The Brewers minor league system was ranked dead last by MLB Pipleline to start 2020. Their midseason update gave the organization a very small lift.
Ever since the Brewers started dealing prospects to become perennial playoff contenders toward the end of the 2010s, their prospect rankings began to dip accordingly. It’s the price an organization often pays to have a shot at a World Series title.
2020 started no differently. Milwaukee’s farm system was ranked last out of the 30 minor league organizations by MLB Pipeline to start this season. On top of that, they also started with no players in the site’s Top 100 prospects after Brice Turang reached the bottom of the list briefly in 2019.
Things started to look up for the Brewers after the 2020 draft, though. Of the five players selected by Milwaukee in this season’s shortened draft, four of them – Garrett Mitchell, Freddy Zamora, Zavier Warren, and Hayden Cantrelle – ended up finding their way right on to the team’s Top 30 prospects list.
That, combined with moves made by other teams at this season’s trade deadline, was enough for MLB Pipeline to move Milwaukee up their rankings list….barely. At the very least, the Brewers are no longer in the basement in their team rankings.
Though Milwaukee’s farm system is no longer in MLB Pipleline’s basement, they only graduated to the last step of the basement stairs. They jumped from last place all the way up to No. 29 out of 30 in the midseason update that the site released earlier this week.
Strong draft class bolsters Milwaukee’s prospect pool
Indeed, the small hike in the Brewers’ prospect rankings was at least partially due to their strong draft class, which we graded highly here as well. MLB Pipeline had this to say in their quick breakdown of Milwaukee’s group of prospects.
"The first Brewers prospect to appear on the Top 100 this year, Mitchell, who had some of the best all-around tools in this year’s Draft but lasted until the No. 20 pick, could end up being one of the 2020 Draft’s biggest steals, and the same can be said about second-rounder Freddy Zamora if the former Miami shortstop can return to his pre-injury form."
Mitchell and Zamora weren’t the only potential steals of Milwaukee’s draft. Warren and Cantrelle were also drafted later than their MLB Pipeline draft rankings suggested they should have been picked.
Keep in mind as well that the Brewers had one of their Top 30 prospects graduate from their list as well. Devin Williams, who is currently having one of the best seasons for a reliever in the entire league, entered this season at No. 13 on Milwaukee’s top prospects list.
Hard for Brewers to be buyers with a low-ranked system
There was plenty of discussion to be had around this year’s trade deadline about whether the Brewers would be buyers or sellers being just on the edge of postseason contention. In the end, they were the latter.
A deal in the final hours of the trade deadline saw GM David Stearns ship David Phelps off to Philadelphia for prospects Brandon Ramey, Israel Puello, and Juan Geraldo. While Milwaukee did end up selling instead of buying, the move wasn’t necessarily an admission that the Brewers were giving up on the season.
With bullpen being a position of depth for the Brewers, the move didn’t affect their ability to contend for a playoff spot all that much. But their inability to add a player to help the club in 2020 may prove that teams around the league view their farm system as unfavorably as MLB Pipeline does.
Since the Brewers have been in “win now” mode for a few years, it’s hard to envision their minor league system leaping much farther up the rankings any time soon. But that can happen when you have as many recent playoff appearances as Milwaukee.