This was our hardest ever voting process, and not just because some of these guys might become significant contributors in the Brewers’ (or somebody else’s) future. No, we had to vote three extra times! Thank you all for your kind attention and participation.
Perhaps it’s just because I have paid more attention to the Brewers’ prospect lists, but there was a time when all of the last ten prospects would have been a mystery to me. Now, there are only a few - and mostly that is because they are very young and haven’t played a lot in the minors. That includes international signings and recent picks.
But it wouldn’t surprise me to see half of these guys play in the majors. (That’ll be tricky, of course, as there are thirteen of them.)
Eleven of last year’s top 30 prospects are no longer on this year’s list, for a variety of reasons: trade, promotion, getting passed by other prospects, etc: Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell, Isan Diaz, Josh Hader, Monte Harrison, Nathan Kirby, Gilbert Lara, Chad McClanahan, Michael Reed, Devin Williams, and Aaron Wilkerson (who could actually make the team out of spring training).
Without further ado, here is how the bottom thirteen appeared on BCB’s rankings:
21. RHP Taylor Williams (ranked 27 last year)
Drafted fourth round, 2013
Our twenty-first ranked prospect actually made five appearances for the Brewers last season, working 4.2 innings with an xFIP of 3.49. He missed all of the 2015 and 16 seasons following Tommy John surgery, but his 46.2 innings at AA Biloxi (xFIP of 2.95) was apparently impressive enough to give him a shot with a September call-up. 82.1% of his deliveries at the major league level were fastballs, and he averaged 95.9 mph on them. So consistently in the 96 mph range - I think we can see why he came up. And he might be in this season’s bullpen at some point, too.
22. RHP Trey Supak (debut)
Acquired in December 2015 in the Jason Rogers trade with Pittsburgh
Trey was the 2nd round pick of the Pirates in the 2014 draft, so at one point he was thought rather highly of. His combined A and AA ball numbers last season (18 starts, 5 relief appearances) included a fine WHIP of 1.094, with just under nine K’s/9. He was more successful in A ball, though, so some good numbers in 2018 (most likely in Biloxi) will give him a shot to move up the list next season.
23. RHP Adrian Houser (not ranked in 2017)
Acquired in July 2015 in the Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers trade
Adrian actually has also made his MLB debut already, throwing two innings in 2015 and not allowing a run, although his xFIP came in at 6.13 in that minute sample. Houser could join Domingo Santana, Josh Hader, and Brett Phillips from the Gomez deal on the Brewers’ roster as early as this season at some point, although maybe it’s more likely he will make it back up in 2019. Houser came back late last year from Tommy John surgery in 2016 after throwing 70.1 innings in 13 starts for Biloxi. He worked a total of 17.2 innings at the end of last year in rookie ball and at Appleton. His fastball was clocked at 94.5 mph in his brief 2015 appearance, and he threw a curve and changeup as well.
24. OF Troy Stokes (debut)
Drafted fourth round, 2014
Stokes had a power surge last season in high A ball Carolina and AA ball Biloxi, totaling 20 homers in 579 plate appearances after just 9 in his previous 844 plate appearances from 2014-16. He’s not big (5’8”, 182 lbs) so it will be interesting to see if he can continue the power numbers in Biloxi. Of course, if he gets to Colorado Springs, he might take another jump in power numbers. Stokes has 95 stolen bases in his four minor league seasons.
25. C Jacob Nottingham (ranked 17 last year)
Acquired in February 2016 as part of the Khris Davis trade with Oakland
The Sheriff repeated fifth grade...er, AA ball in Biloxi after a disappointing season there in 2016. He lowered his strikeout rate from 30.3% to 22.6% and raised his walk rate from 6.4% to 9.6% His OPS went from .641 to .695, and his wRC+ moved from 87 to 103. But his batting average fell from .234 to .209, with his BABIP dropping from .320 to .255. (He did get hit by 20 pitches, so he’s got that going for him.) Defensively he bumped his caught stealing percent from 25.9% in 2016 to 39.7% in ‘17, and his passed balls fell from 21 to 9. So maybe his drop of eight spots is unfair; at 21 he’s making strides, still rates a 60 raw power number in the 20-80 scale, and has a 60 arm to go with it. Will we see him with the Sky Sox this year? That’s tough for a 21 year old, but what will three seasons at Biloxi show us? BCB readers now have him as our third rated minor league catching prospect, but he might just make it to the bigs, play adequate-to-good defense with decent power, catch a no-hitter for the Brewers, carve out a nice big league career, and become the next Brewers color man on TV.
26. LHP Kodi Medeiros (ranked 22 last year)
Drafted first round (12th overall), 2014
Kodi has notched four minor league seasons already, starting 60 games in his 84 appearances. Speculation has long been that he would be more effective out of the bullpen, whether as a LOOGY or a Josh Hader-type fireman. He is being held back by his high walk rate (4.7 per 9, career) but his free passes fell to 9.4% last year from 15.3% in 2016, with both seasons spent in high-A ball. His minor league career strikeout rate is at 8.5/9. One bright spot: he has only allowed 0.4 homeruns per 9 innings pitched for his career. If he can harness his control, he has a future. If he can’t, he’ll continue to tease us with potential but never contribute at the major league level. Lefties get a long leash.
27. RHP Caden Lemons (debut)
Drafted second round, 2017
It would appear that Caden is on our list purely on draft ranking and potential (both career and name). He pitched just 2.2 innings over 3 starts in rookie ball, so small sample size. His size isn’t small, though - he stands at 6’6”, and tips the scales at 175 lbs. He has thrown 97 mph at the high school level, and if you want to learn more you can read Brad’s report on Lemon’s selection here.
28. RHP Josh Pennington (debut)
Acquired in the December 2016 Tyler Thornburg trade with Boston
Pennington has pitched effectively in his three minor league seasons, but has just worked 111 innings over that period. He’s allowed only 79 hits, but has walked 55 over that period. His walk rate improved last season when he was at Appleton, with just 8 in 30.1 innings, but he suddenly allowed 4 dingers in that span after allowing just 2 in his previous 80.2 innings. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him at high-A Carolina for the 2018 season.
29. RHP Jorge Lopez (ranked 12 last year)
Drafted in the second round in 2011)
Holy plummeting prospects, Batman! Lopez has appeared in three games in 2015 and 2017 for the Milwaukee Brewers, more successfully in his two 2015 starts. He still grades out at 60 for both his fastball and curve, but his 2016 stint at AAA Colorado Springs was a disaster. He walked 6.24 per nine and allowed 12 homers in 79.1 innings. He ended up in AA Biloxi at the end of that year and in 2017, where his numbers were better - 3.18 walks per nine in ‘16 and 3.30 in 2017. Does he get a shot in the pen in 2018, or has opportunity passed him by in the Brewers’ organization? Lopez was a Top 100 prospect for all of the minors as recently as 2015. There’s still time, but the window is closing.
30. RHP Carlos Herrera (debut)
Acquired from Seattle in the December, 2015 Adam Lind trade
Herrera has worked 189 innings in three minor league seasons, all of them in rookie ball and the last 38 at Appleton last year. During his time in A-ball last season his walk rate more or less doubled to 4.03 per 9 from his rookie ball numbers. But you know what? He had a complete game shutout for the T-Rats last year. It was a seven inning doubleheader game, but still. There’s potential to dream on here.
31. SS Jean Carmona (debut)
International Free Agent Draft in July of 2017
Somebody had to take over Gilbert Lara’s spot of long-range potential infielder who is really young, since Gilbert has ceded that title. Carmona it is! He slashed .266/.367/.406 with 10 doubles and 8 triples, and 10 steals. So there could be something here. We shall continue to keep tabs.
32. RHP Jon Perrin (debut)
Drafted in the 27th round of 2015
Perrin has pitched solidly overall in each of his minor league stops, and has 44 starts in 62 appearances. He fits the big body model that the Brewers were following for some time in their drafting, standing 6’5” and weighing in at 220 lbs. In general he has limited walks and homers in his minor league career - these are good things. He has walked just 1.5 per 9 and given up just 0.47 homers/9. His WHIP is just 1.14. Having spent last season at AA Biloxi, the Brewers will need to decide if he goes back there in 2018, up to AAA Colorado Springs, or perhaps into the Brewers bullpen - admittedly a stretch. Still, Perrin could be up with the Brewers this season if he continues with those numbers.
33. OF Demi Orimoloye (ranked 24 last year)
Drafted in the 4th round of 2015
Demi was selected out of high school from Toronto, Canada, in the 2015 draft. He’s 6’4” and 225 lbs, projects at 60 for raw power, 55 for speed, and has a grade 60 arm. Last season in low-A Appleton he only slashed .214/.281/.351 and posted an wRC+ of just 79. He did steal 38 bases (so he stole a base about 1⁄3 of the times he got on). His walk rate was 7.7%, which one would hope to come up, and his strikeout rate was 26.8%, which is lower than I was expecting. He is a dead pull hitter, sitting at 54% to 60% each of his three minor league seasons. He might never develop his raw talent, but enough tools are there to stick with him for several more seasons. I expect him back in low A this season.
Thanks, folks! We’ll have just as many changes next season as this...some will graduate, some will fall by the wayside, and some will be traded (perhaps sooner rather than later).
But if they are traded in the near future, too bad - we’re done voting for this year.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference