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  • A Post-Deadline Review of the “Overlooked” Prospects (Starting Pitchers)

    Harold Hutchison

    Brewers fans are rightly excited about the rise of prospects like Jacob Misiorowski and Carlos F. Rodriguez in 2023. Both look to be crucial contributors in the years ahead, just as Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta have in the rotation. However, there are a lot of pitchers who can be overlooked.

    Image courtesy of Joshua Sumrall, Biloxi Shuckers

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    When one considers that each minor-league team will have at least a five-man rotation (or even six), that leaves a lot of starts to be made in a given season. In the past, there have been folks who emerged almost from nowhere to fill a rotation role in the majors – like Brent Suter. But how have some of the more “overlooked” prospects fared?

    Right-Handed Starters
    Max Lazar, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (A+)/Biloxi Shuckers (AA)
    1-4, 3.20 ERA, 56.1 innings pitched, 14 walks, 59 strikeouts

    Lazar has spent most of his 2023 bounce-back season in the bullpen, but returned recently to the rotation in Biloxi. Perhaps the best sign? In Biloxi, he’s struck out 11.1 batters per nine innings as of August 5th, a sign that he is returning to pre-pandemic form. Staying healthy and building up his endurance will be crucial in 2023 and 2024.

    Kevin Briceno, Arizona Complex League Brewers (R)
    On the 60-day injured list all season

    Briceno will have to bounce back from injury wrecking 2023, which is a big disappointment for himself – and for Brewers fans, who saw a lot to like in his 2022 numbers. At 20, he still has a lot of baseball in him, though, and should not be counted out.

    Cameron Wagoner, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (A+)
    3-11, 7.05 ERA, 75.1 innings pitched, 29 walks, 63 strikeouts

    Wagoner has remained healthy this season, which may be the one positive he can draw from an otherwise forgettable 2023 season. Virtually every ratio has gone the wrong way for him this year, and the big question is how he will react in 2024. Corbin Burnes had a similar rough year in 2019, and turned out just fine, and Waggoner is only 22.

    Melvin Hernandez, DSL Brewers 2 (FRk) - New
    2-2, 2.48 ERA, 29 innings pitched, 7 walks, 23 strikeouts

    Some of the numbers might not be eye-popping, but Hernandez is just 16 years old, and he’s racking up a relatively low WHIP (1.14), has allowed only one home run (in a league where he has to face off against fellow Brewers farmhand Yophery Rodriguez of the DSL Brewers 1), and he’s striking out 3.3 batters for every walk.

    Lazar’s comeback looks like it is going well, and he could, if back to form, be a contender for the 2025 Brewers MLB roster. Briceno and Waggoner will have to rebound from adversity. Hernandez could be a very exciting pitcher, already showing excellent control at a very young age.

    Left-Handed Starters
    Brandon Knarr, Biloxi Shuckers (AA)
    0-2, 8.25 ERA, 12.0 innings pitched, 9 walks, 19 strikeouts – currently on 60-day injured list

    Knarr had a rough start to the season, then went on the injured list, joining Adam Seminaris and relievers Harold Chirinos and Justin Yeager. Prior to his injury, Knarr had kicked his strikeout rate way up, albeit the walk rates were also up in the very small sample size. However, this can likely be attributed to the injury, and he should be able to rebound in 2024.

    Anfernny Reyes, Arizona Complex League Brewers (R)
    2-2, 5.18 ERA, 24.1 innings pitched, 10 walks, 35 strikeouts

    Reyes has only seen action out of the bullpen so far this season. Despite the high ERA, the peripheral numbers (WHIP, opposing batting average and OPS) look quite solid for the 19-year-old in his first season in the United States. He’s had five hit batsmen and seven wild pitches, this year.

    Osbriel Mogollon, Arizona Complex League Brewers (R)
    2-2, 3.74 ERA, 33.2 innings pitched, 21 walks, 37 strikeouts

    Mogollon’s strikeout rate has dipped a little, but he is still avoiding the home run ball (1 in 33 2/3 IP as of August 5). He’s split time between the bullpen and the rotation for Maryvale. One notable stat: No wild pitches or hit batters as of August 5, which is pretty incredible for the ACL.

    Anthony Flores, DSL Brewers 1 (FRk) - New
    1-2, 3.44 ERA, 36.2 innings pitched, 16 walks, 43 strikeouts

    Flores has been racking up the strikeouts – almost 11 per nine innings – and he’s avoided the gopher ball so far in the DSL, giving up just one home run as of August 5. Opponents haven’t even cracked the Uecker Line against him when he’s on the mound.

    Reyes and Mogollon are showing some very promising signs in the low minors, which could bear fruit for the Brewers sooner rather than later. Knarr’s injury is a setback, but the Crew – and Knarr – will be hoping for a 2024 rebound. Flores, though, is showing some real potential in the DSL.

    Next: Relief Pitchers

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  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
  • Posted

    It's generally a recap of those before the season, but I did add Hernandez and Flores. Hernandez is going to be scary good when he fills out.

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    Brandon Knarr is a good prospect for this category.  He had a good season last year after dominating High A, then held his own in AA with good K/9 and WHIP numbers.  I thought he could be a potential contributor at the MLB level.  The injury lost season sucks for him, hope he comes back healthy and picks up where he left off.

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  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
  • Posted

    Thank you for this article and similar ones on players at other positions.

    Taking another angle at this:

    • 155 players have pitched for our minor league squads in 2023, including regulars, rehabbers, position players
    • 100 players have thrown 20 innings or more
    • Sorting those 100 by Batters Faced / Game, I'll take the top 45 on that list to zero in on Starting Pitchers. This includes guys like Eric Prado, TJ Shook and Jesus Rivero, but excludes players like James Meeker, Quinton Low and Aidan Maldonado
    • Of these remaining 45 players, I'll sort by K/BB ratio and find:
    1. RHP Enniel Cortez - 17 - DSL ball - 44 Ks to 5 BBs. Wow. 1.55 ERA. 0.89 WHIP
    2. RHP Logan Henderson - ranked, not overlooked
    3. LHP Thomas Pannone - getting paid and hopefully having fun in Korea
    4. RHP Tobias Myers - 25 - AA - 123 Ks to 36 BBs. 5.47 ERA. 1.30 WHIP. Maybe we need to shift him to the bullpen?
    5. RHP Manuel Rodriguez - 18 - ACL - 34 Ks to 10 BBs. 4.35 ERA. 1.23 WHIP. He's the youngest pitcher that we have state-side. Listed at 6'2", so hopefully he'll find more velocity. Will he start next season in the ACL or at Low-A Carolina?
    6. RHP TJ Shook - 25 - AA - 81 Ks to 24 BBs. 5.48 ERA. 1.31 WHIP. Okay, these AA strikeout numbers are likely juiced by the pre-tacked balls used for over half the season
    7. RHP Edwin Jimenez - 21 - mainly High-A - 94 Ks to 29 BBs. 3.90 ERA. 1.19 WHIP. Just had two awesome outings in his last three appearances, going 7.1 IP each time
    8. LHP Anthony Flores - covered above
    9. RHP Melvin Hernandez - covered above
    10. LHP Robert Gasser - ranked, not overlooked

    Now re-ranking those 45 Starting Pitchers by WHIP:

    1. RHP Enniel Cortez
    2. RHP Logan Henderson - why has this man not yet been promoted to High-A?
    3. RHP Eric Prado - 17 - DSL - 1.70 ERA. 1.00 WHIP. 32 Ks vs. 14 BBs in 37 IP
    4. RHP Gabriel Colmenarez - 17 - DSL - 2.00 ERA. 1.03 WHIP. 24 Ks vs. 13 BBs in 36 IP. That's a pretty low K-rate, without a great K/BB ratio
    5. LHP Anthony Flores
    6. RHP Jesus Flores - just 21.1 IP
    7. LHP Thomas Pannone
    8. RHP Jesus Rivero - 20 - mainly Low-A - 3.21 ERA. 1.13 WHIP. 50 Ks vs. 18 BBs in 33.2 IP. Now we're talking
    9. RHP Carlos F. Rodriguez - ranked, not overlooked
    10. RHP Melvin Hernandez

    Now re-ranking those 45 Starting Pitchers by Strikeouts / Batters Faced:

    1. RHP Jesus Rivero
    2. RHP Logan Henderson
    3. RHP Jacob Misiorowski - ranked, not overlooked
    4. RHP Carlos F. Rodriguez
    5. RHP Daniel Corniel - 19 - ACL - 6.03 ERA. 1.66 WHIP. 47 Ks vs. 22 BBs. Our second youngest pitcher in ACL ball, but let's see some better results
    6. LHP Anthony Flores
    7. RHP Bryan Rivera - 18 - DSL - 3.94 ERA. 1.19 WHIP. 57 Ks vs. 23 BBs. One year too old for my liking, especially with that level of ERA
    8. RHP TJ Shook
    9. LHP Robert Gasser
    10. RHP Enniel Cortez

    So these would be my overlooked guys, although this leans toward younger players:

    1. Enniel Cortez
    2. Manuel Rodriguez
    3. Edwin Jimenez
    4. Anthony Flores
    5. Melvin Hernandez
    6. Eric Prado
    7. Jesus Rivero
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  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
  • Posted

    I wouldn't dismiss Meeker, despite the advanced age. He can be a cheap, effective rotation option, and he's dominated in the pen.

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    With apologies to the DSL guys and, because I think in a normal year he would have made the top 20, Patricio Aquino, most of sleeper starter prospects fall into one of three categories:

    1. They've been good, but not grab you by the shirt collar and demand you take notice good

    Tyler Woessner

    Edwin Jimenez

    Nate Peterson

    If I wrote this two days ago, Alexander Vallecillo would have fallen here as well

    2. Love the strikeouts, love the occasional domination. Now, about those walks ...

    Jesus Rivero

    Quinton Low

    Daniel Corniel

    3. Well, injuries wasted that year

    Brandon Knarr

    Joseph Hernandez

    Adam Seminaris

    Brian Fitzpatrick

    Plus basically an entire ACL rotation's worth of players


    How you view prospects probably will determine which you rank highest as a group. I'm a sucker for upside pitching, so I'd go with 2.

    One of the guys who doesn't fit neatly into any of those categories is Alexander Cornielle. I mention him for two reasons. First, I very much still consider him a sleeper prospect (the peripherals are better than the results this year). And second, so I can include this bizarre tidbit I found.

    Only two full-season starting pitchers in the Brewers system have had more balls hit to the opposite field against them than pulled this year. One is Jacob Misiorowski, which makes sense given his fastball reaches triple figures with stunning regularity. He hasn't had the highest percentage of balls hit the other way, however. In fact, it's not even really close. Cornielle has had 45% of the balls put in play against him hit to the opposite field. That's not only tops among the Brewers full season starters, it's tops among full-season starters throughout the minor leagues.

    I have no idea if this portends good or ill for Cornielle's chances of reaching the big leagues, but it is the kind of random thing I find fascinating.

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