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Baseball America releases Milwaukee Brewers top-10 prospect list for 2020

Things don’t look great down on the farm right now.

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

Baseball’s offseason is not only a time of rumors and transactions, but it is also the season of renewed top prospect lists. Earlier today, Baseball America — led by local correspondent Tom Haudricourt — released their top-10 list for 2020:

  1. SS Bryce Turang (55 overall grade on 20-80 scouting scale — high risk)
  2. OF Tristen Lutz (55 — high risk)
  3. RHP Zack Brown (50 — medium risk)
  4. OF Corey Ray (45 — medium risk)
  5. LHP Ethan Small (50 — high risk)
  6. LHP Aaron Ashby (50 — high risk)
  7. C Mario Feliciano (50 — high risk)
  8. LHP Antoine Kelly (50 — high risk)
  9. SS Eduardo Garcia (55 — extreme risk)
  10. RHP Drew Rasmussen (55 — extreme risk)

Milwaukee ended 2019 with a farm system considered by most outlets to be among, if not the worst in baseball. As you can see, there hasn’t been much to change to that assessment this winter. Turang was the org’s only prospect ranked among BA’s top-100 at season’s end, and that was in the bottom-fourth of the list. BA praises him as a potential lead-off hitter, saying “Turang has everything you would want at the top of the lineup as a left-handed hitter who makes contact, puts the ball in play and creates pressure on the defense with his speed.” But they also note that even with added weight, he figures to top out only around 10-15 home runs per season. Additionally, while the Brewers like him as a shortstop, their evaluators write that his arm is only average and those outside the org like his future better at second base.

Outfielder Tristen Lutz earns praise for his “budding power” and “willingness to hit to all fields” but he has also posted high strikeout rates. He and Turang are both at least two years away from the big leagues, hence the high-risk.

It probably is not a good thing when the #3 ranked prospect in the organization is left unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft, even with multiple 40-man roster spots available. But that is what happened to Zack Brown after his calamitous season in Triple-A. He’s able to keep his stuff deep into games and draws praise for the way he competes on the mound, but it is still an open question as to whether he is a future starter or reliever.

Corey Ray did earn a 40-man spot, but that is probably due more to the fact that he is a former #5 overall draft pick than anything he’s actually done as a professional. Even his best season in Double-A in 2018 was accompanied by a sky-high strikeout rate, and BA writes that “[t]here is a lot of swing and miss to his game due to below-average pitch recognition, his aggressive nature and a long swing.” But he does possess above-average power to all fields, good speed, and the ability to play center field rather well. He reminds this author of Keon Broxton.

One place the org’s depth has improved is at left-handed pitcher, as illustrated by the three southpaw hurlers ranked in the top-10. Ethan Small (advanced pitchability, middling stuff), Aaron Ashby (true plus curveball), and Antoine Kelly (projectable frame, fastball up to 97 MPH) all possess different profiles, and only Small seems like a sure bet to remain in the rotation, though he looks more like a back-end starter who is known for over-achieving. BA believes Ashby can be a mid-rotation starter if he can continue making strides with his fringy control, while Kelly earns a Josh Hader comp and scouts suggest “his future will be as a strikeout sensation out of the bullpen rather than the rotation.”

Feliciano won the Carolina League’s MVP award after a sensational 2019 season, but BA also notes that he “rarely walks and is prone to striking out — his swinging-strike rate was one of the highest in the minors.” They suggest that his discipline should improve as he matures, and note that he “has a compact swing and makes consistent hard contact to all fields.” The key for Feliciano will be repeating his success as he jumps to Double-A in 2020.

Eduardo Garcia only just turned 17 this past summer and hit .312 with a .919 OPS in 10 games at the Dominican Summer League level before a broken ankle ended his season. He earned a signing bonus over $1 mil from the Brewers in 2018 and draws rave reviews for his defensive skillset at shortstop. On offense, BA writes that “Garcia shows promise with a good approach and smooth swing that already yields gap power” and they go on to suggest that he could add more power over time.

Lastly, there is Drew Rasmussen, who possesses the best fastball in the system according to BA. He tops out at 99 with the heater to go along with “an above-average power slider in the 88-91 mph range and an improving changeup which has a chance to be an average third pitch.” He is graded as having above-average control while filling up the strike zone. Rasmussen owns a starter’s repertoire but after already undergoing two Tommy John surgeries, he is an extreme-risk case who may likely end up in the bullpen where his pitch counts can be more easily managed.

You can find Baseball America’s top tools list for the Brewers as well as their projected 2023 lineup by clicking here.