For a team like the Brewers, who fall around mid-range in terms of payroll in MLB, growing a farm system is extremely important. Milwaukee has been able to make free agent moves to fill in holes -- Aramis Ramirez, Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse, etc -- but without homegrown talent making an impact at the major league level or being available in trades to improve the team, the Brewers would have a tough time competing.
In recent years, the Brewers' farm system has not been highly rated. Trades for Shaun Marcum, Zack Greinke and others along with a handful of disappointing drafts had left the team without much impact talent in the minors. Despite that, they've graduated impact talent like Scooter Gennett, Khris Davis, Tyler Thornburg, Mike Fiers and Jimmy Nelson in the past two years.
And now, the Brewers farm system is getting even better. Friday, Baseball America released their list of the Brewers' top 10 prospects for 2015 and it is laden with potential high-impact talent.
At the very top is Tyrone Taylor, the hyper-athletic center fielder whom Baseball America ranked the second-best prospect in the organization last year, just behind Jimmy Nelson.
While Taylor's minor league stats aren't overwhelming, they show the 20-year-old's capability of doing well in every aspect of the game. In 2014 he spent nearly the entire year with High-A Brevard County and hit .273/.326/.388 with 45 extra base hits and 23 steals. Taylor has also been highly praised for his defensive abilities and, in 2013, was ranked the most athletic player and the best defensive outfielder in the Brewers system by Baseball America.
Right behind Taylor is another defensive specialist, shortstop Orlando Arcia. The two players were flip-flopped on John Sickels' list with Arcia almost earning a B+. Arcia also played in Brevard County in 2014 as a 19-year-old and hit .289/.346/.392 with 31 stolen bases. He's already begun garnering comparisons to former top-Brewers prospect Alcides Escobar and is particularly noted for a cannon of an arm.
Clint Coulter, who is working on transitioning to the outfield this off-season, rounds out the top-3. Though he hasn't found a good handle defensively yet, his strong 2014 campaign has made people believe in his bat: Over 126 games for the Class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Coulter hit .287/.410/.520 with 22 home runs. If he hits that well again while proving he can handle an outfield spot, he could be even higher on this list next year.
The only player from the 2014 amateur draft to make the list was Monte Harrison, who might well have usurped Taylor as the most athletic player in the Brewers' system. The 19-year-old showed a good eye at the plate in the rookie league last year with a .402 OBP while also stealing 32 stolen bases.
There is one other newcomer from 2014 on the list though, and perhaps one of the most exciting Brewers prospects to come along in some time: International signing Gilbert Lara. Just 17 years old and having only played in instructional leagues, the tools that caused the Brewers to give him a franchise-record $3.2 million should make you drool.
Overall, the top four seems to be pretty agreeable. Both Baseball America and Sickels have the same players in those positions, albeit in a slightly different order. After that, there's a little less agreement, though many of the same players show up:
|Baseball America||Sickels (MinorLeagueBall)|
|1||Tyrone Taylor||Orlando Arcia|
|2||Orlando Arcia||Tyrone Taylor|
|3||Clint Coulter||Monte Harrison|
|4||Monte Harrison||Clint Coulter|
|5||Gilbert Lara||Taylor Jungmann|
|6||Wei-Chung Wang||Devin Williams|
|7||Taylor Williams||Taylor Williams|
|8||Devin Williams||Tyler Wagner|
|9||Tyler Wagner||Kodi Medeiros|
|10||Taylor Jungmann||Jorge Lopez|
There are also a number of well-regarded prospects who don't show up in either list, including 2014 draftee Jacob Gatewood, who may have the biggest boom or bust potential of anyone from that class.
A few years ago, the Brewers had arguably the worst farm system in the league, yet they still got some strong talent from it. Now, their minor leagues are improving again. Most of the players on this list are a fair ways from the majors yet, but before we know it we might see Tyrone Taylor making us forget about Carlos Gomez, or Monte Harrison winning MVP awards.
For fans, prospects are all about dreaming what could be in the future. With this batch of players, things are looking pretty bright for the Brewers.