Milwaukee Brewers

Original Published Date: Oct. 4, 2013

The Brewers are an organization in quest for an identity.  The major league team is not a contender despite some established veteran contributors and their minor league system doesn’t have enough depth to form a core of a rebuilding program.  The 2013 off-season could prove critical for the organization as they determine who they are; or more importantly, how can they become contenders again.

While the Brewers promoted a number of pitching prospects in 2013 including: Wily Peralta, John Hellweg, and Tyler Thornburg, none of them are impact players.  While there is talent in the system, there isn’t an obvious impact player – an all-star ceiling.  In fact, I’m not sure any player will make my Top 100 list.

Tyrone Taylor, an athletic outfielder selected in the second round of the 2012 draft is the top ranked prospect in the system and has the best chance to become an impact talent.  Orlando Arcia, younger brother of Minnesota Twins Oswaldo Arcia shows promise as a middle infielder who can make excellent contact. Victor Roache and Hunter Morris bring plus power to the equation but Roache’s struggle to make contact is a significant concern and may ultimately limit his upside.

Right-hander Jimmy Nelson is the top ranked pitcher in the organization with a ceiling of a number three starter.  However, Devin Williams, the number one draft pick from the 2013 draft provides a higher upside although the pitching mechanics are very unrefined.

It’s not a pretty picture from the Major League club through the minor league system and it might be time for the Brewers to start the rebuilding process.  The elephant in the room of course is Ryan Braun and the impact that his PED suspension will have on the club and his future value as either a contributor or a trade chip.

1. Tyrone Taylor (OF)

2014 Age: 20 Ceiling: Role 5
Ht:6-0 Weight: 185 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2016
2013 Low-A 485 69 8 57 18 .274 .338 87.0 7.2 .299

I had a chance to see Tyrone Taylor as a High School player and while I loved the athleticism, I wasn’t convinced he would hit.  However, I had a chance to see him during a scouting trip to Kane County, and the swing was cleaned up and well, he looked like a ball player.  It’s yet another great reminder what the development process is all about.

Drafted in the second round of 2012, Taylor has a very athletic body with both above average speed and power potential.  After spending most of the year in full-season Low-A as a teenager, Taylor showed excellent contactability with an 87% contact rate and a real feel for hitting.  His swing is short and compact and he shows very good bat speed that should eventually translate into above average power potential.  In fact, his eight home runs as a teenager in the pitcher-friendly Midwest league is very impressive and really shows the potential.

Taylor also has excellent speed, grading out as 60-65 on the 20-80 scouting scale.  That’s not a burner and as he fills out, that speed will likely drop but for now, he has 20+ stolen base potential.  However, based on his 69% success rate, there is opportunity for improving on the base paths and getting better jumps on the ball.

Fantasy Impact: Talyor has the tools to be a future impact fantasy contributor – not a stud, but a 20/15 player capable of hitting .270+ with decent on-base percentage.  A lot will depend on whether he continues to take a step up with the hit-tool and given his athleticism, I’m pretty optimistic.

2. Jimmy Nelson (RHP)

2014 Age: 20 Ceiling: #3 starter
Ht: 6-5 Weight: 245 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2013
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2013 AA-AAA 152.1 137 55 7 3.83 9.61 3.24 1.32

The Brewers have developed some very good pitchers over the past several years including Yvonni Gallardo and Wily Peralta, but not a true impact top-of-the-rotation ace.  I guess the next line should read…and that’s what the Brewers have with Jimmy Nelson.  However, while Nelson has a lively arm, he has the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter or even a back-end bullpen arm.

The stuff is good with a 90-92 MPH four-seamer that he can run up-to the mid-90’s and his money pitch, a two-seamer that induces a ton of ground balls (2.71 ground ball to fly ball ratio).  He also has an above average slider and a change-up that should grade out as above average over time.  There is definitely some funk and effort in his delivery, which provides some deception, but he’s also having trouble repeating his delivery as was evident in his 50 walks in 83.1 inning in Triple-A.

Part of his mechanical problem is just trying to control his 6-foot-6 frame. The balance and posture are poor but candidly a lot of Brewers pitchers have poor posture as they arch their back during their delivery.  It’s why I’ve never been sold on Gallardo.  The arsenal has top-of-the-rotation potential, but the mechanics and ultimately the command, doesn’t allow him to pitch as an ace.  Nelson seems to be following a similar pattern and therefore I think a more realistic ceiling is that of a number three starter.

Fantasy Impact: Jimmy Nelson should compete for spot in the starting rotation to begin the 2014 season.  While he could have some early success given his deceptive delivery, I believe he’ll be an up-and-down player before establishing himself, potentially as late-inning reliever.

3. Orlando Arcia (SS)

2014 Age: 19 Ceiling: Role 5
Ht:6-0 Weight: 165 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2016
2013 Low-A 442 67 4 39 20 .251 .314 91.0 7.9 .268

Younger brother to Oswaldo Arcia of the Minnesota Twins, Orlando Arcia is an interesting shortstop prospect with good fielding and arm strength and the potential for an average hit-tool.

Arcia was signed out of the Venezuela as a J2 signee in 2010 and played very well as a 16-year-old in the Dominican Summer League during 2011.  He then broke his ankle in 2012 and missed the entire season.  Fully healthy, he made his aggressive debut in the full season Low-A and played very well, particularly as the season wore-on.

He showed a great ability to make contact as he struck out 40 times and walked 35 times in 442 at-bats.  The problem was much of the contact was weak and his BABIP was .269 and his slugging percentage sat at .333.  The pessimist would say that he doesn’t have enough strength and therefore pop in the bat to make it the highest level, but the optimist would say he was 18-years-old, in full-season ball and will add strength as he matures and fills out.  Having seen Arcia personally, I stand on the optimistic side of the equation.

In speaking with scouts between innings of the games I scouted, there were mix reviews on his defensive ability.  Some were concerned about his footwork and his ability to stay on the position while others were much more impressed. Me?  I was impressed.  He went strong to the glove-side and showed enough arm strength to play the position.

Arcia did steal 20 bases during 2013 but was also caught nine times.  In timing him down to first, he has above-average to plus speed and once he learns to read pitchers better, I think 20 bases could be the floor.

Fantasy Impact: Arcia is only draftable in the deepest of Dynasty Leagues.  However, fantasy owners definitely need to monitor him as there is something there.  If he adds strength and you start to see his slugging percentage move above .400, I would be buying.

4. Hunter Morris (1B)

2014 Age: 25 Ceiling: Role 5
Ht:6-2 Weight: 226 Bats: Left Throws: Right ETA: 2014
2013 AAA 497 61 24 73 3 .247 .310 75.5 8.7 .280

After the Brewers lost both Corey Hart and Mat Gamel to season ending injuries, I thought Hunter Morris would have been given a chance to the fill their obvious first base needs.  Instead they opted for the trio of Juan Francisco, Yuni Betancourt, and even Alex Gonzalez.  The results were ok, but to not even give Morris a chance to see what they had in the 24-year-old lefty first base man was curious.

Morris carry tool is plus raw power but he is also a very good defensive first baseman, earning a minor league Gold Glove award in 2012.  There is swing and miss in his game, but his 75% contact rate should allow him to tap into his 25+ home run power.  His approach has also improved and this has driven his walk rate up to a respectable 8.6 BB/9 rate.

Hunter Morris ceiling is a fringe first division starter capable of 25+ home runs at the major league level.  However, I am concerned that he wasn’t even given a look in 2013 – not even a September call-up.  Is this a red flag or just the Brewers wanting him to work on his approach and hit-tool?

Fantasy Impact: If Hunter Morris can get consistent at-bats in 2014, I think he can contribute to your fantasy team.  Is that a guarantee?  Absolutely not, but the Brewers have a lot of problems at both the major and minor league  level and they need to find out what Morris can do.  He might just be able to solve their first base opening.

5. Devin Williams (RHP)

2014 Age: 19 Ceiling: #3 starter
Ht: 6-5 Weight: 245 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2016
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2013 R 35.2 28 17 0 5.55 10.09 3.28 1.40

The Brewers decided to sign Kyle Lohse thus forfeiting their first round draft pick in 2013 and leaving second round pick, Devin Williams as their top overall selection.  The 6-foot-3, 165 pound high-school right-hander has the ideal projectable body that clubs are seeking in the upper rounds of the draft.  While projectable, he also needs a lot of work.

He has a live arm with his fastball sitting in the low-90’s and touching the mid-90’s on occasion.  His two-seamer has nice horizontal movement and subsequently induced a lot of ground balls (2.93 G/F ratio) in 35.2 innings in the AZL.  His primary breaking pitch is an 81-83 MPH slider that shows promise but he was not able to command it in the three innings in which I saw him pitch.  The change-up was good and showed promise.

While the arsenal is promising, the mechanics need a lot of work. First, he does have nice extension and this will continue to make his arsenal, particularly his fastball play up a grade.  His balance and posture need work as he’s falling off to the first base side with regularity.  This is leading to him not being able to repeat his delivery and contributed to his 5.55 BB/9.  That said, I compared what I saw to a high-school video and his delivery is much improved.  Plus, he’s very athletic which gives me hope that with proper development, he could become a back-of-the-rotation starter, if not more.

Fantasy Impact: I have a tendency to rate pitchers who are athletic, projectable, and have a good arm very high.  That’s Devin Williams.  While he’s a long way off, there is definitely something there and while only draftable in very deep leagues, Dynasty owners need to keep him on their watch list.

6. Victor Roache (OF)

2014 Age: 20 Ceiling: Role 4-5
Ht:6-0 Weight: 185 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2016
2013 Low-A 459 62 22 74 6 .248 .322 70.2 10.0 .302

Victor Roache led the nation in home runs with 30 as a sophomore at Georgia Southern, but then broke his wrist early in his junior year and sat out the rest of the year. The Brewers saw enough and drafted Roache with the number seven overall pick in the 2012 draft. Fully healthy, Roache slugged 22 home runs in the Midwest league which ranked third in the league.

Roache has plus raw power but it’s born out of strength and leverage and not pure bat speed. Which is better? Well, that is open to interpretation but in general, I favor bat speed that when added with strength down the road, causes the ball to travel over the fence. Slower bats have a tendency to get beat on inside velocity and can not adjust as quickly to off-speed pitches which brings us back to Roache.

I worry that the hit tool will play enough for him to tap into his plus power. As a 21-year-old collegian draftee, granted he was hurt for one of those years, he struck out 137 times in 459 at-bats or a 71% contact rate in full-season Low-A. That is clearly a red-flag for me.

While Roache had six stolen bases, the body type is not speed friendly and I don’t anticipate him being a threat on the bases. As an outfielder, he profiles as an average left-fielder with the potential to play in right.

Fantasy Impact: I’m not very bullish on Roache and while he has power, his swing and miss could be further exposed as he moves to the upper minors. If I’m drafting in a Dynasty League, I’m passing and investing somewhere else.

7. Ariel Pena (RHP)
Still best remembered for his meltdown at the 2012 Futures Game where he faced nine batters, gave up seven hits, one walk, and eight earned runs.  It wasn’t a pretty outing.

The 24-year-old Dominican arrived in Milwaukee as part of the 2012 Zack Greinke trade and brings a big arm with a fastball that can peak in the upper nineties and a plus slider that can really miss bats.   His change-up is not really developed and explains the 50 point difference in his splits.  His biggest problem is the inability to repeat his delivery resulting in significant control and command problems.  For me, Pena profiles as a bullpen arm and with a grade improvement in his mechanics, he could be used in high leveraged situations.

8. Nick Delmonico (3B)
Traded for Francisco Rodriguez at the trading deadline, Nick Delmonico has above average power where he connected on 13 home runs across two stops in High-A.  However, all of those home runs were hit in the Carolina League and after the trade to the more pitcher-friendly Florida State League, he did not hit a single bomb in 21 games.  The swing does get long and he will be prone to swing and miss in his game (74% contact in 2012).  Defensively, he is a average at best defender at third and probably profiles defensively better at first base.  Overall, he profiles as a fringe-average prospect with a ceiling of a Role 5 player at the highest level.

9. Mitch Haniger (OF)
At 6-foot-2 and 187 pounds, Haniger is an athletic outfielder with good bat speed and the ability to hit the ball a very long way.  He struggles with off-speed pitches and needs to work on his approach, although his stat line in High-A was 67K/32BB in 324 at-bats.  While Haniger profiles as a second division starter or an extra outfielder, he does have a chance to help at the highest level.

10. Taylor Jungmann (RHP)
Drafted as the twelfth overall prospect in 2011, ahead of Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray,  and Robert Stephenson, Jungmann was supposed to move quickly through the system and be helping the major league club by 2013 or 2014.  However, it just hasn’t come together for the Texan.   Jungmann throws a heavy fastball that he can run up to 95 MPH and at 6-foot-6, throws with significant plane that causes a lot of ground balls.  The problem is his secondary pitches do not produce enough swing and miss and he struggles repeating his delivery.  This is leading to a 5.30 K/9 and a 4.72 BB/9 and a ceiling of a back-of-the-rotation starter or bullpen arm.

2014 Emerging Prospect:

Jorge Lopez (RHP)
Selected in the second round of the 2012 draft out of Puerto Rico, Jorge Lopez spent the entire year in the Midwest league as a 20-year-old.  His performance was ok as he struck out 7.09 per nine and walked 3.69 per nine.  What I like about him is he can spin a curve ball and while his fastball is sitting in the low 90’s, it has room to grow as Lopez fills out his 165 pound frame.

6 comments on “Milwaukee Brewers

  1. […] to the season Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 (click here for his full top 10) voiced this concern regarding […]

  2. Are you still high on Khris Davis not only this year but in the coming years? Say a 25 HR a year guy in his prime?

    • I’ve always liked Davis as he can hit and has above average power. That said, I’m not sure why he’s decided to change his approach and swing at everything. He has one walk; which just won’t play. I see him as a 20-25 HR and a .250-.270 BA with a low .300’s OBP. Nice player; assuming he goes back to being a little more patient and decent fantasy player in the Josh Wilimgham mold (again, if he can walk more).

  3. I am a life long crew fan…. Man the farm is weak! I really am intrigued by Davis. Glad I have him in all leagues. A prospect I am watching way down is Coulter.

  4. Man, they are weak…

    • It wasn’t a lot of fun to write either… I was hoping Khris Davis would still be eligible, but he was 6 at-bats over the limit. You think this is bad, wait until you see the Tigers…

      Next week, it’s the Pirates and Cards…very good, especially the Pirates!

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