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Milwaukee Brewers Prospects to Know for 2016: Hitters

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Taking a look at the position players who could make an impact in Milwaukee this season.

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Baseball has begun anew for 2016 as teams and players have migrated to their havens in Arizona or Florida to prepare for the upcoming season. Things are off to a fine start down in Maryvale, AZ for our own Milwaukee Brewers, who own a 4-3-1 record to this point in Cactus League play.

This is an important year for the Brewers, and could go a long way in determining just how long the grand rebuilding project will take. Milwaukee should have plenty of playing time available at the major league level and there is no shortage of advanced prospects in their system that could get the opportunity to make an impression this season. If some of these prized players can hit the ground running in the big leagues, Milwaukee could be ready to return to competitive baseball much sooner than the 5+ years many in the media are prognosticating.

This series will be split into two parts: hitters and pitchers. Today we'll take a look at the position players that the casual fan should be aware of, the hitters who could make an impact in the big leagues for Milwaukee in 2016:

SS Orlando Arcia
MLB Pipeline Rank: 1
2016 Age: 21

Arcia is the Brewers' top prospect and one of the top 10 prospects around the game of baseball. He hit .307/.347/.453 with 52 extra base hits and 25 steals for AA Biloxi last season. He's one of the best defenders in the minor leagues and projects to have a plus hit tool in The Show (though he doesn't walk much), which should allow him to become a well above-average starter at shortstop. He'll begin the season in AAA but could see the majors perhaps as soon as June.

OF Brett Phillips
MLB Pipeline Rank: 2
2016 Age: 22

Phillips is projected as a potential five-tool player with what could be the strongest outfield arm in the minor leagues. He split last season between high-A and AA, hitting a combined .309/.374/.527 with 16 home runs and 17 steals in 120 games, though nearly all of his power production came at the lower minor league level in the notorious launching pad that is Lancaster. Phillips has played just 54 games at AA and it's possible he could start the season in Biloxi once again and then get moved up to AAA sometime midseason, as has been the pattern throughout his minor league career. Unless several unforeseen injuries happen, though, it's unlikely we see the Maverick in the majors before September call-ups and there's a chance we don't see him at all this year.

OF Tyrone Taylor
MLB Pipeline Rank: 12
2016 Age: 22

Taylor was formerly Milwaukee's "center fielder of the future" but that was before Phillips came into the picture and Taylor's own production fell off in AA. He managed just a .260/.312/.337 slash in 128 games for the Shuckers while working on some mechanical changes and will likely begin the season by repeating AA. He still projects as an average regular with strong defense in center field though and if he can get things back on track this season there is a chance that Tyrone could find himself in Milwaukee come September.

OF Clint Coulter
MLB Pipeline Rank: 13
2016 Age: 22

After winning the organization's minor league player of the year in 2015, Coulter followed that up with a decent showing in high-A with a .246/.329/.397 slash and 13 home runs in 137 games. Adjusted for the parks and league, that production was around 20% better than league average. Still, Coulter is a work in progress in the outfield and has difficulty handling velocity inside and breaking stuff away. This could be a make-or-break year for Clint given the crowded outfield situation, and he'll most likely begin the season in AA. He would need to be added to the 40 man roster after the season to avoid Rule 5 exposure, so there's a chance we could see him in September.

OF Michael Reed
MLB Pipeline Rank: 18
2016 Age: 23

Reed's knack for getting on base and the speed he's displayed once there have always made him an interesting prospect, but staying healthy and a power boost last season helped make 2016 a breakout campaign. He split time between AA and AAA, hitting a combined .269/.371/.410 with 45 extra base hits and 26 steals in 131 games. Reed is one of the many players competing for the center field job this spring and if he doesn't win the job, he'll be playing everyday in AAA. He would very likely be the first player called up in the event of an injury in the big leagues.

INF Yadiel Rivera
MLB Pipeline Rank: 23
2016 Age: 24

Like Arcia, Yadiel Rivera could be considered one of the best defenders in the minor leagues. Unfortunately that's about all he offers, as his production with the bat has always been anemic. Rivera split last season between AA and AAA, hitting a cumulative .253/.298/.331 in 133 games. It's unlikely he'll ever be a starter at the big league level but his defense and versatility could help him carve out a nice niche as a utility player, which is the role he is competing for in camp this spring.

OF Rymer Liriano
MLP Pipeline Rank: 25
2016 Age: 24

Liriano was once a highly touted prospect with the Padres, but an injury and a new front office in San Diego helped force him out of the picture and the Brewers aqcuired him on the cheap this past winter. Liriano has always hit well and slashed .292/.383/.460 with 14 home runs and 18 steals in 131 games in AAA last season. He does have strikeout issues but knows how to take a walk and could have 15+ home run potential. Liriano is capable of playing all three outfield positions and is competing for the center field job in camp. He is out of minor league options, but given that Slingin' David Stearns gave up a prospect to the Padres in order to bring him in, it's very difficult to imagine the club breaking camp without Liriano and giving him a look during the regular season.

OF Victor Roache
MLB Pipeline Rank: 26
2016 Age: 24

Roache has yet to really live up to the billing of a first round draft pick, having been chosen 28th overall by the Brewers in 2012. He has very significant contact issues and struck out 158 times in 130 games, but still managed to hit a solid .253/.324/.439 with 18 home runs between high-A and AA last season. Roache has light-tower power and a weaker arm in the outfield, making him somewhat reminiscent of recently-departed Khris Davis and that's probably his best-case scenario. Roache was passed over in the Rule 5 draft over the winter but with another solid season could put himself back in the future plans of the Brewers. He'll most likely begin the year back in AA and hope for a September call up.

INF Garin Cecchini
MLB Pipeline Rank: N/A
2016 Age: 25

Cecchini is another post-hype prospect acquired on the cheap by the Stearns' regime over the winter, coming over from the Red Sox for cash considerations. Formerly a top-100 prospect, Cecchini hit a meager .213/.286/.296 in 117 games in AAA last season while going through some ill-advised mechanical changes. Now with the Brewers he'll attempt to rediscover the stroke that helped him shoot up prospect lists in 2013-14 and try and establish himself as the club's long-term solution at third base. That job will go to veteran Aaron Hill to begin the season, but we'll almost assuredly be seeing Cecchini at some point.

OF Ramon Flores
MLB Pipeline Rank: N/A
2016 Age: 24

Flores is yet another recent addition, having come over from Seattle this past winter via trade. He hit .308/.401/.454 in 87 games in AAA last season and even made his big league debut before his year was cut short with an ankle injury. Like Liriano, the left-handed swinging Flores is yet another piece of the crowded outfield picture and is out of minor league options. Given the cost in acquiring him (Luis Sardinas), it's again highly likely that the club breaks camps with Flores in the fold and gives him an audition during the regular season.

OF Keon Broxton
MLB Pipeline Rank: N/A
2016 Age: 26

Broxton came over from the Pirates this winter in the Jason Rogers trade, and he certainly brings an intriguing skill set to the table. He struggles greatly with strikeouts but hit .273/.357/.438 with 10 home runs and 39 steals in 133 games between AA and AAA in 2015. A tremendous athlete, Broxton is a true center fielder and easily the best defender competing for the center field job in camp this spring. He's got a chance to make the Opening Day roster, but having a minor league option remaining might hurt his cause there. He'll could see the big leagues at some point though this season.

INF Colin Walsh
MLB Pipeline Rank: N/A
2016 Age: 26

Walsh was a Rule 5 pick by the Brewers from the Athletics this past winter and is in the mix for a backup infielder spot in camp. He was a little bit older than the average player in AA last season, but his overall line of .302/.447/.470 in 134 games was still quite impressive. He's got a little bit of pop as evidenced by his 13 home runs last year, but his keen eye at the plate is his true calling card; Walsh walked in an incredible 20% of his plate appearances last year. Colin is a switch hitter and capable of playing second, third, and a little bit of outfield. Because he is a Rule 5 pick he does need to stick with the Brewers throughout the season or be offered back to Oakland, but Walsh should have an excellent chance to make the team this spring an contribute to the club as a utility player off the bench.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference