball can be a swing and miss pitch but it was very inconsistent all year long.  There is not a lot of velocity separation with his change-up and I would grade it average at best.

As with Thornburg, there is a lot of violence in his pitching mechanics.  Because of his size, he somewhat short strides to the plate to help provide a consistent release point.  While this helps his control, he does loose considerable kinetic energy and therefore his fastball just doesn’t have a lot of “late life”.  Add it all up and you have the profile of a number three starter with the physical skills for more.

Fantasy Impact: Jungmann knows how to pitch and should work his way to the majors fairly quickly.  I do worry that he is more Chris Volstad than Doug Fister.  Two tall pitches who throw hard and induce a lot of ground balls but have gone in opposite directions over the past two years.  Fister developed his curve and particularly his changeup and became a strikeout pitcher.  Volstad never has.  Who will Jungmann become?

5. Hunter Morris (1B)

2013 Age: 24 BP: Alabama
Ht:6-2  Weight:200 Bats: Left Throws:Right ETA: 2013
2012 AA 522 77 28 113 2 .303 .357 77.6 7.7 .340

Not a lot of people, outside of hard-core Brewers fans, have heard of Hunter Morris.  However, with a stat line of 28 home runs, 113 RBI and a batting average of .303, he will surely get a lot of national coverage this off-season.

While Hunter Morris does have a lot of raw power, he does not have the prototypically bat speed that you like to see in a bat-only first baseman.  He has a definitive hitch in his swing but because he’s so strong and uses his legs well, he’s able to drive balls effectively.  The big question to be answered is will that type of hitting mechanics play in the highest levels.  Unfortunately – it usually doesn’t.

On the plus side, Morris played very well in Double-A with a nice 77.6% contact rate.  His approach is not the best, but it did work for him in 2012.

Fantasy Impact: In new dynasty leagues, Hunter Morris will be drafted.  I’m not quite there yet as I still see considerable holes in his offensive game.  However, if Morris continues to hit in Triple-A, my opinion will start to be swayed.

6. Jed Bradley (LHP)

2013 Age: 22 BP: Alabama
Ht: 6-4 Weight: 225 Bats: Left Throws: Left
ETA: 2014-15
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2012 HiA 107.1 136 66 9 3.61 5.03 5.53 1.67

Drafted with the 15th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Jed Bradley did not have a very good 2012 campaign.  Pitching in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, Bradley struck out a paltry 5.03 batters per nine to go with a 5.53 ERA.  His smooth pitching mechanics that got him drafted and paid a $2M signing bonus, just were not there in 2012.

Bradley stuff coming out of college was a mid 90’s fastball to go along with a plus slider and change-up that he didn’t throw often, but some scouts said was his best pitch.  During the 2011 Futures Games at the Arizona Fall League, one scout told me he preferred Bradley over Danny Hultzen.  So what happen?

April was great for Bradley and he looked like a high first round draft pick, striking out 28 in 29 innings. Once May hit, the strikeout stopped, the velocity diminished and eventually Bradley was shut down due to arm fatigue in early August.  He was checkout and given a clean bill of health, but something went wrong.  Until we know more or see improved results in 2013, we must take a very conservative approach to ranking Bradley.

Fantasy Impact: If I own him in a dynasty league, I’m holding onto him, but in a new league, I’m taking a pass.  There are plenty of pitchers with more upside and less current risk than Bradley at the moment.  He could turn it around and turn into a number three with number two starter upside, but I need to see more.

7. Scooter Gennett (2B)

Scooter Gennett has a ceiling of a 10 home run, 10 stolen base player that will make solid contact and threaten .300.  That’s a second division starter or a strong utility player.  From a fantasy standpoint, Gennett is a pass for me as he will be an injury fill-in player or a middle infielder in a very deep league.

8. Jimmy Nelson (RHP)

Nelson is another very tall pitcher for the Brewers (6-foot-6).  In his first year of professional ball, Nelson was used as a reliever but was converted to the starting rotation in 2011.  In 2012, he pitched very well in the Florida State League with a 77/25 K/BB ratio and a 2.21 ERA.  However, in Double-A, he was awful as he completely lost his mechanics and wound up walking 37 batters in only 46 innings. He did spend time on the DL with shoulder fatigue during July that most believe contributed to his ineffectiveness.  Nelson is somebody with considerable upside and should be monitored closely.

9. Clint Coulter (C)

Drafted as a catcher in the first round of the 2012 draft, Clint Coulter accumulated 169 at-bats in the AZL and showed a nice hit tool with a 40K/37BB ratio.  He doesn’t have a lot of home run power at the moment, but does hit the ball with authority.  Whether he stays at the catching position is another story.  He does have arm strength but his catching skills are below average.

10. Khris Davis (OF)

Davis had a true breakout year in 2012, batting .383 while belting eight home runs in only 128 at-bats in Double-A.  His at-bats were limited because of a calf strain that cost him most of May and June.  Upon his return, he picked up where he left off and continued to hit, which earned him a promotion to Triple-A.  He’s a lousy defender, a well below average runner, but the guy can hit.  Keep your eye on Davis.

9 comments on “Milwaukee Brewers

  1. How do you view Mitch Haniger?

  2. Thoughts on Tyrone Taylor?

    • I missed him in the Instructs. All I really know is he’s a young toolsy kid that the Brewers obviously like a lot as they took him in the 2nd round. I hope to see him in the Spring. Sorry, wish I had more.

  3. Victor Roache?

    • First round draft pick in 2012 for Brewers. Guy hit 30 home runs and slugged .778 in his second year in college but has yet to play professional ball due to breaking his wrist. I’ve never seen him play personally but hoping to see him this Spring. Potentially a power hitting corner outfielder. Clearly a lot to like. He’ll be one of the guys I’m profiling on January 8th podcast as an under-the-radar prospect.

  4. For Peralta, is it possible for him to improve his BB/9 and ratios, or will they tend to stay relatively the same, once he gets an extended stay in the majors? I know you said that his ERA and WHIP will hurt the fantasy teams he is on, but with such a high K/9, and such great velocity, I wonder if there is some hope?

    Thanks in advance,

    Brad Dengler

    • I actually think so. His stuff is good and his delivery is in general solid; although he doesn’t finish his pitches off great. The problem I believe is more of pitch sequencing, which should come over time. Might be risky as pick next year, but could help fantasy teams down the road.

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