We've reached the end of the offensive portion of our
Micro Brewers Brewers Minors by Position series, and we conclude with one of the organization's most talented positions in terms of prospects. Of course, there is the pesky trouble of covering the position at the major league level for 2016, an issue without a proper answer right now. For the time being it seems like definitely-not-a-center-fielder Domingo Santana, who handled the position as well as could have been expected from him to close 2015, is set to be Milwaukee's Opening Day starter in Carlos Gomez's old stomping grounds.
1) Shane Peterson (27)
Contract Status:Pre-arbitration, earliest eligibility 2019, free agent in 2022
2015 with Milwaukee: .259/.324/.353, 2 HR, 0 SB, 83 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR (226 PA)
It's sparse at the major league level for center field right now, folks. We all know this. Peterson, listed here because I didn't want to leave the section blank, may not even begin the 2016 season with Milwaukee given their acquisition of Ramon Flores. Unless they decide to carry five outfielders -- or more moves are made -- Peterson likely won't break camp on the major league roster. Indeed, should the Brewers find a major league ready center fielder either through trade or in free agency, Peterson's spot on the 40-man roster could be in peril. He served as Milwaukee's fourth outfielder for much of last year after being picked up off waivers from the Cubs last December, and his 0.0 fWAR for 2015 is fitting, as he's pretty much the definition of replacement level.
2) Brett Phillips (21)
Acquired: Traded from Houston in July in exchange for Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez
2015 with High-A Lancaster: .320/.379/.588, 15 HR, 8 SB, 159 wRC+ (322 PA)
3) Trent Clark (19)
Acquired: 1st round of the 2015 draft
2015 with AZL Brewers: .309/.422/.442, 1 HR, 20 SB, 154 wRC+ (200 PA)
4) Tyrone Taylor (21)
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2012 draft
2015 with AA-Biloxi: .260/.312/.337, 3 HR, 10 SB, 84 wRC+ (504 PA)
5) Monte Harrison (20)
Acquired: 2nd round of the 2014 draft
2015 with Rookie-level Helena: .299/.410/.474, 3 HR, 14 SB, 131 wRC+ (119 PA)
6) Kyle Wren (24)
Acquired: Traded from Atlanta in exchange for Zach Quintana
2015 with AAA-Colorado Springs: .251/.298/.320, 1 HR, 16 SB, 65 wRC+ (314 PA)
7) Troy Stokes (19)
Acquired: 4th round of the 2014 draft
2015 with Helena: .270/.384/.407, 5 HR, 26 SB, 110 wRC+ (271 PA)
Others of note: Brandon Diaz, Omar Garcia
Some of y'all have gotten a little ahead of yourselves, imagining Phillips as a potential mid-season call up for Milwaukee next year. Let's not forget that Maverick started his season in A-Ball, and has less than 300 plate appearances at the Double-A level. Phillips has always had good plate discipline (9.6% career BB%), but saw an odd spike in his strike out rate after joining Biloxi -- 30.6%, up from a respectable career average of 19.2% prior to the trade. He's still adjusting to higher-level pitching, and is unlikely to see time in Milwaukee outside perhaps a short September call up in 2016.
Clark, the other new very-high upside center fielder in Milwaukee's system, crushed the Arizona League. He flashed the athleticism and hit tool that some scouts called the best in the 2015 draft. He acquitted himself quite well in the Pioneer League as well, walking more than he struck out and maintaining an even higher OBP and steal rate.
Taylor and Harrison are a couple of prospects whose stars have dimmed over the past year or so. Taylor, at one time considered Milwaukee's top prospect, had another disappointing year. While he makes consistent contact (10.9% strikeout rate), the scouting report from Baseball Prospectus says that he tends to chase pitches resulting in weak contact. Still just 21, Taylor now looks more like a fourth outfielder than a potential above-average regular.
Harrison, whom Milwaukee lured away from a football scholarship at Nebraska with a $1.8 million signing bonus, was just starting to turn his season around in Helena after a rather disastrous turn with Low-A Wisconsin to start the year when he suffered a gruesome leg injury in July that ended his season. It seems that he'll be ready for spring training next year, but the injury stunted his development at a time when the 20-year-old was really starting to put things together. Harrison has some incredible physical tools, which one would expect from a Divison-I football recruit, but he's somewhat raw, having just begun to focus exclusively on baseball.
While we have absolutely no proof, the timing of Wren's departure from the Braves -- just a month after his father, GM Frank Wren, was fired -- is likely something more than pure coincidence. Wren didn't play all that well after a mid-season call up to Triple-A, but we was slightly above average at Biloxi. You're probably looking at a Logan Schafer-type with perhaps a touch more in the offensive department, which is a useful guy to have in the organization. Stokes' loudest tool is his speed which has certainly played up through his first two professional season, as he has amassed 45 steals while being caught just 9 times. He has a chance for average power and he did crank out five homers in 2015 after failing to leave the yard at all with the AZL Brewers in 2014.
All stats courtesy of FanGraphs