After a strong spring, Hand kept it going in the minors before being promoted to Milwaukee. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Back in January, Reviewing the Brew assembled a list of our top 20 prospects in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. You can check out our complete rankings here.
With the 2013 First-Year Player Draft completed and hopeful prospects beginning their long and arduous journey to The Show, now is a good time to look at the highly-regarded players in the Brewers farm system. Some of the prospects included in our list are doing their best to be removed while others are vying for a higher spot.
Let’s see how the prospects we ranked 16 through 20 are performing this year in the minors.
20. OF Khris Davis
I was the only Reviewing the Brew writer to rank Khris Davis. I felt that his bat would take him to the big leagues and he could be used off the bench. Turns out, I was right. After a torrid spring, Davis made the Brewers opening day roster, but playing time was scarce for the 25-year-old as Ryan Braun solidified left field. He was only given 16 at-bats in Milwaukee, managing only three hits – although two were for doubles.
Davis was sent down to Triple-A Nashville on May 2nd to make room for Jeff Bianchi, who had just come off of the disabled list. The Brewers felt that Davis would be better served by getting regular playing time instead of twiddling his thumbs on the bench at Miller Park.
He has shown flashes of power in Nashville (six home runs) but, overall, it has been a disappointing season for Davis. He is currently mired in a 3-for-33 slump. Starting the season in the majors was probably not the best plan, especially since the Brewers knew his plate appearances would be limited. If Davis wants to work his way back, he must shorten up his swing and work on his defensive skills. His arm is the main thing holding him back.
Regardless of how he finishes up the season, Davis will reappear on my top prospect list in 2014. I don’t know if that is related to Davis’ talent or the deficiencies of the Brewers farm system.
19. SS Yadiel Rivera
Once again, Yadiel Rivera appeared on only my list. Rivera, drafted by the Brewers in the 9th round in 2010, has yet to produce the way the Brewers believe he is capable.
A shortstop with raw talents, Rivera showed some power in 2012 when he hit 12 home runs for Brevard County. But, this season, his power has disappeared into thin air. In just over two seasons, Rivera has yet to post a batting average over .250. He may be showing signs of turning things around, however; over his last ten games, Rivera has a .306 batting average with three doubles and four RBI’s.
Even though his batting average is nothing to smile about, it’s encouraging that Rivera has cut down on his strikeouts from last season with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. He has lowered his strikeout percentage from 23.5% in 2012 to 15.6%.
Yadiel Rivera has a chance to be an above-average shortstop but he won’t get to the majors on just his glove. His bat needs to do at least some of the talking and right now, despite his recent performance, it’s quieter than a sleeping sloth.
I don’t see how Rivera will make it back onto my top prospects list next season.
18. RHP Donovan Hand
MLB: 6 G, 3.97 ERA, 9 SO, 2 BB
AAA: 16 G, 3.18 ERA, 32 SO, 9 BB
Donovan Hand was this close to making the opening day roster but Ron Roenicke decided to go with Alfredo Figaro, choosing power over finesse. Still, Hand made his way to the Brewers after Jim Henderson injured his hamstring. Benjamin, the only one to rank Hand, put Hand as his No. 9 prospect and correctly predicted that he would see major league action this season.
Hand earned his promotion by posting a 3.18 ERA in 16 games in Triple-A. Known mainly as a control pitcher, the 27-year-old walked only nine batters in just over 28 innings and held opponents to a .236 average.
The Brewers use Hand in a role similar to that which Marco Estrada had in 2011 and part of 2012 – long reliever and mop-up duties. As expected, he’s had a little more trouble dealing with big boy hitters, but a 3.97 ERA out of the pen is by no means something to shake your head at.
The future looks bright for the right-handed reliever. Maybe Benjamin was on to something.
17. OF Tyrone Taylor
Probably my favorite prospect, Tyrone Taylor has not disappointed in his first full season as a professional ballplayer. After his season in 2012 was cut short by a shoulder injury, the 19-year-old has bounced back nicely. In fact, he was just named the Midwest League Player of the Week, hitting .523 with a triple, a home run and a pair of doubles during that period.
Taylor is a talented outfielder with great speed and gap-t0-gap power. Along with four home runs, he has already racked up 16 doubles to go along with 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts. Taylor doesn’t walk much – only 16 BB’s – but has a great eye at the plate and doesn’t strike out too often. In 217 at-bats, he has only been sent down on strikes 26 times.
Because of his production, a promotion to High-A is surely on his horizon – probably not until 2014, however. Taylor will surely break my top ten next season, maybe even moving ahead of Clint Coulter and Victor Roache.
Oh, and I interviewed him earlier this season. Check it out.
16. OF Mitch Haniger
Mitch Haniger wasted no time in being promoted to High-A. It took only 41 games for the Brewers to realize Haniger was better suited to another level. Haniger hit five home runs and drove in 25 during his tenure with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. He even walked (25 BB) more than he struck out (24 K).
He was chosen in the first round (38th overall) of the 2012 Amateur draft so obviously the Brewers are high on him. Since being promoted to Brevard County, however, Haniger has had a rough time holding his own. His numbers are down across the board. His strikeouts have risen and his walks have vastly declined. However, his BABIP is still strong – .286, though it is down from .314 in Low-A but that’s to be expected. He’s only played 17 games for Brevard County so he has plenty of time to adjust.
For some reason, I did not rank Haniger – a decision I’m befuddled by. He’ll make my list next year, that’s for sure. Where am I going to put him? You’ll just have to wait.
That’s all for now folks. Make sure to come back in a few days as I will be checking in on prospects 11-15. Those prospects include Ariel Pena, Jed Bradley, Michael Olmsted, Jimmy Nelson and Clint Coulter.