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Milwaukee Brewers Prospects to Know for 2018: Hitters

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

Milwaukee Brewers Photo Day Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images

The regular season kicks off tomorrow for the Milwaukee Brewers and the rest of Major League Baseball. Milwaukee’s roster looks pretty stacked as they attempt to break their six-year playoff drought in 2018, but it’s only a matter of time until someone gets injured and the club is forced to dip into their minor league reserves for reinforcements. With that said, 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. For this post, we’ll take a look at the position players:

OF Brett Phillips

MLB Pipeline Rank: 6
2018 age: 24

Despite spending some time in the big leagues last year, Phillips still qualifies as a prospect. Along with Keon Broxton, Phillips will serve as a first-line reinforcement should Milwaukee have an injury in their outfield. The left-handed hitter is a high-energy player with plus power and perhaps the best throwing arm in baseball, but also has a tendency to swing-and-miss.

IF Mauricio Dubon

MLB Pipeline Rank: 11
2018 age: 23

Last year was Dubon’s first full season in the organization, and he hit a solid .274/.330/.382 with 8 homers and 38 steals between AA and AAA. The speedy Dubon has a plus hit tool and doesn’t strike out often, and is also a capable defender at both second base and shortstop with some experience at third base, as well. He’s a stolen base threat, but he doesn’t hit for much power or draw enough walks to be an on-base weapon.

1B/3B Jake Gatewood

MLB Pipeline Rank: 19
2018 age: 22

Gatewood took a major step forward developmentally last season, getting all the way to AA while batting .264/.333/.441 with 15 home runs and 10 stolen bases between Biloxi and Class-A Advanced Carolina. Contact lenses have helped him to see the ball better, allowing for more contact and an increase in walks. Gatewood has plus power, but he does still strike out a ton. He spent last season manning first and third base, and has worked some in the corner outfield this spring to increase his utility.

OF Troy Stokes, Jr.

MLB Pipeline Rank: 22
2018 age: 22

Stokes was a 20/20 man between Carolina and Biloxi last season, clubbing an even 20 dingers and swiping 30 bags while batting .251/.341/.447 between the two levels. The undersized right-hander has surprising power and is an above-average runner who knows how to use his speed both as a defender and a base runner. He’s capable of playing all three outfield spots, though a below-average arm means that he’s best suited for left field.

C Jacob Nottingham

MLB Pipeline Rank: 27
2018 age: 23

Nottingham has taken several steps forward as a receiver since coming to Milwaukee prior to the start of the 2016 season, and scouts now feel that he should be able to make the big leagues as a catcher. His bat has fallen off a bit, though, and he hit only .209/.326/.369 in AA Biloxi last season. He has plus raw power if he can get to it, but he does strike out a fair amount.

C Tyler Heineman

2018 age: 27

The minor league veteran was acquired from Houston in a cash deal last spring and had a nice year in AAA, batting .281/.342/.407 with two home runs in 65 games. He’s a switch-hitter who is also solid on defense and threw out 43% of attempted base stealers last season.

UTIL Nate Orf

2018 age: 28

Since signing as a non-drafted free agent back in 2013, Orf has steadily climbed the minor league ladder and is now on the cusp of the MLB. He batted a stellar .320/397/.507 with 9 home runs in AAA last season, earning a non-roster invite to MLB camp this spring (where he also impressed with an .858 OPS). A jack-of-all-trades who has experience everywhere across the diamond, Orf has strong bat-to-ball skills and is the versatile type of player that Milwaukee loves.

OF Kyle Wren

2018 age: 27

Wren has spent time with Milwaukee’s AAA affiliate in each of the last three seasons and hit well last year, posting a .286/.364/.401 slash with five homers and 26 steals. He doesn’t have much power to speak of, but is a patient hitter who is a stolen base threat. He can man all three spots in the outfield, but is best served in left field.

OF Clint Coulter

2018 age: 24

The former first-round pick has fallen off prospect lists but had a solid showing in AA last season, batting .234/.318/.403 with 14 home runs. He’ll still show plus power and he has a strong throwing arm in right, but the hit tool just hasn’t fully developed to this point. Coulter seems likely to spend some time in AAA this season, but will be eligible for minor league free agency after the season.

INF Shane Optiz

2018 age: 26

The Brewers signed Opitz to a minor league pact this winter to serve as upper-level infield depth for their system. The former Blue Jays farmhand batted .252/.306/.333 in AAA last season, and offers little in the way of power of base stealing ability. He is versatile, though, as a primary shortstop who has the ability to play all over the infield.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference