Good morning, Brewers fans! I hope you are just having the loveliest day. Today, we're going to start a little series where we run down the state of the organization at each position. Some of these days are going to be a lot of fun as we get to dig deep into the farm system's exciting growth as we look forward to a brighter future in Milwaukee.
Today isn't one of those days. Today, we're talking about the Brewers' catching prospects. If your internal response to that last sentence was, "Uh ... what catching prospects?" then yeah, that's sounds about right. I contemplated making up some names to see if any of you would notice. Y'all would have believed me for sure.
Note: Minor league free agents and recently outrighted players are not included in this list. Therefore, notably absent from this list is literally every single player that caught for AAA-Colorado Springs in 2015 (Juan Centeno, Nevin Ashley, Robinzon Diaz)
1) Jonathan Lucroy, 29
Contract status: Signed through 2016 (5 years, $10.28 million), 2017 team option ($5.25 million, $25,000 buyout)
2016 with Milwaukee: .264/.326/.391, 7 HR, 93 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR
2) Martin Maldonado, 29
Contract Status: Singed through 2016 (2 years, $1.95), Arbitration eligible in 2017, FA in 2019
2016 with Milwaukee: .210/.282/.293, 4 HR, 53 wRC+, 0.2 fWAR
Much and more has been said regarding Lucroy's disappointing 2015 campaign, so we won't belabor the point here; he backed up his breakout 2014 campaign with what may have been his worst full season with the Brewers. However, Lucroy remains extremely valuable, and he bounced back in the second half after an injury plagued start to the season. The Brewers may look to trade Lucroy next summer, after he's built his trade value back up. Maldonado didn't have his worst season as a professional in 2015, but that's only because he was so historically bad in 2013. He's a solid defensive catcher, but provides nothing at the plate. He'll likely be tendered when he enters arbitration after next season, especially if Lucroy is traded, if only because of the organization's complete lack depth at the position.
3) Dustin Houle, 22
Acquired: 8th round of the 2011 draft
2015 with High-A Brevard County: .300/.337/.375, 0 HR, 115 wRC+
4) Carlos Leal, 24
Acquired: 34th round of the 2014 draft
2015 with Low-A Wisconsin: .309/.367/.397, 2 HR, 125 wRC+
5) Jose Sibrian, 16
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent in July 2015 ($550,000 signing bonus)
2015: Appeared at Brewers' instructional league
6) Adam Weisenburger, 26
Acquired: 34th round of the 2011 draft
2015 with AA-Biloxi: .231/.356/.311, 2 HR, 99 wRC+
I'm using the term "prospect" loosely here. Dustin Houle had something of a standout season in the Florida State League: he was second on the team in batting average and his .712 OPS is actually not that bad in the pitcher-friendly confines of Space Coast Stadium. He's the closest thing the Brewers have to a catching prospect at this time, and he'll likely start the year as the starter with AA-BIloxi. Leal had an impressive first full season in Appleton. Not much is known about Sibrian, who was signed several months ago and has only spent time with the organization at intructs in Arizona, but the team thought highly enough of him to throw a half-million dollars at a 16-year-old, so we'll trust that someone knows what they're doing and throw him in here. Weisenburger, who appeared briefly with AAA-Nashville in 2014, will likely start the season as the Sky Sox' primary backstop, and would probably be first in line to get the call to the big leagues in the event of an injury or trade.
7) Max McDowell, 21
Acquired: 13th round of the 2015 draft
2015 with AZL: .228/.340/.354, 2 HR, 110 wRC+
8) Mitch Ghefi, 23
Acquired: 28th round of the 2015 draft
2015 with AZL and Helena: .266/.350/.330, 0 HR, 109(Helena)/50(AZL) wRC+
9) Parker Berberet, 26
Acquired: 25th round of the 2011 draft
2015 with BIloxi: .232/.293./317, 2 HR, 73 wRC+
10) Rafael Neda, 27
Acquired: 10th round of the 2010 draft
2015 with Brevard County: .215/.303./311, 2 HR, 91 wRC+
All of these players are definitely members of the Brewers farm system. They all played catcher last year and they will probably play catcher again this year. Neda is just one little old letter away from being significantly more well-known in the world of sports. If you can pick all of these players out of a lineup, then I just want to say what an honor it is to know that members of the Brewers front office are reading us.