Top 10 Prospects (2018): Milwaukee Brewers: A Breakout Pitcher Emerges & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

No one is going to confuse the Brewers’ system with one of the elite in the game, though a breakout performance has helped to give the system a solid 1-2 punch at the top.  After that there are questions, though several potentially solid prospects who should be able to produce in the Majors before long.  Let’s take a look at how everything shakes out:

 

1) Lewis Brinson – Outfielder
Grade – A-
ETA – Already Arrived

The biggest question facing Brinson as he’s developed is his ability to command the strike zone and make consistent contact.  That took a step forward at Triple-A in ’17, with an 18.2% strikeout rate and 9.4% walk rate over 340 PA.  Those marks came courtesy of a respectable 10.2% SwStr%, a significant improvement over his 13.6% from ’16.  Considering the level it speaks volumes, and while he did struggle in the Majors (17.4% SwStr%, 40.2% O-Swing%) it was a short sample and we need to afford him time to adjust.

There’s no questioning the power, with 13 HR (as well as 22 doubles and 4 triples) while at Triple-A, nor is there questioning his speed, he had 11 SB.  He brings 30/20 potential, assuming he can maintain the approved plate discipline and continue to improve.  At 23-years old the time is now.

 

2) Corbin Burnes – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – A-
ETA – 2018

It was an eye-opening season for Burnes, who split time between High-A and Double-A and posted a 1.67 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.  Before we point towards luck concerns (.265 BABIP, 81.4% strand rate), it’s important to note that he displayed all of the skills we look for:

  • Strikeouts – 8.65 K/9
  • Control – 2.22 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 51.4%

There’s even more upside in the strikeout department, with an 11.6% SwStr% (something he maintained at Double-A, with an 11.5% mark).  There’s always concerns about pitching half your games in Milwaukee, but that skillset should play up anywhere and has the potential to continue improving.

 

3) Keston Hiura – Second Baseman
Grade – B
ETA – 2019

The question facing Hiura heading into the 2017 draft was where his future was defensively, as there was little question about his bat.  Part of that was due to being limited to DH due to an elbow issue, which could require Tommy John surgery (and if it does his arrival will be delayed until 2020), and most wonder if he’s a better fit in the outfield or at second base.  Regardless, his bat will play as he showed in his professional debut that he hits the ball hard (23.6% line drive rate) and has extra base power (14 doubles, 7 triples and 4 HR over 167 AB).   He profiles as a strong average hitter with enough power and speed (think .280/15/10 type player), as long as he gets healthy.

 

4) Brandon Woodruff – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived

Obviously a 4.30 ERA and 1.37 WHIP at Triple-A isn’t going to blow anyone away, though it did come in the Pacific Coast League so there’s a bit of a pass to be given.  He did show some swing and miss stuff (11.0% SwStr%) to go along with solid control (2.99 BB/9) and enough groundballs (48.0%) to be a solid mid-rotation starter in the Majors.  The question is going to be if he can keep the ball in the ballpark (11.1% HR/FB over 8 starts in the Majors) and if he can post a solid strikeout rate (his SwStr% dropped to 8.8% in the Majors).

 

5) Isan Diaz – Shortstop
Grade – B
ETA – 2019

Diaz was a hot name to target heading into 2017 and on the surface he fell a bit flat, hitting .222 with 13 HR over 383 AB.  His 26.6% strikeout rate is a bit of a red flag, but a 13.6% walk rate and 11.6% SwStr% both show promise at 21-years old.  There’s also no questioning his ability to hit for power, despite being listed at 5’10”, as well as steal a few bases.  If he can continue to develop his approach at the plate he could be a .260ish hitter to go along with 20/10 upside.  Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but the SwStr% is more promising than many of his counterparts in the system and he arguably has more of an overall upside.

 

The Rest:
6) Lucas Erceg – Third Baseman (Grade – B)
7) Corey Ray – Outfielder (Grade – B-)
8) Mauricio Dubon – Shortstop (Grade – B-)
9) Luis Ortiz – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
10) Tristen Lutz – Outfielder (Grade – C+)

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com

Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Top 10 Prospect Lists:

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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