Brewers minor league trade chip #4: LHP Antoine Kelly
In recent years, the Brewers have been known for their ability to draft and develop young pitchers, from Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes to the recently extended Aaron Ashby. They have another possible big, young pitching talent down at High-A Wisconsin in lefty Antoine Kelly.
The hard-throwing Kelly was a 2nd round pick by the Crew back in the 2019 draft. He was able to play in nine games at the Arizona Complex League that same year and looked the part of a second rounder, giving up just four earned runs in 28.2 innings with a ratio of 41 strikeouts to just five walks.
Unfortunately, after the lost 2020 season in which he saw time at the team’s alternate training site, Kelly would end up undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome the following offseason. He would return to pitch late in 2021, but the results (9 G, 9.78 ERA, 1.81 WHIP) wouldn’t look particularly great.
Fully healthy in 2022 and back to his previous velocity, Kelly looks to have put the injury behind him. He has started 18 games at High-A so far this season and has gone 2-4 with a 3.41 ERA, career best .179 batting average against, and a current Midwest League-leading 113 strikeouts.
Kelly has a bit to go until he is ready for the majors, but the No. 14 prospect is a lefty with a mid to high-90s fastball and an above average slider. That’s a profile with which plenty of MLB teams would love to work.
Brewers minor league trade chip #3: LHP Ethan Small
Ethan Small technically would not currently be referred to as a minor leaguer, per se, since earlier today he was called up for his second stint in the majors. But still has prospect status, ranking as the team’s No. 8 prospect overall not to mention their top-rated pitching prospect.
Small was selected by the Brewers as the 28th overall in the same 2019 draft in which they took the aforementioned Kelly. Three years later, he has already made his major league debut.
Prior to that debut, Small has looked good at every level of the minors in which he has pitched. His 3.34 ERA in Triple-A Nashville is actually the highest of his career as he has sub-2.00 ERA’s at every stop of the minors since being drafted. And despite his 2022 ERA, he has only given up more than three earned runs twice in 15 starts this season.
Small got his first taste of the big leagues on Memorial Day earlier this season. Though he was pulled in the third inning of that start as his command started failing him, his four strikeouts in the first two innings were a glimpse at his potential as a starter.
Small may not have a “blow you away” type of fastball, but the way he combines it with a good changeup helps it become tougher to hit. That combined with the fact that he is MLB-ready could make him a useful bargaining chip in a trade.