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Earlier today, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs released an excellent comprehensive list of the top 200 prospects in baseball today. Absolutely give it a read if you have any interest in prospects, as it’s easily the largest list I’ve ever seen available for no charge, and anyone who puts that much work in deserves the clicks.
On the the Brewers side of things, you’ll notice via this link that the Crew has a total of seven players on the list, with two of them falling at 50 and five of them falling in the 45+ category. These numbers are indicative of future value (FV) on a 20-80 scale. I will explain this system more as I go along.
The list “ends” at 142, where the remaining players (45+ FV) are placed in no particular order. The Brewers top prospects, those who receive ranks, are #87 SS Orlando Arcia and #115 LHP Kodi Medeiros. You can see McDaniel’s opinions on the players’ talents via the link above, while I will offer more general insights and cover the remaining prospects, who McDaniel does not.
The value of these FV ratings are detailed here, but in short, 50 FV is seen as an average regular (position players) and #4 starter or low Closer/ High Setup (pitchers).
Arcia is widely considered to be the Brewers top prospect, and currently projects as a strong defensive shortstop with an average to slighty above average bat. These skills easily combine to make an everyday shortstop, which leaves the Brewers wondering about Jean Segura‘s future. After a full season at High-A, he should report to AA Biloxi for the start of 2015.
Medeiros features a strong fastball and a wipeout slider/curveball and a changeup. He throws from a low 3/4 arm slot, which will be very tough on left-handed hitters throughout his career.
This video shows his stuff and features announcers laughing in disbelief at the horizontal movement on Medeiros’ breaking ball. He did get knocked around in an abridged stint in rookie ball and should see a longer look there in 2015.
The remaining players are presented as 45+ FV in no particular order. 45 FV is seen as Platoon/Utility (position players) and #5 starter or Low Setup (pitchers). The “+” in this instance indicates a 47.5 rating, or midway between the two.
CF Tyrone Taylor: I’m surprised Taylor didn’t make the 50 FV rating on FanGraphs, as he is sometimes considered the Brewers’ top prospect. Like Arcia, he plays solid defense at a crucial defensive position, and has a decent bat. To most he projects as an everyday center fielder who does a lot well but nothing outstanding. He was called up late to AA Huntsville and should begin his year in AA Biloxi.
RF Clint Coulter: The ex-catcher turned right fielder hit .287/.410/.520 with 22 HR over 529 PA with Low A Wisconsin, earning him the Brewers Minor League Player of the Year Award. The Brewers will be watching his progression closely, given the implosions of Taylor Green and Hunter Morris, the Brewers MiLB POY’s in 2011 and 2012.
His bat will carry him anywhere he winds up, though Director of Player Development Reid Nichols was happy with Coulter’s early looks in right field and his a strong throwing arm will play well in the corner.
RHP Corey Knebel: Brought in as part of the Yovani Gallardo trade, Knebel immediately became one of the Brewers’ top prospects. He garners high ranks for both his lighting-quick fastball and curveball that features tons of downward action.
He also has a potentially average changeup, but he’s almost certainly a reliever in spite of a possible three-pitch mix. With his two plus pitches, he could be the closer for the Brewers in the near future. He’s a longshot to make the Brewers out of Spring Training, otherwise he should report to AAA Colorado Springs.
CF Monte Harrison: Mostly upside at this point, Harrison projects to have enough of a bat for right field if his defense doesn’t progress as hoped. Otherwise, he has the tools to be an average center fielder with a big arm and a strong hit tool.
He played in just 50 games with Arizona in rookie ball, and could move to Helena to start 2015, the Brewers higher level rookie team. Players of Harrison’s regard have been fast-tracked to Low-A Wisconsin in the past as well.
SS/3B Gilbert Lara: Last summer the Brewers signed the then 16-year-old shortstop for a $3.2 million bonus as an international free agent. He was ranked the fourth best international free agent by MLB.com and fifth by Baseball America.
Though he was a shortstop by trade, the Brewers will likely move Lara to third base, though many don’t believe he will even stick there, and may end up an outfielder or first baseman. Obviously this tells us his bat is his calling card, and he has good, raw power.
Lara will either begin in the Dominican Summer League or make the fairly big jump to rookie ball in Arizona.
It is also worth noting that the Brewers have two high level “non-prospects” in Luis Sardinas and Wei-Chung Wang, who will act as prospects, but, due to Major League service time, are not technically “prospects”. I definitely think both would have made this list had they qualified, so if you’d like, you can mentally include them.
Sardinas is expected to begin the year with AAA Colorado Springs, because he has minor league options and fellow utility-man Hector Gomez does not. Sardinas could take over that job, or possibly face lefties in place of Scooter Gennett at second base, or replace Jean Segura at shortstop should he continue to sputter on offense.
Wang could begin the year at AA Biloxi, though I’d prefer if he started at High-A Brevard County, because it’s better to send him up if he’s dominant than down if he’s struggling.
While the Brewers are likely to be continually ranked toward the bottom among Major League farm systems, they have plenty of names to be encouraged by, with it’s most advanced members ready to make an impact as early as this season.