3. LHP Ethan Small
For the first time in seemingly forever, the Milwaukee Brewers have a couple of really good left-handed pitching prospects. That demographic had been largely overlooked over the past decade-plus by this organization, both at the big league level and the draft.
But that all changed in 2019, as the Brewers made left-handed pitching the big focus of their draft class. It started with Ethan Small out of Mississippi State with the 28th overall pick.
Small was a 4th year Junior at Mississippi State, having redshirted the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery. Small had bounced back, became the staff ace, and eventually became the SEC Pitcher of the Year in 2019.
Small doesn’t throw as hard as he used to, but it’s hard to argue with the success he’s had. He sits in the low 90s with his fastball, but mixes it well with his curveball and changeup.
Oh, and guess what. He’s adding a slider.
Similar to Ashby, Small has a deceptive delivery and keeps hitters off balance with his delivery and how he mixes his pitches. Now that he’ll have four pitches to mix instead of three, he becomes an even more intriguing prospect.
After getting signed, Small had a couple of scoreless innings in Rookie-level Arizona before earning a promotion to Low-A Wisconsin. In five starts there, covering 18 innings, Small allowed just 11 hits and had a 1.00 ERA. His final line for the year: seven starts, 21 IP, 11 hits, four walks, 36 strikeouts, and a 0.71 WHIP. Not too bad at all.
After a full season as a starter for Mississippi State, who made it to the College World Series last year, Small had already logged many innings in 2019, and they chose to take it easy with the immediate transition to professional ball.
When the Brewers selected Small in the first round, they targeted a player with a very high floor who could quickly move through the minors and help out the big league club. MLB Pipeline gave Small a good chance of becoming a No. 4 starter one day, but the addition of a fourth pitch could change that. He could reach Milwaukee by the end of 2021, if everything goes well.
He’ll be entering his first full professional season in 2020, and he’ll likely start back in Low-A Wisconsin, but could follow the Drew Rasmussen route and find himself in Double-A very quickly. Entering the season, Ethan Small is our 3rd rated Brewers prospect.