Yesterday afternoon, the rosters were released for the 2017 Arizona Fall League. The AFL is a league that plays annually following the completion of the regular baseball season and is used as a showcase and proving ground for MLB prospects. This season, our Milwaukee Brewers will be sending their minor leaguers to play for the Salt River Rafters, along with players from the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Rockies, and Marlins.
This year, the Brewers will be sending 7 prospects to represent the organization in the Fall League. It was revealed yesterday that three positional prospects would be making the trip, and those players are:
OF Corey Ray
Ray, who will turn 23 in a few weeks, was Milwaukee’s 1st round pick last year at #5 overall, the organization’s highest draft pick since 2005. He’s been with high-A Carolina for the duration of what has been a highly disappointing season for the club’s #2 ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline. Ray’s batted .242/.315/.374 (94 wRC+) with 7 home runs and 24 stolen bases. A recent scouting report per John Eshleman of Baseball Prospectus:
Corey Ray is a premium athlete, and he has many skills baseball teams value highly. Unfortunately, at present, hitting does not appear to be among them. Yes, there is some raw power in there, but his current problems at the plate preclude him from tapping into it...Ray is getting [future value] 45 grades, providing big-league value as a fourth outfielder who can play all three outfield spots and run. It is still only Ray’s first-full season, so he has time. His eye is good and there’s some barrel control, so if he figures something out with his swing, his upside remains substantial. However, a fourth outfielder outcome is more likely at present.
3B Lucas Erceg
Erceg, 22, was Milwaukee’s 2nd round pick in the 2016 draft and is ranked as the club’s #10 prospect. He’s spent all year with the Carolina Mudcats, where he got off to a very slow start but has improved his numbers throughout the summer. Altogether he’s hit .257/.307/.414 (100 wRC+) with 14 home runs in 527 plate appearances in 2017. Greg Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus recently said of Erceg:
“[F]lashes solid approach, may struggle driving plus velo, projects average game power, flashes plus-plus arm strength, good enough to stick at third base long-term; potential major league regular; likely second div regular.”
IF Jake Gatewood
Gatewood, who turns 22 in September, was tabbed as Milwaukee’s pick in the supplemental round of the 2014 draft at #41 overall. He’s enjoyed a breakout season in 2017 after getting corrective contact lenses before the year. Gatewood began the season by hitting .269/.340/.438 (119 wRC+) with 11 home runs for Carolina in 470 plate appearances before getting bumped up to AA Biloxi a few weeks ago. He’s continued his strong performance thus far with the Shuckers, batting .275/.315/.478 (126 wRC+) with 2 home runs through his first 73 plate appearances. Gatewood spent most of his time at first base with Carolina but has slid back over to third base with Biloxi (his primary position in 2016), so he’s already shown some positional versatility. Ranked as the org’s #18 prospect, here’s what Greg Goldstein of BP had to say about Gatewood this summer:
Gatewood really caught my eye in BP as he consistently hit moonshots, demonstrating the true plus-plus raw power in his profile. [H]e flashed the ability to stay within himself and keep his eyes following ball to bat, while shortening his swing a bit in two strike counts. His hands aren’t that stiff either, so there’s potential to improve his barrel control, though he’s still striking out in about 30 percent of his at-bats this year, thanks in large part to a highly leveraged swing and an aggressive approach. There’s still considerable risk in his profile given his high swing-and-miss tendencies, but his raw power is rare and it is worth keeping tabs on his ability to convert his raw power into game situations.
Besides those three position players, the Brewers will also send four pitchers to the Fall League. Who will fill those spots has yet to be determined, however. Last year Milwaukee sent four unranked pitching prospects to the AFL - Josh Uhen, Tayler Scott (since traded), Tyler Spurlin (who hasn’t pitched with injury this season), and Javi Salas (since released. It will be interesting to see of the organization goes that route once again, or if they send some of their more highly-touted arms like Corbin Burnes or Freddy Peralta, two breakout right-handers in the system this season.
The 6-team Arizona Fall League begins play this year on October 10th. The annual Fall Stars Game is scheduled for November 4th, and the league championship will take place on November 18th in Scottsdale.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs
Tickets are still available for the Brew Crew Ball Meet Up, scheduled to take place at the September 1st game against Washington at Miller Park. Game tickets must be purchased by August 31st. For more information and to purchase your tickets, follow this link!