by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Brewers are clearly a team heading in the right direction, falling on game short of reaching the World Series and having a slew of intriguing names coming up through the minors. That said they are lacking a true upside pitching prospect, there are questions about many of their top hitting prospects and some of the most intriguing names are a long ways away. Who are the team’s top prospects? Who has the highest upside? Let’s take a look:
1) Keston Hiura – Second Baseman
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019
The Brewers have a need at second base and it seems like a foregone conclusion that the team will give Hiura an opportunity to fill it in 2019. The question when he was drafted wasn’t about his bat, and he’s shown why since stepping onto a professional diamond. Just look at last year’s numbers:
- High-A (228 PA) – .320, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 38 R, 4 SB
- Double-A (307 PA) – .272, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 36 R, 11 SB
He seems like an ideal #2 hitter in the lineup, though we’d like to see further improvement in his SwStr% (10.9% in ’18). You can also argue that there isn’t enough power or speed to get overly excited (he could be more of a 15/10 type hitter). Think along the lines of D.J. LeMahieu in terms of his potential value.
2) Corey Ray – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2019
The key for Ray is reducing his strikeout rate, as he posted a 29.3% based on a 17.5% SwStr% at Double-A last season. Obviously there’s risk of further regression as he continues to move up the ladder, and eventually that’s going to cost him. It’s a shame, given the power (27 HR) and speed (37 SB) that he’s already proven, and at 23-years old how much further development can we expect? There’s room for growth, and that keeps him high on these rankings, but know that he also could fail to reach his ceiling.
3) Brice Turang – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2022
Selected in the first round of the 2018 draft (21st overall), he could ultimately prove to be a jack of all trades type (meaning he does a little bit of everything, but not enough of anything). Across two levels of Rookie Ball he hit .283 with 1 HR and 14 SB, though it was some of the underlying numbers that were far more impressive:
- SwStr% – 6.2%
- Oppo% – 38.6%
- Walk Rate – 16.1%
Obviously there’s room for growth (6’1”, 165 lbs.) and he has plenty of time to learn and develop. The upside is intriguing, but he’s a long ways away.
4) Zack Brown – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2019
Brown threw 125.2 innings at Double-A last season, showing enough in all three skills that we look for from a pitcher:
- Strikeouts – 8.31 K/9 (courtesy of a 10.3% SwStr%)
- Walks – 2.58 BB/9
- Groundballs – 56.0%
The stuff isn’t considered overpowering and it’s possible that the strikeouts suffer as he advances further. That will be something to watch, but the control and groundball rate (1.57 GO/AO over his minor league career) would keep him as a solid starter as long as it doesn’t completely fall off a cliff.
5) Lucas Erceg – Third Baseman
Grade – B-
ETA – 2019
The power hasn’t developed, as he hit 13 HR over 508 PA at Double-A in ’18, and he doesn’t bring much speed. While he showed a solid strikeout rate (16.1%) courtesy of a 10.4% SwStr%, if the power isn’t there is there going to be value? It’s something to watch closely, and could ultimately send him spiraling down these rankings.
The Next Five:
6) Mauricio Dubon – Second Baseman/Shortstop (Grade – B-)
Dubon appeared to be on his way to a full breakout in 2018 before a knee injury ended his season in May. Obviously there’s risk, especially with speed being his strongest skill, but there’s also tremendous upside.
7) Carlos Rodriguez – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
As a 17-year old Rodriguez hit .325 with 2 HR and 14 SB over 237 AB in Rookie Ball. We’ll have to watch the swings and misses (18.3% SwStr%), though a 7.9% strikeout rate with speed and power potential is highly attractive. He has a chance to take a significant step forward in 2019 and truly put his name on the map.
8) Tristen Lutz – Outfielder (Grade – C)
He’s already shown some pop (13 HR), but there’s a good chance he further adds to it after hitting 33 doubles and 3 triples over 444 AB. He also appears to have an idea at the plate, with a 13.9% SwStr%, and with experience and development he could truly emerge.
9) Aaron Ashby – Left-Handed Pitcher ( Grade – C)
The nephew of Andy Ashby, Aaron showed strikeouts (10.30 K/9), control (2.65 BB/9) and groundballs (51.9%) over 57.2 IP split between Rookie Ball and Single-A. The knock is going to be that he did it as a 20-year old so he was clearly older for the levels, but they are still intriguing underlying metrics from a southpaw.
10) Joe Gray – Outfielder (Grade – C)
After being selected in the second round he struggled in his professional debut, hitting .182 with 2 HR over 77 AB (25 K was obviously the biggest issue). There’s power potential in his bat, though, so be patient and afford him time to develop.
Prospect to Watch
Je’Veon Ward – Outfielder
Listed at 6’5” and 190 lbs., Ward will be 19-years old at the start of the 2019 season. He clearly has room to fill out his frame, and with it he should be able to develop some power to go along with an already decent approach (10.1% SwStr% is impressive for a player his age). Don’t be surprised if he’s the team’s breakout prospect in 2019.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists:
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