The current farm system is stacked with talent that can toe the rubber with exceptional skill, but who is best suited to do it at the highest level? Which pitchers should the Milwaukee Brewers end up trusting in a best of seven playoff series?
Top Pitching Prospects: Josh Hader, Brandon Woodruff, Jorge Lopez, Luis Ortiz, Corbin Burnes
These options are based on players on the Brewers current top 30 prospect list.
Josh Hader: LHP, ( six seasons) Age 23, Era 3.14, Wins 27, Losses 26, Ks 591, BBs 229, Current team: Colorado Springs Sky Sox Triple-A
Brandon Woodruff: RHP, ( four seasons) Age 24, Era 2.92, Wins 24, Losses 18, Ks 311, BBs 96, Current team: Colorado Springs Sky Sox Triple-A
Jorge Lopez: RHP ( seven seasons) Age 24, Era 4.33, Wins 35, Losses 39, Ks 558, BBs 251, Current team: Biloxi Shuckers Double-A
Luis Ortiz: RHP, ( four seasons) Age 21, Era 2.62, Wins 12, Losses 13, Ks 169, BBs 44,
Current team: Biloxi Shuckers Double-A
Corbin Burnes: RHP, ( two seasons) Age 22, Era 1.68, Wins 5, Losses 0, Ks 73, BBs 30,
Current team: Carolina MudCats High-A
Since 2011, the last year the Brewers were in the postseason, the team has not had a southpaw “regular” in their rotation. This seems like it will come to an end as soon as this season once the electrifying left-hander Josh Hader makes his MLB debut. Hader, who is known for a delivery that draws comparisons to Chris Sale, owns a fastball that sits in the upper 90s and is capable of keeping some of the best young hitters in check. With an awesome slider to pair his fastball with, Hader could very well turn into the next big thing for Milwaukee.
However, there are still some skills that need to be sharpened. His biggest issue right now is his control. Hader needs to learn to lower his pitch count in the early innings if he wants to have success at the Major League level. This issue is possibly due to him throwing more breaking pitches than he is used to.
Once he does finish developing and makes his debut in Majors, the Brewers look to have a top tier starter who can help this team rack up a few more wins and post a sub-3.00 ERA with 200+ strikeouts over the course of a full season.
To add some domination to this rotation, Brandon Woodruff has been a huge, amazing surprise this year. Woodruff is currently owning any starting nine that comes his way. In the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, he has posted an ERA of just 1.83 and holds a win-loss record of 5-0 in six starts. He has sat down 30 batters via the strikeout and only allowed seven walks.
Is it time to call him up? Unlike Hader, it looks like the only stepping stone he needs to cross over is more innings pitched at the Triple-A level.
Already having made his Major League debut on September 29th, 2015, Jorge Lopez seems to be closest of the three top prospects to getting the call to Milwaukee. In his only game with the Brewers, Lopez showed that he could be a solid Major League pitcher, striking out 10 batters in 10 innings thanks to his dominating fastball and off-speed pitches.
His sample size with the Brewers is only two games, so it is hard to tell if he really has a future with the team. Now that he is pitching for the Shuckers in Double-A, partially because Colorado Springs was not friendly to him, he could join the current rotation as soon as there’s an opening. He will most likely be a number three starter in the future.
A really interesting pitcher, who is at least two years away from the Majors and pitching at Double-A is the second biggest piece in the Lucroy deal, Luis Ortiz. Ortiz is going to be a great addition to this already stacked staff. He is known for throwing his fastball in the upper 90s and he can maintain his velocity late into games.
To go along with the heat, he also knows how to take a little bit off every now and again. Ortiz has a slider that sits in the lower 80s. He could be pegged as a quality third or fourth starter in the Major Leagues. It will be interesting to see how he fares once he gets promoted to Triple-A.
Perhaps the guy that is least talked about, but should be talked about more, is Corbin Burnes. Right now in High-A with the Carolina MudCats, Burnes is opening eyes throughout the organization.
With his ERA at 1.32 and having struck out 32 batters with only 12 walks in six games, Burnes is being called the Brewers future ace. Drafted at #111 overall in 2016 out of St. Mary’s College, he is looking like another steal for GM David Stearns. Throwing anywhere from 92 to 95 mph and possessing an elite breaking ball. He could be a great addition to the future pitching staff if he stays on this pace. He could very well challenge Hader or Woodruff for the number one slot in the rotation.
Hopefully, these pitchers are the real deal and can finally end the woes that have hurt the Milwaukee Brewers on the mound time and time again. If these young arms develop, the future rotation could be one of the best in all of baseball.