The Milwaukee Brewers may only be able to claim one top-100 prospect (according to MLB Pipeline), but that hasn’t stopped their other farmhands from doing what they can to make names for themselves. Milwaukee’s most talented minor league team is arguably down in Biloxi of the AA Southern League, and today that circuit honored a host of Shuckers in their postseason awards announcement:
NEWS: We are proud to announce our 2018 Postseason Awards!— The Southern League (@SLeagueBaseball) August 29, 2018
MVP: Corey Ray (@FutureIs_Bright), @BiloxiShuckers
Most Outstanding Pitcher: Zack Brown (@ZBrown__33), @BiloxiShuckers
Manager of the Year: Mike Guerrero, @BiloxiShuckers
ALL-STAR TEAM: https://t.co/4D4feOs8xP pic.twitter.com/U9I4ScDXu3
Biloxi won their division in the season’s first half with a 41-29 record and are currently leading the second half standings at 37-28. Their success is thanks in large part to their four honorees - Most Valuable Player and All-Star Corey Ray, Most Outstanding Pitcher and All-Star Zack Brown, All-Star Nate Griep, and Manager of the Year Mike Guerrero.
Ray was Milwaukee’s first round pick at #5 overall in the 2016 draft and will turn 24 in September. This was a breakout season for the former (and perhaps future?) top-100 prospect, who currently slots in as the Brewers’ second-best farmhand. Ray finally began tapping into his plus raw power in game situations, and through 130 games and 578 plate appearances this season he has 27 home runs to accompany a .238/322/.485 slash line (124 wRC+). He’s also successfully swiped 35 bases in 41 attempts while playing an above-average center field. All-in-all, that adds up to 4.2 WARP according to Baseball Prospectus.
Brown, who turns 24 in December, was a fifth-round pick by the Brewers back in 2016. He has been quietly excellent during his first three years as a professional while climbing the minor league ladder, culminating in a breakout season this year in Biloxi. Milwaukee’s #8 prospect missed about a month of the summer with an ankle injury, but in 21 appearances (20 starts) and 119.1 innings he’s compiled a league-best 2.48 ERA. Brown has punched out 113 batters against only 35 free passes and has generated a 58% ground ball rate. Deserved Run Average likes his work as 30% better than the league-average pitcher this season.
Griep, 25 this October, is unranked among Milwaukee’s top-30 prospects and was an eighth-round pick by the club back in 2015. Griep has been a closer for his club of his full professional seasons and he has served in that capacity for Biloxi this summer. The right-hander has been called upon in 50 games, logging 55.1 innings while registering 33 saves. Griep’s bottom-line run prevention has generally outpaced his peripherals in the minor leagues, and this season was no different; his 3.42 ERA is accompanied by marks of 8.6 K/9 and 5.7 BB/9, which translate to a below-average DRA- of 103.
Mike Guerrero first served as a manager within the Brewers’ organization back in 2004, and he has been piloting the Shuckers since their inaugural season (after moving from Huntsville) in 2016. Biloxi posted .518 winning percentages under Guerrero in both 2016 and 2017 before leading them to a .578 winning percentage this year. In 13 seasons as a minor league skipper, Guerrero has managed his teams to a cumulative 987-909 record (.521).
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus