The minor league season is over, and while many of Milwaukee’s prospects will be headed to Arizona or various other leagues in the Dominican Republic, it’s time for us to hand out our end of the season awards. In a similar fashion to how Fangraphs presents awards, we have an offensive and pitching MVP, a graduate, a newcomer, a biggest disappointment and a most improved award.
The Graduate: Freddy Peralta, RHP
The Brewers recalled Freddy Peralta early in the season, and the right-hander has been a big part of their rotation down the stretch. Peralta pitched to a 3.10 ERA with a 12.48 K/9 in 13 starts at Triple-A on the season. In 14 big league starts, he has a 4.40 ERA with a 11.12 K/9 and a 4.76 BB/9. His 3.85 FIP is a more accurate picture of how the young right-hander has pitched, but until he can limit the walks in the show he will be limited to being a No. 4 or 5 starter. If he learns to command the zone, he could be a 2 or 3 with big time strikeout potential.
The Newcomer: Brice Turang, SS
Turang was Milwaukee’s first round pick in 2018. The toolsy shortstop prospect played 13 games in Arizona and another 29 with the Helena Brewers, a rookie affiliate. He totaled 31 walks and just 34 strikeouts, while stealing 14 bases and slashing a combined .283/.396/.352. Turang is a well-rounded prospect who can play a clean shortstop, make solid contact and steal bases. His power is still developing, and will go a long way in determining his ceiling as a ballplayer. He is a long way from the big leagues, but should find himself in affiliated ball next season.
The Offensive MVP: Corey Ray, OF
Ray’s power showed up in a BIG way in 2018, as the slugger blasted 27 home runs, 20 more than his career high. Add on his 37 steals and you have an outfield prospect who just oozes tools. His .239/.323/.477 slash line is no doubt a disappointment, as is his 29.3% strikeout rate at AA. At this point, Ray is tough to judge. He has the power/speed combination that scouts dream of, but if he doesn’t cut down the strikeouts he may go the way of Lastings Milledge or more recently, Byron Buxton. If he can cut the strikeouts down even a little bit, we could be looking at the offensive profile of a Mike Cameron. The Brewers have struggled to develop their toolsy outfielders (hello Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton) but if they can get Ray’s hit tool back to where it can be, he could be a great.
The Pitching MVP: Zack Brown, RHP
It’s hard not to like what Zack Brown brought to the table this season. In 21 starts with Double-A Biloxi, Brown went 9-1 with a 2.44 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and a 116/36 K/BB ratio. The 23-year-old was a fifth round pick back in 2016 and has quietly been an excellent contributor in the lower levels of the minor leagues. His excellence at AA is a great sign that he is legit. He relies quite a bit on his 60-grade fastball, but will need to trust his plus curveball and fringe-average changeup a bit more if he wants to avoid a future as a reliever. He has the tools and makeup to be a big league No. 4 starter as long as he continues to limit base runners and keep the ball in the park. 2018 was a huge step in the right direction for the right-hander.
The Most Improved: Je’Von Ward, OF
The 18-year-old Ward spent his second season in rookie ball. He improved in nearly every possible metric, improving his walk rate from 6.8% to 11.8%, while lowering his strikeout rate from 29.5% to 21.0%. He stole 13 bases and slashed .307/.391/.403 with a 111 wRC+. The main knock on Ward is his lack of power, but if that shows up – look out. Some scouting reports have Ward nearing the top ten prospects in the system, a far cry from where he was last year.
The Biggest Disappointment: Marcos Diplan, RHP
Diplan is only 21, so there’s still plenty of time for the hard-throwing right-hander to turn it around. However, his control issues did not get any better this season, as he posted a 5.58 BB/9 at High-A in 13 starts – followed by a 5.68 BB/9 in 12 starts at AA. His 117 strikeouts in 118.1 innings is nice, but he had a 4.58 ERA (4.63 FIP) at Double-A and is definitely looking more and more like a future reliever than the mid-rotation starter the Brewers were hoping for. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Diplan has a dynamic slider and a hard fastball, and could develop into a future closer with his arsenal. The Brewers will no doubt take that, even if it’s not what they were expecting.
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Featured image of Corey Ray – via Brewers on Twitter