by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Brewers have already begun to establish a strong minor league system, but the rebuild took another step forward with the trade of Khris Davis to Oakland. In return they received a top catching prospect in Jacob Nottingham as well as RHP Bubba Derby (who didn’t fit into the Top 10, but we’ll profile separately). You certainly have to wonder if the move is a precursor to a Jonathan Lucroy trade, though time will.
Who are the best prospects now in the system? Who has the most upside? Let’s take a look:
1) Orlando Arcia – SS
Grade – A-
ETA – 2016
He spent last season at Double-A and performed well, hitting .307 with 8 HR and 25 SB. That’s a significant step forward for a player who at one point looked primed to simply depend on his glove.
He’s not going to be a big-time source of power, though his 37 doubles, 7 triples and 8 HR as a 21-year old shows us that 10 HR at the next level is not out of the question. He’s also continued to show some speed, with 20+ SB for three straight seasons. While we’d like to see him draw a few more walks (5.4% in ’15), he does make good contact (13.2% strikeout rate) and could be a top of the order bat.
While he doesn’t appear to have one standout skill, he could easily produce across the board. As a shortstop, that brings great appeal.
2) Brett Phillips – OF
Grade – A-
ETA – 2016
Acquired from the Astros as part of the Carlos Gomez trade, with the Brewers seemingly deciding that Domingo Santana won’t man CF there’s a gaping hole that will need to be filled. They may be able to piece it together, in the short-term, but sooner or later Phillips is going to get his shot.
He reached Double-A last season and overall showed power (34 doubles, 14 triples and 16 HR) and speed (17 SB). His power nearly disappeared upon his promotion (1 HR at Double-A), though he did have 15 doubles and 7 triples so we shouldn’t be too concerned.
Could he develop into a 20/20 threat, given those numbers? Absolutely, though 120 K in 505 AB is going to be something to watch. Then again, prior to the trade he had a 17.9% strikeout rate over 134 PA at Double-A, so it’s not that great of a concern. Suddenly he’s looking like a potential .270/20/20 threat in centerfield. What exactly is there not to like?
3) Trent Clark – OF
Grade – B+
ETA – 2019
The 2015 first round pick had a strong showing in his first taste of professional baseball, including 20 SB over 200 PA in Rookie Ball. Throw in a good command of the strike zone (36 K vs. 30 BB) and it’s easy to get excited about what he could bring to the table. The power wasn’t there, but many feel like that will develop in time. He’s another high upside outfield bat who could bring a well-rounded skillset to the table.
4) Jacob Nottingham – Catcher
ETA – 2018
Grade – B (borderline B+)
Nottingham was acquired by the A’s from the Astros as part of the Scott Kazmir trade, but has quickly been moved again. He reached High-A last season hitting .316 with 17 HR (as well as 33 doubles and 2 triples) over 465 AB, showing the potential to be an elite bat behind the plate (assuming he proves capable of handling the position defensively). He also took a significant step forward in his strikeout rate, after posting a 27.0% mark in ’14:
- Single-A (Astros, 253 PA) – 20.2%
- High-A (Astros, 76 PA) – 13.2%
- High-A (A’s, 182 PA) – 20.9%
It remains to be seen if he can continue to improve in that regard, but at 20-years old and having a lot on his plate both offensively and defensively, we need to give him time. His power is his ticket, but if he can continue to improve he could be elite.
5) Jorge Lopez – RHP
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived
He got a pair of starts late in the season for the Brewers, jumping directly from Double-A where he had shined (8.60 K/9, 3.27 BB/9, 1.50 GO/AO). That’s the type of makeup we look for, and he continued to show both strikeouts (9.00 K/9) and groundballs (56.7%) over his 10.0 IP in the Majors (obviously a small sample size). He has a solid three pitch mix and it’s hard to like the overall skillset. He doesn’t get the attention of other pitching prospects, nor does he have the upside of one of the elite, but he profiles as a mid-rotation starter.
6) Kodi Modeiros – LHP
Grade – B
ETA – 2018 (could rise to A-/B+ range)
This is an aggressive ranking and there are certainly concerns, mainly his size, unorthodox delivery and control (40 BB in 93.1 IP), but there’s also a ton to love. Besides being a southpaw he showed strikeout stuff (94 K) and also the potential to be an elite groundball pitcher (3.14 GO/AO). Obviously being drafted out of high school he’s going to need time to develop, but with three pitches that could profile as above average already the upside is there for him to get there. He’s not a pitcher that you want to ignore.
7) Devin Williams – RHP
8) Clint Coultier – OF
9) Tyrone Taylor – OF
10) Zach Davies – RHP
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference, Fangraphs
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Grading System (still in development):
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 Top 10 Prospect Lists: