Last season BCB readers (sic) participated in our annual ranking of the Brewers’ top prospects. Let’s see how those prospects advanced (or not) their standings in the list.
#10: Devin Williams
#9: Zach Davies
#8: Cody Ponce
#7 Jacob Nottingham
#6 Gilbert Lara
Gilbert Lara will be 19 in a few days (Oct. 30th). That might be the most important thing about him in this review; his grade is by definition “incomplete”. But he was signed as a 16 year old out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, when he was the 6th rated international prospect. Lara received a $3.1 million signing bonus. I am not one to use money in my ranking of players, but that amount shows a major commitment for the Brewers in Lara’s future.
Gilbert spent most of 2015 in the Arizona rookie league, and the last few games of 2015 and all of 2016 in the Pioneer (rookie) League at the Brewers’ affiliate in Helena. The two seasons are remarkably similar. In 2015, Lara had 263 plate appearances and slashed .240/.285/.321 for an OPS of .606. In 2016, he had 246 plate appearances and slashed .250/.293/.320 for an OPS of .613. He had 13 extra base hits in 2015 and 12 in 2016. He scored 31 runs and drove in 30 in 2015, and scored 30 runs and drove in 28 last year.
Defensively, Gilbert had 15 errors in ‘15 and 17 errors in ‘16 at shortstop. Analysts have projected that Lara will move off of shortstop for third base at some point, but he has remained at short throughout his first two professional seasons.
To play at third, Lara will need to develop the power aspect of his game. The good news is that his raw power has always been graded as his best tool and there is time for this to happen. The not so good news is that he has yet to show much of any in-game power in either 2015 to 2016, and hasn’t really shown much statistical improvement in any area for that matter.
Gilbert has been playing in the Brewers’ fall instructional league and has spent some time working out at third base. Lucas Erceg has played some short, off of his regular third, but this is probably more experimental for Erceg than a position change.
So where does Gilbert Lara go from here? It would appear that he is years away from being major league ready, and has some serious developing to do to make that happen. Of course, his age works in his favor - he has those years available to him. He might repeat Helena next year, but it would not surprise me to see him on the T-Rats roster in Appleton. With a lack of progress and the additions of other prospects, he appears set to drop on the Brewers’ list, but a good season will jump him right back up again.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference