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Milwaukee Brewers name Corey Ray, Zack Brown as minor league player and pitcher of the year

Two well-deserving Shuckers.

Minor League Baseball: Southern League-All Star Game Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Voting began earlier today here on Brew Crew Ball for the organizational minor league player of the year, with our prospect expert Brad Ford offering up 10 choices for you, the reader, to select from. While you all continue to cast your ballots (and begin voting for pitcher of the year tomorrow), it may be worth keeping in mind that this afternoon the Milwaukee Brewers announced their official minor league player and pitcher of the year:

Ray, who turns 24 this month, was Milwaukee’s pick at #5 overall in the 2016 draft and finally demonstrated some of his tantalizing upside on the field this season. The left-handed batter was among Southern League leaders in a number of categories, piling up some impressive counting stats while suiting up for the Biloxi Shuckers this season:

27 home runs (1)
37 stolen bases (1)
32 doubles (t-1)
7 triples (2)
86 runs (2)
74 RBI (4)
.801 OPS (6)

Ray’s .239/.323/.477 batting line across 600 plate appearances checked in at 24% better than league average according to wRC+, and Baseball Prospectus rated his work on defense at +3.5 runs above average in center field. That same outlet valued his overall body of work at 4.1 wins above replacement player in 2018. Ray is currently ranked as Milwaukee’s #2 prospect by MLB Pipeline with a 50 OFP, with scouts praising his power, speed, and defense while expressing concern over his strikeout totals (176, 2nd-most in the Southern League).

Like Ray, right-hander Zack Brown’s name was near the top of most major statistical categories this season, only on the pitching side of things. A 5th-rounder in 2016, Brown missed a month of action this year with an ankle injury but still made 22 appearances for the Shuckers:

2.44 ERA (1)
0.57 HR/9 (1)
.206 BAA (2)
1.04 WHIP (2)
3.33 FIP (4)
8.31 K/9 (7)
116 strikeouts (9)
2.58 BB/9 (t-10)
125.2 innings pitched (12)

The 23 year old (24 in December) was rated as 28% better than the league-average hurler according to Deserved Run Average and is slotted as MLB Pipeline’s #8 organizational prospect. He draws a plus grade for his curve along with an above-average fastball that sits 92-95 MPH and average changeup. Brown’s deceptive but high-effort delivery means there is plenty of reliever risk - and a 45 OFP - but the Brewers think his control will be good enough to stick in the rotation.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus