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Milwaukee Brewers Prospects to Know for 2017: Hitters

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Taking a look at the position players who could make an impact in Milwaukee this season.

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The regular season is officially underway for the Milwaukee Brewers, though things haven’t quite gotten off to the start that most would have hoped for. The club has dropped their first two contests of the year against the Rockies and has already had to deal with a significant injury (Junior Guerra’s strained calf), forcing them to dip into their minor league reserves to fortify the roster. Bringing up players from the minors may very well be a theme this year for the Milwaukee Nine, and the Brewers do boast one of the top farm systems in the league from which to draw as the rebuild continues.

With the minor league season set to begin tomorrow, let's take a look at the prospects and rookie-eligible players that the casual fan should be aware of, those who could impact the big league team this season. This series will be split into two parts: hitters and pitchers. Today we'll take a look at the position players:

OF Lewis Brinson
MLB Pipeline Rank: 1
2017 Age: 23

Brinson was the centerpiece of the deal that Jonathan Lucroy to Texas, is ranked as Milwaukee’s top prospect and generally considered one of the top-25 prospects in all of baseball. He’s a five-tool center fielder, one who can hit for power, steal bases, and plays slick defense. There’s still some questions about his hit tool, but if it all comes together for Brinson he’ll be a future All-Star. He’ll start the year at AAA and will likely be the first man called up if a starter goes down in the MLB outfield.

SS/2B Mauricio Dubon
MLB Pipeline Rank: 9
2017 Age: 22

Dubon was one of the prospects that came back in the Tyler Thornburg trade to Boston. He’s a terrific defender at shortstop and really made strides with the bat last year, batting .323/.379/.461 with 6 home runs in 124 games between the high-A and AA levels. He won’t ever hit for much power, but shows an above-average hit tool and good speed on the bases. He could get a look at short later on in the year if Orlando Arcia struggles in the big leagues. Dubon will begin the year at AA.

OF Brett Phillips
MLB Pipeline Rank: 10
2017 Age: 23

Phillips was considered one of Milwaukee’s top prospects last year, but fell down the lists a bit after hitting .229/.332/.397 with 154 strikeouts in 124 games at AA Biloxi. Despite those struggles, the organization has challenged him with an assignment to AAA to start the year in 2017. Phillips’ hit tool is below-average and he has a ton of swing-and-miss in his game, but does have average power, mostly to the pull side. His defense provides a nice floor as he possesses one of the best arms in the minor leagues and plays a good center field, with experience at the corners as well.

OF/IF Ryan Cordell
MLB Pipeline Rank: 16
2017 Age: 25

Cordell was the PTBNL in the previously mentioned Lucroy deal, and he’ll join Brinson and Phillips in the outfield in Colorado Springs to start the season. He’s a tremendous athlete who showed well during spring training this year, boasting a fringe-average hit tool along with above-average power and plus speed. He’s a capable defender at all three outfield spots, and the Brewers will also experiment with him around the infield this year (where he played sparingly while in the Rangers’ org) in an attempt to increase his versatility and value to the big league club down the road.

OF Michael Reed
MLB Pipeline Rank: 28
2017 Age: 24

Reed was a 5th round pick by the Brewers back in 2011 and has made a few appearances in the big leagues over the past couple seasons. He underwhelmed at AAA last year and the hopes for him to be an everyday player may have passed. Still, he’s got the profile to be a solid fourth outfielder with good on-base skills, speed, and the ability to play all three outfield spots. If someone like Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Hernan Perez goes down, it might make more sense to see Reed come up as a reserve than any of the outfielders in front of him on the depth chart. With the logjam on the outfield grass, Reed will begin the year in AA.

UTIL Nate Orf
MLB Pipeline Rank: n/a
2017 Age: 27

A non-drafted free agent back who began his career back in 2013, Orf has rather quickly risen through the minor league ranks with the Brewers’ org. He spent most of last season in AAA and has appeared at all 9 positions at various points throughout his career, though he’s spent most of his time at second base and third base. He doesn’t strike out often, has taken a good amount of walks, is solid defensively, but doesn’t boast much power. Orf will begin the season at AAA and serve as infield depth (along with Yadiel Rivera, who is no longer technically a prospect) in case an injury occurs in the big leagues.

OF Kyle Wren
MLB Pipeline Rank: n/a
2017 Age: 26

The son of former Braves’ GM Frank Wren, Kyle was acquired in a minor deal before the 2015 season. He’s put up solid number the last two years between AA and AAA, where he’s shown to be a good contact hitter with a knack for drawing free passes. His power is a non-factor, but he’s a speedster on the bases and in the field. Wren can play all three outfield spots but his upside looks to be limited to that of a solid reserve. Similarly to Reed, Wren could get the call if one of Milwaukee’s backup outfielders goes down. He bats left-handed while Reed hits righty, though he’s not on the 40 man roster as Reed is.

C Tyler Heineman
MLB Pipeline Rank: n/a
2017 Age: 26

Acquired for cash or a PTBNL just a few days ago, Heineman has the prototypical backup catcher profile. Not a ton of power, decent bat-to-ball skills and on base ability, and is very capable on defense. The Brewers have three catchers they’d like to sort through at the big league level, but if injuries happen to more than one (and we’ve already seen Andrew Susac go down), Heineman provides solid depth at the position.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference