Today I am sad. Kyle announced that the voting for prospects is ending at 30. It has reached the point where I have a hard time making up mind about who I think is better between two Low-A pitchers, but it has been very fun to learn more and more about these young guys, and get excited about the future. Our system has so much more depth than it did in recent years and I looking forward to following the minor leagues all season. Maybe even as much as watching the Brewers themselves!
There are a bunch of guys in the system who at one time were fairly highly regarded, especially when our depth was so poor three or four years ago. There are a number who could be facing a time of reckoning this year, especially with our numbers.
Here are a few guys who I'll be following this year, wondering if they can surprise us or if they'll be with the Lancaster Barnstormers soon:
Most devoted fans have probably heard of Clint. He was our number one draft pick back in 2012. Players like Carlos Correa, Addison Russell, Corey Seager and Michael Wacha are among the standouts of the first round of that draft. Clint got a lot of attention as a rare catching prospect in his first three years in the system. He had a stellar initial season in the Arizona League in 2012, and then in the Midwest League in 2014 was one of our most celebrated minor leaguers with a .287/.410/.520 season.
However, things came crashing down in 2015. Coulter was switched to the outfield, and has played almost entirely in right field since that time. He really struggled in a season and a half in the Florida State League, hitting .236/.311/.372
The end of 2016 brought a ray of hope. He was promoted to AA Biloxi as others above him were promoted. In 28 games he hit .337/.382/.442. Can he continue to hit like that? I assume he will start 2017 at Biloxi. There are many outfielders above him approaching the majors and other younger ones working their way up. Could we see a switch to first? Clint is still pretty young at 23.
Victor has really been forgotten. He was drafted just a couple spots after Coulter in the 2012 draft. He played college baseball (where he set home run records) so he is already 25. One report I found on SB Nation rated Roache our 3rd best prospect in 2013. Roache has moved slowly through the system, spending a full year and a half in the Florida State League and already a year and a half at AA. He has been consistent, with his average, OBP, and slugging varying only slightly from year to year. Unfortunately, he hasn't been consistently good.
He has hit for just a .243 average in the minors, with a somewhat decent .317 OBP from drawing a fair amount of walks. He's continued to hit for decent power, with 64 doubles and 62 homers in about 1700 PA's. He strikes out a ton. Almost all his time has been in left field and he's been used as a DH fairly often in the minors, so I don't think defense is a strength.
His hitting numbers have continued to be decent enough to think he might improve, but his biggest problem has been injuries. He's dealt with calf, hand and wrist injuries. I can't imagine he'll be starting anywhere above AA.
DeMuth has never received a whole lot of attention. He was a fifth round pick after choosing to play all four years in college, where he was a two time All-American at Indiana. In three years in the Brewers system, he's hit for at least a .276 average and at least a .348 OBP each year. However, he has shown little power, hitting just 14 home runs during that time, and even less speed with just nine stolen bases.
He also has struggled to settle into a position. He came up as a third baseman, but starting in 2015 was switched to first. He even played some in the outfield last year. With the Brewers system still light on first baseman, he could move up the system as a backup there. He was so-so in a late season stint at Biloxi and figures to start there. He's 25 years old.
Johnny has been an interesting guy to me since I started following the Brewers minor leagues a few years ago. He grew up in Compton, CA, and was a 22nd round selection in 2013. I understand he played just a year or two of organized baseball before being drafted. He's 26 now. He is also the last remnant in a Brewers system that once held forth the possibility of an all-Davis outfield. Kentrail left baseball, and we all know what happened to Khrush :(
Johnny hit surprisingly well in his first stint in Arizona, with a .294 average and .351 OBP. In a full season at Appleton in 2014 he had a very pedestrian .601 OPS. Then in 2015 he missed virtually the whole season with an injury. I figured his career was done, but he had a fairly strong comeback in 2016.
Playing most of the season at Brevard County. He hit for a .295 batting average and .390 OBP. He was promoted to Biloxi late in the year and was at least OK with a .261 average and .312 OBP.
He's never hit for power. Like, at all. In 1100 PA's he has just 20 doubles, 11 triples, and one home run. But he has shown a strong ability to get on base, and he is very fast, with 85 stolen bases during that time. He's split time between center and left. Again, the Brewers system is loaded with outfields, but if he keeps getting on base this year he could have some promise as a reserve speed guy.
A few other guys in similar positions who I'll be watching this year (and whose names haven't come up lately):
Jorge Ortega, Tristan Archer, Preston Gainey and Chris McFarland.
Do you have any other guys like this that you are curious about this season?