With the S2S 2012 Top 100 Prospects List now in the books, it’s time to take a closer look at the future of each team. And that means team prospect lists!
Most minor league sites will do top-10s, top-15s, top-20s, or some other ranking. Last year, to be a bit different, the FanSided team prospect lists (which were done at Call to the Pen, since S2S didn’t exist), instead listed a team’s top prospect at each position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, 5 SPs, and 2 RPs). This year, we’re keeping that format, but also adding a “Best of the Rest” section that lists the top ten players beyond the positional rankings. That’s 25 players per system, if you’re counting.
Thanks to a number of trades, the Brewers have lost a lot of upper echelon talent in recent years. A promising 2011 draft class and a renewed commitment to international scouting have started to restock the system but it remains a bottom 5-10 collection of talent overall.
While Milwaukee lacks an elite front-line pitching prospect, they have accumulated a sizable group of right-handed starting pitchers that project to be #2-#4 starters in the majors if things go well. The team also has some OF depth relative to other systems I’ve covered but things thin out pretty quickly at the other positions.
Position Player Upside: C
Position Player Depth: C-
Pitching Upside: B
Pitching Depth: B+
System Grade: C+
Catcher - Martin Maldonado (25): Based on his proximity to the majors, the lack of depth at the position, and the fact that in 2011 his bat showed signs of life for the first time in 8 minor league seasons Maldonado is the easy choice here. Long regarded as a defensive asset behind the plate with a plus-plus arm the bat has always been the question mark. From 2004-2009 (6 seasons) he hit 0.221 with 32 2B, 7 HR and a 177-73 SO-to-BB rate in 308 games. He improved slightly in 2010 before posting a 0.287/.373/.436 line with 18 2B and 11 HR with Huntsville and Nashville this past season. The Brewers rewarded him with a September call-up but relgated him to the bench as he appeared in only 3 games and struck out in his only major league at bat. At this point Maldonado is as ready for the majors as he’s ever going to be and regardless of whether the offensive gains are for real, he’s an excellent defensive catcher who has routinely thrown out more than 40 percent of basestealers in his career. At worst he’s a major league backup but could be a regular if the bat continues to develop.
First base – Hunter Morris (23): The Brewers 4th round selection in 2010, Morris spent his first full season with Brevard County in the FSL and hit 0.271/.299/.461 with 28 2B, 19 HR, 7 SB, 18 BB and 84 SO in 130 games. He also had a successful 6-17 four game audition with Huntsville that included 0.706 SLG (insert small sample size disclaimer here). The present power is a good sign, but he doesn’t profile to push his HR totals much beyond the 20-25 per year range and his ability to make contact is solid but not exceptional. Morris needs to improve quite a bit with the glove. He made 19 errors at 1B and gets knocked for both poor range and fundamentals around the bag. Outside of the need for defensive improvement he also has to overhaul an overly aggressive approach at the plate to improve upon his 16% K and 3.4% BB rates.
Second base - Scooter Gennett (21): We know that Scooter can hit. After handling Midwest League pitching to the tune of 0.309/.354/.463 in 118 games in 2010, he took on the FSL and hit 0.300/.334/.406 in 134 games with Brevard County. The team’s 16th round pick in the 2009 draft, Gennett’s extra-base output slipped a little from his debut season, but he did improve his SO/BB from 2.93 to 2.56 despite facing more advanced competition and playing in a more pitcher-friendly environment. Scooter also impressed in the AFL hitting 0.411/.470/.556 with 10 BB and 15 K in 22 games with Peoria. He has average speed with good instincts and a strong work ethic. Despite the 5’9” 164 lb frame, he has a good chance to be a bat-first starter at 2B in the majors. To reach that ceiling, however, he needs to improve his defense and continue to make strides in his approach at the plate.
Third base - Taylor Green (25): After spending all but 6 of his 126 games played in Double-A during the 2009 and 2010 seasons (with modest results), Green made it to Nashville in 2011. Making the most of the opportunity in front of him he broke out in a big way hitting 0.336/.413/.583 with 36 2B, 22 HR, and a strong 72-55 SO-to-BB rate in 487 PA. He made his major league debut on August 31st and hit 0.270 in 37 PA for the Brewers during the regular season and went 2-3 as a pinch hitter in the playoffs. Capable of playing both 2B and 3B adequately, there’s nothing left for him to prove in the minors. Green should make the Opening Day roster as a utility infielder but could play a much bigger role as the season wears on given the injury histories of Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez.
Shortstop - Orlando Arcia (17): The younger brother of Twins OF prospect Oswaldo Arcia, Orlando is an intriguing SS prospect who spent 2011 playing in the DSL. In 64 games, he hit 0.294/.386/.459 with 16 2B, 6 HR, and 13 SB. While DSL stats generally aren’t all that meaningful there’s no pooh-poohing away that Arcia walked 10 more times (30) than he struck out (20). Beyond the plate discipline he has a very promising bat with good pop, decent speed and enough defensive ability to possibly stick at the position. All in all Arcia is my favorite prospect in the Brewers system and the one I’m most optimistic about even though he’s so far away.
Outfielder #1 - Caleb Gindl (23): In 2010 he finished with a 0.758 OPS in Double-A. It was the first time that the Brewers 5th round pick in the 2007 draft saw that mark dip below 0.800. Undeterred Milwaukee sent him to Nashville for the 2011 season and he responded with a line of 0.307/.390/.472. Gindl hit 23 2B and 15 HR with 63 BB and 93 SO. He doesn’t have a standout tool but he gets the most out of his abilities with good instincts and a very sound approach at the plate. At 5’9” and 205 lbs he doesn’t exactly look like a baseball player but he’s gotten results and is on the cusp of the majors. Gindl will most likely wind up as a solid 4th outfielder who can handle CF in a pinch but is more of a natural fit in one of the corners, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him outperform that projection.
Outfielder #2 - Logan Schafer (25): After missing most of 2010 due to a variety of injuries, Schafer bounced back to hit 0.315/.385/.439 with 16 SB and a solid 47-39 SO-to-BB rate in 99 games – split primarily between Huntsville and Nashville – this past season. He also made his major league debut and went 1-3 while serving as a pinch-hitter and pinch runner. Schafer’s primary calling card is his plus defense as a CF but he’s also shown the ability to hit for average and get on base with a good approach. He’s got good speed but he relies more on instincts and good routes to chase down balls hit his way. Schafer is also a heady player, but offers very little in terms of power. The overall package makes him a good fit to be a superb 4th outfield in the majors and he’s ready to contribute immediately.
Outfielder #3 – Kentrail Davis (23): A supplemental round pick (39th overall) from the 2009 draft, Davis was considered one of the best college bats in his draft class. He showed well in the Midwest League hitting 0.335/.421/.518 in 64 games with Wisconsin in 2010 but he scuffled in the FSL. Back with Brevard County in 2011 Davis was disappointing as his on-base skills and approach at the plate took several steps back. He has the tools to hit for average and power but only his plus speed has been readily apparent in the last year and a half as he stole 33 bases in 2011. Defensively he’s not a natural or instinctive player at this point and his arm is passable at best. With just two seasons of affiliate ball under his belt, he’s still very capable of putting things together in 2012. If he does, he will immediately become the top-OF prospect in the system.
Starting Pitcher #1 - RHP Wily Peralta (22): Nathaniel ranked Peralta at #50 in the S2S Top-100 which made him the top rated Brewers prospect on our list and it’s not hard to see why. At 6’2″ and 240 lbs he has a good frame that should allow him to hold up to the rigors of taking the ball every fifth day. He throws both a two and four seam fastball, a slider and a change up. His four seam FB tops out in the 90s but he’s at his best when he throws in the lower 90s, maximizing the natural sinking movement of his two-seamer to generate ground balls. Peralta’s slider and changeup have both improved though the latter of the two still lacks consistently. He pitched well with Huntsville in 2011 (3.46 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 in 119.2 IP) and then even better in a 5 start stint with Nashville (2.03 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9 and 11/6 SO/9). Most sources label him as a #3 starter but I’m a believer that he could evolve into a legitimate #2.
Starting Pitcher #2 - LHP Jed Bradley (21): The Brewers used their 2nd of two first round picks (15th overall) to draft the Georgia Tech lefty. He signed at the deadline for $2 million and missed the chance to pitch in the regular season but Milwaukee did send him to pitch in the Arizona Fall League after instructs. His repertoire includes a low-90s fastball, low-90s slider and a developing changeup. Bradley showed significant improvement during his time at Georgia Tech and there’s no reason to believe that trend won’t continue. He seems like a fairly safe bet to wind up as a #3 starter in a major league rotation.
Starting Pitcher #3 - RHP Taylor Jungmann (22): Taken 3 picks ahead of Bradley, Jungmann is just a step behind his fellow first rounder because he’s a righty instead of a lefty. Both pitchers have similar upsides and the organization seems committed to having the two of them develop together at the same pace. Like Jed, Taylor has a low-90s fastball, slider and changeup mix and similar #3 upside. Also like Jed, he signed at the deadline and hasn’t made his professional debut.
Starting Pitcher #4 - RHP Tyler Thornburg (23): The other Brewers hurler to crack our Top-100 – at #78 – Thornburg had an outstanding 2011 season. It was his first full year in affiliated ball after Milwaukee selected him in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft and he wound up starting 12 games each for Wisconsin (1.57 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 10.0 SO/9) and Brevard County (3.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 11.1 SO/9). In addition to a low-90s fastball, he mixes in a changeup and curveball with the change being a plus pitch. Like Bradley and Jungmann he has the look of a #3 starter if things stay on track.
Starting Pitcher #5 - RHP Jorge Lopez (18): Another 2011 draftee, Lopez was selected in the 2nd round and was able to make four starts with the AZL Brewers after signing. The youngest of the five starters to make this list, he has the most projection of the group and a feel for pitching that is advanced for his age. Lopez currently throws a low-90s fastball and complements it with an excellent curveball and developing changeup. Having only been pitching for three years he’s very much a work in progress but doesn’t have as much mileage on his arm as a typical 18 year old pitching prospect. He has the upside of a #2 starter but he’s much further away from reaching that.
Relief Pitcher #1 - RHP Santo Manzanillo (23): Armed with an upper 90s fastball and hard slider he has the classic two-pitch mix of a power reliever. However he also mixes in a changeup that may wind up being better than the slider. Manzanillo finished 2011 with a 1.75 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 26 BB and 62 SO in 61.2 IP between Brevard County and Huntsville but has had an inconsistent track record. Involved in a car accident in the Dominican Republic this offseason he dislocated his pitching shoulder and fractured his scapula making his future a little more murky than it would have otherwise been.
Relief Pitcher #2 - RHP David Goforth (23): Yet another 2011 draft pick to make this list, the Brewers added Goforth in the 7th round and sent him to Helena to kick off his pro career. In 40.2 IP he finished with a 4.43 ERA, 1.33 WHIP while walking 10 and striking out 42. Goforth works primarily off his mid-90s fastball and low-90s cutter. He also has a curveball and change up but both pitches figure to be seldom used as a professional.
Best of the Rest
- #1) OF Michael Reed (19): Hit 0.232/.295/.375 with 4 2B, 2 3B, SB, 5 BB and 17 SO in 62 PA (14 G) for the AZL Brewers (Rk). Yet another 2011 draft pick, Reed was selected in the 5th round and signed for $500,000. He’s got plus raw power, good speed and a very strong arm but it remains to be seen how he will adjust to professional pitching.
- #2) RHP Mark Rogers (26): 9.37 ERA, 2.26 WHIP, 42 BB and 40 SO in 44.1 IP (15 G/13 GS) split between the AZL Brewers (Rk), Brevard County (A+) and Nashville (AAA). Rogers is here in deference to what the former 1st round pick – and former top-prospect in the organization – has been through. He missed all of 2007 and 2008 due to shoulder surgeries (yes, plural) and had his season cut short in 2011 when he had surgery in both his wrists to address problems with carpal tunnel syndrome. He still has the mid-90s fastball and outstanding curveball to go with his slider and changeup but he’s lost a lot of development time. It’s a shame because I think he could have been something special in the rotation had he been able to follow a “normal” development path.
- #3) RHP Cody Scarpetta (23): 3.85 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 61 BB and 98 SO in 117.0 IP (23 GS) for Huntsville (AA). Scarpetta has multiple plus pitches and raw stuff to be a mid-rotation guy, but the sum is not as good as the parts. He’s one of those guys that could seemingly come out of nowhere if he can pull things together.
- #4) RHP Michael Fiers (26): 1.86 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 36 BB and 132 SO in 126.0 IP (34 G/18 GS) for Huntsville (AA) and Nashville (AAA). Fiers was justifiably named the Brewers 2011 minor league pitcher of the year. While he doesn’t have standout stuff, his 0.97 career WHIP through 292 minor league innings is evidence of his ability to keep runners off the base paths with well-above average control. He made his major league debut in 2011 and should make his way back to Milwaukee at some point in 2012. Fiers could break camp with the team in the bullpen but he has more value as a back of the rotation option.
- #5) RHP Drew Gagnon (21): 8.05 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, 10 BB and 27 SO in 19.0 IP (8 G/7 GS) for Helena (Rk). The Brewers used their top four picks in the 2011 draft on pitchers with Gagnon being the fourth (3rd round). He struggled in his debut season but has a quality four-pitch mix (fastball, curve, slider and changeup) and could wind up as a #4/#5 innings-eater.
- #6) RHP Nick Bucci (21): 3.84 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 51 BB and 119 SO in 150.0 IP (26 G/25 GS) for Brevard County (A+). If you’re a fan of “slow and steady wins the race” then you should be a fan of the Ontario native. He cut his walk rate from 5.1 BB/9 in 2010 to 3.1 in 2011 and has already shown that he’s durable (270.2 IP the last 2 seasons). None of his pitches are above average but if he can survive the jump to AA in 2012 he could gobble up innings at the back of a rotation.
- #7) 1B Nick Ramirez (22): Hit 0.270/.304/.494 with 20 2B, 11 HR, 11 BB and 58 SO in 253 PA (58 G) for Helena (Rk) and Wisconsin (A). The Brewers 4th round pick in the 2011 draft, Ramirez is very similar to Hunter Morris. Both were drafted out of college, have above average power and have problems with discipline and approach at the plate. Ramirez is slightly better in the field while Morris has a better chance to maximize his power potential.
- #8) RHP Jimmy Nelson (22): 4.38 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 65 BB and 120 SO in 146.0 IP (26 G/25 GS) for Wisconsin (A). Nelson showed significant improvement during the course of the 2011 season and bumped his SO/BB from 1.34 in the first half to a much more palatable 2.33 in the second half. At 6’6″ and 245 lbs he’s got a lot of moving parts in his delivery so it’s not surprising that his mechanics get out of whack from time to time. If the second half of last season is an indicator of future consistency Nelson could move up the organizational rankings very quickly.
- #9) OF D’ Vontrey Richardson (23): Hit 0.284/.327/.384 with 13 2B, 7 3B, 3 HR, 9 SB, 22 BB and 70 SO in 392 PA (97 G) for Brevard County (A+). I’m a sucker for supremely athletic and raw outfielders and Richardson, a former Florida State quarterback, certainly fits the bill. He’s making strides in all facets of the game but 2012, and a likely Double-A assignment, will reveal whether the improvements he showed in 2011 are real or just an aberration.
- #10) OF Benjamin McMahan (22): He played for the university of Florida as a catcher but spent 2011 behind Mike Zunino on the depth chart. That’s not anything to be ashamed of as Zunino is expected to be one of the first three players taken off the board in the upcoming June draft. Once he signed Milwaukee played McMahan exclusively in the outfield and he showed that he was a capable player hitting 0.315/.329/.519 with 10 2B and 7 HR in 39 games with Helena. The major red flag here is his 36-3 SO-to-BB rate which followed up on an 16-4 rate in his final college season. If he can boost his walk rate and plate discipline, the Brewers may have gotten themselves a steal in the 23rd round of the past draft. His inclusion on this list is as much about gut feel as anything and he’s a player I will be watching closely during 2012. He would have even more value if the team moved him back behind the plate where he seemed to have the skillset and frame to stick.
The complete list of S2S 2012 Team Prospect Rankings can be found here.
For more on the Brewers, check out Reviewing the Brew.
Topics: Benjamin McMahan, Caleb Gindl, Cody Scarpetta, D' Vontrey Richardson, David Goforth, Drew Gagnon, Hunter Morris, Jed Bradley, Jimmy Nelson, Jorge Lopez, Kentrail Davis, Logan Schafer, Mark Rogers, Martin Maldonado, Michael Fiers, Michael Reed, Milwaukee Brewers, Nick Bucci, Nick Ramirez, Orlando Arcia, Santo Manzanillo, Scotter Gennett, Taylor Green, Taylor Jungmann, Tyler Thornburg, Wily Peralta