Milwaukee Brewers Top Prospects List: #3 OF Corey Ray
By David Gasper
We’ve reached the Top 3 spots in our Milwaukee Brewers Top Prospects List heading into the 2019 season. Coming in at number three, is the Crew’s highest first round pick in over a decade.
Back in 2016, the Milwaukee Brewers had the No. 5 overall selection in the MLB Draft, and they used it on University of Louisville outfielder Corey Ray. As such a high draft pick at the beginning of the rebuilding period the Brewers went through, one would think Ray would play a crucial part in the future in Milwaukee.
Although he’s lost some of his prospect shine and is no longer considered a Top 100 prospect, Ray still brings a lot to the table.
3. OF Corey Ray
The sweet swinging lefty wowed scouts during his Junior year with his power-speed combination. It’s difficult to find quality players with a power-speed combination like Ray’s, and that’s why the Brewers spent such a high pick on Ray despite their quality depth of outfield prospects across their farm system. MLB teams don’t draft for need. They just draft good players, regardless of position.
As a college bat, Ray possessed the ability to advance quickly through the minor leagues. As such, he was given an aggressive assignment out of the gate, going straight to High-A in 2016. He posted a .692 OPS in 57 games there before being dropped down to Low-A for a few games.
He finished 2016 with a .239/.307/.370 slash line with five homers. 2017 brought very similar numbers for Ray, he spent that entire season in High-A Carolina and posted a .238/.311/.367 slash line with seven homers.
This was not exactly the best start for Ray, and his prospect star started to lose its shine. Ray does not hit for a high average, and the power wasn’t there to make up for it. His 34.7% strikeout rate in 2017 didn’t help either.
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There were more positives in 2018 as Ray’s power finally started to show up. He blasted 27 homers in Double-A Biloxi, along with 32 doubles, seven triples, and 37 stolen bases. Those are the power-speed numbers the Milwaukee Brewers have been expecting.
However, he still hit just .239 with an OBP of .323, which is a slight improvement as he drew 12 more walks than the year before, but that trend is going to need to continue upward. Ray still struggled with strikeouts in 2018. He struck out 176 times last year, posting a 33% strikeout rate.
Ray’s above average power and great speed make for an intriguing top of the order bat, and he’s a strong defender in the outfield. But his penchant for striking out and low OBP totals do raise some concerns about how successful he’ll be at the big league level.
When Could We See Ray In Milwaukee?
Ray, 24, is most likely going to spend 2019 with Triple-A San Antonio. Barring an injury at the big league level, he’s likely to spend the whole season there, with the possibility of being a September call up.
There’s still some more development to do with Ray to work on cutting down on those strikeouts and improving his walk rate. But he’s close to the big leagues.
He could start competing for a backup spot in Milwaukee in 2020, which is Ryan Braun‘s final year under contract. Once Braun leaves, there will be a starting spot available in that Brewers outfield and Ray figures to be one of the competitors for that spot.
We’ll for sure see Ray in a Milwaukee Brewers uniform in 2020, but it could possibly be even earlier here in 2019. With his ceiling, Ray lands at No. 3 on our Top Brewers Prospects list.
The Brewers have overstocked their system with outfielders in recent years. While they’ve now traded several away, there still remains a lot of depth in this system at the position, and Ray is the best of the bunch in our list.