The Biloxi Shuckers treated their fans to another winning season in 2017, finishing with a final record of 71-66. Unfortunately that was not enough to qualify them for the AA Southern League playoffs, the second straight year they missed the postseason. A bevy of the top prospects of the Milwaukee Brewers suited up for Biloxi this season, but only two of them shone brightly enough to make Baseball America’s 2017 Southern League top 20 prospects list:
8. RHP Corbin Burnes (age 22)
Burnes split the season between Biloxi and Carolina Mudcats (also making the Carolina League top 20), making 16 starts for the Shuckers and tossing 85.2 innings. The excellent results he posted - 2.10 ERA/2.23 FIP, 84:20 K/BB, .210 opponent batting average - helped propel him to capturing the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year. The Brewers weren’t the only ones to take notice, as Burnes’ stock has increased in the eyes of scouts around the league. Here’s what Matt Eddy of BA had to say:
Burnes pitches with urgency and stands out for his athletic, repeatable delivery and ability to execute pitches in any count. He pitches at 93 mph and tops out near 95 with cutting action to both sides of the plate. He can consistently front-door righthanders with his cutter, which helps him stockpile awkward swings. His plus curveball plays to batters on both sides of the plate because of his command. Burnes didn't throw his changeup often, instead preferring to change speeds with his curve and mix in a fringe-average slider.
12. RHP Luis Ortiz (age 21)
Ortiz battled some injury issues this season, his first full campaign as a member of the Brewers’ organization. As such, he totaled only 94 innings across 22 appearances (20 starts), which was still a career-high for him as a professional. Ortiz has shown dominant stuff at times, but his injury history (he’s been on the DL in three straight seasons) and his poor conditioning are causes for concern. He posted a 4.01 ERA/4.40 FIP while pitching in Biloxi this year, along with a 79:37 K/BB ratio and .225 opponent batting average. Here’s how Eddy describes Ortiz:
Ortiz runs his fastball to the mid-90s with plane and riding life through the strike zone. Batters have a hard time picking the ball up out of his hand. Ortiz can spot his plus high-80s slider for strikes or elicit chases out of the zone. When he repeats his delivery, he throws an average curveball. He also shows some feel for a fading mid-80s changeup that can play as average. Ortiz faces questions about a move to the bullpen based on his conditioning, but most scouts like him as a starter based on his average control, wide repertoire and notable competitiveness.
In Eddy’s Southern League Chat, he also noted that infielder Mauricio Dubon just missed the cut for the league top 20:
Most evaluators saw him as future utility infielder or possibly multi-position starter. He may not have plus hit or power grades, but he can slash the ball to the gaps and handle the bat in hit-and-run or bunting situations. Also, he’s an excellent baserunner. But Dubon should be perfect for an NL roster based on his versatility and complementary offensive abilities.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs