|Original Published Date: October 10, 2014|
The Milwaukee Brewers system took a nice step forward in 2014 with the development and promotion of Jimmy Nelson along with significant growth from Tyrone Taylor, Clint Coulter, and Orlando Arcia. The Brewers also benefited from having three of the first 50 picks in the 2014 first year player draft and focused on young athletic high schoolers with big upsides in Kodi Medeiros, Jacob Gatewood, and Monte Harrison. While the likelihood of all three becoming impact major league players is low, it did add the upside and hope that the system had been lacking for the past few years.
|2015 Age: 21||Ceiling: 1st Div
|Ht:6-0 Weight: 185||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2016|
I pushed hard with our Editor to place Tyrone Taylor at the top of our Milwaukee Top 10 prospect list in 2013. After a modest April and May where Taylor posted a .269/.323/.438 slash line and Jimmy Nelson was taming the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, it felt like I had missed. In the end, maybe I did as Nelson has had a great start to his major league career. However, Taylor has the upside to be a first division player and an impact fantasy asset. When you look at what he did in the second half of the year, you’ll see what I was thinking when I ranked him number one last year and again, this year.
When you lay eyes on Taylor, it’s hard not to be impressed with the athleticism. At 6-foot and 185 pounds, he moves very well, has premium bat speed and excellent hand-eye-coordination. His contact rate of 88% is indeed impressive and is even more so when you realize he was the tenth youngest full-time player in the Florida State League.
The swing is compact and short to the ball and the bat speed points to solid pop with a future average to above-average power projection (12-15 annually). His 65 running speed on the 20-80 scouting scale combined with his improved base stealing skills (23 of 29 attempts) will allow him to be a threat on the base paths. He’s a good defender with the ability to stay in center field, but when I saw him in late April, there was definitely work to be done on his routes.
Fantasy Impact: There’s a lot to like with Taylor and I’m continuing to beat the drum for the California native. He’s a definite Top 100 talent with a chance to force the issue as a Top 50 player. He’ll likely start 2015 in Double-A Huntsville and given his age could struggle at first. The power will continue to develop with a ceiling of a top-of-the-order hitter, slugging 15 home runs while stealing 30 bases and batting .280 with a .350 OBP. If that makes you salivate, go out and get him in a Dynasty League. This might be the last time you can buy low.
|2015 Age: 21||Ceiling: 1st Div
|Ht:6-3 Weight: 220||Bats: Right Throws:Right||ETA: 2016-17|
Drafted in the first round of the 2012 first year player draft, Clint Coulter got his first extended chance in full season ball and didn’t disappoint. In 126 games in Appleton, he slashed .287/.410/.520 with 22 home runs. As an offensive first player, the concern about Coulter has never been about his ability to hit, but instead questions have been raised on whether his defense will be good enough to stay behind the dish?
The Brewers believe he will but reports on his defense have been mixed. At 6-foot-3 and a muscular 220 pounds, Coulter doesn’t have the prototypical size of a catcher. He’s big and his ability to move and block pitches effectively has been questioned. He is still stabbing at too many pitches. The arm though is plus and his catch-and-throw fundamentals are improving.
Coulter has the type of raw tools to be an offensive force. He has good bat speed coupled with a natural powerful swing that should translate into plus power. He also has a mature approach at the plate with excellent strike zone awareness. The swing can get long so he’ll likely have some swing and miss in his game. However, his ability to take a walk will keep his OBP at an acceptable if not higher level.
That type of offensive upside will eventually force the defensive card. If it doesn’t work behind the plate, the Brewers will move him to first base or possibly right-field. In fact, Coulter is playing the outfield in the Arizona Fall League which could indicate that the Brewers have already made the call. If that is true, that could accelerate his arrival to the big leagues.
Fantasy Impact: Coulter is a relatively unknown asset in Dynasty Leagues, meaning he might be owned but nobody is talking about him. That’s about to change as hitters who have the raw power to hit 20 plus home runs in the Midwest League do not grow on trees. It’s time to invest and it’s time to do it now. Yeah, it’ll be a bummer if he has to go to first base or the outfield, but the upside is 25 plus home runs with a .370 OBP hitting in the middle of a lineup. I’ll take that no matter where he winds up defensively.
|2015 Age: 20||Ceiling: Solid-Reg
|Ht:6-0 Weight: 160||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2016|
The younger brother of Minnesota Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, Orlando is a much different player than his big brother. Orlando is a quick twitch athlete whose game is built around contact, speed, and defensive acumen. The power ceiling is below average, although he has the bat speed to hit mid-single digit home runs on an annual basis.
In 127 games in High-A Brevard County, Arcia maintained an excellent 87% contact rate while stealing 31 of 42 bases. When scouting him in a late spring game, I got one good reading of 4.22 seconds to first from the right side. That’s not a burner and is in fact only above-average speed. Then again, stealing bases is not all about being a burner as Jose Altuve has similar speed and led the American League in stolen bases.
Arcia has the chops to remain at shortstop and is in fact a better defensive player than Brewers incumbent, Jean Segura. He has terrific lateral movement, particularly to his right-side and enough arm strength to make every throw. Infield practice was a blast to watch as Arcia really put on a show; for who, I’m not sure, as it was only me and the cleaning crew wiping down the seats in the Stadium.
Fantasy Impact: Light hitting shortstops are usually compared to Elvis Andrus and with Arcia, you can make that same general comparison. I say “general” because Elvis has more speed and is doing it at the major league level. However, the ceiling for Arcia is a .270 to .280 batting average with a handful of home runs and 20 to 25 stolen bases.
|2014 Age: 25||Ceiling: #3 starter
|Ht: 6-6 Weight: 210||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2015|
Prior to the 2011 first year player draft, words and phrases such as “historic” or “once in a generation” were used to describe the draft. Three years later, those words are not without merit as many of the best young talent in baseball were taken in that draft. Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Archie Bradley, George Springer, Jose Fernandez, Sonny Gray and Kolten Wong are just a few of those players. Picking number 12, the Brewers selected Taylor Jungmann, who was a fourth year senior from the University of Texas that the Brewers expected would make quick work of the minors. It didn’t work out that way, but he has made it to Triple-A where he looks like he’ll profile as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Jungmann is 6-foot-6 and pitches with extreme plane and keeps the ball down in the zone. He has a career 3.15 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio to prove the point. The arsenal is ok with a fastball that sits 90-92 MPH and a slider that is his primary out pitch. The change-up completes the arsenal and grades out as an average pitch.
What is holding Jungmann back is poor command, but more importantly, poor control. This is very typical of pitchers who throw a heavy fastball and is also typical of tall hurlers – both of which describe Jungmann. While his batting average against was reasonable at .235, he was much more hittable against right-handed batters with a batting average against of .283. Jungmann needs to clearly figure it out against right-handed batters; and that will happen only if his command improves.
Fantasy Impact: It’s tough to hold onto Taylor Jungmann in a Dynasty League, I get it. In fact, I don’t own him anywhere. However, the raw tools are there for him to be a helpful contributor to your fantasy team. He’s an extreme ground ball pitcher that should be able to strikeout seven per nine. The missing element is command. While he might not ever find it, I’m guessing he will. It might just take a few more years.
|2014 Age: 20||Ceiling: #3 starter
|Ht: 6-3 Weight: 165||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2017|
In the Spring of 2013, the Brewers decided to sign Kyle Lohse thus forfeiting their first round draft pick in that June’s first year player draft. In the second round, they took high school right-hander, Devin Williams as the 54th overall player. 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 (1.81 G/F ratio) in 66.1 innings in the Pioneer League. His primary breaking pitch is an 81-83 MPH slurve that shows promise but the command is still inconsistent. He also throws a change-up that has improved from 2013.
When I saw him in 2013, the mechanics were a bit rough and reports on him this year indicate that while they’ve improved, there is still work left to do. He uses a traditional drop and drive approach with little deception in the delivery. That could be part of the reason why he was so hittable, giving up 74 hits in the same 66.1 innings.
Fantasy Impact: The reality is that there are a ton of pitchers like Devin Williams in the minor leagues – a live arm with delivery issues and a ceiling of a number three and a reality of something less. The key to a Dynasty League is investing in those pitchers who have a good opportunity to hit that ceiling, if not exceed it. I don’t see that in Williams and believe that the floor might be more realistic than the ceiling.
|2014 Age: 19||Ceiling: Closer
|Ht: 6-2 Weight: 180||Bats: Left Throws: Left||ETA: 2017|
Many believed that the Brewers reached for Hawaiian Kodi Medeiros when they selected him with the 12th overall pick in the 2014 first year player draft. While Medeiros has a live arm, his low three-quarters arm slot (nearly side-arm) had many people in the industry believing he would be destined for a bullpen role.
While the arm-slot might eventually move him to the pen as righties could feast off of him, there’s no denying the stuff is electric and it has a lot to do with – the arm slot. His fastball is not overwhelming but it plays up, particularly against arm-side batters (lefties) as it’s extremely difficult to pick up. Additionally, given the angle of his arm, the ball will run away from lefties and produce swings and misses or weak contact. However, for righties, they will get an extra long look at the ball and since there is very little plane on the pitch, the results might be less than ideal; or said another way, he could get killed.
In a limited sample size of 17.2 innings in the AZL, the scouting report has played out. He has shut down lefties but right-handed batters have hit him hard. Also, he’s had extreme control problems which could be result of rust, but regardless, I’m sure it was not the results the Brewers were hoping. Then again, it was less than 20 innings, where he didn’t pitch more than two innings in a game.
Fantasy Impact: Most Dynasty Leagues have annual drafts that allow owners to pick players off the waiver wire including players in the previous year draft. If that is your draft scenario and owners seem to follow picking the way the big league clubs did, I would skip over Medeiros and fish elsewhere. The Brewers could change his delivery as they believe in a more up-and-down delivery (think a windmill), but if he keeps the side-arm, he’s likely a lefty specialist reliever and will have marginal value in a Dynasty League.
|2015 Age: 19||Ceiling: Boom or Bust
|Ht:6-5 Weight: 190||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2018|
For prospect geeks, Jacob Gatewood was already a household name, even before the Brewers selected him as the 41st overall pick in the 2014 draft. As part of the last few Futures games, MLB has invited a couple of high-school sluggers to participate in batting practice with the opportunity to use metal bats. Gatewood put on a mammoth show before the 2013 Futures Game at CitiField that left the handful of us in attendance totally impressed and wishing the participants in the MLB Home Run derby could do the same.
Gatewood has a ton of raw power that he gets from big-time bat speed and an all-out pull-side approach. When he gets a hold of one, it can go a long, long way. However, as is evident from his early struggles, he’s also going to strikeout a lot. In 204 at-bats in the AZL, he struck out 71 times. The Brewers will have to modify his swing or he’ll never make it out of A-Ball. However, that kind of bat speed and physicality can’t be taught and if he can make the necessary adjustments, he could be a monster home run hitter.
He’s currently playing shortstop, which also points to his athleticism, but he has zero chance at staying there long-term. He’s currently 6-foot-5 and still growing. He’ll likely move to right-field where he can show off his plus arm. He reportedly hit 97 MPH on the bump in the high school.
Fantasy Impact: Gatewood will be a sexy pick in your Dynasty League and for good reasons – the raw tools are insane. However, he’s a long, long way from realizing his dream of playing in the big leagues. If he can take to instruction and modify his approach, there could be something there.
|2014 Age: 22||Ceiling: #4 starter
|Ht: 6-4 Weight: 165||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2016|
I had a chance to see Jorge Lopez pitch in the spring and was left feeling unfulfilled. The arsenal is ok with a fastball that sat 90-92 MPH with good sink. The curveball had a nice shape but I don’t think he threw one of them for a strike. In talking with others that had seen him before, they told me that his “secondary pitches come and go a lot”. The overall stat line shows better than the night I saw him, so clearly he had some better games. The ceiling is a number 3/4, but will come with modest strikeout totals.
Fantasy Impact: With an average fastball and inconsistent secondary pitches, Lopez is only rosterable in the deepest of Dynasty Leagues.
|2015 Age: 23||Ceiling: 2nd Div
|Ht:6-1 Weight: 225||Bats: Right Throws: Right||ETA: 2015-16|
Victor Roache carrying tool is plus raw power. The power though is born of strength and leverage and not bat speed. While I prefer the later, in both case, there can be swing and miss. In Roache’s case, there is significant swing and miss. In 433 at-bats, he had a contact rate of 68%. The approach is also very aggressive and the result has been an 8% walk rate. While there is 25 home run power in the bat, the below-average hit-tool will make it difficult for him to reach the power without a change in approach.
Fantasy Impact: Anybody capable of hitting 25 plus home run needs to be kept on fantasy radar. However, the power comes with serious playing time concerns given Roache’s track record of high strikeouts. He could be the type of player that comes out of nowhere and crushes the ball for a period of time before pitchers figure out the holes in his swing. Watch for that window and roster him at that time.
|2015 Age: 26||Ceiling: 2nd Div
|Ht:6-2 Weight: 225||Bats: Left Throws: Right||ETA: 2015|
I never thought Hunter Morris would be an all-star, but I did think he would be in the majors by now. However, after a modest 2013 where he fell back into bad habits of chasing pitches and a broken arm in 2014, the Brewers have reverted to playing Lyle Overbay at first. The opportunity was there…
Morris carrying tool is his plus raw power. His swing is long and he’ll strikeout a lot, but he can work a walk and should be able to carry a .310 to .320 OBP. If he gets a chance in 2015 in Milwaukee, I think he’ll be serviceable. However, he’ll be 26-years-old in October and as they say – time is starting to run out.
Fantasy Impact: I still think there is something there with Morris, he just needs a chance. At 26-years-old, time is running out and with some luck, hopefully he’ll get a run in Milwaukee in 2015.
2015 Emerging Prospect
If Jacob Gatewood wasn’t toolsy enough, the Brewers drafted one of the few players with more raw skills than Gatewood in Monte Harrison. Simply go to youtube and type in his name and you’ll see an impressive array of basketball dunks and acrobatic catches on the football grid. The athleticism is extremely impressive.
Harrison has bat speed, raw power, crazy arm strength (rumors are that he hit 98 MPH from the bump in high-school), and 80-grade running speed. The missing/unknown skill is the ability to hit. While the reports I have received show a very raw hit-tool, he does appear to have an approach with a better than anticipated understanding of the strike zone. The stats seem to back that up with a 48K/31BB strikeout-to-walk ratio in rookie-ball.
While I don’t have specific criteria for our emerging prospect, one could argue that Harrison has the highest upside in the system and should be a Top five prospect for the Brewers. However, and maybe I’m cheating, Harrison has the talent to go from relative obscurity to one of the more talked about and hyped prospect in the minors. For me, that also defines an emerging prospect.