The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were loaded with talent for the 2016 season and wound up as the Milwaukee Brewers’ lone playoff-bound minor league affiliate. The club lead the low-A Midwest League offensively in home runs (92) and their pitching staff struck out a record 1,294 opposing batters. The T-Rats finished with a 71-69 record but were quickly dispatched by the Cedar Rapids Kernels in the first round of the playoffs. Several quality prospects helped to spur on Wisconsin’s success this season, including four players ranked in the Midwest League Top 20 Prospects according to Baseball America:
6. RHP Marcos Diplan (Age 19)
Diplan came to the Brewers as a lottery ticket in the Yovani Gallardo trade in January of 2015. His stock has risen quite a bit since then, however, after he tore through the Midwest League to start the year before getting promoted to high-A Brevard County. He’s ranked as Milwaukee’s 11th-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline, featuring a fastball that has touched 98 MPH, a power slider that flashes plus potential, and a changeup that he “has surprisingly advanced feel for throwing.” Diplan has good control of his arsenal that should improve as he matures and refines his mechanics. The only knock against him is a diminutive frame (6’0”, 160 lbs) that could perhaps lead to a bullpen role.
70.0 IP || 1.80 ERA || 11.4 K/9 || 4.1 BB/9 || 1.157 WHIP
7. 2B/SS Isan Diaz (Age 20)
Diaz was part of last winter’s Jean Segura trade from Arizona after a phenomenal season in the Pioneer League, and he carried that success over to the Timber Rattlers this year. The club’s 8th-rated prospect according to MLB Pipeline captured the organizational Minor League Player of the Year award on the strength of his 2016 campaign. Offensively, Diaz is described as “a left-handed hitter, Diaz's combination of plus bat speed and strong bat-to-ball skills enables him to make hard contact and drive the ball with authority across the whole field.” His below average speed and middling arm strength are more suited for second base long-term, but he has the tools to be an above-average regular there.
587 PA || .264/.358/.469 || 20 HR || 59 XBH || 11 SB
17. OF Trent Clark (Age 19)
The Brewers’ first round draft pick in 2015, Clark made a brief foray into the Midwest League last year before spending the whole season there this year. He dealt with some injuries and played in only 59 games in 2016. He is ranked as Milwaukee’s 6th-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Clark’s “short and explosive” swing helps him make plenty of hard contact and scouts believe his power will continue to develop. He has the speed to stick in center field defensively, but a below-average arm would limit him to left field should he ever have to move positions.
262 PA || .231/.346/.344 || 2 HR || 19 XBH || 5 SB
20. 3B Lucas Erceg (Age 21)
Erceg was drafted by the Brewers in the second round in the 2016 draft and debuted in the Pioneer League, where he also made the league’s top 20 prospects. He spent a majority of his time in Wisconsin, however, where he finished off his first professional season by posting rather impressive numbers. Erceg is ranked as the club’s 16th-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline, a potential “middle-of-the-order corner bat” from the left-hand side who is athletic and possesses a strong arm at the hot corner.
180 PA || .281/.328/.497 || 7 HR || 19 XBH || 1 SB
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference