The Milwaukee Brewers have a lot of talent at the lower levels of the Minor Leagues, but there are several debuts that should occur in 2017 that will influence the franchise for the next five to ten years. The team at Reviewing The Brew has several players that we can’t wait to see arrive in ‘The Good Land.’
It’s usually a sign that your team is going to struggle when the pre-season stories are written about younger players that have yet to debut, and not the current roster. It’s clear that the Brewers are in full rebuild mode and to think that their day-to-day results are going to get better before they get worse is probably not the best lens through which to watch the 2017 Milwaukee Brewers.
With the future in mind, there are three prospects who will shape the direction the Brewers’ rebuild takes, and all three should be up at some point during the 2017 season.
Lewis Brinson, OF
The centerpiece of the Jonathan Lucroy trade has spent part of the last two seasons at Triple-A and should see the Major League roster at some point this season, but the currently crowded Brewers outfield may delay his arrival. It makes zero sense to bring Brinson up and have him watch Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton, and Domingo Santana play everyday.
Brinson needs either a trade (looking at you, Braun), an injury (anyone really), or poor play (glancing at you, Keon and Domingo) to open up a spot in the lineup.
The closest comparison fans can make for Brinson is a slightly more athletic, more powerful Carlos Gomez. He has the raw muscle, speed and athletic ability to produce 20/20 seasons, but he may also hit .230. His glove is also much farther along than Gomez’ ever was, really. Brinson, Broxton, and the not-too-far off Corey Ray may soon provide the Brew Crew with the toolsiest outfield they’ve ever had, with each possessing the raw athleticism that makes scouts drool.
Brandon Woodruff, RHP
While Brandon Woodruff may not have a ceiling of a an ace starting pitcher, his floor his much higher than most. Given his plus-plus fastball, he’s likely to succeed as a reliever if starting at the Major League level proves to be too great a challenge, but that’s the worst-case scenario for Woodruff.
The best-case scenario is that his change-up develops into a third quality pitch, and he locks down a spot in the Brewers starting rotation for the next decade.
Woodruff led the Minor Leagues in strikeouts in 2016, and appears poised to start racking up the K’s in Miller Park sooner rather than later. He’s made adjustments to speed up his delivery, and only needs to show that he has a third pitch he can trust to start making an impact at the Major League level.
Josh Hader, LHP
If ‘fantastic hair’ were a statistical category, Josh Hader would already be an All-Star, but there’s a lot more to look forward to than just his flowing locks.
Hader is much more of an enigma than Woodruff is at this point in his career. Hader has actually spent time in Triple-A, but his future role still needs to be defined. Some scouts see his slight build and unusual delivery and think he needs to move the bullpen. Others see the same aspects and think he projects as a starter.
After dominating Double-A for half a season with a 0.95 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 57 innings, Hader moved on to Triple-A. Pitching in the more hitter-friendly Pacific Coast league, Hader delivered mixed results. He managed to strikeout 88 batters in 69 innings, but he also issued 36 walks and surrendered five homers.
It’s clear that Hader could stand to add a bit of weight to his frame, but his also needs to further develop his slider and change-up to succeed at the highest levels.
While the current product may be hard to watch at times. Help is on the way for the Milwaukee Brewers. It just needs a few more months to develop, but there is a ton of talent at the lower levels. These are only three of about 20 prospects who are closer to making an impact than you think.