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Baseball America ranks one Brewer among Midwest League top-20 prospects

He’s a repeat ranking from a previous list.

USA Baseball 18U National Team Trials Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

At the end of each minor league season, Baseball America takes the time to tour around the circuits from Triple-A down to the short-season leagues and name the top-20 prospects at every stop. The Class A affiliate for the Milwaukee Brewers — the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers — plays in the Midwest League, and this year BA ranked one Brew Crew minor leaguer among the top-20 prospects on that circuit.

The player recognized, Brice Turang, was also mentioned among the top-20 Carolina League prospects. Baseball America ranked him at #17 in the Midwest League, and here’s what they had to say about him:

Another 2018 draftee to jump multiple levels in 2019, Turang impressed scouts and managers across the Midwest League in his first season.

”In the infield, I really liked Brice a lot,” Peoria manager Erik Almonte said. “He was really good.”

Working extensively at shortstop, the Brewers have also played Turang at second base on multiple occasions in hopes of expanding his infield versatility. Whether Turang will hold at shortstop has yet to be determined.

”He plays hard,” one scout said. “He’s going to develop power, I think. He has a chance for plus-hit, some on-base skills and runs a bit, but it’s going to come down to how good a defensive player he is. He’s not going to produce runs, so he’s going to have to stop runs. Does he stay at shortstop? That’s a tough one.”

Turang’s major league bloodlines give him a leg up in the realm of natural instincts, but ultimately he’ll need to take everything he does well and simply add polish to the right areas.

We already discussed Turang in our Carolina League overview, which you can read here. So rather than rehashing those talking points, let’s take this opportunity to check out a few other prospects who enjoyed successful seasons up in Appleton:

1B/OF Thomas Dillard

The Brewers grabbed Dillard in the fifth round of the draft this past summer and after a brief introduction to professional ball in Helena, he jumped up to Wisconsin to finish out the summer. An advanced hitter coming out of college, Dillard was able to exploit the generally inexperienced arms on the circuit while drawing a 19.9% walk rate in 216 plate appearances, leading to a .398 OBP. He struck out a bit more than you’d like a player with his background to see at this level (23.1%) and continues to learn how to bring his plus-plus raw power into game action (six home runs, .140 ISO). Still, his .246/.398/.386 triple-slash checked in at a 137 wRC+. A catcher in college, Dillard spent his time with the T-Rats predominantly at first base while also appearing in nine games in left field.

C/UTIL David Fry

Another college bat, Fry was a seventh rounder in the 2018 draft and this was his first year of full-season ball. He was a bit old for the league playing the entire year at age 23, but he nonetheless put together an impressive .258//.329/.444 batting line across 568 plate appearances for a 123 wRC+. Fry was able to routinely drive the ball with authority, spraying the outfield with 41 doubles and also launching 17 home runs over the fence. He didn’t strike out excessively (19.5%) and he drew a decent amount of free passes (8.8%). Fry spent most of his time behind the plate (62 starts) but also started games at first, third, left, and right. He’s currently playing in the Arizona Fall League, where he was named to the All-Star team.

LHP Ethan Small

Tod Johnson and the Brewers had to get creative with their bonus pool in this past summer’s draft, and it started with drafting fifth-year senior Ethan Small at pick #28. The pitchability left-hander made Midwest League hitters look foolish, striking out 31 in only 18.0 innings against only four walks. Small yielded only 11 hits and two earned runs for a 1.00 ERA, and Deserved Run Average agreed his work was dominant — a DRA- of 51 saw him as 49% better than league average. Scouts seem to agree that Small’s polish could help him rise quickly to the big leagues, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him working in Double-A next season.

RHP Max Lazar

The Brewers gave Lazar a well over-slot bonus as an 11th-round prep pick in 2017. He doesn’t throw hard, typically working in the upper-80s or low-90s. But using a deceptive delivery that has drawn comparisons to Mike Fiers, the right-hander (who turned 20 over the summer) dismantled Midwest League hitters. He struck out 109 batters across 79.0 innings while allowing only 67 hits and a mere 15 walks. His 7.27 K/BB ratio was the top in the organization among pitchers with at least 50 innings. It all added up to a dominant 2.39 ERA along with a terrific 74 DRA-.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs