It's prospect talk season, and with one of the strongest farm systems in baseball, the Brewers are starting to get some recognition on a national level. Farm director Tom Flanagan appeared on MLB Network's MLB Now on Wednesday night to talk about a handful of future Brewers, and while much of it was re-hashing what some of the more diehard prospect followers may already know, the segment included more than a few interesting insights and nuggets of information.
On Josh Hader, and whether he's being looked at as a starter or reliever:
"We still see him definitely as a starter. He made big strides this year with his changeup. He still has the explosive fastball and slider already in his arsenal but he made such good strides that I think with the changeup this year, we see big things of him being a contributor in the rotation for us down the road."
Phil Bickford still ranks highly among the Brewers' prospects, despite being popped with a 50-game suspension for a drug of abuse this winter. Flanagan was asked if the Brewers brass still thinks highly of him:
"Overall, the outlook is still very good for Phil. He really impressed our staff during instructional league last year. We're still getting to know him, obviously he came over at the deadline from the Giants, but he's a true competitor, he has great stuff, you alluded to the suspension. Obviously he understands he put himself in a tough spot there, but he's working hard to come back from that and make our staff believers in him, which we are. I think he's going to be a big piece moving forward for us."
Orlando Arcia may have graduated from prospect lists with his time in the majors last year, but at his young age, he's still very much a prospect. Flanagan was asked about Arcia's outlook now that he's had a couple of months in the big leagues and heads into 2017 as the starter at shortstop:
"Orlando I think is going to be the key to the left side of our infield this year. He got up just after August 1st last year and made the plays that our minor league staff was accustomed to seeing him make defensively. Had some struggles with the bat early on, but made some adjustments as he moved forward, and I think we're going to see a big jump from Orlando this year. (He) played winter ball and got some ABs, and he's such a young kid at the big league level that I think there's definitely big things in store for us."
Flanagan was also asked about last year's trade of Jonathan Lucroy, and if the front office had to scramble to put another deal together once the Cleveland trade was rejected. He says GM David Stearns and the rest of the staff did well to know what else was out there, and they're very happy with getting Lewis Brinson and Luis Ortiz in the system. Flanagan says Ortiz will be starting the season in Biloxi, where he had a solid six starts after the trade.
A five-minute clip of the appearance is available online for your viewing pleasure.
Much of this paints a rosy picture for everyone involved, but a farm director is unlikely to say things like "Arcia can't hit big league pitching yet" or "Hader's probably going to end up in relief" on a national broadcast. Still, it's nice to see the Baby Brewers get some pub.