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Brewers Minors by Position: Starting Pitchers

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A deep corps of prospects sits behind the Brewers's young rotation, but the system still lacks a true star with ace-level potential

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After an extended Winter Meetings- and my-life-crumbled-under-the-weight-of-graduate-school-finals-fueled break, we're back with the pitchers portion of the Micro Brewers series. It's Friday afternoon so I suggest you crack open an actual micro brew and grab a seat, because it's a long one today. Let's check in on the state of the organization's starting pitcher prospects.

MLB Assets

1) RHP Jimmy Nelson, 26
Contract status: Pre-arbitration, earliest eligibility in 2018, free agent in 2021
2015 with Milwaukee: 4.11 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 19.7 K%, 8.6 BB%, 4.10 FIP (177.1 IP)

2) RHP Wily Peralta, 26
Contract status: 1st year arbitration eligible, $2.8 million MLBTR projection, free agent in 2019
2015 with Milwaukee:4.72 ERA, 1.54 WHIP 12.6 K%, 7.7 BB%, 4.84 FIP (108.2 IP)

3) RHP Matt Garza, 32
Contract status: 2 years, $25 million remaining, real weird 2018 option worth $1-13 million 
2015 with Milwaukee: 5.63 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 15.6 K%, 8.6 BB%, 4.94 FIP (148.2 IP)

4) RHP Taylor Jungmann, 26
Contract status: Pre-arbitration, earliest eligibility in 2019, free agent in 2022
2015 with Milwaukee: 3.77 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 21.4 K%, 9.4 BB&, 3.92 FIP (119.1 IP)

5) RHP Zach Davies, 22
Contract status: Pre-arbitration, earliest eligibility in 2019, free agent in 2022
2015 with Milwaukee: 3.71 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 17.3 K%, 10.8 BB%, 3.81 FIP (34 IP)

2015 was an unmitigated disaster for the established arms in the starting rotation, as each one of them took a significant step backwards from the 2014 production. The Brewers would love to see bounce-back seasons from their pair of young starters at the top of the rotation, Peralta and Nelson. A bounce-back from Garza wouldn't be unwelcome either, but he probably doesn't fit into Milwaukee's long-term plans. Jungmann and Davies had success as rookies (Davies retains his rookie status for next season), and hopefully they can build on that in 2016.

The Top Prospects

6) RHP Jorge Lopez, 22
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2010 draft
2015 with AA-Biloxi: 2.26 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 24.0 K%, 9.1 BB%, 3.36 FIP (143.1 IP)

7) RHP Devin Williams, 21
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2013 draft
2015 with Low-A Wisconsin: 3.44 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 23.5 K%, 9.5 BB%, 3.28 FIP (89 IP)

8) RHP Cody Ponce, 21
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2015 draft
2015 with Wisconsin: 2.15 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 19.3% K, 4.8 BB%, 2.76 FIP (46 IP)

9) LHP Josh Hader, 21
Acquired: Traded from Houston for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers in July
2015 with Biloxi: 2.79 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 32.9 K%, 7.2 BB%, 2.81 FIP (38.2 IP)

10) LHP Kodi Medieros, 19
Acquired: 1st round of the 2014 draft
2015 with Wisconsin: 4.44 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 23.5 K%, 10.0 BB%, 2.96 FIP (93.1 IP)

11) LHP Nathan Kirby, 22
Acquired: Supplemental 1st round of the 2015 draft
2015 with WIsconsin: 5.68 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 12.3 K%, 12.3 BB%, 4.18 FIP (12.2 IP)

12) RHP Marcos Diplan, 19
Acquired: Traded from Texas for Yovani Gallardo in January
2015 with Rookie-level Helena: 3.75 ERA 1.35 WHIP, 25.7 K%, 10.0 BB%, 4.40 FIP (50.1 IP)

13) RHP Adrian Houser, 22
Acquired: Traded from Houston for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers in July
2015 with Biloxi: 2.92 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 21.1 K%, 4.0 BB%, 3.55 FIP (37 IP)

Lopez is the big riser here, jumping up to #2 or #3 on most organizational top prospects lists, behind Orlando Arcia and, very occasionally, Brent Phillips. He had a cup of coffee at the big league level in 2015, and could be the first call if anyone from the major league rotation is traded or injured. A trio of 21-year-olds follows, with Hader having perhaps the most impressive season of the three after making the jump to AA and dominating at the Arizona Fall League. Some scouts have tabbed both he and Diplan as future relievers based on their size, but each continues to flourish in their starting roles.

The Prospects

14) LHP Wei-Chung Wang, 23
Acquired: Selected in first round of 2013 Rule 5 draft from Pittsburgh
2015 with High-A Brevard County: 3.54 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 15.3 K%, 6.6 BB%, 3.58 FIP (139.2 IP)

15) RHP Taylor Williams, 24
Acquired: 4th round of 2013 draft
2014* with Wisconsin: 2.36 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 26.4 K%, 5.4 BB%, 2.69 FIP (107 IP)

16) RHP Tyler Wagner, 24
Acquired: 4th round of 2012 draft
2015 with Biloxi: 2.25 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 19.7 K%, 7.4 BB%, 3.26 FIP (152.1 IP)

17) RHP Angel Ventura, 22
Acquired: Signed as an international free agent in 2010
2015 with Wisconsin: 3.09 ERA, 1,28 WHIP, 23.9 K%, 8.7 BB%, 3.17 FIP (122.1 IP)

18) RHP Jorge Ortega, 22
Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011
2015 with Brevard County: 2.41 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 12.7 K%, 1.9 BB%, 3.09 FIP (141.2 IP)   

19) RHP Brandon Woodruff, 22
Acquired: 11th round of the 2014 draft
2015 with Brevard County: 3.45 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 15.5 K%, 7.2 BB%, 3.09 FIP (109.2 IP)

20) RHP Miguel Diaz, 21
Acquired: SIgned as an international free agent in 2011
2015 with AZL Brewers: 2.21 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 28.4 K%, 6.2 BB%, 2.93 FIP (20.1 IP)

*Williams missed the entire 2015 season with injuries and underwent Tommy John surgery in August

The WCW saga rolled on in 2015, and after a very rocky start that saw him outrighted off the 40-man roster earlier this year, Wang fought back to eventually earn a start at the Triple-A level at the end of the season. Williams' stock has fallen over the past year and a half as he hasn't pitched since last August, and he'll likely get a late start to the 2016 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Wagner was stellar for the Shuckers in 2015, but struggled in his spot starts with Milwaukee. Woodruff, who definitely should not be confused with this extremely unpleasant man, is ... look he's pretty good, I don't know, I just wanted to point out the interesting fact he shares his name with a murderer. Let's just move on. Diaz is in much the same boat as Diplan, a young pitcher in the rookie leagues that many scouts see as a future reliever but seems to be having success in the starter's role as well -- there remains a chance that he could stick as a starter, but he'll have to develop his command and a third pitch.

High Minors Organizational Depth

I want to make one thing very clear: "organizational depth" is not a four-letter word. Now, you knew that, because there are at least six letters in organizational, and it's also two words. What I mean is that I'm not using the term as an indictment on these players' abilities. Rather, I list them here because they are not necessarily considered high-upside prospects at this time, given their production and their age, but they are certainly players that you can expect to hear from should at injury occur in the major league rotation. They could also be moved to the bullpen, following the Tyler Cravy plan.

21) LHP Hobbs Johnson, 24
Acquired: 14th round of the 2013 draft
2015 with Biloxi: 3.84 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 18.4 K%, 15.1 BB%, 4.40 FIP (117.1 IP)

22) LHP Brent Suter, 26
Acquired: 31st round of the 2012 draft
2015 with Biloxi: 3.31 ERA, 1.25 WHIP,  19.0 K%, 9.8 BB%, 3.45 FIP (83 IP)

23) RHP Hiram Burgos, 28
Acquired: 6th round of 2009 draft, resigned to minor league deal in November
2015 with AAA-Colorado Springs: 3.35 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 19.1 K%, 8.2 BB%, 4.06 FIP (80.2 IP)

Low Minors Teenaged Breakout Candidates

Here's a group of players, many of whom Slingin' Stearns just acquired over the past month in his efforts to hoard teenaged pitching, who are not considered top prospects at this time but could certainly make a leap and be considered among the top Brewers prospects soon. Trey Supak, acquired on Thursday evening in the shocking trade of Jason Rogers, in particular is a player who could leap into some Brewers watch lists with a strong 2016.

24) RHP Trey Supak, 19
Acquired: Traded from Pittsburgh for Jason Rogers yesterday
2015 with Rookie-level Bristol (Pirates): 6.67 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 18.6 K%. 4.0 BB%, 3.55 FIP (28.1 IP)

25) Daniel Missaki, 19
Acquired: Traded from Seattle for Adam Lind in December 2015
2015 with Low-A Clinton (Mariners): 3.41 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 25.6 K%, 3.8% BB%, 1.85 FIP (34.1 IP)

26) RHP Gentry Fortuno, 18
Acquired: 18th round of the 2015 draft
2015 with AZL-Brewers: 1.89 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 14.5 K%, 3.1 BB%, 3.43 FIP (33.1 IP)

27) RHP Carlos Herrera, 18
Acquired: Traded from Seattle for Adam Lind in December 2015
2015 with DSL Mariners: 3.26 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 22.7 K%, 4.0 BB%, 3.00 FIP (80.0 IP)

28) RHP Freddy Peralta, 19
Acquired: Traded from Seattle for Adam Lind in December 2015
2015 with Rookie-level Peoria (Mariners): 4.11 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 28.8 K%, 3.4 BB%, 2.33 FIP (57.0 IP)

29) RHP Nash Walters, 18
Acquired: 3rd Round of the 2015 draft
2015 with AZL-Brewers: 4.15 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 14.6 K%. 19.4 BB%, 5.34 FIP (21.2 IP)