The Milwaukee Brewers prospect pool has come a long way over the past few years. With some savvy drafting and timely acquisitions, the team has seen their farm rankings jump up to a top five organization by most publications.
While acquiring top end prospect talent, including arguably one of the top two or three prospects in all of baseball who recently signed an unprecedented contract extension, certainly helps, developing existing talent is a huge part of that as well.
In 2023, players at all different levels of the minor league organization took leaps forward in their development, some more than others. Here, we'll take a look at three such position player prospects who took bigger leaps last season.
Here are three Milwaukee Brewers prospects who improved their stock in 2023.
1. C/1B Wes Clarke
Corner infield has been an area that has been sorely lacking in depth in the Brewers organization for several years. But the front office has started to put a bit more of a focus there the last few drafts and there are now some players who are starting to emerge as potential future big league contributors.
One of those players is 2021 10th round draft pick Wes Clarke. The 24-year-old was drafted with the potential to be either a catcher or first baseman, but spent a little more time at first than behind the plate in 2023 and, most importantly, just had his most impressive offensive season to date.
Clarke set single season career highs at Double-A Biloxi last year with a .241 average, .889 OPS, 26 homers, and 80 RBIs in 118 games. He followed that up with an appearance in the Arizona Fall League where he batted .297 with a 1.002 OPS, was a league All-Star, and took part in the league's home run derby. He will likely start 2024 at Triple-A and an MLB call up might be closer than one might think.
2. 1B/3B Tyler Black
Even coming into 2023, the prospect stock for another corner infielder in Tyler Black was already pretty high. After all, the 2021 Competitive Balance Round A pick came into the season as one of the top ten prospects in the organization.
And yet, his performance last season put himself even higher on the front office's radar than it was before. Having not played above the High-A level prior to last season, Black spent 84 games at Double-A before earning another promotion to Triple-A with the result being a season where he hit .284, had an OBP of .417, had an OPS of .930, and stole a whopping 55 bases.
Black's 2023 season was so impressive that Brewers GM Matt Arnold made it a point in his end of season press conference to mention the possiblity of the 23-year-old contributing for the parent club early in 2024. That's great news to hear about such a young player and shows how his stock can continue to be on the rise.
3. INF Juan Baez
While Clarke and Black are knocking on the doors of the majors, much further down in the organization is 2022 international signee Juan Baez. At just 18 years old, he had one of the most impressive offensive seasons of any prospect in 2023.
Spending most of his season at the Arizona Complex League, Baez hit a whopping .370 with a .952 OPS, slugging 16 doubles, four triples, and four homers while driving in 42 runs in 48 games. On top of that, he was successful in 17 of 19 stolen base opportunities.
Baez got a quick nine-game cup of coffee at Low-A Carolina to end the season, going 7-for-30 with three doubles and six RBIs. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that he struck out only four times in 34 plate appearances. The youngster will likely return to Carolina to start 2024 as he continues his ascent through the organization.