Milwaukee Brewers 2021 Midseason Top 50 Prospects

Brewers Top 50 design by @designsbypack on Twitter

There have been a lot of changes to our Milwaukee Brewers Top 50 prospects list since January. Some players moved up, some players dropped way down, and some graduated or left the organization.

Tyrone Taylor (preseason #33) graduated and has been doing well in the big leagues, while six other players are no longer with the Brewers. Jacob Nottingham (36) and Phil Bickford (39) were designated for assignment while Drew Rasmussen (8), Payton Henry (16), Bowden Francis (46), and Cooper Hummel (49) were sent out in trades.

There’s some new faces from the 2021 MLB Draft and from hot performances in the minor leagues this year. Let’s get to our Milwaukee Brewers Midseason Top 50 prospects update.

Prospects1500 Tiers:
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 a high likelihood of making the majors, but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players of interest, worth keeping an eye on, who have an outside chance of making the team’s 40-man roster

Tier 1

1. Garrett Mitchell, OF (January rank #1)
Age: 22
Current level: Double-A

Mitchell stormed his way through High-A Wisconsin with a .359 average and is showing the power in games now that he has shown in batting practice before, giving even more confidence he can reach his All-Star potential in centerfield.

2. Hedbert Perez, OF (January rank #2)
Age: 18
Current level: Rookie (ACL)

We are now finally seeing Perez in official game action and he’s impressing yet again down in Rookie ball, showcasing his five-tool potential. With numbers to back up the scouting reports now, Perez moves into Tier 1 status.

Tier 2

3. Brice Turang, SS (January rank #3)
Age: 21
Current level: Triple-A

After posting a .264/.329/.385 with 14 doubles, three triples, five home runs, and 11 stolen bases in Double-A Biloxi, Turang earned a promotion to Triple-A Nashville as a 21-year-old to be one of the youngest in the highest level of the minor leagues.

4. Sal Frelick, OF (January rank N/A)
Age: 21
Current level: Low-A

The Crew’s 2021 first round pick has a strong hit tool and good speed to go along with strong defense in centerfield and projects to be a top of the order hitter in the big leagues.

5. Ethan Small, LHP (January rank #4)
Age: 24
Current level: Triple-A

Small continued to storm his way through the minor leagues, earning a promotion from Double-A up to Triple-A after just eight starts and a 1.96 ERA with Biloxi. He’s done well in Triple-A but a finger strain has put him on the IL.

6. Aaron Ashby, LHP (January rank #7)
Age: 23
Current level: Triple-A

The Brewers moved Ashby to the bullpen in Triple-A and then into a sort of hybrid role after his one-day stint in the big leagues in June with mixed success. The Brewers have said his short-term role is in the bullpen at the big league level but will move back to the rotation in 2022.

7. Jeferson Quero, C (January rank #15)
Age: 18
Current level: Rookie (ACL)

Another high-rising Venezuelan prospect in the Brewers system, Quero has impressed behind the plate both as a defender and as a hitter. He’s been dominating Rookie ball and has a very exciting toolset.

8. Mario Feliciano, C (January rank #5)
Age: 22
Current level: Triple-A

Sidelined by a shoulder injury for most of the season, Feliciano is on the mend and is still on track to earn big league opportunities soon with his blend of power and defense.

9. Antoine Kelly, LHP (January rank #6)
Age: 21
Current Level: Low-A

Kelly is recovering from Thoracic Outlet Surgery and is pitching in Low-A as he shakes off the rust that has built up, but reports from the ATS last year have him improving his arsenal and his chances of sticking in the rotation going forward.

10. Eduardo Garcia, SS (January rank #10)
Age: 19
Current level: Rookie (ACL)

Garcia has shown some added power in 2021 and that could turn him into a solid all-around hitter while he has the defensive chops to stay at shortstop long-term.

11. Tyler Black, 2B/3B (January rank N/A)
Age: 21
Current level: Not assigned

Selected 33rd overall in the 2021 Draft, Black is a polished hitter with some solid power potential. He has experience at third base but profiles best as a bat-first second baseman at the next level.

Tier 3

12. Zavier Warren, C (January rank #19)
Age: 22
Current level: High-A

Warren has showcased his power and patience this season as the Brewers work on improving his defensive skills behind the plate. He’s caught just 16% of base-stealers and has seen some time at both corner infield spots and plenty of DH opportunities.

13. Joe Gray, Jr., OF (January rank #41)
Age: 21
Current level: High-A

One of the highest rising prospects in all of baseball, Gray Jr. dominated Low-A with a dynamic blend of power, speed, and contact ability, earning himself a promotion to High-A Wisconsin. I said in the Preseason Top 50 that we needed to see it to believe it when it came to Gray, and this season we have definitely seen it.

14. Luis Medina, OF (January rank #12)
Age: 18
Current level: Rookie (ACL)

Medina has plenty of raw power from the left side of the plate and still has plenty of frame to grow into. He’s getting his first taste of official pro games this year.

15. Freddy Zamora, SS (January rank #11)
Age: 22
Current level: Low-A

The Brewers’ 2020 second round pick is having a solid first season in pro ball and first games in general since 2019 after recovering from an injury in 2020. He hasn’t shown much for extra-base hit ability but he’s getting on base at a good clip.

16. Carlos Rodriguez, OF (January rank #14)
Age: 20
Current level: High-A

High-A might have been an aggressive assignment for the 20-year-old Venezuelan, as he’s hitting below .250 after posting batting averages above .320 in all three levels of Rookie ball (DSL, AZL, Pioneer) in 2018 and 2019. Rodriguez doesn’t possess much power and most of his value is reliant on his hitting ability.

17. Alex Binelas, 3B/1B (January rank N/A)
Age: 21
Current level: Rookie (ACL)

One of the best power bats in all of college baseball, Binelas was taken by the Brewers in the 3rd round of the 2021 Draft. The Brewers will try to keep him at third base and he can be a solid big league player if he makes enough contact and I see a comp of Travis Shaw when he was in his prime as what Binelas could be.

18. David Hamilton, SS (January rank #29)
Age: 23
Current level: Double-A

Probably the fastest prospect in the Brewers system, Hamilton has not just been showcasing his speed in High-A. To go along with his 41 stolen bases with the Timber Rattlers, Hamilton also hit .264 with a .776 OPS, 14 doubles, 7 triples, and five homers before recently earning a promotion to Double-A.

19. Russell Smith, LHP (January rank N/A)
Age: 22
Current level: Not assigned

The Brewers believe their 2021 second round selection can be a starting pitcher at the big league level. Smith is 6’9″ and has long levers that he keeps in sync pretty well and has very strong command already but could use some refinement of his pitch arsenal, which is something the Brewers are very good at.

20. Jake Cousins, RHP (January – unranked)
Age: 27
Current level: MLB

After really coming out of nowhere, most recently a stint in Independent ball, Cousins impressed in Spring Training and then earned a spot in the Brewers bullpen in 2021 and has been lights out, earning some higher leverage roles. His sinker-slider combination is legit.

21. Miguel Sanchez, RHP (January – unranked)
Age: 27
Current level: MLB

Another reliever who seemingly arrived out of nowhere, Sanchez signed as an international free agent a few years ago as a 22-year-old and quietly worked his way up the system and has earned a bullpen spot in 2021 and has been pitching extremely well at the big league level.

22. Justin Topa, RHP (January rank NR)
Age: 30
Current level: MLB (IL)

Continuing this trend for the Brewers at the end of Tier 3, Topa was signed out of Indy ball in 2019 and made his MLB debut last year, and pitched very well. He had earned a bullpen spot for 2021 but suffered an elbow injury in Spring Training but is getting close to returning from the IL and being a key piece in the Brewers bullpen.

Tier 4

23. Jackson Chourio, SS (January rank #28)
Age: 17
Current level: DSL

The Brewers top international signee in the 2021 class, Chourio has a great hit tool, great speed, and a strong throwing arm with the ability to play either shortstop or centerfield in the future.

24. Korry Howell, IF/OF (January rank #51)
Age: 22
Current level: Double-A

Howell just missed the Top 50 list in January, and he’s been making his case for inclusion on this next one ever since. He’s lit up High-A with a dozen homers and 20 stolen bases, finally showcasing some of the high upside he has.

25. Jesus Parra, 2B/3B (January rank #25)
Age: 18
Current level: Rookie (ACL)

Parra has been growing into his frame and should possess some good power going forward and could be either a bat-first second baseman or a solid all-around third baseman with a strong throwing arm.

26. Micah Bello, OF (January rank #22)
Age: 21
Current level: Low-A

Bello really impressed at instructional league last year and injected some life into his prospect status after poor seasons in 2018 and 2019. He suffered an injury earlier this year and has only played in a handful of games.

27. Abner Uribe, RHP (January – unranked)
Age: 21
Current level: Low-A

Uribe can throw the baseball 103 MPH. Can he control it particularly well? No. Does he have a dominant secondary pitch? Also no. If he finds either of those things, he could be a dominant back-end bullpen arm.

28. Dylan File, RHP (January rank #17)
Age: 25
Current level: Triple-A

Expected to play a key role in the big leagues this year, File suffered an injury in Spring Training and missed the first half of the season. He’s getting to be just about ready and could earn a big league roster spot soon.

29. Alec Bettinger, RHP (January rank #18)
Age: 26
Current level: Triple-A

Bettinger didn’t have a great MLB debut and has gone up and down a number of times between the big leagues and Triple-A, and his future is looking more and more like it’s in the bullpen instead of the starting rotation.

30. Je’Von Ward, OF (January rank #40)
Age: 21
Current level: High-A

Another player with a solid start to the 2021 season, Ward has been doing well in High-A, but hasn’t hit for much power and hasn’t been a major stolen base threat.

31. Joey Wiemer, OF (January rank #34)
Age: 22
Current level: High-A

Drafted in the 4th round in 2020 with raw tools and a wonky swing, the Brewers have tamed Wiemer’s leg kick, cut down on his pre-swing motion, and done so with good success. His raw power is huge, as shown by a recent homer he hit off the lights in Zebulon, NC.

32. Luke Barker, RHP (January rank #38)
Age: 29
Current level: Triple-A

Barker continues to dominate the top level of the minor leagues, posting another sub-2.50 ERA so far in 2021 and could work his way into the Brewers big league bullpen soon.

33. Felix Valerio, SS (January – unranked)
Age: 20
Current level: Low-A

Valerio, the low-level lottery ticket in the Keon Broxton trade with the Mets a few years ago, has been lighting it up in Low-A, hitting over .300 with an OPS over .850. He’s walked more than he’s struck out and stolen over 20 bases.

34. Ernesto Martinez, 1B (January rank #43)
Age: 22
Current level: Low-A

Martinez is one of the more fun players to watch in minor league baseball, but instead of showing huge power numbers, the 6’6″, 230 pound Martinez has been hitting for a high average and drawing some walks, while somehow leading the Carolina Mudcats in stolen bases.

35. Thomas Dillard, C/1B (January rank #23)
Age: 23
Current level: Double-A

Dillard likely won’t be a catcher in the big leagues but has been hitting well of late with 16 homers now on the season and a .240-.250 average, but he does have a strikeout percentage of near 40%.

36. Hendry Mendez, OF (January rank N/A)
Age: 16
Current level: Rookie (DSL)

Mendez is rising quickly and could honestly be higher on this list. In just a handful of games in the DSL, Mendez has been tearing it up and has shown a knack for getting extra-base hits and putting the ball in play.

37. Zack Brown, RHP (January rank #13)
Age: 26
Current level: Double-A

One of the biggest fallers this year, Brown had shoulder fatigue in spring and was shut down and didn’t get assigned to a team until late July. Once the Crew’s top pitching prospect, Brown appears to be seeing his chances slip away.

38. Corey Ray, OF (January rank #37)
Age: 26
Current level: Triple-A

Another former top prospect that has fallen, Ray made his MLB debut earlier this year, but didn’t really get a full opportunity to prove himself and has once again dealt with injuries and poor performance in 2021.

39. Tristen Lutz, OF (January rank #9)
Age: 22
Current level: Double-A

Another big faller this year, Lutz has stalled out in Double-A, hitting just barely over the Mendoza line with nowhere near enough game power for what his raw power indicates he should have. He might not hit enough to make use of his big power from the right side.

40. Logan Henderson, RHP (January rank N/A)
Age: 19
Current level: Not assigned

Henderson led all of JUCO in strikeouts, just like fellow Brewers prospects Aaron Ashby and Antoine Kelly before him. Look for the Brewers to develop his stuff and he could be in the rotation going forward and is a good sleeper candidate for dynasty first-year player drafts.

Tier 5

41. Hayden Cantrelle, SS (January rank #21)
Age: 22
Current level: High-A

The switch-hitting Cantrelle has not hit for a high batting average this year, but he’s drawn a ton of walks and stolen a lot of bases. If he can start getting more base hits he could rise back up this list.

42. Nick Kahle, C (January rank #20)
Age: 23
Current level: High-A

Another big faller, Kahle is having a rough season offensively and his future role might be as a backup catcher instead of a starter, but there’s still time for him to make some gains on offense.

43. Jheremy Vargas, IF/OF (January rank NR)
Age: 18
Current level: Rookie (ACL)

Vargas, much like Hendry Mendez, has been rising of late and could deserve to be higher on this list. He’s been lighting up Rookie ball this year and shown a great ability to make solid contact with the baseball. He’s still many years away from the big leagues, however.

44. Victor Castaneda, RHP (January rank #32)
Age: 23
Current level: High-A

Castaneda hasn’t been having a horrible season, but it hasn’t been spectacular either. He’s been hovering around a 4.00 ERA most of the season in High-A as a starter and hasn’t been able to take the big step forward in the results as he was expected to do this year.

45. Gabe Holt, 2B (January rank #44)
Age: 23
Current level: Low-A

Holt is having a solid season in Low-A, hitting in the .270s with a near .400 OBP and more walks than strikeouts. He’s shown good speed on the bases as well.

46. Eduarqui Fernandez, OF (January rank #47)
Age: 19
Current level: Rookie (ACL)

Fernandez has a great power/speed combo that he’s been able to display so far in Rookie ball, but he does have a strikeout issue that will need to be watched closely.

47. Justin Bullock, RHP (January – unranked)
Age: 22
Current level: High-A

Bullock has been rising fast through the Brewers system, starting the year in Low-A, posting a 1.42 ERA in four starts there, then moving up to High-A and making eight solid starts there, and now he’s up in Double-A still pitching well. He can stick in the rotation going forward.

48. Gregory Barrios, SS (January rank N/A)
Age: 16
Current level: Rookie (DSL)

The switch-hitting Venezuelan shortstop has performed well in the DSL, getting on base and stealing bases, while showing an ability to play a solid defensive shortstop.

49. Nick Bennett, LHP (January rank #31)
Age: 23
Current level: Double-A

Bennett did well in High-A earlier this year, earning a promotion to Double-A, where he’s struggled a bit. While he’s a starter now, his delivery and profile lean more towards him being a reliever in the big leagues.

50. Ashton McGee, IF (January rank NR)
Age: 22
Current level: Low-A

McGee is lighting it up in Low-A as his slash line categories are all above .300/.400/.500 with a good mix of power and on-base ability, but his prospect status is hampered by a 40% strikeout rate and the lack of a clear defensive position moving forward.




About David Gasper 6 Articles
Graduate of UW-La Crosse. Current editor-in-chief at Reviewing the Brew. Big believer of Corbin Burnes and driver of the Corbin Burnes Hype Train.

3 Comments

  1. Very happy #45 made the list…somewhat of an outlier, the kid has never, from little league to last night in Kinston, struck out more in any season than he has walked…in his life! Closing in on 90 hits and will get 100 plus hits before this season is over to go along with 68 runs, 35 RBI, 58 BB, and 44Ks…great thing about being an outlier is no one keeps an eye on you but you silently take care of business…good job on the rankings

  2. With Ashby reaching 99 with movement(sitting closer to 94-97) now and already having a devastating slider, a good change and a developing curve…so a 4 pitch repertoire, with two out pitches and two other reliable pitches, wouldn’t he be considered more than just a “solid contributor?”

    Certainly meets the criteria for a good chance to make a major league roster given he’s on one. I realize this is about 3 weeks old, but he was showing off some NASTY stuff prior to that…so…feels like maybe he should be in tier one.

    Also, question about the Brewers pitchers in general. Is it normal for so many guys to add so much velo?
    Burnes(100), Woody(100), Hader(99), Ashby(99), Williams(100)…these are all guys who just a couple years ago these scouting reports were saying they were sitting in the low 90’s, most were 91-95, Williams was a tick lower, same with Ashby.

    Now these guys are hitting triple digits and generally working in the mid to upper 90’s, even the starters deep into games. Heck, Freedy Peralta was a guy who’s scouting report read 88-92 and he’s pretty comfortably around 94-97.

    Now you have reports of Small…another guy who even at 88-91 was missing a whole lot of bats and had an advanced feel for pitching…and HE’S throwing 3-4 ticks harder…making that 91-95.

    Question 1-What’s the reason for this? Strength and conditioning?
    Or are they just cleaning up the delivery throwing with their whole body more? It can’t just be projection when guys like Woody and Burnes were College draft picks who were pretty physically mature coming in.

    Question 2-When does this start to affect your grades? Burnes, Wooody and Peralta were all in Tier 4. That’s not to criticize, but they’re 3 of the top 5-10 starters in the NL right now and each have been their own brand of great. Peralta with a potentially record breaking low OBA, Burnes control and strikeout record, Woody with his consistently VERY-VERY good outings. IIRC, 19 games with 6 IP and 0 runs scored against this trio.

    Do some of these pitchers start to get the benefit of the doubt? Do you start to look at a pitcher like…say Small and wonder if maybe he’s got #2 type potential instead of back of the rotation upside? Or Smith, File, Henderson…are they not exactly the type of arms the Brewers have done more with in recent years?

    Again, just looking for a discussion, not an argument and not criticism. These lists take quite a bit of work, I understand that and how imperfect a science this is.

    • All very good points. The tier system is designed to be particularly tough to be in Tier 1. That’s just supposed to be future perennial All Stars, so while Ashby is very good, those spots are limited, but he has a chance to jump in there next January if he doesn’t pass the innings limit this year.

      On the velocity gains, the Brewers do have a velocity program that they can run their pitchers through to get them to gain velocity. Every team likely has their own program and the Brewers have run theirs clearly with plenty of success. It takes some time, it takes patience, but they have found a way to maximize their physical potential. It’s a combination of strength and conditioning and cleaning up the delivery to add that velo and do so in a safe enough manner that the pitcher won’t get seriously injured.

      As far as the grades, I didn’t make the lists when Woodruff, Peralta, and Burnes were all prospects, so I can’t speak to that, but when they were in the lower levels, there was significant reliever risk with all of them. That’s why Woody was an 11th rounder and Burnes was a 4th rounder. Few, if any, really thought they could be as good as they are now.

      That’s also something that makes it difficult to grade some of these pitchers. The Brewers have proven to be very good at developing pitching, so perhaps some of these pitchers deserve to be higher than where I have them on this list. It’s a matter of seeing more of some of these guys and trying to determine if they have a future in the starting rotation or in the bullpen. A lot of these guys will be moving around in the next update in January. Appreciate the discussion

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