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Taking stock of the trade chips the Milwaukee Brewers can use to buy at the deadline

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What sort of ammunition does David Stearns have to make trades with?

San Francisco Giants v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

After a lengthy slide from mid-June through mid-July, the Milwaukee Brewers appear to have righted the ship a bit over the past several days, winning three of their last four ballgames to move to 51-48 on the season. The club will begin play today three games back of the Cubs for first place in the NL Central and a half-game out of a Wild Card spot, still firmly in playoff contention amidst a bunched-up Senior Circuit. David Stearns figures to scour the market for upgrades over the next week-and-a-half before the July 31st trade deadline, specifically to his pitching staff, which ranks 11th in the National League while allowing 4.96 runs per game. So, what sorts of ammunition will Slingin’ Stearns have to work with as he attempts to give his roster a boost?

Milwaukee’s farm system isn’t exactly seen as strong by the public scouting services, currently boasting only one top-100 prospect according to the most recent post-draft update at Baseball America. For what it’s worth, though, this writer has received indications that front offices around the league hold the Brew Crew’s collection of minor league talent in higher regard than places like BA or MLB Pipeline do. Stearns and company could make a splashy addition this summer if they really wanted to, but it remains to be seen just how willing the front office will be to part with their top prospects or young big league talent:

Controllable MLB players

RHP Brandon Woodruff (114.2 IP | 3.53 ERA | 4.93 K/BB)
LHP Josh Hader (46.0 IP | 2.35 ERA | 6.46 K/BB)
2B Keston Hiura (149 PA | .326/.383/.598 | 9 HR | 6 SB)
SS Orlando Arcia (346 PA | .229/.292/.384 | 12 HR | 6 SB)
RHP Freddy Peralta (63.2 IP | 5.09 ERA | 3.55 K/BB)
RHP Adrian Houser (48.2 IP | 4.25 ERA | 2.50 K/BB)
RHP Corbin Burnes (46.0 IP | 9.00 ERA | 3.35 K/BB)

Burgeoning staff ace Woodruff, closer Hader, and hitting savant Hiura are almost surely off-limits in trade talks this summer as they have become indispensable contributors for our beloved local nine. But it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to think that any of the other four could be had. Arcia carries the reputation of an impact defender at shortstop, but he has lost his grip on the everyday role for the second straight season. Perhaps some team could be sold on his youth and potential upside, since he’s still young at 24. Peralta and Houser have both looked good out of the bullpen and though they struggled in starting roles this year, they are seen as having rotation-type upside. Burnes’ production has cratered this year after he was an important bullpen piece in 2018, but from what I’ve been told, other teams are still high on his long-term upside as either a starter or reliever.

Top prospects on the rise

SS Brice Turang (A, A+ | 401 PA | .271/.374/.363 | 3 HR | 22 SB)
OF Tristen Lutz (A+ | 372 PA | .248/.333/.411 | 9 HR | 2 SB)
IF Mauricio Dubon (AAA | 391 PA | .303/.338/.476 | 14 HR | 9 SB)
LHP Aaron Ashby (A, A+ | 100.1 IP | 3.77 ERA | 2.22 K/BB)
RHP Trey Supak (AA | 117.0 IP | 2.15 ERA | 4.05 K/BB)
C Mario Feliciano (A+ | 370 PA | .269/.322/.469 | 15 HR | 2 SB)
RHP Drew Rasmussen (A, A+, AA | 52.1 IP | 3.44 ERA | 2.79 K/BB)
RHP Devin Williams (AA | 52.1 IP | 2.41 ERA | 2.55 K/BB)
OF Trent Grisham (AA, AAA | 394 PA | .284/.387/.572 | 23 HR | 11 SB)

With Hiura seen as a graduated prospect by most lists, Turang has moved into the top-ranked spot among the organization’s prospects. He’s a legitimate defender at shortstop with good contact skills, but there is questions about whether he’ll have enough power. Dubon, likewise, has the skills to stick at shortstop and has bounced back quite nicely from a torn ACL with another terrific season in Triple-A. Scouts around the league are believed to be particularly enamored with Dubon’s upside at present. Ashby is a potential impact starter from the left side with swing-and-miss stuff, while Supak from the right side thrives more on pitching to contact and controlling the edges of the strike zone. Rasmussen and Williams both have had Tommy John surgery in the past, but are healthy and throwing in the triple-digits at times this season. Feliciano and Lutz are promising power sticks down in the low levels. But perhaps no prospect, maybe even around baseball, has done more to improve his stock this season than Trent Grisham. The former first-round pick appears to have unlocked his potential at the plate by becoming more aggressive within the strike zone, boosting his power in a big way while continuing to put up excellent walk and strikeout numbers.

Top prospects with dwindling stock

OF Corey Ray (R, AA, AAA | .232/.316/.362 | 4 HR | 5 SB)
RHP Zack Brown (AAA | 82.1 IP | 6.01 ERA | 1.24 K/BB)
3B Lucas Erceg (AAA | 293 PA | .199/.294/.402 | 14 HR | 2 SB)
RHP Braden Webb (A+, AA | 51.2 IP | 5.05 ERA | 1.10 K/BB)
OF Troy Stokes (AAA | 237 PA | .212/.321/.369 | 6 HR | 7 SB)
C Jacob Nottingham (AAA | 221 PA | .258/.348/.400 | 3 HR | 4 SB)
RHP Marcos Diplan (AA | 54.2 IP | 4.94 ERA | 1.69 K/BB)
1B Jake Gatewood (AA | 226 PA | .185/.248/.317 | 7 HR | 3 SB)
OF Tyrone Taylor (R, AAA | 228 PA | .235/.303/.397 | 6 HR | 4 SB)

Ray, Stokes, and Erceg have all struggled in their first exposure to the highest level of the minors this season. The two outfielders in that group, as well as Taylor, have also been slowed by injuries this year. Brown, Webb, and Diplan have struggled to find the strike zone with regularity; Webb and Brown are still viewed as potential starters, while Diplan has begun the transition to relief. Gatewood hasn’t hit a lick since returning from his torn ACL and has yet to consistently tap into his plus power thanks to a prevalence of swing-and-miss. Nottingham has been only ‘okay’ in his second go-round at Triple-A and doesn’t appear to have a firm spot in the org’s plans going forward.

Low-level guys with upside

C Payton Henry (A+ | 362 PA | .236/.315/.388 | 10 HR | 1 SB)
RHP Adam Hill (A | 87.1 IP | 4.12 ERA | 2.00 K/BB)
OF Carlos Rodriguez (R | 11 PA | .364/.364/.364 | 0 HR | 1 SB)
SS Eduardo Garcia (DSL | 40 PA | .313/.450/.469 | 1 HR | 1 SB)
OF Pablo Abreu (R, A | 41 PA | .135/.195/.270 | 0 HR | 0 SB)
OF Micah Bello (R | 119 PA | .245/.319/.519 | 6 HR | 4 SB)
OF Eduarqui Fernandez (DSL | 164 PA | .213/.311/.333 | 4 HR | 8 SB)
OF Je’Von Ward (A | 287 PA | .223/.317/.311 | 1 HR | 6 SB)
OF Larry Ernesto (DSL | 25 PA | .208/.240/.417 | 1 HR | 0 SB)
RHP Caden Lemons (DNP)

Henry and Hill aren’t exactly the cleanest fits in this category as more experienced farmhands in full-season ball, but they didn’t really fit into the rising or dwindling stock categories, either. Besides those two, every other player on this list was either a recent high-bonus draft pick (Bello, Ward, Lemons) or a big money international free agent signing (Rodriguez, Garcia, Abreu, Fernandez, Ernesto). These types of players generally fall into the “lottery ticket” category when one talks about what to give up in a trade.

Unranked hitting prospects having strong seasons

1B/OF Ryan Aguilar (A+ | 401 PA | .284/.415/.423 | 8 HR | 8 SB)
UTIL Blake Allemand (AA, AAA | .241/.347/.460 | 5 HR | 0 SB)
C/UTIL David Fry (A | 397 PA | .266/.323/.465 | 12 HR | 6 SB)
1B/3B Pat McInerny (A+ | 177 PA | .222/.322/.421 | 7 HR | 1 SB)
OF Dillon Thomas (AA | 343 PA | .262/.335/.413 | 7 HR | 16 SB)
OF Cooper Hummel (AA | 253 PA | .218/.344/.403 | 9 HR | 4 SB)
OF Rob Henry (A+ | .243/.366/.378 | 6 HR | 8 SB)
OF Joantgel Segovia (A+, AA | 337 PA | .272/.345/.381 | 5 HR | 12 SB)

Unranked pitching prospects having strong seasons

RHP Max Lazar (R, A | 47.2 IP | 1.70 ERA | 6.64 K/BB)
RHP Luke Barker (AA, AAA | 44.0 IP | 1.84 ERA | 4.23 K/BB)
RHP Nate Griep (AA, AAA | 38.1 IP | 1.88 ERA | 2.21 K/BB)
RHP Victor Casteneda (A | 26.1 IP | 2.05 ERA | 3.78 K/BB)
RHP Michael Peterson (A+ | 40.0 IP | 2.25 ERA | 1.83 K/BB)
RHP Cody Ponce (AA | 35.0 IP | 2.83 ERA | 3.45 K/BB)
RHP JT Hintzen (A+ | 43.0 IP | 2.93 ERA | 3.80 K/BB)
RHP Noah Zavolas (A+ | 110.1 IP | 2.94 ERA | 4.82 K/BB)
RHP Robbie Hitt (A | 42.2 IP | 2.95 ERA | 2.12 K/BB)
RHP Justin Jarvis (A | 50.0 IP | 3.06 ERA | 1.53 K/BB)
RHP Peter Strzelecki (A | 40.1 IP | 3.12 ERA | 3.33 K/BB)
LHP Angel Perdomo (AA, AAA | 50.2 IP | 3.20 ERA | 2.08 K/BB)
RHP Freisis Adames (A | 43.1 IP | 3.32 ERA | 2.69 K/BB)
RHP Matt Smith (A+ | 78.0 IP | 3.35 ERA | 2.68 K/BB)
LHP Cody Beckman (A+ | 47.1 IP | 3.42 ERA | 2.93 K/BB)
RHP Johan Belisario (AA, AAA | 65.0 IP | 3.60 ERA | 3.56 K/BB)
RHP Alec Bettinger (AA | 101.1 IP | 3.64 ERA | 4.79 K/BB)
RHP Chad Whitmer (A | 46.1 IP | 3.69 ERA | 4.67 K/BB)
RHP Matt Hardy (A+ | 53.1 IP | 3.71 ERA | 5.00 K/BB)
RHP Dylan File (A+, AA | 99.0 IP | 3.73 ERA | 7.92 K/BB)
RHP Tyler Gillies (A | 37.0 IP | 3.89 ERA | 2.80 K/BB)
RHP Logan Gillaspie (A | 85.1 IP | 3.90 ERA | 3.26 K/BB)
RHP Bowden Francis (A+, AA | 98.0 IP | 3.95 ERA | 2.76 K/BB)
RHP Thomas Jankins (AA, AAA | 100.2 IP | 4.02 ERA | 2.76 K/BB)

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference