With Spring Training camps starting to pick up this week, we’re starting to see the last of the offseason top prospect lists come out.
That includes John Sickels’ Top 100, which the former SB Nation-er announced will now be found on The Athletic as part of their new stable of fantasy baseball writers.
Like most prospect prognosticators this winter, Sickels isn’t too hyped about the Brewers’ farm system after a combination of trades and high-level prospect graduations. The Brewers landed just one prospect on his Top-100, with Keston Hiura coming in at #16 overall with a B+ grade. He also tabs Hiura with an ETA of 2019, but whether that means “early-to-midseason promotion” or “September call-up” remains to be seen.
For what it’s worth, Sickels ranks Hiura first among the “Not A/A-” prospects, which would make some sense considering he fell just outside of the Top 15. He’s also the top-rated second baseman on the list, assuming you don’t count 14th-ranked Brendan Rodgers of Colorado, who can play every infield position and may get a shot at the Rockies’ second base job this year. After Hiura, the next-best second baseman on Sickels’ list is San Diego’s Luis Urias, who was ranked 23rd and also carries a 2019 ETA.
Sickels also provides a “Beyond the Top 100” sleeper pick for every system, with the idea being to highlight a hitting prospect and a pitching prospect that isn’t on or near Top 100 lists but could break out in the next 2-3 years. Sickels’ picks for the Brewers were right-hander Zack Brown (who actually has started creeping into the Top 100 discussion for some prospect writers) and outfielder Je’Von Ward, who could be the next toolsy athletic freak in the Brewers system to get some hype, a la Monte Harrison a couple years ago. Ward hit .307/.391/.403 in 64 games with Rookie League Helena last year as an 18-year-old, with 2 home runs, 13 doubles, 2 triples, and going 13-for-18 in stolen bases.
Ward is the kind of prospect that makes it important to remember that while the Brewers may be in a lull when it comes to putting a high number of prospects on these Top 100 lists, it doesn’t necessarily mean the system is poor — they have plenty of talent in the low levels of the minors, but may still be a few years away from getting some of the national writers to take notice.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference