Late last week, Keith Law and ESPN finished releasing their top 100 overall prospects. The Milwaukee Brewers had a whopping eight players on that list, and for that their farm system earned an overall ranking from Law of sixth among the 30 teams. Yesterday, Law released his organizational top prospects for the NL Central and AL Central, which of course included our local nine. Based on his top 100 rankings, we already pretty much knew how prospects #1-8 were going to play out:
1. Corey Ray (#34 overall)
2. Lewis Brinson (#38)
3. Isan Diaz (#41)
4. Trent Clark (#67)
5. Lucas Erceg (#70)
6. Josh Hader (#71)
7. Luis Ortiz (#79)
8. Brandon Woodruff (#100)
We already went into detail regarding the eight above prospects in this post discussing the top 100 overall, so if you’d like to look over those capsules again I recommend following the link. To round out Milwaukee’s top 20, Law added:
9. Mauricio Dubon
Mauricio Dubon wasn’t far from the top 100. He’s a potential everyday player at a few positions, including shortstop, though Orlando Arcia’s presence might push Dubon to second or a super-utility role. Dubon can hit, run and field, and people with the Red Sox (from whom the Brewers acquired Dubon for Tyler Thornburg) rave about his work ethic. He’ll become the first player who grew up in Honduras to reach the majors.
10. Brett Phillips
Brett Phillips was a top-100 guy last year, and the tools -- speed, a plus-plus arm, raw power -- are all still there. But he struggled with his lack of a two-strike approach or willingness to adjust to pitchers’ counts, swinging hard regardless of the situation. There’s no lack of physical ability here, and if and when he calms down the approach, he has above-average regular upside.
11. Jorge Lopez
He’s still throwing 91-94 mph and a power 12/6 curveball, and he flashed a hard changeup with split-like tumble last year. He might just need to skip Triple-A and break in as a swingman or long reliever in the majors.
12. Marcos Diplan
His fastball sits mid-90s, complemented with an above-average changeup and chance for an average slider. He throws strikes, but like any 6-foot right-hander, he has to prove he can keep the ball down.
13. Cody Ponce
[M]ediocre results despite his good stuff in High-A, allowing way more contact than he should with his 92-95 mph heat and hard breaking ball.
14. Mario Feliciano
A bat-first guy with enough arm strength to catch but perhaps not the hands or agility. His bat will play at other positions, but he has a higher ceiling as an above-average regular if he can stay behind the plate.
15. Devin Williams
[C]ontinues to search for an average breaking pitch, with a fringy slider to go with his 92-95 mph fastball and grade-55 changeup. He has progressed very slowly, with his command and control where they should be, given his athleticism and experience.
16. Michael Reed
Didn’t hit in Colorado Springs, which is bad enough, but he got out of his swing mechanics last spring and never recovered. Before then, I liked him as a potential fringe regular in center with high probability because he has always posted good OBPs and contact rates.
17. Gilbert Lara
Continued to underwhelm at the plate and in the field. He’s just 18 and has time to show something, but he’s getting thicker and might have to move off short, while scouts also questioned his effort the past two seasons.
18. Ryan Cordell
Has some power and can square up a fastball, but he lacks a position and just posted a .319 OBP in Double-A as a 24-year-old.
19. Phil Bickford
Used to touch 98 mph, threw just 90-91 mph in the Futures Game without an average second pitch.
20. Demi Orimoloye
Hit only .205/.293/.324 as a 19-year-old in the Pioneer League, but he cut his strikeout rate while raising his walk rate from 2 to 9 percent. He has the hand strength to make hard contact and hit for power. He’s probably a six-year project, as there wasn’t much feel to hit when the Brewers drafted him out of a Canadian high school.
Law remains high on Brett Phillips, still ranking him within the top 10 though he has fallen out of many other lists. There might also be some flag planting going on here with Mario Feliciano, as his #14 rank in Law’s list is much higher than he’s been anywhere else. The teenage 2nd-rounder from 2016 does appear to have some promise as a catching prospect, but high school backstops rarely stay at that position as they progress through the minors so there’s obviously plenty of risk involved there. Law has long been banging the drum for Michael Reed and kept him in the org top 20 despite a down year last season.
Law appears to be the low-man on Phil Bickford, who just doesn’t throw as hard as he once did and looks like a reliever down the road. He noted the fallen stocks of Kodi Medeiros, Jake Gatewood, and Monte Harrison, providing some context for his comments about Milwaukee’s 2014 draft class in his organizational rankings.
Included in Law’s “Others of Note” category are Jon Perrin, Nash Walters, Chad McClanahan, Trey Supak, and Nathan Kirby. Law feels Perrin could become a back end starter and that McClanahan has physical projection, a plus arm, and is a power over hit player right now. He calls Walters a “big arm” but he obviously needs work on his control, says that Supak was “worth watching” in Appleton’s rotation, and that Kirby will be returning from Tommy John surgery this season.