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Milwaukee Brewers Prospects to Know for 2018: Arms

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

Milwaukee Brewers v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 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 is the second part of this series, with the earlier post focusing on the position players who could be up in Milwaukee this year. This post will focus on the org’s stable of promising arms:

RHP Corbin Burnes

MLB Pipeline Rank: 2
2018 age: 23

Scouts fell in love with Burnes as his stock soared during a 2017 season that saw him capture Milwaukee’s organizational MiLB pitcher of the year award. He posted a sparkling 1.67 ERA across 145.2 innings between Class-A Advanced and AA with 140 strikeouts against 36 walks. Burnes pounds the strike zone with a four pitch mix, including a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup that all play up due to his above-average command. The former 4th round pick has already been mentioned by manager Craig Counsell as a pitcher who could join the rotation later this summer, and Burnes looks like a good bet to become an above-average MLB starter before it’s all said and done.

RHP Brandon Woodruff

MLB Pipeline Rank: 3
2018 age: 25

A former 11th round pick in 2014, Woodruff broke out in AA in 2016 and advanced all the way to the big leagues last year, pitching meaningful September innings during a pennant race. All things considered, things could’ve gone better - he posted a 4.81 ERA and 32:14 K/BB ratio in 43.0 innings covering eight starts. But the future looks bright for Woodruff, and the org certainly seems to believe in him; he’ll open as the club’s fifth starter this season. He’s a fastball/slider pitcher with an improving changeup and solid command, and if things go right Woodruff can be a dependable mid-rotation starter for Milwaukee.

RHP Luis Ortiz

MLB Pipeline Rank: 5
2018 age: 22

Ortiz has yet to prove his durability and scouts are concerned about his stocky build, which has caused his prospect stock to fall off a bit in recent seasons. But the raw stuff is still tantalizing, with a plus fastball that’s been clocked as high as 97 along with a plus slider. His changeup has a chance to become average and he’ll mix in a curve, which along with good command, could help him ultimately become a mid-rotation starter.

RHP Freddy Peralta

MLB Pipeline Rank: 10
2018 age: 22

If anyone in the org gave Burnes a run for his money as pitcher of the year last year, it was Peralta. The diminutive righty posted a 2.63 ERA and 169:62 K/BB ratio in 120.0 innings between Carolina and Biloxi, allowing only 5.8 hits per nine innings. His fastball typically sits in the low-90s but Peralta can manipulate it a number of ways, and he also throws a good slider and changeup. His control could use some improvement and his small frame increases his reliever risk, but the org likes him as a future #3 or #4 starter. Like Burnes, Peralta has been mentioned by name as someone who could be ready later this summer.

RHP Adrian Houser

MLB Pipeline Rank: 13
2018 age: 25

Houser’s development was interrupted by Tommy John surgery in 2016, but he returned in time to make nine rehab appearances late last season and then pitched a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League. Scouts were impressed with Houser’s remade physique and plus fastball/curveball combination, with the heater clocking as high as 97 MPH. He’ll be under an innings restriction this season and the org still wants to see what he can do as a starter, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him follow the same route that Taylor Williams did to Milwaukee’s bullpen last season. Speaking of...

RHP Taylor Williams

MLB Pipeline Rank: 18
2018 age: 26

Williams was stellar while working his way back to health with AA Biloxi last season, authoring a 3.09 ERA and 57:21 K/BB ratio in 46.2 innings. He parlayed that into a September call-up, where he impressed with his plus fastball that sits in the 95-98 MPH range as well as a plus slider. The org has determined that his future will be in relief and he remains in the mix for an Opening Day bullpen spot. Even if he doesn’t break camp with the team, though, you can expect to see him in Milwaukee at some point this season.

RHP Jorge Lopez

MLB Pipeline Rank: 24
2018 age: 25

Lopez has seen his stuck plummet quite a bit since his breakout 2015 season, and last season the org transitioned him from starter to relief. With a plus fastball/curveball combo but notable command issues, the Lopez took well to his new role. In 27 appearances out of the bullpen last season, he posted a 3.66 ERA across 39.1 innings with 32 strikeouts, 12 walks, and just a .600 opponent OPS. Perhaps this is the year and the role that will finally help him earn a more lengthy MLB look with Milwaukee.

RHP Aaron Wilkerson

2018 age: 29

Wilkerson completed his journey from independent ball to the big leagues last season, coming up last September and tossing 10.1 impressive innings for the Brewers. A control specialist with a low-90s fastball and a slider, curve, and change, Wilkerson will begin the season as part of that “next group” of rotation depth (with Junior Guerra and Wade Miley) in AAA.

RHP Jon Perrin

2018 age: 25

A 27th round pick just three years ago, Perrin is now on the cusp of the MLB after posting a 2.91 ERA in 105.1 innings for AA Biloxi last season. He’s considered a control specialist (career 1.5 BB/9) but his fastball was up as high as 94-95 MPH in the fall league, and he looks to have a big league future as a back-end starter or bullpen arm.

RHP Bubba Derby

2018 age: 24

Derby enjoyed a successful season as a swingman between AA and AAA last season, working to a 3.26 ERA across 113.1 innings in 14 starts and 16 relief appearances. His fastball/changeup combo could help him earn a look in Milwaukee’s bullpen if he continues to have success in the minors.

LHP Tyler Webb

2018 age: 27

Acquired last season from New York for Garrett Cooper, Webb will serve as left-handed depth for Milwaukee’s bullpen. He didn’t have much big league success in a couple brief stints with the Yankees and Brewers last season, but his fastball/slider/change combination has helped him miss bats at a compelling rate (11.2 K/9) during his minor league career.

LHP Nick Ramirez

2018 age: 28

Ramirez moved to the mound for the first time last season after spending the first six years of his pro career at first base and may regret not transitioning sooner. The former collegiate closer posted a sterling 1.37 ERA in 79.0 innings out of the bullpen for AA Biloxi, relying heavily on his fastball and changeup. He re-upped with the org on a minor league deal this past winter and could earn his way into a look as a left-handed specialist if he can continue having success.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference