Three of the major top prospects lists are now out for the 2016 season for the Brewers, with Baseball Prospectus and Minor League Ball dropping theirs last week to join the list from Baseball America, which was released just under a month ago. The tops of the lists for all three publications look as you imagine they might -- stud shortstop Orlando Arcia is the consensus number one, and save one notable exception, the rest of the top five for all three lists is composed of RHP Jorge Lopez, OFs Brett Phillips and Trent Clark and SS Gilbert Lara, in some order. After that, however, it gets a bit interesting. Let's take a look at what the top 10 looks when we smash all three lists together into one big prospect-y sandwich:
|Name||Composite Ranking||Baseball America||Baseball Prospectus||Minor League Ball|
|1. SS Orlando Arcia||1.00||1||1||1|
|2. RHP Jorge Lopez||2.33||2||3||2|
|3. OF Brett Phillips||3.00||4||2||3|
|4. OF Trent Clark||4.00||3||4||5|
|5. OF Gilbert Lara||5.33||5||5||6|
|6. RHP Devin Williams||8.00||10||6||8|
|7. RHP Cody Ponce||9.33||9||9||10|
|8. OF Monte Harrison||10.33||NR||7||9|
|9t. LHP Josh Hader||11.00||NR||14||4|
|9t. RHP Kodi Medeiros||11.00||6||11||16|
Others receiving votes: Clint Coulter (8, Baseball America; 7, Minor League Ball), Tyrone Taylor (7, Baseball America; 10, Baseball Prospectus), Zach Davies (8, Baseball Prospectus).
The bottom half of the top 10 is a mix of old and new names. Williams has long been considered the Brewers' best pitching prospect, but zooming up behind him is Ponce, who wowed scouts with a stellar debut season with Low-A Wisconsin (2.15 ERA, 4.0 K/BB in 46 IP). Harrison, who seemed to be righting the ship after a tough start to the year with the Timber Rattlers, had his season cut short by a leg injury in July.
I had to fudge some numbers here a little bit, as while Minor League Ball and Baseball Prospectus provided a full top 20, Baseball America submitted only a top ten. I gave Harrison and Hader, who were not on Baseball America's list, an average 15 in my math, based on their being mentioned as "next 10" guys in Tom Haudricourt's chat after the list was released.
It was a tough-luck miss for Coulter, whom Baseball Prospectus apparently forgot about because they left him off their top 20 completely. Despite being ranked in the top 10 in both of the other lists, he just missed the overall top 10 based on the 22.5 I handed him for his Baseball Prospectus score since he was one of four players mentioned by J.P. Breen as having just missed. As president of the Clint Coulter Fan Club and a contributor at BP Milwaukee, my head spins as I try to reconcile the cognitive dissonance. If a 22-year-old outfielder with a plus arm who just raked in A+ ball (123 wRC+) is out of your top 20, I guess that's a real nice sign for the system.
Just beating out Coulter are a couple of interesting cases in Hader and Medeiros. We don't know exactly where Baseball America ranks Hader, who just wrapped up a stellar season in the Arizona Fall League, though Haudricourt did mention that he "was strongly considered for the Top 10." Regardless, John Sickels at Minor League Ball is clearly the highest on him with a lofty #4 ranking. The three lists are similarly divided on Medeiros, the Brewers' first round pick in 2014.
Falling out of the top ten completely was Taylor, who has some of the highest variance among the Brewers' prospects. Taylor, who was first or second on all three of these lists a year ago, had a disappointing season at AA-Biloxi and, with the system's infusion of new talent, particularly at his position, he's naturally slid down the rankings.