It wasn’t too long ago that the Milwaukee Brewers were derided as having one of the worst farm systems in the major leagues. For too long, the Brewers were a team that was ‘stuck in the middle’ between truly competing for the playoffs and building for the future. Things quickly began to change, however, following the disastrous month that was April of 2015. Once the franchise determined that it wasn’t going to win anything of substance with the core in place at the big league level, the stripping down of the organization began quickly building momentum into the full-blown rebuild that we as Brewers fans have had to endure for the better part of the last two years. Between Doug Melvin and Slingin’ David Stearns, Milwaukee has traded the following players since July of 2015:
Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Mike Fiers, Jonathan Broxton, Gerardo Parra, Neal Cotts, Francisco Rodriguez, Cy Sneed, Luis Sardinas, Adam Lind, Jason Rogers, Trevor Seidenberger, Jean Segura, Tyler Wagner, Khris Davis, Jed Bradley, Aaron Hill, Jaye Chapman, Jeremy Jeffress, Jonathan Lucroy, Will Smith, Eric Young Jr, Tyler Thornburg, Drew Gagnon, Martin Maldonado
As an organization, the Brewers have traded an entire 25-man roster worth of players in the last 18 months. Some deals were clear rebuilding types of trades, while others were counterbuilding sort of moves that returned some players at the big league level. The fruits of these labors are an MLB-level club that’s sprinkled with compelling young talent, and a farm system that is now a consensus top-five group in the league.
As a Brew Crew Ball community, we have been discussing and voting to rank the Milwaukee Nine’s top prospects for the past few weeks. We've already taken a look at the Top 10, now here are the next 10 best Milwaukee Brewers prospects, as selected collectively by you, the reader:
11. SS Mauricio Dubon
2016 stats (A+-AA): 549 PA || .323/.379/.461 || 6 HR || 30 SB || 61 K || 44 BB
Dubon joined the Brewers system following the trade of Tyler Thornburg to Boston. He's always had a very good hit tool, but never showed much power until this past season, when he hit 31 doubles and 9 triples to go with his 6 home runs. There are still some questions as to whether that power surge was real, but even without great power, he still has the potential to be a valuable utility player thanks to his contact ability and slick fielding. With Orlando Arcia manning shortstop in Milwaukee for the forseeable future, he'll likely have to move off of shortstop eventually, but the glove should be able to play anywhere.
12. RHP Jorge Lopez
Age: 23 (24 in February)
2016 Stats (AA-AAA): 124.2 IP || 5.78 ERA || 113 K || 71 BB || 17 HR || 1.741 WHIP
Lopez entered last season as a Top 100 prospect in baseball, and seemed to be at the doorstep of a spot in the major league rotation after making his big league debut in late 2015. But a move to Colorado Springs proved to be disastrous - his good curveball was flattened by the altitude and his confidence was shaken. A return trip to Double-A showed his stuff was still there, but now the Brewers face the question of whether to send him back to Double-A for a third go-around, or risk putting him back in Colorado Springs. With a low to mid-90s fastball and a quality breaking ball, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Lopez return to Milwaukee at some point this year at the back end of the rotation.
13. RHP Marcos Diplan
2016 stats (A-A+): 113.1 IP || 3.02 ERA || 129 K || 50 BB || 7 HR || 1.288 WHIP
A product of the trade that sent Yovani Gallardo to Texas, Diplan has been a strikeout machine despite his diminutive stature. Listed at 6'0" and 160 pounds, there's some question as to whether he'll be able to hold up longterm as a starter, but there's no doubt he has the stuff to succeed if he can keep the walks in check. He does have some questions about his secondary offerings that could challenge him as he moves into the upper levels of the minors, but even if he doesn't hold up as a starter, he may have a bright future in the back end of the bullpen.
14. RHP Cody Ponce
2016 Stats (A+): 72.0 IP || 5.25 ERA || 69 K || 17 BB || 6 HR || 1.403 WHIP
The prototype for the infatuation with large pitchers the Brewers had for awhile, Ponce is the exact opposite of Diplan, standing at 6'6" and 240 pounds. The former second round pick can light up the radar gun with readings in the upper 90s, and also offers a curve, cutter and changeup. He has the repertoire of a starter, but was hit hard in that role last year, putting up a 5.25 ERA in a league not known for its offense. Still, he has good stuff and doesn't walk many. If he can improve on his control inside the strikezone, he's another that could prove to be valuable bullpen piece.
15. SS Gilbert Lara
2016 Stats (R): 246 PA || .250/.293/.320 || 2 HR || 2 SB || 59 K || 12 BB
A lot of eyes have been on Lara given his status as the biggest July 2 signing in team history, but for a guy with a reputation of being bat-first, he's struggled to hit since coming stateside. He had a reputation for having good (and projectable) power when he signed, but that's yet to translate to actual game power and he's struggled with plate discipline. He's still playing shortstop, but everyone seems to accept the fact he'll eventually have to move to third base. He's still extremely young, but the first 500 plate appearances he's had in rookie ball has tempered excitement a bit.
16. OF Ryan Cordell
2016 Stats (AA): 445 PA || .264/.319/.484 || 19 HR || 12 SB || 97 K || 32 BB
Cordell tends to get overlooked because he has yet to take an at-bat in the Brewers system after being the PTBNL in the Jonathan Lucroy trade and more focus on other outfield prospects in the system. When healthy, he's flashed above-average power and speed and is solid defensively. He probably won't hit for high average or take a ton of walks, but provides enough value to possibly make for a quality 4th outfielder.
17. C Jacob Nottingham
2016 Stats (AA): 456 PA || .234/.295/347 || 11 HR || 9 SB || 138 K || 29 BB
Nottingham came into the Brewers' system with a lot of hype, but failed to live up to most of it in 2016. You could make an argument he was one of the most disappointing prospects in the system last season after struggling immensely with the jump from High-A to Double-A. He's likely to return to Biloxi this year and he's still young for the level, but he'll need to improve his plate discipline. His defense is also the subject of a wide range of strong opinions, ranging from "good receiver" to "total disaster." Catching prospects tend to come along at slower rates, but it's clear enthusiasm for Nottingham has been tempered for now.
18. OF Monte Harrison
2016 Stats (R-A): 323 PA || .220/.300/.339 || 6 HR || 8 SB || 101 K || 24 BB
Harrison is your typical toolsy athletic freak who has yet to see those skills translate to production. To be fair, it's been hard to gauge his progress due to the long list of injuries he's suffered since being drafted in 2014. He's yet to play more than 80 games in a season, and saw his 2016 end early due to a broken bone in his hand. Still, if he can ever find a way to stay on the field, his potential power and speed are fun to dream about.
19. RHP Devin Williams
2016 Stats (A-A+): 97.1 IP || 3.79 ERA || 94 K || 46 BB || 6 HR || 1.408 WHIP
The Brewers' top pick in 2013 has struggled with control over the past few years, but still profiles as a potential mid-rotation starter with a good fastball-changeup combo. He runs into problems commanding his breaking stuff, and that's where he'll need to improve if he's going to be a starter in the big leagues. His production hasn't been spectacular to this point, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the big High-A to Double-A jump, whether that happens this year or next.
20. RHP Corbin Burnes
2016 Stats (R-A): 35.2 IP || 2.02 ERA || 41 K || 18 BB || 1 HR || 1.150 WHIP
After being drafted last summer, Burnes hit the ground running with an impressive handful of appearances between Rookie League in Arizona and Low-A Wisconsin. With a hard sinker than can reach the mid-90s, Burnes is capable of both big strikeout numbers and groundball rates. Some scouts have also called his slider a plus pitch. The jury is still out on whether his future is as a starter or as a strict back-of-bullpen prospect (6 of his 12 appearances last season were starts), but if it's the latter, he has the potential to move through the system quickly.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference