The Brewers minor league organization took a step forward in 2021. Several of their high upside players have started to perform including Latin players Hedbert Perez and Hendrys Mendez. Plus, they have drafted well over the past several years. They added Garrett Mitchell, Sal Frelick, and Tyler Black to name three players who all have a chance to play at the highest level. Now, many of their top-rated players are similar and besides Perez, I don’t see many stars. Pitching continues to be their weak spot, but it looked like that a few years ago and Woodruff, Peralta, and Burnes emerged as perhaps the best pitching trio in the league.
Prospect Quick Shot
- Top Prospect: Garrett Mitchell
- Biggest Mover: Joey Wiemer
- Emerging Prospect: Hendrys Mendez
- Highest Level: Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF
- Tools Summary: His carrying tool continues to be his plus speed. He needs to work on making better contact but assuming he can bring his contact rate to the low-20s, he should hit enough to be an impact player
Mitchell, the Brewers’ number one pick in 2020 (overall pick 20) made his professional debut in 2020 in High-A and didn’t disappoint. In 29 games, he slashed .359/.508/.620, walking more than he struck out. He also added five home runs and 12 stolen bases. It was all that the Brewers and Dynasty League owners could have hoped for; well almost. You see, he also stuck out at a 25% rate while posting a .491 BABIP. Eventually, things would correct, and after his promotion to Double-A they did. He hit .186 in 35 games and looked overwhelmed in the process. So who is he? The same guy we thought he was last year – plus speed who should be able to hit enough to be a full-time regular with below-average power. The upside is a Witt Merrifield type of player, which means that his speed will carry his value and in fantasy leagues, that’s hard to find.
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 OF
- Tools Summary: Plus bat speed should translate into plus power at the highest level. He’s currently a good runner, but as he fills out, the speed will also reduce
Hedbert Perez is one of my favorite prospects and a kid that will be under serious consideration for my Top 100 list in a few months. He has great bat speed with solid foot speed and while he might strike out more than you’d like, the upside is still considerable. He spent most of the season in the Complex League where he slashed .333/.394/.575 in 32 games with six home runs and two stolen bases. He did have a small taste of Low-A where he struggled making consistent contact. He was the youngest player in the level, so patience is important at this point of the development process. The tools, swing, and makeup are all there to be an impact performer at the highest level with a chance to hit .260/.340/.500 with 30 plus home runs.
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 SS or Top 15 2B
- Tools Summary: Plus speed with the ability to hit. While the upside is a full-time regular at short, he’s blocked, and something needs to happen for him to see playing time
There’s a lot of similarities between Turang, Frelick, and Mitchell. All three have plus speed, are plus defenders, and should be able to hit. But assuming all three make the Brewers opening day roster at some point, they might resemble an 80s run and defense style game instead of the power game, baseball has become. All three have below-average power and with that, all do have the risk of being part-time players. Turang is no exception. He makes great contact, 18% K/9 across Double and Triple-A, he stole 20 basses, but he also slugged .362. The trade for Willy Adames in 2021 does complicate Turang’s path. Adames isn’t a free agent until 2025 and while he could move off shortstop, he’s a fine defender there. Could Turang move to second? If he does, that moves his value up significantly.
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF
- Tools Summary: Plus speed with the ability to hit could make him an ideal leadoff hitter at the highest level
The Brewers selected Sal Frelick with their first pick in last June’s draft (pick 15). His carrying tool is his ability to get on base and then use his speed. The swing is flat and at 5-10, he’s not a big kid, so don’t expect a ton of power. The skills feel like that of a classic leadoff guy and given his ability to hit, he should move quickly through the minor leagues.
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 2B
- Tools Summary: Potential plus hit-tool should make him a full-time regular
Tyler Black was the Brewers’ first-round supplemental pick last June on the back of an impressive junior year at Wright State where he walked more than he struck out and only struck out 11% of the time. He also showed some pop and good speed. In his professional debut in Low-A, he struggled to make contact but continued to walk more than struck out. The swing is too good for him not to hit and the approach should allow him to post a high OBP as well. He could develop average power to go along with a little bit of speed making him a high average/OBP player with 15-15 type of upside.
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF with risk
- Tools Summary: Delivered an impressive 20-20 season but with a ton of strikeouts
Joe Gray Jr. is an exciting player. He’s tooled up with excellent bat speed, is a plus runner, and can really run it down in the outfield. The problem is, he also struck out 28% of the time. Now, he also walked 11% of the time, which will help offset the strikeouts. But, he chases balls outside the zone too much and as he progresses through the minor leagues, the strikeouts are likely to climb as well. In Dynasty Leagues though, he needs to be owned, just know the parameters and the work that needs to be done to become a full-time regular.
7. Joey Wiemer (OF)
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF
- Tools Summary: One of the few players in the minor leagues who went 25-25 showing power and speed
Few players had a better season in 2021 than Joey Wiemer. The 2020 fourth-round pick hit 27 home runs and stole 30 bases. Of course, as a college player, you expect him to do well in the lower levels of the minor leagues. He controlled the strike zone well, striking out 21% of the time while walking 13% of the time. Is this real? I spoke to someone who saw him in college and in Low-A and he said that his swing was much more controlled and while he’s 6-foot-5 and will likely strike out more than you would like, the tools are real. So, Double-A will be his big test. If he can keep his strikeout rate under 25%, there could be a full-time regular in the making. Since he’s hardly owned in Dynasty Leagues, he’s a guy to target in your supplemental drafts this spring.
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP or Reliever
- Tools Summary: The arsenal says starter but everything else says he’s a bullpen arm
Aaron Ashby saw some time in the big leagues this year and pitched well. He flashed a high-velocity fastball that averaged 96 MPH, albeit a poor spin rate, and a solid slider and change-up. He was also able to throw strikes, which is not something he’s been able to do consistently in the minor leagues. The delivery is still a problem and I would guess the walks will return. The arsenal says starter but everything else says he’s a bullpen arm.
- Highest Level: Complex League ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 Catcher
- Tools Summary: Plus defensive upside who in Rookie ball, walked more than he struck out
Jeferson Quero has a chance to be a plus defender who can also hit. That’s pretty rare for a catcher and while he’s only 18, he’s one of the more interesting players in the Brewers organization. In 23 games in the Complex League, he slashed .309/.434/.500, walking more than he struck out. He even showed his athleticism by stealing four bases. I know nobody wants to hold onto young catchers in Dynasty Leagues, but the upside is intriguing.
- Highest Level: Complex League ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 OF with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: January International signee that has shown a plus hit tool and enough bat speed to hit for future power
Mendez was signed last January and was so good in the DSL, that he was brought over to the Arizona Complex League where he continued to hit and show hard contact to all fields. In both stops, he walked more than he struck out and rarely struck out. He only homered once but the bat speed and size point to potential future power.
- Highest Level: Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: Fastball-change-up pitcher who struggles with his control
The Brewers drafted Ethan Small in the first round (pick 28) of the 2019 MLB Draft. He had Tommy John Surgery in his sophomore year of college and wound up spending four years in college. With the missed 2020 season, he is now 24-years-old. The velocity he lost after the surgery appears to have returned and when you combine that with his plus change-up, he could slide into a number four starter at the highest level. If he could throw more strikes, the ceiling could be higher, but in 2021, he struggled mightily at throwing strikes – 4.9 BB/9. Assuming healthy, he should see time in Milwaukee in 2021.
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Second Catcher
- Tools Summary: Poor season, likely fueled by an injured shoulder. He has plenty of pop but his uber-aggressive approach will challenge his batting average and OBP
Feliciano’s first game experience in 2021 came in the Major Leagues on May 1st. He played in one game, walked in his only plate appearance, and scored a run. It’s another reminder of how funny baseball is. Feliciano rarely walks, but yet his first MLB plate appearance results in a walk. Otherwise, it was a tough year for the 22-year-old catcher. He slashed .210/.246/.314 in only 32 games in Triple-A. He was diagnosed with a shoulder impingement in early June and you have to hope he was just hurt for most of the season. Before this season, he looked like a backup catcher in a fantasy league with plenty of power. The approach is super aggressive, so the power could also come with a low batting average and even worse OBP.
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Middle Infielder
- Tools Summary: Plus hit tool with a little bit of speed and below-average power
Zamora was the Brewers’ second-round pick in the 2019 draft. He controls the strike zone well, has some speed and despite hitting five home runs in 70 games in Low-A, doesn’t project much future power. The tools suggest a utility player at the highest level and likely a pass for fantasy managers, but he can hit and guys that can hit, find playing time. Therefore, he’s worth monitoring in Dynasty Leagues.
- Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Likely a bullpen arm, but 5% chance he’s a stud TOR arm
- Tools Summary: Plus arsenal but he’s returning from surgery to resolve Thoracic Outlet Syndrom
Antoine Kelly has the highest upside of any pitcher on this list, but the risk is significant. First, he underwent Thoracic Outlet Syndrom in the off-season and did not pitch until July. Not surprisingly, when he returned, he had no control and consequently barely pitch. So, you have a pitcher with a plus arsenal that struggled with control before he had surgery, that few have fully recovered from. At this point, I’ll just keep the ceiling we placed on his last year and hope for the best.
- Highest Level: Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 1B
- Tools Summary: 70-grade power with swing and miss concerns
Drafted in the third round last June, Alex Binelas got off to a hot start to begin the 2021 season. In 29 games in Low-A, he slashed .314/.379/.636 with 9 home runs. He did strike out 25% of the time. All of this matches what evaluators thought during draft season. He has 70-grade raw power with swing and miss concerns. Most believe the swing will work and give him a better chance to become a big leaguer.