Checking In On RtB’s Top Prospects: 11-15


Jed Bradley has dramatically improved since 2012. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we started our Milwaukee Brewers prospect check-in by looking at Reviewing the Brew’s #16 through 20 prospects. You can find that here. If you want to look at the 20 prospects we ranked back in January, click here.

Now, it’s time to see how the prospects we ranked 11-15 are performing this season.

15. RHP Ariel Pena

AA: 14 GS, 3.00 ERA, 70 SO, 42 BB

Ariel Pena, one of three players included in the 2012 trade for Zack Greinke, is putting up admirable numbers in Double-A. In 14 starts, the right-hander has a 5-5 record with 3.00 ERA.  He has raw heat which he uses to blow pitches by hitters and make them wonder just what happened. He strikes out an impressive 8.75 batters per nine innings. However, he has a tough time controlling his high-90’s fastball – he has a BB/9 of 5.25.

Other than by walks, the 24-year-old doesn’t allow many baserunners. He holds opponents to a .191 batting average and a BABIP of only .235. And even if Pena does allow a runner or two, his high left-on-base percentage (78%) is very calming.

If he learns to control his pitches, he could actually be one of the more dominant pitchers in baseball. If that’s as a starter or a reliever is yet to be determined. He could end up being a closer similar to Aroldis Chapman.

I didn’t rank Pena in January but he will surely make my list in 2014 and may even break the top ten if he learns some control.

14. LHP Jed Bradley

High-A: 13 GS, 3.94 ERA, 50 SO, 33 BB

Jed Bradley was a first round selection out of Georgia Tech in 2011 and after a rough first professional season, Bradley has started to right the ship. He’s dramatically lowered his ERA, going from a 5.53 ERA in 2012 to 3.94 this season. Bradley has also improved his strikeout rates – his K/9 rose from 5.03 to 7.03.

Bradley does a nice job of keeping the ball in the park. In 64 innings, the 23-year-old has given up only five home runs. Yup, you heard me right. Only five. But that does mean he gives up a lot of base hits. He owns a WHIP of 1.58 and opponents are hitting 2.69 against him. His four-seam fastball tops out at only 93 MPH while his two-seamer clocks in at around 89 MPH so location is key for Bradley.

His FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching (which measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average), is quite some worrisome. Bradley has a FIP of 4.25 and according to FanGraphs, that ranks below the league average.

Nonetheless, the Brewers should be thrilled about the improvements Bradley has made from just last season. If he continues to throw like he has been, he just might sneak onto my list next season.

13. RHP Michael Olmsted

AAA: 28 G, 4.94 ERA, 32 SO, 22 BB

When the Brewers signed Michael Olmsted to a minor-league contract, Editor Benjamin Orr and Senior Staff Writer Colin Bennett were very high on him – and that was even before he impressed in Spring Training. However, their opinion on the gigantic (see Titanic) right-handed reliever may have changed.

Despite a reasonable chance to make the Brewers opening day roster, Olmsted is currently pitching in Triple-A Nashville where things haven’t quite shifted his way. In just 31 innings, Olmsted has allowed 27 hits and 17 earned runs. Although he weighs almost 250 lbs, he is not a power pitcher – his fastball is in the low-90’s.

Olmsted has put together one of his lowest strikeout percentages (22.5%) of his career while his walk percentage (15.5%) is a career-worst. In all likelihood, 2013 will be Olmsted’s last in Milwaukee unless the Brewers believe they have something in which case it will become pertinent to keep him a little while longer.

The 26-year-old should not be found on any prospect lists next season.

12. RHP Jimmy Nelson

AA: 12 GS, 2.74 ERA, 72 SO, 15 BB
AAA: 3 GS, 3.00 ERA, 15 SO, 13 BB

Jimmy Nelson made quick work of Double-A Huntsville this season. He made 12 starts for the Stars before being promoted to Triple-A Nashville on June 5. He ruled hitters in Huntsville, posting a 2.74 ERA while striking out a whopping 72 in 69 innings of work. A second-round pick by the Brewers in 2010, Nelson has already proven that he’s poised for greatness.

Nelson, a right-hander who throws in the mid-90’s, really worked on his command in the offseason and the results showed in Huntsville. His BB/9 was only 1.96. Granted, his walks have dramatically risen since being promoted, but that’s to be expected. In Double-A, he accumulated a remarkable WHIP of only 1.13. In Triple-A, it has only risen to 1.80.

We at Reviewing the Brew have quickly fallen in love with the 24-year-old and I believe we could see him in the majors as soon as next year. Barring some monumental setback or letdown, you can be sure that Nelson will be at least in my top 8 prospects next year.

11. C Clint Coulter

Low-A: .207/.299/.345

I ranked Clint Coulter has the Brewers fourth-best prospect and as of now, I look like an idiot. It’s been a troubling year for the Coulter after finding success in rookie ball in 2012. Coulter, Milwaukee’s first pick (27th overall) last season, is a catcher with above-average pop and for a 19-year-old, calls games like a pro.

But a .207 batting average, among other things, led to his demotion to the Helena Brewers. There’s just nothing nice to say about the young catcher this season. His on-base percentage is in Yuniesky Betancourt territory while his batting average flirted with the Mendoza Line. His .250 BABIP is also pretty embarrassing.

In 119 at-bats with the Timber Rattlers, Coulter managed just nine extra-base hits (three home runs). He struck out 31 times while racking up only 11 walks. If I’m the Brewers, I’m a little worried. Maybe the demotion to rookie ball is exactly what Coulter needs; he’ll have a chance to clear his head and to rediscover his swing.

I will not rank Coulter in my top 5 next season but if you think he’s going to be outside my top 20, you’re crazy. He ‘s still very young and has too much upside to be brushed away like that.

That’s all for now folks. Make sure to come back in a few days as I will be checking in on prospects 6-10. Those players include: Victor Roache, Caleb Gindl, Hiram Burgos, Johnny Hellweg and Taylor Jungmann.