The Milwaukee Brewers farm system is certainly improving. Several prospects had excellent years in 2022 and put themselves in an excellent position to either contribute right away in 2023 or in the near future.
However, there were some prospects that underperformed. Prospect status can be a fickle thing. One good season and their stock shoots up, while one bad season can completely tank it. It's a constant adjustment as we try to gauge just how good of a player someone is.
One bad season doesn't necessarily damage a player's prospect status beyond repair, but two bad seasons in a row, well, that changes things.
These four Brewers prospects could be written off if they have back-to-back bad seasons in 2023.
1. LHP Ethan Small
2022 was supposed to be the year for Ethan Small to break through to the big leagues and take on a substantial role. He had already reached Triple-A in 2021 and, if not for a finger injury, could've even made his MLB debut that year. Instead he had to wait for his opportunity in 2022 and he wasn't able to take advantage of it.
Ethan Small was only called upon for two starts in the big leagues. He never made it past the fourth inning in either of them, struggling with big innings and control problems. Small had a 7.11 ERA in 6.1 IP with eight walks and seven strikeouts.
Back in Triple-A, his control problems continued as he allowed 66 walks in 109.1 IP for the Nashville Sounds. That's simply unacceptable. The Brewers were set to rely heavily on Small last year and he was unusable for them. Even as the rotation continued to suffer from injuries, they wouldn't promote Small and had good reason for it. He simply wasn't ready, and they had to rely instead on Jason Alexander for a bulk of those starts that Small was originally supposed to get.
Towards the end of the season, the Brewers began converting Small to a bullpen role in Triple-A but they did not call him back up to the big leagues. His future role may end up being in the bullpen instead of the steady rotation presence he was expected to be all along.
Simply put, the Brewers need Small to put it together in 2023 and show he can be a starting pitcher. He'll be entering his age-26 season and if he struggles with walks again, it's fair to question his role in the Brewers future and if he even has a role.