We have reached the lull period in the baseball year. Very little in actual movement is occurring, there’s no games, and the Brewers are far from the forefront of the rumor mill. Now is the perfect time to reflect on the minor league talent and project them going forward. Note: I prefer upside over certainty, so guys lower in the system with big potential with be ranked higher.
1. CF Tyrone Taylor-A Wisconsin, .274/.338/.400, 8 HRs, 19 SBs
Taylor has possibly the highest ceiling of any player in the Brewers system. Being drafted in 2012 as a bit of a lottery ticket, you have to like the early returns. He was considered very raw as far as playing baseball, but a great athlete. His stance is fairly similar to Alex Rodriguez, though his load is very simple. He’s extremely rotational as a hitter which can cause him to pull of the ball and roll over sometimes. This is not a very difficult thing to fix with drill work. He has plus speed and he should be a plus defender in the outfield. The ceiling for him is an All-Star.
2. SS Orlando Arcia-A Wisconsin, .251/.314/.333, 4 HRs, 20 SBs, 35 BBs, 40 Ks
Arcia is the only one in the system that reaches Taylor’s level of projection. He missed all of 2012 with a broken ankle, but returned to play this year being moved up a level as one of the youngest players in the Midwest League. Arcia held his own despite his youth. He’s quite skinny and will never be anything more than below-average in the power department. He does have some excessive bat wrap in his load (points the knob at the umpire), but another thing that is correctable with drill work. Most importantly, Arcia profiles as a plus defensive SS. Despite being fairly tall for the position, he is extremely smooth and there are very few questions about his ability to play the position going forward.
3. SP Jimmy Nelson-AAA Nashville, 3.67 ERA/3.27 FIP, 9.83 K/9, 5.40 BB/9
Nelson had a brief stint with Milwaukee at the end of the season, but spent most of the year with Nashville. Nelson has a plus fastball with some sinking action. He sits in the low-to-mid nineties, but can run it up to 96 when he wants. He has a nice slider that could be a plus pitch. The change-up with be the key to his development. Nelson’s likely outcome is a solid middle rotation innings eater who induces a plethora of ground balls. However, if he can improve his control (his AA BB/9 was a mere 1.96) and develop a change-up, he has high upside.
4. SP Devin Williams-AZL Brewers, 3.38 ERA/3.20 FIP, 10.13 K/9, 5.71 BB/9
Williams was the Brewers first pick this past June (2nd round). He is tall and lanky, but possess a plus fastball. Right now that’s about all he has, and boy does he showcase it. Williams had one outing this year where 38/40 pitches were fastballs. It appears the organization is having Williams work on his fastball command before worrying about his secondary offerings. His mechanics are very raw; they need to be simplified. He has top of the rotation ceiling, but we’re several years away from that.
5. 1B/3B Nick Delmonico-A+ w/Baltimore .243/.350/.469, 13 HRs, 5 SBs *Only played 12 games in Brewers system
While Nicky’s poor performance once traded to Milwaukee is a bit unsettling, he did enjoy a nice season as an Orioles prospect. Delmonico has nice power from the left side of the plate, but does have a tendency to swing and miss quite a bit. Delmonico will probably have to be able to stay at third base long-term to provide the Brewers with a lot of value as the bat may not allow him to be above average offensively at first. There are questions about his ability to stay at third, but if he can even be below-average defensively at third and the bat progresses, he should be a Major League player.
The top of the system is very lean on certainty, and upper minors talent. There is upside to be above average Major Leaguers in each of these players. There are many ifs involved with every one of these players, and only Nelson figures to make an impact in the near future. The industry is down on the Brewers system overall, but most will acknowledge that there is some upside in the system, albeit a few years down the line.