Announcement: For my analysis – including Ranking the Top 250 Prospects, Ranking the Farm systems, and in-depth commentary for over 900 minor leaguers – check out my book, The 2015 Prospect Digest Handbook, now available on Amazon!
For an explanation on the CAL, the Comparison And Likeness prospect classification system I derived, click here.
1. Orlando Arcia, 2B/SS
|Born: 08/04/94 Age: 20 Height: 6-0 Weight: 165 B/T: R/R|
|Top CALs: Jorge Polanco, Carlos Triunfel, Jose Pirela, Wilmer Flores, Reegie Corona|
Background: I noted in last year’s book that Arcia’s production in 2013 – .251/.314/.333 – was far more impressive than at first glance. The Venezuelan-born middle infielder missed the entire 2012 season after breaking his ankle sliding into second base. So not only did he fall behind the development curve, but the organization bravely pushed him from the Dominican Summer League straight into the Midwest League. Context. It’s always about context.
Last season the organization continued to take an aggressive approach with the 6-foot Arcia, sending him up to Brevard County, where he spent the year as the youngest member of the Florida State League. And guess what? His offensive game took a dramatic leap forward – he batted .289/.346/.392 with 29 doubles, five triples, four homeruns, and 31 stolen bases en route to posting a 113 wRC+.
I can’t reiterate this enough: Arcia missed his entire age-17 season, jumped from the Dominican Summer League to full season ball, where he struggled, and got pushed up to High Class A and blossomed.
Projection: Consider this little comparison between 19-year-old middle infielders in the FSL:
- Player A: .302/.340/.391 with a 112 wRC+
- Arcia: .289/.346/.392 with a 113 wRC+
Player A is none other than one of the most dynamic young shortstops in baseball right now – Starlin Castro. You get the sense that Arcia’s offensive game is just going to explode once his body begins to catch up with his level of competition. Above-average speed, improving power that could top out in the 15-HR range and a ton of youth; add it all up and Arcia’s one of the biggest sleeper prospects in all of baseball.
Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player
MLB ETA: 2016
2. Clint Coulter, C
|Born: 07/03/93 Age: 21 Height: 6-3 Weight: 222 B/T: R/R|
|Top CALs: Juan Apodaca, Carlos Perez, Jacob Nottingham, Jobdaun Morales, Sebastian Valle|
Background: Fun Fact –Milwaukee grabbed the prep backstop with the 27th overall pick in 2012, marking the first time the organization grabbed a catcher in the first round since 1978 when they grabbed Nick Hernandez as the eighth overall pick, bypassing a couple of very promising outfielders in the process (Kirk Gibson and Tom Brunansky). Fun Fact Part II: They selected only one other catcher in the first round in franchise history – four-time All-Star Darrell Porter.
Coulter, for his part, had one of the more impressive debuts in 2012, when he batted .302/.439/.444 in the Arizona Summer League. The club took the risky path, pushing him directly to the Midwest League to open 2013. And a combination of a severe oblique strain and a disappointing performance limited the 6-foot-3 backstop to just 70 underwhelming games.
Well, Coulter bounced back in a huge way last season. Back in the Midwest League, he batted .287/.410/.520 with 28 doubles, three triples, and 22 homeruns en route to posting a 165 wRC+, one of the best marks in all of the minors. The production helped him earn Milwaukee’s Minor League Player of the Year Award.
Projection: Offensively, there’s an awful lot to love about Coulter’s game – above-average power and plate discipline, solid hit tool, and strong contact rates. Defensively, there’s work that needs to be done. Granted he’s working with young, inexperienced arms still learning the finer nuances of the craft, but Coulter coughed up 17 passed balls and tossed out just a smidgeon more than a quarter of would-be base stealers. The bat has middle-of-the-lineup thump. If he can push his defensive game up a level or two, he could be a potential All-Star.
Ceiling: 3.5-win player
Risk: Moderate to High
MLB ETA: 2018
3. Tyrone Taylor, OF
|Born: 01/22/94 Age: 21 Height: 6-0 Weight: 185 B/T: R/R|
|Top CALs: Danry Vasquez, Cedric Hunter, Albert Almora, Ramon Flores, Gorkys Hernandez|
Background: A personal favorite of mine for quite some time, I wrote the following in last year’s book: “One gets the sense that Taylor is just tapping into what could be an impressive, well-rounded toolkit. The doubles suggest that the power could turn into 15 to 20 homeruns down the line. The plate discipline was good, not great. And he has enough speed to peak as a potential 20/20 player.” The Brewers once again challenged the promising center fielder last season, sending him to Brevard County in the Florida State League where he was one of just four qualified everyday players under the age of 21.
And, not surprisingly, Taylor responded to the challenge – he hit .278/.331/.396 with a career high 36 doubles, three triples, six homeruns, and 22 stolen bases (in 28 attempts) en route to topping the league average offensive mark by 7%.
But the most interesting part of Taylor’s success, however, is what he did over his final month in the Florida State League: he batted .223/.289/.243 with just two extra-base hits, both doubles. Meaning, the former second round pick batted .291/.340/.433 with a ton of extra-base knocks in the season’s first four months.
Projection: It’s not surprising to see a player of Taylor’s age struggle down the stretch against much older competition. I absolutely love Taylor’s offensive upside as potential 20/20 player. But he does have one troubling red flag – a lot of his production, especially last season, comes against southpaws; he batted .323/.367/.485 against LHP vs. .263/.319/.366 against RHP.
Ceiling: 2.5- to 3.0-win player
MLB ETA: Late 2016/Early 2017
4. Kodi Medeiros, LHP
|Born: 05/25/96 Age: 19 Height: 6-2 Weight: 180 B/T: L/L|
|Top CALs: Michael Ynoa, Richard White, Casey Feickert, Ty Hensley, Lance McCullers|
Background: For the third time in the last seven years Milwaukee dipped into the high school ranks and grabbed a prep hurler in the opening round of the draft. The Hawaiian-born southpaw was selected with the 12th pick last June, making him the third prep arm taken. Medeiros made nine appearances in the Arizona Summer League, totaling 17.2 innings with 26 strikeouts and 13 free passes.
Projection: Tall and lean, Medeiros missed a ton of at bats during his brief tenure in the stateside summer league. Ignoring his first three pro appearances, he posted a 21-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 12.2 innings. Looks very, very promising.
Ceiling: Too Soon to Tell
MLB ETA: N/A
5. Corey Knebel, RHP
|Born: 11/26/91 Age: 23 Height: 6-3 Weight: 195 B/T: R/R|
|Top CALs: Carlos Rodon, Casey Mulligan, Jacob Dunnington, Zach Stewart, Neil Ramirez|
Background: The Rangers acquired the nearly-MLB-ready reliever as part of the Joakim Soria deal with Detroit. Texas would then turn around five months later and flip the power-armed reliever along with Marcos Diplan and future utility man extraordinaire Luis Sardinas for free-agent-to-be Yovani Gallardo. Knebel, a supplemental first round pick out of Texas two years ago, bounced around quite a bit during the season as well. He opened the year with 11 appearances in the Eastern League, got promoted for three games to Toledo, was then bumped up to Detroit, got sent back down to Class AAA, bounced back up The Show for a pair of games, before finishing out the year in the PCL. Overall, he tallied 45.1 minor league innings, averaging 12.5 punch outs and 4.4 free passes per nine innings. And another 8.2 innings of mostly forgettable ball in Detroit.
Projection: One of those polished, ready-to-move collegiate hurlers who has done just that, making the big leagues just less than a year after being drafted. The control/command has some way to go, but he’s ready to hold a seventh, maybe an eighth inning role now. During his stint in Detroit he flashed a mid-90s heater, hard curveball, and a changeup.
Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player
Risk: Low to Moderate
MLB ETA: Debuted in 2014
6. Devin Williams, RHP
|Born: 09/21/94 Age: 20 Height: 6-3 Weight: 165 B/T: R/R|
|Top CALs: Daulin Ramirez, Carlos Felix, Ariel Alcantara, Jake Newberry, Derlin Espinal|
Background: The club’s second round pick out of Hazelwood HS two years ago, Williams had a pretty strong debut in the Arizona Summer League – he tossed 34.2 innings across 13 appearances while fanning 39 and walking 22. Opting to take the cautious path with the 6-foot-3 right-hander, the organization bumped him up to the more advanced rookie league and he fared much, much better. Williams posted a 66-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 4.02 FIP in 66.1 innings.
Projection: The most impressive part of Williams’ 2014 campaign? He made 15 appearances and uncorked 12 wild pitches. That’s Rick Vaughn territory. Williams’ overall numbers were plagued by a wonky .359 BABIP and a lower-ish 64.0% strand rate. The overall sample size is still under 100 innings, but he’s probably done enough to earn a taste in the Midwest League.
Ceiling: 2.0- to 2.5-win player
MLB ETA: 2018
7. Monte Harrison, OF
|Born: 08/10/95 Age: 19 Height: 6-3 Weight: 200 B/T: R/R|
|Top CALs: Luis Liberato, B.J. Boyd, Troy Stokes, Ayendy Perez, Theodis Bowe|
Background: Dipping back into the high school ranks for the third consecutive time, Milwaukee grabbed Harrison out of Lee’s Summit West HS with the 50th overall pick last June. A 6-foot-3 lightning-quick outfielder, Harrison hit .261/.402/.339 with seven doubles, two triples, one homerun, and 32 stolen bases in just 34 attempts. His overall production topped the league average mark by 26%.
Projection: Plus-plus speed and the frame that suggest at least solid-average power at some point in his career. Harrison walked in nearly 14% of his plate appearances, allowing him to take advantage of his speed. If he does show more pop than he has a chance to be a second round steal and a potential impact five-tool player.
Ceiling: Too Soon to Tell
MLB ETA: N/A
8. Taylor Williams, RHP
|Born: 07/21/91 Age: 23 Height: 5-11 Weight: 165 B/T: B/R|
|Top CALs: Jeffry Antigua, Edgmer Escalona, Matthew Loosen, William Delage, Tyler Wilson|
Background: In roughly one season’s worth of innings Williams has already done something more than former first round picks Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley – he’s missed a tremendous amount of bats (with impeccable control) in the lower levels of the minors. During his final – and only – season at Kent State University, Williams offered a tantalizing combination of swing-and-miss ability while limiting walks – he averaged 9.34 K/9 and 1.53 BB/9. Those numbers, coincidentally enough, are damn near identical to what he posted between the Midwest and Florida State Leagues last season: 9.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9.
Projection: Prior to the draft I pegged the eventual fourth round pick with a third round grade, writing:
“The data’s exceptionally limited – good, but limited. And there are not too many DI hurlers that can match his ability to miss bats and pound the zone. But the problem will come down to size, where teams shy away from sub-6-foot right-handers, particularly starters. He’s probably headed for the third round or so, but he’s going to be a steal – if the drafting team keeps him in the rotation.”
So far Milwaukee has…
Ceiling: 1.5-win player
Risk: Moderate to High
MLB ETA: 2017
9. Taylor Jungmann, RHP
|Born: 12/18/89 Age: 25 Height: 6-6 Weight: 210 B/T: R/R|
|Top CALs: Andrew Chafin, Jimmy Barthmaier, Ethan Martin, Merrill Kelly, Travis Chick|
Background: Admittedly, I was probably tougher on Jungmann than any other prospect in the book last year. At one point I wrapped up the analysis by saying, “Maybe if you squint hard enough you can see a poor man’s Luke Hochevar,” the former #1 overall pick who flamed out in the Royals’ rotation before returning as a dominant backend reliever. The problem with Jungmann is that he looked like a complete bust of a first round pick, hardly resembling the three-year starter he was with Texas when he annually combined strong strikeout rates and low walk totals.
Two years into his pro career, one that saw him enter the minor leagues as the 12th overall pick, Jungmann had fanned 181 in his first 292.3 innings, or just 5.57 K/9. But something clicked for the 6-foot-6 right-hander last season, and he looked like…the pitcher he used to be in college.
Jungmann opened the season by posting a 46-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 52.0 innings with Huntsville. And with nothing else to lose, the club pushed him up to the PCL, where he averaged the most strikeouts per nine innings since his sophomore season with the Longhorns. Overall, Jungmann tossed 153.2 innings, a career high, with 147 strikeouts, 61 free passes, and a nice enough 3.57 ERA.
Projection: And now the bad news: he was old. While Jungmann helped restore some of the lost luster on his prospect status, he’s still not what you’d expect to develop with the 12th overall pick. He does generate an enormous amount of action on the ground – he’s sporting a career 53.4% groundball rate – but the control/command is far from refined. Jungmann could eke out a couple years as a #5-type arm, but he’s probably best suited as a late-inning reliever a la Luke Hochevar.
Ceiling: 1.0- to 1.5-win player
MLB ETA: 2015
10. Michael Reed, OF
|Born: 11/18/92 Age: 22 Height: 6-0 Weight: 190 B/T: R/R|
|Top CALs: Aaron Hicks, Mallex Smith, Joe Benson, Luigi Rodriguez, Robbie Grossman|
Background: Also part of the draft that brought in Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley, Reed, a 6-foot, 190-pound outfielder out of Leander HS, spent the year with Brevard County in the Florida State League. In 110 games, the former fifth round pick topped the league average production by 30%, the fourth best mark in the league. That production was largely driven by his nose for the free pass. Reed walked in more than 17% of his plate appearances last season and more than 14% in his career. His average cratered as his BABIP dropped from .371 to .310 and he finished with a.255/.396/.378 triple-slash line.
Projection: In last year’s book I wrote,
“Fourth outfielder type. Reed hasn’t shown enough power, but the eye, speed, and outfield versatility could provide some big league value down the line.”
One year later and the analysis sticks. Speed and patience are the name of his game. That’s it. So it’s no surprise that CAL links Reed to a bunch of fourth outfielder types: Aaron Hicks, Mallex Smith, Joe Benson, Luigi Rodriguez, and Robbie Grossman.
Ceiling: 1.0-win player
MLB ETA: 2017
**All Statistics Courtesy of FanGraphs**