Minor League Baseball is back! Before games get officially underway today on Opening Day, let’s take a look at some of the players to keep an eye on this season. From top prospects, to under-the-radar prospects on the edge of taking a big leap, there’s plenty to keep an eye on down on the farm.
San Antonio Missions
The Missions carry a roster loaded with players who are just about ready to become major leaguers.
Keston Hiura, 2B
Let’s just get the obvious out of the way. If Keston Hiura’s on the team, it’s worth watching him. The sensational hitter should find success at AAA and potentially force his way onto the major league team, one way or another.
Jake Petricka, RHP
Petricka is likely first in line when the Brewers need a new bullpen arm. Across 10 games and 11 innings in Spring Training, Petricka allowed a 3.27 ERA with a 10.6 K/9. It will be key to watch whether he can keep up the pace.
Zack Brown, RHP
Brown isn’t just a top prospect, he’s potentially a huge contributor to the 2019 Brewers team. If anyone could end up filling the role Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff did for the Milwaukee Nine last season.
Tyrone Taylor, OF
Right now, Milwaukee is working with one true outfielder on the bench. Should anyone in the current mix get injured, Taylor could very well be first up. He had a resurgent season last year and was once a top prospect in the Brewers’ farm. He is now healthy, on the 40-man roster, and can capably play all three outfield positions.
Mighuel Sanchez, RHP
Sanchez has future high-leverage reliever written all over him. While Petricka almost definitely gets the first call, we know that the team will need to rotate through arms during the season. If Sanchez continues building on phenomenal track record he’s assembled since signing out of the Dominican Air Force, he could be making an incredibly strong bullpen even better.
The Shuckers have a weird situation on their hands, for the first time since it’s inception, it’s not one of the most talented teams in the farm. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few gems to watch for down at AA.
Braden Webb, RHP
Webb is on my list to be the next breakout pitcher in the system. He has two plus pitches in a fastball and curveball, and has a change up that can be above average. The righty still struggles with his control, but the Brewers have helped pitchers improve their consistency before. At the very least, Webb could be a dynamic reliever.
Devin Williams, RHP
Williams was always ranked as one of the best players in the system for years after being drafted, then he fell off the map after Tommy John surgery in 2017. Now he’s healthy and ready to get back on track.
Weston Wilson, 1B/3B
Weston Wilson has been steadily climbing through the farm system over the last few years. Reliable offensively and versatile defensively, Wilson has a lot to offer. He has to become an increasingly better hitter and shown more power. Watch for that progression to continue at Biloxi.
Marcos Diplan, RHP
Diplan is in a bit of an odd spot for the Brewers. He holds a lot of value as a top prospect, but has had extreme control issues. After the Crew added Diplan to the 40-man, it almost started a timer for the youngster. While taking up valuable real estate on the 40-man, he needs to show that he’s worth the space. That means a big step forward is necessary for him or he’ll go on waivers. A conversion to relief might be in the offing here.
Angel Perdomo, LHP
Perdomo was an intriguing addition this offseason as a minor league free agent. Still 24, he has a ton of talent. As a reliever, he could see a lot quicker movement through the system than he did during his time with the Blue Jays. Perdomo has just a 3.25 ERA in 435.1 minor league innings and a 10.4 K/9. His fastball tops out at 95 mph and he has a developing slider.
For the Brewers, development in the lower minors this season will be essential. They need to try and build back up a strong base of valuable players in the system after dealing away a bunch of top prospects over the past few years.
Tristen Lutz, OF
Once Keston Hiura graduates off the prospect list, Lutz has all of the potential to take that spot from him. Lutz started last season off slowly in 2018, but as the year went on he started showing his strong hit tool and power. The right fielder has the potential to be a four-tool player, with only his speed as below-average. He’s merely 20 years old, so he is being challenged at Carolina.
Mario Feliciano, C
Feliciano was on his way to top-10 prospect status ahead of last season. Then he suffered through a hefty amount of injuries and rarely saw the field. After shoulder surgery in fall ball, he’s healthy and ready to reestablish himself. At just 20 himself, he’s in a good position for a resurgence.
Payton Henry, C
While Feliciano is trying to get back in the limelight, Henry is working to surpass him. Henry had a fantastic full-season debut at Wisconsin in 2018, though his production dropped off towards the end of the season due to exhaustion. If the defensive catcher can continue to improve his offense while handling the physical and mental demands behind the plate, he’ll be the top catching prospect in the system and one of the top prospects period.
Dylan File, RHP
File was drafted by the Crew in the 21st round of the 2017 draft. Last season, he made the Midwest League All-Star Team for a great performance. File limits walks and can still get a good amount of strikeouts and still profiles as a starting pitcher.
Zach Clark, OF
Clark has speed and the potential for some significant power. He has shown glimpses of an average or better hit tool. He does have a pretty big strikeout problem, but with the flashes of brilliance he’s shown, there is reason to believe that this problem can be fixed.
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
I’m not sure any organization has as much potential as Wisconsin. The young Timber Rattlers have some of the system’s bigger names and huge ceiling projects. Aside from the time you take to watch Hiura, I would direct most of your focus to the boys up in Appleton.
Brice Turang, SS
Turang is the obvious name here. Last year’s first round draft pick made easy work of the Arizona League. Scouts love his hit tool, speed and defense. This is his first opportunity to show fans what he has to give the Brewers.
Aaron Ashby, LHP
Ashby was my favorite pick out of last year’s draft. Milwaukee took him out of Junior College, so the lefty is just 20 until May. His fastball touches 96 and he could have a plus-plus breaking pitch. I don’t think it will take long for him to be the best pitcher in the farm.
Je’Von Ward, OF
Ward is a beast of an outfielder at 6’5”, but he’s raw as they come. The Brewers drafted him out of high school knowing he’d need a lot of work. Now, at 19, he has shown great development with his bat and instincts. Ward still needs to get more comfortable in the outfield and add some weight to improve his power, but if he can continue to polish his raw tools, he has star written all over.
Pablo Abreu, OF
Another very young player at just 19, Abreu was an international signing in 2016. He has the potential to be a five-tool outfielder. He has great patience at the plate and bat control for a player his age. With plus speed and a strong arm, he also looks very good in the outfield. I know it’s the purpose of this article, but you really should watch this kid.
LG Castillo, OF
Turns out I really like this outfield. LG is very fast and has great contact skills. He still has a lot of risk, but he’s a good defender and looked fantastic at Helena last season.