Reviewing the Brew is ranking the Top 15 Milwaukee Brewers prospects heading into the 2019 season. Today, we’ve reached our No. 9 prospect, catcher Jacob Nottingham.
Back in February 2016, the Milwaukee Brewers traded slugging outfielder Khris Davis to Oakland for pitcher Bubba Derby, and catching prospect Jacob Nottingham. Hopes were high for the then-20 year old backstop who had already reached Double-A. He seemed to be a fast riser, primed for the big leagues sooner rather than later.
Things haven’t quite gone as planned for Nottingham. But he’s still young and has the potential to be a quality big league backstop soon enough.
#9. C Jacob Nottingham
In 2015, Nottingham put up a monster season in High-A with Oakland, finishing with a .316/.372/.505 slash line with 33 doubles, 17 homers, and 82 RBIs. He was looking like a future stud. Power was his known calling card, and the high batting average was just a bonus.
Then he hit Double-A.
In 2016, Nottingham hit just .234/.295/.347 with just 14 doubles and 11 homers. Certainly a disappointing season for both team and player. So he stayed in Double-A for 2017, and it didn’t get much better.
In 2017, Nottingham hit a paltry .209, but increased his OBP to .326 and knocked 21 doubles, but only nine home runs.
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But it was time to give Nottingham a chance in Triple-A, and the hitter-friendly environment at Colorado Springs helped boost his numbers and his confidence. Last year, Nottingham hit .281/.347/.528 with 10 doubles and 10 homers in just 50 games.
While his bat has regressed for the most part, he’s markedly improved behind the plate, and has turned into a strong defensive catcher. He has a cannon for an arm and has improved as a pitch framer.
Because of those defensive skills, Nottingham could have a future as a backup catcher in the big leagues. If he ever figures out his bat and can consistently bring his power into games, he could be a quality starting catcher someday.
When Could We See Nottingham In Milwaukee?
We already saw Nottingham for a couple games in 2018. However, he didn’t exactly impress in his limited opportunities.
This offseason, the Milwaukee Brewers signed free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal to a one year contract. With Manny Pina and Erik Kratz also under contract at the big league level, this allows for another year of development with the bat for Nottingham.
In the likely case of Grandal’s mutual option for 2020 being declined, Nottingham should be ready to compete for the starting catcher job in 2020. 2019 is a big year for Nottingham, developmentally. It’s a make-or-break year for his prospect status.
The Milwaukee Brewers have had Nottingham pegged as their catcher of the future for a couple years now. They need him to bring some sort of return on the investment they made in him.