The Major League Baseball offseason also means that it is top prospect list season as all the well-known publications update their minor league scouting reports and reevaluate the farm systems across the league. Baseball America recently released their updated top-10 prospect list for our Milwaukee Brewers, and according to Ben Badler, “the infusion of talent combined with progress made by signings over the last two years is likely to lift Milwaukee out of the basement this year.”
Milwaukee’s group does possess a lot of upside, but there is still a significant amount of risk throughout the farm. Five of the team’s top-10 prospects have yet to appear at the full-season level and another — left-hander Antoine Kelly — pitched only one inning for Class A Wisconsin in 2019. Only one of the top-10 prospects, catcher Mario Feliciano, is on the 40-man roster. Most of Milwaukee’s potential impact prospects are still years away from reaching the majors, but if there is a normal minor league season in 2021 and some of these players can take a step forward, there could be plenty of breakout potential throughout the system.
Here are the top-10 prospects for the Milwaukee Brewers entering 2021, according to Baseball America:
1. SS Brice Turang (Age 21)
Turang reported to Milwaukee’s alternate training site during the 2020 pandemic campaign, “where he was the Brewers’ best hitter and started to drive the ball with more impact” according to BA. “Turang did a better job of driving the ball with more authority in Appleton. The Brewers kept an internal “barrel” board of hitters with exit velocities of 95 mph or better at the alternate site, and Turang was consistently among the leaders throughout the summer. Turang didn’t change his swing, but he added strength and adjusted his approach in favorable counts to drive the ball for more damage.” Turang was named as the organization’s best hitter for average and best strike zone discipline.
2. OF Garrett Mitchell (Age 22)
Milwaukee’s first-round pick during the abbreviated 2020 MLB Draft, Mitchell is a “physical, explosive athlete” with 80-grade speed. BA describes his swing as “choppy” and geared towards line drives, but he shows plus power in batting practice, although his approach has hampered him from getting to it in games. Mitchell made his debut during instructs, though a strained quad limited what he was able to do there. “Mitchell can be a polarizing player,” BA writes, “but if he can translate his power into games, he has all-star upside.” He claimed the titles of fastest baserunner, best athlete, and best defensive outfielder in the organization.
3. OF Hedbert Perez (Age 17)
The youngest member of Milwaukee’s alternate training site group this summer, Perez “could soon be the top prospect in the organization” according to BA, even though he has yet to play any minor league games. All of his tools project to be above-average to plus, and “[h]e’s also a fluent English speaker whose maturity and charismatic personality endear him to teammates and coaches.”
4. LHP Antoine Kelly (Age 21)
Thought to be a high-upside project when he was drafted out of junior college, Kelly “took a jump in 2020 and has the attributes to develop into a mid-rotation or better starter.” He is described as “the most electric pitcher at the team’s alternate training site” in 2020 and has added velocity and seen his secondary pitches improve. “His slider is a plus pitch that misses bats, and when his changeup is on it flashes at least average. Kelly throws strikes with all three pitches, though he needs to tighten his fastball command.” BA thinks 2021 could be a breakout season for the southpaw. He was awarded “best slider” in the system.
5. LHP Ethan Small (Age 23)
Where Kelly wows scouts with his stuff, Small impresses with his polish and pitchability from the left side. He spent 2020 at the alternate training site in Appleton. Small’s fastball rates as average and his chanegup as above, but his slider and curveball are both seen as fringe offerings. His stuff plays up due to plus control, and “his feel for pitching is so good he probably won’t be tested until he gets to Double-A.” Small projects as a back-end starter but should be ready to contribute before too long. He received recognition for “best changeup” in the org.
6. SS Freddy Zamora (Age 22)
Zamora tore his ACL before the 2020 collegiate baseball season (or at least what was played of it), causing him to miss all of his junior year as well as a chance to participate in instructional camp after the Brewers selected him in the second round of this summer’s draft. He should be ready to take the field again by next spring, and BA writes that “[w]hen healthy, he showed the makings of a potential steady, everyday player who can stick at shortstop.” He was also awarded as the org’s best defensive infielder.
7. C Mario Feliciano (Age 22)
The only top-10 prospect currently on the 40-man roster, Feliciano was the Carolina League MVP in 2019 then performed as “the Brewers’ most consistent offensive performer” at the alternate training site during the summer of 2020. “Feliciano has a chance to develop into a power-hitting, everyday catcher, but only if he can rein in his aggressive approach and keep his strikeouts manageable.” He should be able to stick behind the plate and was honored as the top power hitter in the organization.
8. LHP Aaron Ashby (Age 22)
Ashby won the org’s minor league pitcher of the year award in 2019, and though he reportedly struggled at the alternate training site this summer, BA says “he was the team’s best pitcher during instructional league in the fall.” His velocity improved in 2020 and he “did a better job throwing strikes at instructs,” with BA giving him the upside of a back-end starter or potentially a high-leverage reliever. He was graded as having the best curveball among Milwaukee’s farmhands.
9. C Zavier Warren (Age 21)
Another 2020 selection, Warren played mostly infield in college but was a backstop in high school got work behind the plate in the independent United Shore Professional Baseball League after getting drafted. The switch-hitter reportedly performed well at the plate during instructs and has a solid track record of getting on base with a “hit-over-power profile.” He’s experienced all over the field and could provide value as a utility player if he’s not able to stick behind the plate.
10. C Jeferson Quero (Age 18)
Another player who has yet to officially make his professional debut, Quero reportedly impressed offensively and defensively in instructional league and “has the tools to develop into a plus defensive catcher.” He’s earned praise for his makeup and on-field leadership as well as “a sound approach for his age with a knack for making hard contact and driving the ball well to the opposite field.” Quero is pegged as another breakout candidate in 2021.
Other notable players recognized by Baseball America were Drew Rasmussen as having the best fastball in the organization, Dylan File as being the top control pitcher, Payton Henry as the best defensive catcher, Eduardo Garcia with the best infield arm, and 2020 draftee Joey Wiemer with the best outfield arm.