A rebuild is a many faceted thing. Prospect wrangling isn't the only aspect that matters, but it certainly is a big part of the rebuild. Yesterday I took a look at the Brewers prospects fan can hope to see break into the major leagues. Today we're going to continue with this miniseries by taking a look at the prospect we can hope to see break through in 2018.
Just like yesterday I'm going to use the estimated arrival dates provided by MLB Pipeline. And like yesterday I'll remind you to understand the realities of projecting prospects. Some of them won't reach their ceilings and some of them won't reach the major leagues at all. On the flip side, some players come out of nowhere and sometimes they even arrive sooner than expected. So just keep that all in mind when taking a look at the following list.
Position Players: 2B/SS Isan Diaz, OF Monte Harrison, 3B/SS Jacob Gatewood,
Pitchers: LHP Kodi Medeiros, RHP Cody Ponce, RHP Devin Williams, LHP Nathan Kirby, RHP Bubba Derby, RHP Freddy Peralta
Isan Diaz is the newest Brewers prospect. He came over from Arizona as a part of the Jean Segura deal. In fact he's probably the whole reason the Brewers made that deal. He crushed pitching in rookie ball last year and will open the season with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in Appleton. For now he'll remain at short, but most see him moving over to second base eventually. Third base is a possibility as well. If he can hit anything like he did last year, his bat will let him profile at any of those positions.
Monte Harrison feels like the forgotten son. I think he was the highlight of the 2014 draft that also saw Gatewood and Medeiros selected. Nothing against them, mind you. I just think Harrison has a higher ceiling and/or higher probability of reaching his ceiling than the other two. He struggled with an aggressive assignment to full season ball to start last season, and went down to the Pioneer league mid-season. Once there he started to turn things on before suffering a brutal ankle injury that ended his season. He's expected to be ready to go and should open the season with the Timber Rattlers again. Hopefully he'll take the lessons he learned last year and start applying them in full season ball like he was in the rookie league before his injury. Honestly, I think the best case scenario with Harrison looks a lot like the best case scenario with Brett Phillips.
I think there's a legitimate chance that by this time next year, Cody Ponce will be rated as the Brewers best pitching prospect. Part of that is related to guys like Jorge Lopez getting their promotions. But a lot has to do with the fact that Ponce has a solid four pitch mix. He could have 3 above average pitches and a fourth usable one to go along with solid command. He was drafted last year and advanced to low-A after just two outings in rookie ball. He might open the season with the Timber Rattlers, but I wouldn't be shocked to see him open with the Brewers High-A affiliate the Brevard County Manatees. He was drafted out of college and showed a lot of poise on the mound. He could be a guy that moves relatively quickly.
As much as I gush about Cody Ponce, we shouldn't overlook Devin Williams. He competed at the same level as Ponce last year with pretty good results of his own. He was taken out of high school in the 2013 draft and has been on the slow track so far. That's unlikely to change anytime soon, but he was always going to be a project pitcher. The stuff is there for 3 average or better pitches and solid command to go along with it. He has the profile of a mid-rotation starter right now, but any kind of breakthrough could see his ceiling take a step up.
Nathan Kirby was once considered in the mix to go 1-1 in last year's draft. He got hurt though and some inconsistent performances earlier in the spring allowed the Brewers to take him with their second pick. He ended up having Tommy John surgery late in the year and won't pitch at all this year. Before he was hurt though, he looked like a guy that could be a strong mid-rotation starter. Since he's going to miss this entire year, it's really hard to guess when he'll be major league ready. I wouldn't be surprised if he was more of a mid to late season option in 2018 instead of an early season contender.
Yesterday's list was five players long. I told you the 2018 list would be longer! We have 9 players listed here. But again, just because they're on this list doesn't mean they're a sure bet to break into the majors in 2018. Still, it's nice to see so many quality prospects aren't all that long off. Well, at least in terms of a rebuild, two years really isn't that long.