2013 Milwaukee Brewers Top Prospects

 

System Overview: Exceptionally thin, particularly near the top, Milwaukee’s system boasts one frontline prospect — right-hander Wily Peralta — and a handful of others that could develop into serviceable major leaguers. Only a year removed from the 2011, the club looks to have missed mightily on collegiate starters Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley, both of whom were taken in the upper half of the first round. Outfielder Victor Roache could be a candidate for a breakout after missing all of last season due to injury.

 

 

#1. Wily Peralta, Age: 24, Position: RHP

Equipped with a mid 90s fastball and a semblance of where the strike zone is located, Peralta made 28 starts for the Nashville Sounds in 2012, throwing 146.2 innings with 143 punch outs (8.8 K/9) and 78 free passes (4.8 BB/9). His Skill Independent ERA, or SIERA (according to MinorLeagueCentral.com), was a vanilla 3.90.

Projection: Peralta has one of the more lively arms in baseball, sporting an above-average fastball, a mid 80s slider and a hard changeup. The problem, of course, has always been his ability to find the strike zone on a consistent basis. And while his control has typically been slightly below-average, it took a noticeable step backwards last season, his first in Triple-A. Still, though, he has the ceiling of a good #2.

Ceiling: 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

Update: Through the first eight starts in his big league career, Peralta is using a mid to upper 90s fastball, mid 80s slider, and a low 80s changeup. 

#2. Tyler Thornburg, Age: 24, Position: RHP

A smallish right-hander plucked in the third round out of Charleston Southern University in 2010, Thornburg made stops at both Double-A and Triple-A before eventually getting a three-game stint with the big league club. In 112.2 minor league innings, the 5-foot-11 hurler struck out 113 (9.0 K/9) and walked 37 (3.0 BB/9). He also posted a solid 3.40 SIERA.

Projection: During his brief stay in Milwaukee, Thornburg featured the standard three pitch mix: a low 90s fastball, curveball and changeup. He seems to be an underrated prospect, maybe due to size. But there’s really nothing not to like. His strikeout rates have remained fairly steady at each of the minor league levels, and his control has gone from below-average to slightly better than average. He could be a Jeremy Hellickson-type pitcher.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

#3. Victor Roache, Age: 21, Position: OF

One of the elite power hitters in college two seasons ago, Roache, who slugged 30 homeruns during his sophomore campaign, missed all but six games with Georgia Southern in 2012 thanks to injury. But the Brewers gambled on the well-built outfielder, nabbing him with the 28th overall pick.

Projection: Per the usual, long term projections for recent draft picks and international free agent signings will be withheld until the following year. And despite missing the entirety of 2012, Roache is easily the top offensive prospect in Milwaukee’s system, a combination of his talent and the lack of depth that’s due to catch up with the organization in the coming years.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

#4. Clint Coulter, Age: 19, Position: C

The club’s most recent first round pick, Coulter’s transitioned well into the professional ranks during his debut in the Arizona Summer League. In 49 games, the 6-foot-3 backstop hit .302/.439/.444 with three doubles, three triples, and five homeruns. His total production was 42% better than the league average according to Weighted Runs Created Plus.

Defensively, however, he managed to catch just eight of the 49 would-be thieves.

Projection: Perhaps the most impressive skill Coulter showed last season was his feel for the strike zone, walking in 17.3% of plate appearances. And if he can show some progress from behind the plate he could develop into a pretty decent backstop.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

#5. Mitchell Haniger, Age: 22, Position: CF

Haniger, who took a bit of a step backward during his sophomore season at Cal Poly, showed a lot of offensive promise last season, hitting .346/.438/.626 with 18 doubles, a triple, and 13 homeruns. Milwaukee grabbed the then 21-year-old with the 38th overall pick, sending him to A-ball for a 14-game introduction into the professional ranks.

Projection: Potential range issues could force Haniger to a corner outfield spot, where his bat won’t play nearly as well. He’s headed back to the Midwest League to start 2013, but could very well end up in High-A before long.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

#6. Taylor Jungmann, Age: 23, Position: RHP

After an impressive three-year career at Texas, the Brewers grabbed the 6-foot-6 right-hander with the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft, sending him directly to High-A to begin his professional career. And the results from last season — 153 IP, 99 K’s and 46 BB’s — were far from impressive. Actually, they were downright disappointing.

Projection: One silver lining — if ever so slight — is Jungmann’s ability to generate a lot of action on the ground, more than 52% of the time last season. His strikeout rates were pretty solid in college, so there’s likely to be some bounce back this year in Double-A. But how much is the question? He looks like a backend rotation guy now, maybe peaking as a #4 if he does see some improvement in his K-rate.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

#7. Cameron Garfield, Age: 22, Position: C

After flopping during his initial stint in A-ball in 2010 and losing the majority of 2011 due to injury, Garfield hit .298/.385/.524 in 66 games with Wisconsin last season. Along with 18 doubles, he added 11 homeruns and a trio of stolen bases. His total offensive production was 53% better than the Midwest League average.

Projection: Garfield, a second round pick in 2009, finally started capitalizing on his offensive potential last season, setting career bests in walk rate, isolated power, and homeruns, despite playing in just 66 games. Defensively, he only threw out 20% of would-be base stealers last season, so it remains to be seen if he can stay at the position.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

#8. Jimmy Nelson, Age: 24, Position: RHP

After dominating the High-A competition across 81.1 innings last season (8.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and 2.21 ERA), Nelson was bumped up to Huntsville, where his K-rare held firm (8.2) but saw a dramatic rise in free passes (7.2). Overall, he finished the year with 120 punch outs, 65 walks, and a decent 3.81 SIERA in 127-plus innings.

Projection: Command has been a bit of bugaboo for Nelson, who averaged 4.0 BB/9 during his first full season. Obviously, his results from last season were on both end of the spectrum. For now, the former second rounder out of Alabama looks like a backend guy or serviceable late inning arm.

Ceiling: 1.5-win (starter); 0.5- to 1.0-win (reliever)

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate (starter); Moderate to Above-Average (reliever)

#9. Ariel Pena, Age: 24, Position: RHP

Acquired as part of the package from the Angels for Zack Greinke, Pena, a 6-foot-3 and 240 pound right-hander, showed some promise during his first stint in Double-A last year, throwing 146.2 innings with 140 strikeouts (8.6 K/9) and 65 walks (4.0 BB/9). His SIERA was rather mundane, at 4.02.

Projection: An interesting arm that’s always shown a strong ability to miss bats, but Pena’s below-average control has continues to plague him. On the positive side, it looked like it took a developmental step forward, averaging just 3.3 BB/9 during his 19 starts with LA. He’s got backend rotation upside. And at the very least could be a late-inning reliever.

Ceiling: 1.5-win (starter); 0.5- to 1.0-win (reliever)

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate (starter); Moderate to Above-Average (reliever)

#10. Hunter Morris, Age: 24, Position: 1B

Morris, a fourth rounder out of Auburn in 2010, has progressed nicely through the minors thus far, reaching Triple-A for the first time this season. While spending last year with Huntsville, the lefty swinging first baseman hit 40 doubles, six triples, and 28 homeruns — all which came while playing half his games in a bit of hitter-friendly ballpark. In total, though, his offensive production was 55% better than the league average.

Projection: A bit of a ‘tweener, really. He’s not awful against left-handers, shows above-average in-game power, and an average-ish eye at the plate. The problem, however, is that last season was the first time he was more than just a league average bat. He’s likely to either turn into the proverbial Quad-A pumpkin or carve out a bench job for a few seasons.

Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

#11. Khris Davis, Age: 25, Position: OF

Short and a bit thick around the midsection, Davis has, well, hit — at every point of his minor league career. In 345 games, the corner outfielder from Cal State Fullerton owns a career .294/.400/.513. He split time between Double-A and Triple-A last season, slugging a combined .350/.451/.604 with 21 doubles and 15 homeruns in 82 games.

Projection: He owns an elite eye at the plate, doubles power, and knows how to the put the bat on the ball. He won’t be a star, probably not even a solid everyday player, but in the right environment (platoon/bench bat) he could provide value to a big league club.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

#12. Jed Bradley, Age: 23, Position: LHP

Much like Jungmann, who was taken just three picks earlier, Bradley struggled noticeably during his transition into professional ball. In 20 starts (107.1 IP), the 6-foot-4 southpaw averaged just 5.0 BB/9 and 3.6 BB/9. And his SIERA, 4.85, was more or less marginally better than his actual ERA (5.53).

Projection: The future for Bradley just doesn’t look good right now. And, obviously, the Brewers recognize this by having him repeat High-A. Maybe his K-rate rebounds — though, Jungmann is a better bet.

Ceiling: 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low

#13. Tyrone Taylor, Age: 19, Position: CF

A toolsy center fielder nabbed in the second round last June, the Brewers pushed Taylor to A-ball this season, despite spending just 18 games in rookie ball.

Projection: Nothing to go on other than his lofty draft status and weak org-mates.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

#14. Nick Bucci, Age: 22, Position: RHP

After an impressive stint in High-A as a 20-year-old in 2011 (150 IP, 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9), Bucci lasted just 42.2 innings last season thanks to a cranky shoulder.

Projection: He could easily be among the club’s top half-dozen prospect, but, man, shoulder injuries are pretty frightening — especially for young pitchers. This season should be pretty telling.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

 

#15. Johnny Hellweg, Age: 24, Position: RHP

A once-upon-a-time reliever with massive control issues, Hellweg, who walked 45 in 43.2 innings in 2010, has now become a full time starter — albeit not a very good one. Across 139.2 innings in Double-A last season, the big right-hander only managed to punch out 105 (6.8 K/9) and allowed 75 free passes.

Projection: Hellweg, who was acquired in the Zack Greinke deal with the Angels, averaged more than a punch out per inning as reliever. And given his control issues last season, it makes sense to push him back into the pen where he could be a potential late inning arm.

Ceiling: 0.5- to 1.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

#16. Gian Rizzo, Age: 19, Position: RHP

One of the more intriguing arms buried deep in the system, Rizzo, who spent a second year in the Dominican Summer League, average 9.4 K/9 and just 1.1 BB/9 across 50 innings.

Projection: Nothing to go on, and in any other system Rizzo probably wouldn’t make the top 16, but, hey, he’s a wild card. And sometimes wild cards pay off.

Ceiling: Too soon to tell

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: N/A

 

 

Photo of Wily Peralta Courtesy of AP Photo/Tom Lynn via Yahoo! Sports



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


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