The Milwaukee Brewers have been rebuilding their farm system for what feels like forever. The club recently received the ranking of #25 in the MLB.com Farm System Rankings and while that number certainly needs improvement, the Brewers have some exciting names tearing up the minors to begin 2022.
Let’s take a look at five up-and-comers in the Brewers system that are off to hot starts.
#1 – INF Felix Valerio (Double-A Biloxi)
Felix Valerio, a 21-year old middle infielder from the Dominican Republic, is entering his third season as a member of the Brewers organization after being traded to Milwaukee from the Mets in exchange for speedy outfielder Keon Broxton.
As Reviewing the Brew’s own Jackson Heiden recently covered, Valerio has excellent contact abilities and great speed on the bases – as evidenced by his 31 steals last season.
Known throughout his career as the owner of a great eye at the plate, Valerio routinely walks nearly as many times as he strikes out in a typical season. To begin 2022, he has 9 walks and just 5 strikeouts.
In 16 games for Biloxi so far this season, the young middle infielder has a .286/.368/.536 slash-line, three stolen bases, three home runs and 12 RBI. Notably, he has also began to add third base and left field to his positional repertoire, further enhancing his overall value.
#2 – OF Joey Wiemer (Double-A Biloxi)
Joey Wiemer, 23, waited until his first professional season with the Brewers to truly showcase the pop in his bat. Wiemer obliterated minor league pitching last year seemingly out of nowhere – hitting 27 home runs and driving in 77 in just 109 games, good for a .296/.403/.556 slash line.
To begin 2022, Wiemer, the Brewers #2 prospect and #97 overall per MLB.com, has played his first 18 games at the Brewers’ Double-A affiliate in Biloxi alongside the aforementioned Valerio. He’s made defensive appearances in both center and right field and already has three home runs and 15 RBI.
#3 – INF/OF Brice Turang (Triple-A Nashville)
Brice Turang, listed as the #5 prospect in the Brewers system heading into 2022, looks to be the next top infielder to join the club at the big league level.
Turang, still just 22 years of age, is beginning the season in Triple-A, where he played the second half of last year. While his numbers weren’t great last season, Turang is off to an excellent start through his first 20 games – hitting 7 doubles and two home runs, driving in 14 runs and possessing a .313/.380/.494 slash-line.
On the same MLB.com prospect rankings, the site lists Turang’s expected arrival in the big leagues as sometime this season. While this is not necessarily an outlandish guess, it’s difficult to see where he fits this year behind Luis Urias, Kolten Wong and Willy Adames on the depth chart.
To Turang’s credit, he has begun spending time defensively in center field as of late. He has played three games and 27 innings worth of error-free ball, so it will be interesting to watch his development at the position and if the Brewers can use the outfield as a way to get him to the big leagues.
#4 – LHP Ethan Small (Triple-A Nashville)
Any true baseball fan loves watching a smooth left-handed pitcher shutting down oppositions, and that is exactly what #7 Brewers prospect Ethan Small has done since the get-go.
Small, 25, has a career minor league ERA of 1.55. Yes, you read that right. Since his being drafted in the first round of the 2019 MLB draft, he has done nothing but dominate the league for the Brewers minor league affiliates.
Small’s easiest route to the majors may be in the bullpen – similarly to the path fellow southpaw Aaron Ashby took on his journey to the bigs. With the Brewers currently boasting the best starting rotation in the major leagues, the bullpen may be the best place for Small to start.
Through his first five starts and 23.1 innings in 2022, Small has a sparkling 0.77 ERA, an absolutely absurd number. He has allowed just two earned runs so far while striking out 31 batters. Don’t be surprised if Brewers fans see him on a big league mound in the very near future.
#5 – Infielder Tyler Black (High-A Wisconsin)
Tyler Black, best known as being the 33rd overall pick by the Brewers in last season’s MLB draft, scuffled a bit last season in his first action in professional baseball.
The 21-year old has a reputation of being a slap-hitter who could one day hit around 10 home runs and stolen bases one day should he continue to develop on the pace he’s currently on.
Ranked the Crew’s #6 prospect heading into this season, he has found himself on the High-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers for the first time and should continue to elevate through the system, especially if he is able to sustain the pace he’s on right now.
Through Black’s first 10 games in High-A, he has 10 RBI and has walked more times (5) than he has struck out (3). Not to mention the fact that he’s sitting above .300 for the first time since his college days. MLB has his big league ETA pegged at 2024, which he should meet with no problems as long as he continues to produce for the Crew.
Honorable mention goes to pitchers Victor Castaneda, Brandon Knarr and TJ Shook as well as position players Weston Wilson, Garrett Mitchell and Micah Bello – who are all off to excellent starts in their own rights.
The Brewers are beginning to assemble quite the exciting farm system, led by standout youngsters Sal Frelick, Garrett Mitchell and Joey Wiemer. So far to begin 2022, it’s been some names outside of the “big three” that have stepped up the most throughout the club’s minor league system.