The Milwaukee Brewers are right in the thick of things in the hyper-competitive NL Central this season. It’s expected they’ll be buyers at the trade deadline while they push for another shot at the Dodgers in the NL playoff race.
That will come at the cost of their farm system, which has already taken a hit thanks to a few graduations and some poor performers.
First, the two graduates from the preseason list: Keston Hiura (1) who just crossed the threshold for prospect status, and Adrian Houser (40) who finally crossed 50 innings pitched in the big leagues, even though he made his debut in 2015.
Additionally, there are eight players who fell off the list from the preseason, including Chad McClanahan (29) Jake Hager (32) Quintin Torres-Costa (42) Rodrigo Benoit (43) Daniel Castillo (47) Cooper Hummel (48) Lun Zhao (49) and Nate Orf (50).
Now, let’s get into the good stuff:
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster
1. Brice Turang (SS, A/A+) Preseason Rank: 2
.287/.384/.376, 2 HR, 21 SB, 124 wRC+
Turang has displayed elite contract rates since getting drafted in the first round back in 2018, posting sky-high walk rates and low strikeout rates. His defense is good enough for him to stick at SS long-term, and while he has no power to speak of yet, he does have plenty of speed and a nice swing that could lead to some power later on.
2. Mauricio Dubon (2B, AAA/Majors) Preseason Rank: 5
.300/.335/.472, 14 HR, 9 SB, 92 wRC+
Dubon’s power finally emerged this season, as he has blasted 14 home runs at Triple-A – well above his previous career-high of eight. That, along with nice contact numbers, allowed him to briefly make his big league debut in July. Dubon looks like a late-bloomer, and has the tools to be a solid starting second baseman at the big league level, which could happen as soon as this season.
3. Trent Grisham (OF, AA/AAA) Preseason Rank: 17
.349/.425/.698, 10 HR, 5 SB, 16 wRC+
Milwaukee’s system has seen most of their top guys go backwards, but outfielder Trent Grisham has been one of the few bright spots. After dominating at Double-A, posting 13 home runs and six steals with a 150 wRC+, Grisham has been even better at Triple-A. The 22-year-old has a real chance of making the big league roster in September, and his approach at the plate – combined with his power and speed – make him a very intriguing prospect in dynasty formats.
4. Ethan Small (LHP, R) Preseason: NR
Only 1 IP
Small was Milwaukee’s first round pick in the June draft. A crafty lefty who sits around 90 miles per hour, Small used his excellent secondaries to absolutely dominate the competition while at Mississippi State. Coming off TJ surgery, Small could see his velocity creep back up into the mid-90’s, where it was early in college, which could make him a frontline starter. In a system lacking upper tier pitching prospects, Small is a name to watch.
5. Trey Supak (RHP, AA) Preseason: 14
10-4, 2.15 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 6.54 K/9
Supak has elevated his game to another level in 2019, limiting base runners at an elite clip at Double-A. While his strikeout numbers have taken another dip, his ability to pound the strike zone and limit hard contact should make him a mid-rotation starter down the line, possibly as early as 2020.
6. Eduardo Garcia (SS, R) Preseason: 11
.313/.450/.469, 1 HR, 1 SB, 159 wRC+
Garcia is one of Milwaukee’s biggest J2 signings in history, and although he’s only played 10 games in affiliated ball the Brewers have to like what they’ve seen so far. The 17-year-old looks the part of a future shortstop, and while he’s truly just a projection at this point, all signs are good for the youngster so far.
7. Antoine Kelly (LHP, R) Preseason: NR
0.87 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 12/1 K/BB ratio
Kelly was Milwaukee’s second round pick this past June, and the electric left-hander has dominated in his very brief time in rookie ball this year. Kelly is known to get his fastball up into the triple-digits, and while he’s being stretched out as a starter for the time being there’s a chance he becomes a dominant late inning weapon, a la Josh Hader. This is a kid to be excited about.
8. Tristen Lutz (OF, A+) Preseason: 4
.247/.336/.407, 9 HR, 2 SB, 115 wRC+
Lutz is your prototypical Brewers outfield prospect: he has tremendous pull-side power and nice speed, but big holes in his swing look to limit him as he rises through the system. Nine home runs and a 115 wRC+ at High-A are nice, but his 29.1% strikeout rate is a major concern for him going forward.
9. Mario Feliciano (C, A+) Preseason: 13
.270/.322/.465, 15 HR, 2 SB, 122 wRC+
Feliciano missed most of the 2018 season with an injury, but the 20-year-old catcher is looking good in High-A ball so far this season. His 29.0% strikeout rate is the biggest concern, but if he can fix that he could be a big league regular in a few years.
10. Micah Bello (OF, R) Preseason: 10
.245/.319/.519, 6 HR, 4 SB, 110 wRC+
Bello possesses game-changing speed and elite center field defense. Although the stick is still developing, he does have seven home runs and 14 steals through his first 68 games in rookie-ball, a sign that he could be a nice fantasy piece in the future – if he can wiggle his way into an everyday role.
11. Aaron Ashby (LHP, A/A+) Preseason: 9
3-4, 3.54 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 11.80 K/9
Ashby is a solid left-hander with a big frame and nice pitch mix, giving him a solid floor as a No. 5 starter – if he can maintain his control. He’s had issues with that this season however, which could relegate him to the bullpen.
12. Felix Valerio (2B, R) Preseason: 30
.321/.380/.393, 9 SB, 112 wRC+
Valerio is listed at five-foot-seven, which likely kills his chances of being an everyday regular. However, after stroking the ball in rookie-ball last year with the Mets, he has continued to hit well in Milwaukee’s system, and his hard to ignore. The 18-year-old is hitting .321 with nine stolen bases in just 21 games played, and while there probably isn’t enough here to be a regular, Valerio could be a speed-only middle infield option in fantasy leagues down the line, even if he only carves out a super-utility role.
13. Corey Ray (OF, AAA) Preseason: 3
.178/.259/.287, 3 HR, 3 SB, 29 wRC+
Hoo Boy. Ray is having one of the roughest seasons in a long time, posting a hideous 43.8% strikeout rate at Triple-A and watching his prospect status absolutely plummet. The good news is there is probably an injury at play here, although strikeouts aren’t exactly a new problem for the 24-year-0ld. Still, at this point I’m not sure I trust Ray as anything more than a fourth outfielder.
14. Drew Rasmussen (RHP, AA) Preseason: NR
1-2, 4.15 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 11.08 K/9
Rasmussen missed the entire 2018 season with Tommy John surgery, but the 2018 sixth rounder is having a nice go of things so far in 2019, with a 11.08 K/9 in 39 innings at Double-A. Control issues could limit him to the bullpen, but for now he has the makings of a mid-rotation starter.
15. Thomas Dillard (C/OF, A) Preseason: NR
.143/.333/.171, 0 HR, 1 SB, 71 wRC+
I’m higher than most on Dillard, Milwaukee’s fifth round pick – despite a slow start in Single-A. He was one of the best power hitters in all of high school, and ended up as one of the best power hitters in college as well. His 65 grade raw power is evident in his swing, and I think he has a kind of Kyle Schwarber like vibe to him. He won’t catch long-term, but the power makes him an interesting prospect regardless.
16. Zack Brown (RHP, AAA) Preseason: 6
2-6, 6.01 ERA, 1.87 WHIP, 6.67 K/9
Coming off an excellent 2018 season that saw him named Milwaukee’s minor league pitcher of the year, Brown has been straight garbage in 2019. His control is non-existent, and he’s not missing nearly enough bats. He still has a relatively high ceiling as a mid-rotation starter, but his floor just got a lot lower.
17. Payton Henry (C, A+) Preseason: 19
.236/.314/.388, 10 HR, 56 RBI, 103 wRC+
Henry is posting nearly identical numbers to his 2018 campaign, which he spent at Single-A. It’s encouraging that his power and other hitting metrics stayed the same one level higher, but his walk rate plummeted and his strikeout numbers are still concerning (30%). I think the potential to be a big league regular is there, but more and more I think he’s a power-heavy backup instead.
18. Troy Stokes Jr.(OF, AAA) Preseason: 7 (.214/.320/.369, 6 HR, 7 SB, 70 wRC+)
19. Carlos Rodriguez (OF, R) Preseason: 20 (.286, five games played)
20. Alec Bettinger (RHP, AA) Preseason: NR (4-5, 3.64 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 10.21 K/9)
21. Je’Von Ward (OF, A) Preseason: 15 (.227/.321/.316, 1 HR, 6 SB, 90 wRC+)
22. Lucas Erceg (3B, AAA) Preseason: 18 (.202/.296/.407, 14 HR, 2 SB, 67 wRC+)
23. David Fry (C, A) Preseason: 39 (.266/.323/.464, 12 HR, 7 SB, 123 wRC+)
24. Larry Ernesto (OF, R) Preseason: 24 (.214, nine games played)
25. Joe Gray (OF, R) Preseason: 8 (.152, 10 games played)
26. Nick Kahle (C, R) Preseason: NR (.246/.333/.443, 3 HR, 1 SB, 102 wRC+)
27. Joantgel Segovia (OF, AA) Preseason: 45 (.302/.389/.444, 5 HR, 8 SB, 140 wRC+)
28. Nick Bennett (LHP, R) Preseason: NR (7/1 K/BB ratio, 5 innings pitched)
29. Jacob Nottingham (C, MLB) Preseason: 16 (.254/.350/.394, 3 HR, 5 SB, 84 wRC+)
30. Pablo Abreu (OF, A) Preseason: 26 (.100, seven games played)
31. Weston Wilson (1B/3B, AA) Preseason: 38 (.230/.321/.398, 13 HR, 9 SB, 110 wRC+)
32. C.J. Hinojosa (SS, AA) Preseason: NR (.262/.330/.369, 4 HR, 2 SB, 104 wRC+)
33. Caden Lemons (RHP, R) Preseason: 23 (has not played)
34. Eduarqui Fernandez(OF, R) Preseason: 21 (.214/.310/.331, 4 HR, 9 SB, 83 wRC+)
35. Branlyn Jaraba (3B, R) Preseason: 35 (.238/.335/.341, 2 HR, 4 SB, 95 wRC+)
36. Cody Ponce (RHP, AA) Preseason: 33 (1-2, 2.83 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 1 save, 9.77 K/9)
37. Tyrone Taylor (OF, AAA) Preseason: 12 (.224/.286/.391, 6 HR, 4 SB, 59 wRC+)
38. Justin Jarvis (RHP, A) Preseason: 31 (3-1, 3.06 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 5.22 K/9)
39. Wes Rogers (OF, A+) Preseason: NR (.248/.333/.376, 2 HR, 9 SB, 106 wRC+)
40. Adam Hill (RHP, A) Preseason: 28 (6-7, 4.09 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 7.60 K/9)
41. Korry Howell (OF, A) Preseason: 27 (.251/.327/.348, 1 HR, 10 SB, 99 wRC+)
42. Bobby Wahl (RHP, N/A) Preseason: 41 (DNP, TJ surgery)
43. Ernesto Martinez (1B, R) Preseason: 36 (.252/.352/.387, 3 HR, 2 SB, 99 wRC+)
44. Yeison Coca (2B/SS, A) Preseason: 34 (.199/.270/.306, 5 HR, 18 SB, 68 wRC+)
45. David Freitas (C, MLB) Preseason: NR (.368/.443/.527, 6 HR, 142 wRC+)
46. J.T. Hintzen (RHP, A+) Preseason: 46 (2.86 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 11.66 K/9)
47. Braden Webb (RHP, AA) Preseason: 37 (1-2, 3.44 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.61 K/9)
48. Marcos Diplan (RHP, AA) Preseason: 25 (2-4, 4.94 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 10.04 K/9)
49. Jake Gatewood (3B, AA) Preseason: 22 (.178/.242/.304, 7 HR, 3 SB, 58 wRC+)
50. Phil Bickford (RHP, A+) Preseason Rank: 44 (1-0, 6.94 ERA, 1.97 WHIP, 15.43 K/9)
Others receiving consideration: Gabe Holt, Clayton Andrews, Jake Hager, Nate Orf, Daniel Castillo, Chad McClanahan, Jay Jackson, Anthony Bender, Cooper Hummel, Darrien Miller, Rodrigo Benoit, Lun Zhao