Top 10 Prospects (2017): Milwaukee Brewers: Could Impact Players Be Close To Debuting?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Milwaukee Brewers are a system rich in outfielders, especially at the top of the rankings, though don’t let that distract you from the other assets they’ve accumulated.  Some smart trades and draft pickss have helped to build a solid system, which should soon pay dividends as they turn the corner and rebuild.  Who are some of the names we should be watching closely?  Let’s take a look:


1) Lewis Brinson – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017

The centerpiece of the trade that sent Jonathan Lucroy to Texas, Brinson thrived after the trade and a promotion to Triple-A:

  • Double-A (326 PA) – .237, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 46 R, 11 SB
  • Triple-A (93 PA) – .382, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 14 R, 4 SB

His time at Triple-A was spent in the Pacific Coast League and he benefited from a .455 BABIP (a short sample size helped lead to the unsustainable mark).  While he showed an ability to make contact at each level (strikeout rates of 19.6% and 22.6%), his lack of walks (5.2% and 2.2%) and additional extra base hits (23 doubles and 6 triples) bring a few red flags.

It’s possible that as he grows comfortable at the plate (and he has improved his strikeout rate significantly) the power will start to play.  That is the hope, and there is reason to believe that he can put the entire package together in 2017.  He has the potential to be a Grade A prospect, but there are enough questions to downgrade him slightly.


2) Corey Ray – Outfielder
Grade – B+
ETA – 2018

The left-handed hitter was selected fifth overall in the 2016 draft and could arrive quickly (he’s already 22-years old).  The Brewers were aggressive, giving him 254 PA at High-A, and he showed his power (13 doubles, 2 triples and 5 HR) and speed (9 SB) backing up the thought that he could develop into a 20/20 weapon.  He does need to prove that he can handle southpaws, as there was a distinct split:

  • RHP – .261/.303/.438
  • LHP – .218/.315/.282

He also could stand to improve his strikeout rate (21.3%), though in his first year of professional baseball we can give him a pass.  The upside is evident, and if he quickly answers the questions a 2017 debut isn’t unthinkable.


3) Josh Hader – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2017

After thriving at Double-A (0.95 ERA over 57.0 IP) Hader stumbled in the Pacific Coast League (5.22 ERA over 69.0 IP).  He showed strikeouts at both levels (K/9 of 11.53 and 11.48), though the control ballooned after the promotion (3.00 BB/9 to 4.70).  With a minor league career mark of 3.8 BB/9 there’s reason to think it’s a bit of an aberration, especially after a 3.0 mark over 104.0 IP in 2015.

He also struggled with poor luck while at Triple-A, including a .345 BABIP and 63.2% strand rate.  We’d like to see a few more groundballs (0.92 GO/AO over his minor league career), especially in Milwaukee, but there’s enough to like with his strikeout rate and solid control.  If the control continues to be an issue it’s possible that he’s transitioned to the bullpen, but for now that’s not going to be a consideration.


4) Isan Diaz – Second Baseman/Shortstop
Grade – B
ETA – 2018

Acquired in the Jean Segura trade with Arizona, Diaz is an often overlooked prospect who carries significant potential.  He spent a lot of time at both middle infield positions in 2016 (41 games at 2B, 90 games at SS), which helps his versatility though most think that his future lies at second base.  That would work quite well, as his bat would play at the position.

Playing the season at Single-A, Diaz hit .264 with 20 HR and 11 SB in ’16.  With 34 doubles and 5 triples the power is obvious and he showed an ability to draw a walk (12.3% walk rate).  The obvious question is his contact rate, with a 25.2% strikeout rate last season.  Considering the level it’s a significant red flag, and one that needs to be corrected otherwise his value is going to be capped.


5) Luis Ortiz – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2017

Another piece in the Jonathan Lucroy trade, Ortiz combined for a 3.08 ERA over 90.2 IP for three different teams.  His WHIP was unimpressive (1.31) and he struggled to generate strikeouts (7.7 K/9).  His arsenal indicates more upside in the latter and he offers strong control (2.3 BB/9 in ’16, 2.1 over his minor league career).  He needs to limit the home runs (0.89 GO/AO in the minors), something that could particularly be a problem pitching in Milwaukee, and prove that his strikeout potential can translate to the field before we get overly excited.


The Rest:

6) Brandon Woodruff – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B)
7) Maurcio Dubon – Shortstop (Grade – B-)
8) Phil Bickford – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
Note: A 50-game suspension to open the season definitely sheds a negative light over him, though there’s no questioning the potential upside he brings.
9) Lucas Erceg – Third Baseman (Grade – B-)
10) Trent Clark – Outfielder (Grade – B-)

Others of Note – Brett Philips (OF), Jacob Nottingham (C), Marcos Diplan (RHP), Gilbert Lara (SS)

Sources –,, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference

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Grading System:
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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