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  • Yeah, Yeah. We've Got Talent. Now Where Do We Put 'Em?


    damuelle

    After two years at or near the bottom of most MLB prospect rankings, four years of better drafts and solid international signings have the Milwaukee Brewers’ prospect situation pointing in the right direction. MLB.com has moved the Brewers up to 25th in the league, improving on the 28th slot entering 2021 and dead last entering 2020.

    Image courtesy of David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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    In advance of initial rosters being announced (expected by Monday, April 4th) for our top four affiliates, here’s a speculative look at where our Top 30 MLB.com prospects are likely to be initially placed to kick off the 2022 season.

    1.       Sal Frelick – CF – 21 years old – 1st round 2022 pick (15th overall) – High-A Wisconsin
    ·         Left-Handed Hitting Frelick mashed in 81 Low-A Carolina plate appearances last year (with a .492 BABIP), but only posted a .563 OPS in 71 High-A Wisconsin plate appearances (with a .196 BABIP). He’ll likely start in High-A and hope to earn a promotion by mid-year.

    2.       Joey Wiemer – RF – 23 years old – 4th round 2020 pick – AA Biloxi
    ·         The 6’5” Wiemer conquered Low-A Carolina and High-A Wisconsin in 2021, with a combined .958 OPS in 472 plate appearances. Even the Arizona Fall League couldn’t slow him down (1.234 OPS in 37 PAs) until a minor injury gave him time to rest up.

    3.       Aaron Ashby – LHP – 23 years old – 4th round 2018 pick – MLB Brewers
    ·         Ashby did enough in 31 2/3 big league innings in 2021 to merit inclusion on the MLB squad from the get-go in 2022, where he’s expected to be the 6th starter and also pitch in relief from time to time. In fact, MLB.com is removing him from this top 30 list as I’m writing.

    4.       Garrett Mitchell – CF – 23 years old – 1st round 2020 pick (20th overall) – AA Biloxi
    ·         Paralleling Frelick’s 2021, Left-handed hitting Mitchell dominated at one level (1.128 OPS in 120 PAs at High-A Wisconsin), but ran into difficulty at the next (.554 OPS in 148 PAs at AA Biloxi), though we’re all hoping the Biloxi struggles were due to nagging injuries.

    5.       Brice Turang – SS – 22 years old – 1st round 2018 pick (21st overall) – AAA Nashville
    ·         Left-handed hitting Turang has done enough in the first half of each season to earn a promotion (2018 to Helena, 2019 to Carolina, 2021 to Nashville), though he may spend all of 2022 in Nashville as there’s no pressure to add him to the 40-man MLB roster.

    6.       Jeferson Quero – C – 19 years old – 2019 international signing – Low-A Carolina
    ·         Quero finally saw his first Brewers’ action in 2021 and didn’t disappoint: .934 OPS in 83 plate appearances in Rookie Arizona before an injury, unfortunately, ended his season early. In some minds, he’s replaced Feliciano as the Brewers’ “catcher-of-the-future”

    7.       Tyler Black – 2B – 21 years old – 1st round 2021 sandwich pick (33rd overall) – High-A or Low-A
    ·         This is the first real placement decision for Brewers’ brass. After posting a .660 OPS 103 plate appearances at Low-A Carolina (on a .346 BABIP), do you push Left-handed hitting Black’s talent along to High-A Wisconsin, or do you want him to taste some Low-A Carolina success first?

    8.       Ethan Small – LHP – 25 years old – 1st round 2019 pick (28th overall) – AAA Nashville
    ·         The Brewers’ 2021 minor league pitcher of the year split the season between Biloxi (41.1 innings) and Nashville (35.0), though an injury limited him in the second half. Still not on the 40-man MLB roster, Small is nonetheless expected to make his MLB debut this year.

    9.       Hedbert Perez – CF – 19 years old on April 4 – 2019 international signing – Low-A Carolina
    ·         Similar to Quero above, Left-handed-hitting Perez finally made his official Brewers’ debut in 2021 and performed as expected: .969 OPS in 132 plate appearances in Rookie Arizona, before struggling in Low-A Carolina post-promotion (.452 OPS in 68 PAs).

    10.   Jackson Chourio – CF – 18 years old – 2020-1 international signing – Rookie Arizona
    ·         Do the Spring Training starts alongside Low-A players mean that Chourio will start the season in Carolina? Not likely, as he spent all of 2021 in the Dominican Summer League (.833 OPS in 189 PAs), so hasn’t even played for the Arizona squad yet.

    11.   Freddy Zamora – SS – 23 years old – 2nd round 2020 pick – AA or High-A
    ·         From this point, the placement selections become more interesting. Zamora registered amazing improvement throughout in 2021 (May .569 OPS, June .666, July .758, August 1.065, September .900), even performing well after making the jump to High-A on August 25th. There appears to be room in AA Biloxi despite just 92 plate appearances in Wisconsin.

    12.   Felix Valerio – 2B – 21 years old – 2019 trade from Mets – AA or High-A
    ·         The Valerio and Black decisions (and perhaps even the Freddy Zamora decision) likely go hand-in-hand. Just 20 years old at the time, the 5’7” Valerio put up an .899 OPS in 377 plate appearances in Low-A Carolina, then a .787 OPS in 134 PAs at High-A Wisconsin last year.

    13.   Eduardo Garcia – SS – 19 years old – 2018 international signing – Low-A Carolina
    ·         Similar to Perez, Garcia spent most of 2021 in Rookie Arizona ball, then got a stint in Carolina. All in all, he put up an .824 OPS in 192 plate appearances and should form part of the uber-talented contingent to start the season in Carolina.

    14.   Joe Gray Jr. – CF – 22 years old – 2nd round 2018 pick – AA or High-A
    ·         This is a big decision again. Gray was the top minor league hitter in the Brewers’ system in the first half of 2021, but tailed off in the second half after a promotion to High-A and then had a miserable Arizona Fall League stint. Is Mitchell also blocking a move to Biloxi?

    15.   Antoine Kelly – LHP – 22 years old – 2nd round 2019 pick – High-A Wisconsin
    ·         The 6’6” Kelly dominated Arizona Rookie ball in 2019, but then had thoracic outlet surgery and didn’t put up great numbers at Low-A Carolina in 2021 (6.88 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 12.7 K/9). However, his talent requires the move to High-A.

    16.   Hendry Mendez – RF – 18 years old – 2020-1 international signing – Low-A Carolina
    ·         One of the Brewers’ top January 2021 signings, LHH Mendez only needed 21 games in Rookie DSL to get the promotion to Arizona, where he continued to impress in 19 games (combined .879 OPS in 138 PAs with 17 walks and 12 Ks).

    17.   Russell Smith – LHP – 23 years old – 2nd round 2021 pick – Low-A Carolina
    ·         Yet to make his official Brewers’ minor league debut, the highly-touted Smith struck out 101 batters in 82.1 innings at TCU last year (15 starts, 1.13 WHIP). The 6’9” hurler walked only 20, demonstrating solid control.

    18.   Korry Howell – CF – 23 years old – 12th round 2018 pick – AA Biloxi
    ·         The buzz around Howell started in 2021 Spring Training and he didn’t disappoint, putting together an .826 OPS in 305 plate appearances in High-A, before being promoted to AA in August. Interestingly, he made 32 infield starts alongside his 62 outfield starts

     19.   Zavier Warren – 3B – 23 years old – 3rd round 2020 pick – High-A Wisconsin
    ·         The switch-hitting Warren was one of many mashers at Low-A Carolina in 2021, hitting 10 home runs in 230 plate appearances before being promoted in August. He made 33 starts at third base, 20 at catcher, and 19 at first base.

    20.   Logan Henderson – RHP – 20 years old – 4th round 2021 pick – Low-A or Rookie ACL
    ·         Similar to Smith, Henderson is yet to make his Brewers’ minor-league debut. Just 5’11”, Henderson struck out 169 batters in 97 2/3 innings of juco ball last year. He recently underwent right elbow surgery, though should debut in late 2022.

    21.   Abner Uribe – RHP – 21 years old – 2018 international signing – High-A Wisconsin
    ·         Flame-thrower Uribe struck out 52 in just 33 2/3 innings in Low-A last year, but also walked 25 and threw 14 wild pitches. The Brewers sent him to the Arizona Fall League, with similar results. The sky’s the limit if he can gain control.

    22.   Mario Feliciano – C – 23 years old – 2nd round 2016 pick – AAA Nashville
    ·         Feliciano fell off the fast-track to stardom last year in his first taste of AAA, as injuries limited him to only 114 plate appearances (.560 OPS) in Nashville. The Arizona Fall League sparked his bat, but are his defensive chops ready for the big leagues?

    23.   Carlos D. Rodriguez – OF – 21 years old – 2017 international signing – AA or High-A
    ·         The youngest Brewer to commence the season in High-A last year, Left-handed hitting Rodriguez produced a slightly below average .684 OPS in 382 plate appearances. Did we just release Jesus Lujano and LG Castillo to make room for his talent in AA?

    24.   Alec Bettinger – RHP – 26 years old – 10th round 2017 pick – AAA Nashville
    ·         Bettinger understandably struggled in his first-ever MLB action last year (10.0 innings), but was respectable in his first season at AAA: 4.75 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 9.1 K/9. His lack of Spring Training innings might indicate he requires more time before joining Nashville.

    25.   Taylor Floyd – RHP – 24 years old – 10th round 2019 pick – AA Biloxi
    ·         No-nonsense Floyd dominated High-A in 2021 (72 Ks in 48 2/3 innings, 3.33 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) and seeks a bee-line through AA and AAA to Milwaukee, à la Jake Cousins.

    26.   Dylan File – RHP – 25 years old – 21st round 2017 pick – AAA Nashville
    ·         File toughed it out in his first AAA season last year (5.27 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 7.6 K/9 in 42.2 innings) and now aims to both justify his 40-man MLB roster spot and make his MLB debut this season.

    27.   Victor Castaneda – RHP – 23 years old – 2017 international signing – AA Biloxi
    ·         The Brewers obviously love Castaneda’s stuff, giving him 12.0 innings in AAA last year after putting up respectable numbers in High-A (5.20 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 10.6 K/9) that were skewed by 18 home runs allowed.

    28.   Cam Robinson – RHP – 22 years old – 23rd round 2017 pick – High-A Wisconsin
    ·         A second relief specialist in the Brewers’ top 30 prospect list? Why not? Robinson spent most of 2021 in Low-A, producing a 2.45 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, and 10.6 K/9. Just 5’11”, MLB.com appears high on Robinson’s 90s fastball, 70s curveball combination.

    29.   Gabe Holt – 2B – 24 years old – 7th round 2019 pick – AA Biloxi
    ·         The eagle-eyed LHH Holt walked 62 times (vs. 47 Ks) in Low-A last year, making up for a lack of extra-base hits (16 in 323 ABs at that level) which will hopefully come this year.

    30.   Johan Barrios – SS – 17 years old – 2021-2 international signings – Rookie DSL
    ·         In January 2022, the Brewers gave Barrios 1,385,000 reasons (i.e. signing bonus) to believe he’s a future star. MLB.com projects he’ll add power over time, as he fills out his 6’3” frame.

     Based on recent Spring Training lineups, Freddy Zamora looks like a safe bet to commence at AA Biloxi, with the team leaning toward also including the young Felix Valerio and older (unranked) Ashton McGee. Of course, Joe Gray Jr., Carlos D. Rodriguez and perhaps even #1 prospect Sal Frelick are also under consideration, since Korry Howell can always play more infield as required.

     If Milwaukee does choose to push Zamora and Valerio to make the leap to AA Biloxi to start the season, this should open the door for Tyler Black and possibly (unranked) Ethan Murray to commence at High-A Wisconsin, thus freeing up playing time for Alberis Ferrer, Daniel Castillo, and Zack Raabe at Low-A Carolina.

    Do you agree with these projected placements?  Who will be the big movers up and down the list this year?

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    Smith is a high enough pick (and is known for control) where I think there is a good chance he starts in the Wisconsin rotation. Also, while he might get pushed down by the backlog of relievers at AAA (there look to be about 15 guys who belong in the Nashville pen), Cam Robinson starting in Biloxi wouldn't shock me.

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    Cast your votes here for who you think will be the Brewers minor league hitter and pitcher of the year... Who is due for a breakout?

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    Cast your votes here for who you think will be the Brewers minor league hitter and pitcher of the year... Who is due for a breakout?

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    10 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Cast your votes here for who you think will be the Brewers minor league hitter and pitcher of the year... Who is due for a breakout?

    I'll guess Wiemer for hitter (although could just as easily be either of the last two top picks) and Smith for pitcher of the year.

    Random longshot predictions:

    1. Corey Ray's strikeout rate is closer to 20% than 25%

    2. Israel Puello leads the system in K/BB rate

    3. One of the indy ball trio of Hasler, Meeker and Baker is in AAA by August.

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    10 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Cast your votes here for who you think will be the Brewers minor league hitter and pitcher of the year... Who is due for a breakout?

    I'll guess Wiemer for hitter (although could just as easily be either of the last two top picks) and Smith for pitcher of the year.

    Random longshot predictions:

    1. Corey Ray's strikeout rate is closer to 20% than 25%

    2. Israel Puello leads the system in K/BB rate

    3. One of the indy ball trio of Hasler, Meeker and Baker is in AAA by August.

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    damuelle
  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
  • Posted

    20 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Cast your votes here for who you think will be the Brewers minor league hitter and pitcher of the year... Who is due for a breakout?

    Hitter: The Real Deal Garrett Mitchell

    Pitcher: I’ll go with an unconventional pick (Taylor Floyd), though Antoine Kelly is probably a safer bet

    Other prediction: Eduardo Garcia gets promoted to High-A Wisconsin before he turns 20 on July 10th

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    damuelle
  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
  • Posted

    20 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Cast your votes here for who you think will be the Brewers minor league hitter and pitcher of the year... Who is due for a breakout?

    Hitter: The Real Deal Garrett Mitchell

    Pitcher: I’ll go with an unconventional pick (Taylor Floyd), though Antoine Kelly is probably a safer bet

    Other prediction: Eduardo Garcia gets promoted to High-A Wisconsin before he turns 20 on July 10th

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    damuelle
  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
  • Posted

    On 4/1/2022 at 10:27 PM, CheeseheadInQC said:

    Smith is a high enough pick (and is known for control) where I think there is a good chance he starts in the Wisconsin rotation. Also, while he might get pushed down by the backlog of relievers at AAA (there look to be about 15 guys who belong in the Nashville pen), Cam Robinson starting in Biloxi wouldn't shock me.

    You called it on Russell Smith beginning the year in High-A Wisconsin. That's a solid team up-and-down the roster, in my opinion.

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    damuelle
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    On 4/1/2022 at 10:27 PM, CheeseheadInQC said:

    Smith is a high enough pick (and is known for control) where I think there is a good chance he starts in the Wisconsin rotation. Also, while he might get pushed down by the backlog of relievers at AAA (there look to be about 15 guys who belong in the Nashville pen), Cam Robinson starting in Biloxi wouldn't shock me.

    You called it on Russell Smith beginning the year in High-A Wisconsin. That's a solid team up-and-down the roster, in my opinion.

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    While the one duplicate entry might mean that one of these players is actually on the Wisconsin or Carolina roster, but the only three real surprises on the pitching side were no Zhao in Wisconsin or Carolina and no Brailin Rodriguez or Jakob Brustoski in Carolina. Kudos to Segura on earning a full season spot. Did not see that coming before the exhibition lineups started coming out.

    On the hitting side, biggest surprise is Luis Silva being listed as a catcher. Is that a misprint or are they playing him there now?

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    While the one duplicate entry might mean that one of these players is actually on the Wisconsin or Carolina roster, but the only three real surprises on the pitching side were no Zhao in Wisconsin or Carolina and no Brailin Rodriguez or Jakob Brustoski in Carolina. Kudos to Segura on earning a full season spot. Did not see that coming before the exhibition lineups started coming out.

    On the hitting side, biggest surprise is Luis Silva being listed as a catcher. Is that a misprint or are they playing him there now?

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