Brewers Newest Prospects Excel After Joining Club


The Brewers made some nice trades at the deadline this season, and they have a few solid pieces to show for it. To further invigorate a possibly downtrodden fan base, nearly every prospect received has excelled since joining the club, whether they were succeeding previously or not.

Each of the players referenced here is discussed by Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs here, as part of his evaluations of each prospect traded at the deadline. It’s a good way to get a feel for these players’ possible impacts going forward.

Acquired in Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers Trade with the Astros:

Domingo Santana

Santana was already tearing up AAA when the Brewers received him in their biggest trade of the season, slashing .320/.426/.582 with 16 home runs in 326 plate appearances. After joining the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Santana slashed an absurd .380/.424/.544 before quickly being promoted to the Bigs.

Since joining the Brewers, Santana has hit an outstanding .260/.371/.521, while walking at a 12% clip. Those numbers are promising, no doubt reassuring for a boom-or-bust player like Santana. Still, he has struck out a fair amount, 32 percent of the time, but even this is an improvement over his previous Big League experiences. There has also been a rise in top prospects striking out in bunches, and still finding success (See: Kris Bryant, Miguel Sano).

This hardly exonerates Santana from further skepticism, but given his struggles in the Majors with the Astros, his hot start with the Brewers is a welcome change.

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Brett Phillips

The most highly anticipated prospect of the Gomez/Fiers trade, Phillips was quickly named the number two prospect in the Brewers system, behind Orlando Arcia.

The Brett Phillips that the Brewers have seen in AA is nothing like the one the Astros had this year, but both have been productive in their own way. After graduating High-A ball at the midway point of the season, Phillips joined the ‘Stros AA team, where he continued his high batting average, low walk rate play (.321, 5.5%).

After joining Biloxi, however, Phillips slashed .250/.361/.413. This extreme improvement in BB% almost made up for his drop in batting average, though he also struck out in bunches with Biloxi (30.6%), significantly more than is typical for him.

Phillips’ power has also evaporated in AA after he hit 15 home runs in High-A in the first half, adding just one since, though he has been a strong gap hitter since then. He is also performing in the Shucker’s playoff run, knocking in a run on two doubles in his first game off of the DL, which was the first of a best of five in the Southern League semifinals.

Overall, the young man’s statistics on the year are promising, particularly in conjunction with his average defense in center, and his canon arm.

Adrian Houser

Speaking of performing in the Shuckers playoff run, all Houser did was this:

This game is a microcosm of Houser’s Biloxi turnaround so far, after he joined the team with a 7.02 ERA. For a great comparison, Houser was kind enough to face exactly 152 batters in both Corpus Christi and Biloxi. With the Astros affiliate, Houser struck out 23 batters, and walked 15. In Biloxi, Houser struck out 32 and only issued six free passes. That’s the difference between a 1.53 K/BB ratio and one of 5.33.

Given the stats and his 99-pitch complete game (seriously rare), it would appear that Houser has full control of pitches at this time, and the Brewers can only hope his late season fix is a sign of things to come.

Josh Hader

Hader was having a very nice season with Corpus Christi, with high K rates (9.51 per 9), low walk rates (3.31 per 9) and a solid 3.47 FIP. Then he joined Biloxi’s rotation, and each of those numbers got even better. He struck out an unbelievable 11.64 batters per 9, while cutting his walk rate (2.56 per 9), which of course lead to a reduced FIP (2.81).

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This hopefully reflects an improvement in Hader’s secondary offerings, as, at the start of the season, he was mostly a plus-fastball guy. With his late dominance, he certainly fits in with his starting pitching counterparts in Biloxi.

Jonathan Broxton Trade

Malik Collymore

Of all the players that the Crew acquired via trade, Collymore is easily the furthest from the Big Leagues. Not that the Brewers could ask for much, given the brutal (though hugely unlucky) season Broxton was having to that point.

The 20-year-old was originally a fringy second baseman defensively that needed a lot of work, though at the start of the year the Cardinals moved him to left field, where he will likely stay, given his poor arm strength.

Collymore has some raw power, but he hasn’t made use of it in games yet, with just five homers in 485 career plate appearances. In Kiley McDaniel’s eyes, Collymore dropped from a 40 FV to a 35+FV from the start of the season to the trade deadline. Fair enough, considering Collymore was hitting .216/.326/.378 with the rookie league Johnson City Cardinals.

After joining the Helena Brewers, though, Collymore’s batting average (and BABIP) skyrocketed, and he slashed .311/.375/.434 from that point on. The young Canadian has impressive walk rates for his age, but, as often is the case, high strikeout rates come along for the ride.

Also of note is Collymore’s above-average speed, which lends itself to  Collymore somehow having nearly as many career triples (12) as doubles (20).

Aramis Ramirez Trade

Yhonathan Barrios

Barrios might be as raw as Collymore, despite being the Shuckers impromptu closer in their postseason run. He has been a pitcher for less than two seasons, but easily running it up to 95-96 and touching 100 will propel a guy through the system.

And maybe “raw” is misguiding, because he doesn’t struggle immensely with command, he just has little experience with secondary offerings and doesn’t strike out many batters, though he has solid groundball numbers.

Before the trade, Barrios put up a K:BB ratio of 21:17. Not exactly inspiring stuff. With the Shuckers, in his tiny sample size, Barrios spun 16 Ks and walked just five.

As I mentioned, Barrios has even closed out a few games late in the season (six saves) and in the playoffs for Biloxi, a sign of pitching maturity, even if he began 2013 as a light-hitting infielder.

Gerardo Parra Trade

Zach Davies

Davies is the one new Brewer who has truly struggled since joining the organization, yet his 4.28 Big League FIP means he isn’t doing everything wrong. He was considered by some to have the best changeup in the minors, and it is clearly an MLB quality pitch.

Of the 101 changeups that Brooks Baseball has recorded, Davies has allowed just four hits (.167), and that’s with a .267 BABIP. Lucky, certainly, but not that lucky. Mostly, it’s just been dominant.

Davies has a real chance to be the second best player the Crew received this season, after Phillips. This, despite only giving up Parra for less than half of a season. Pretty good deal, and that’s not even taking Parra’s post-trade .619 OPS into account.

Who do you think was the best value for what the Crew gave up, and who are you most excited to see play at Miller Park full-time?

Next: Scooter, Segura, and the Brewers' Future at 2B