The Milwaukee Brewers have had a tough season at the major league level this year, currently sitting the division cellar with a 14-25, 11.5 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals. With a rebuild likely forthcoming for our beloved Milwaukee nine, today we have been given some optimism about what the future of the Brewers may look like.
With most minor league teams having completed about 25% of their season, Matt Eddy of Baseball America released his “10 Early Season Breakout Prospects.” If you follow our weekly minor league reports, you are already well aware of several Brewers’ prospects who are having stellar starts to the 2015 season. According to Eddy, Clint Coulter and Orlando Arcia are two Brewers’ farmhands who have done well enough to earn some national recognition.
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Coulter was drafted by Milwaukee in the first round in 2012 out of high school. After mixed results in his first two seasons, Coulter made some noise last year in Appleton, slugging 22 home runs with a .930 OPS and a wRC+ of 165. The Brewers made the decision to move Coulter out from behind the plate over the winter, and he began this season in Brevard County playing right field. So far, the 21 year old Coulter has hit .269/.355/.457 with eight home runs in 166 plate appearances for Milwaukee’s high-A affiliate, putting up a wRC+ of 158 in a ballpark Eddy describes as “one of the lousiest” minor league parks to hit in.
Rated as the Brewers #4 prospect by MLB.com, Coulter has shown an advanced eye at the plate, walking in 12.4% percent of his plate appearances over the last two seasons. Clint is currently tied for the Florida State League lead with eight home runs, is in second place with 26 runs batted in, and both his slugging percentage and OPS rank in the top 10. Eddy noted that after being moved to the outfield, Coulter “could rise quickly through the ranks” if he can continue hitting for the power he has demonstrated dating back to last season.
Orlando Arcia, rated as the Brewers’ top prospect coming into the year, has been even more impressive. Playing for the AA Biloxi Shuckers, the 20 year old shortstop has put together a .345/.400/.489 slash in 156 plate appearances so far this season. He has walked as many time as he has struck out this season (11), slugged fifteen extra base hits and stolen five bases. Along with a 156 wRC+ this season, Arcia is a highly regarded defensive shortstop who has made several impressive plays on defense.
Arcia ranks tied for first in the Southern League with 25 runs scored, second with 48 hits and 12 doubles, eighth with an .889 OPS, and is in the top 15 in slugging, on base percentage, stolen bases, and runs batted in. Eddy describes Orlando as showing “promising offensive upside with strong plate discipline, gap power, and plus speed.” Arcia is a player who could be a fixture near the top of the Brewers’ lineup for years, with four above average tools and the potential to be an All-Star caliber player both at the plate and in the field.
The Brewers’ minor league system has caught a lot of flack this season for lack of top end, major league ready talent, but Milwaukee does possess several high-ceiling players in the lower levels of its system. Led by Clint Coulter and Orlando Arcia, the Brewers farm system is one that is on the rise. With a strong foundation of talent in the lower levels of the minor leagues, Milwaukee should begin looking to move some major league pieces in order to further augment their farm system this season. If the Brewers can add some impact, upper level minor league talent, they will be setting themselves up for sustained future success.