After finishing with a 72-67 record this season, the Biloxi Shuckers can boast that they were the winningest Milwaukee Brewers affiliate. Unfortunately for the defending Southern League runner-ups, that record was not good enough to qualify for a playoff spot this season. The Shuckers lineup and pitching staff featured several players ranked among the Brewers’ top prospects, though many of them (like Brett Phillips and Jacob Nottingham) struggled at the AA level this season. According to Baseball America, however, two Shucker arms shined brightly enough to be named to the Southern League Top 20 Prospects:
6. LHP Josh Hader (Age 22)
Hader was considered one of the lesser pieces of the summer 2015 blockbuster trade with Houston, but he’s improved his prospect stock in a big way since then. He first began to open eyes in last year’s Arizona Fall League and carried that success over to the start of his 2016 season in Biloxi. Now ranked as the club’s #3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, the hard-throwing southpaw made 11 dominant starts in AA before getting promoted to Colorado Springs to finish the season. The hope is that Hader’s command and changeup can both improve to match his plus fastball-slider combination, but if he can’t make it in the starting rotation then according to the scouts at Pipeline “there is little doubt that Hader could make an impact out of the bullpen thanks to his high-octane stuff and huge strikeout potential.”
57.0 IP || 0.95 ERA || 11.5 K/9 || 3.0 BB/9 || 1.000 WHIP
16. RHP Brandon Woodruff (Age 23)
Woodruff was Milwaukee’s 11th-round pick in the 2014 draft and he boosted his prospect star dramatically this season. An increase in fastball velocity has him now sitting in the mid-90s and touching 97+ MPH to go along with a solid slider and changeup, an arsenal that he commanded very well this season. Brandon began the year in high-A (where he also made the Florida State League top 20) but was quickly promoted and made 20 excellent starts with Biloxi en route to winning the Brewer organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year award. He’s currently rated as Milwaukee’s 25th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, but that is sure to change this winter as the rankings are updated. Brandon could get a chance to appear in the big league rotation as soon as next season.
113.2 IP || 3.01 ERA || 9.8 K/9 || 2.4 BB/9 || 1.038 WHIP
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference