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Jason Hunt takes a look at some of the top fantasy prospects in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Over the coming weeks, Jason and I will be taking a look at some of the more relevant prospects in each of the 30 MLB organizations. We won't be looking at each prospect in every organization, but rather to provide brief profiles of players that are either expected to make an impact as soon as next season, or are worth watching in dynasty and keeper formats. In general, they will be sorted in the order of when they are anticipated to be in the Majors, even though it is no guarantee that they will get there.
Our goal is to speak more to each prospect's fantasy value, so while we do look at a player's defense, it is really only in the context of where they will end up when they get to the Majors, and how that may affect their long term outlook. We will be going roughly in alphabetical order, and planning to have the series completed by the end of the year.
NL West: Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles
NL Central: Chicago, Cincinnati
NL East: Atlanta, Miami
AL East: Baltimore, Boston
AL Central: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City
AL West: Houston, Los Angeles
The Brewers emptied their system a couple different times in the past few years, first with the C.C. Sabathia trade, and then again with the Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke trades. As a result, the system has been pretty empty for a while now. The trade of Zack Greinke to the Angels has helped to restock the system, along with having multiple draft picks in each of the last two first rounds. That said, there are still some concerns about the system, as some of those top draft picks appear to have regressed this year.
Graduates in 2012
AAA or Higher in 2012
These are players who reached the Brewers' Pacific Coast League affiliate in Nashville in 2012 or higher. They will likely see time in the Majors in the 2013 season, and could be a significant contributor there.
I wrote about Peralta back in April, and I wrote then that I thought Peralta would be up to stay by midseason. So much for that theory. The biggest concern remaining for Peralta has to be whether his control will continue to cause his ratios to rise, or whether he can perform like the #3 starter that many perceived he could be. I still believe that he can be a solid contributor for deep leagues and NL only leagues, but his path to a starting job in the Majors is not particularly clear at the moment with both Mark Rogers and Tyler Thornburg floating around as well.
Tyler Thornburg (BBRef Statistics)
Thornburg finished the season with the Brewers, posting a 20:7 K/BB ratio in 22 innings pitched for the team. He seems reasonably likely to me to end up back at AAA to start the 2013 season, given that he has only made a total of 11 starts (8 in AAA, 3 in MLB) above the AA level, and could probably use a bit more time there.
Thornburg improved his walk rate in 2012, posting rates of 2.9 in AA and 3.1 in AAA. The biggest knock on Thornburg seems to be his size (just 6' tall), but that his stuff still looks pretty good regardless. There is still a decent amount of upside to Thornburg, who at the moment looks like he would be a streaming option or a deep league starting pitcher, with the upside to potentially be rostered in most leagues. He should provide strikeouts, with at least decent ratios, and gets enough groundballs to keep owners reasonably happy.
AA in 2012
These are players who reached the Brewers' Southern League affiliate in Huntsville in 2012. They could see time in the Majors in 2013, but are more likely to arrive during the 2014 season.
Acquired from the Angels, Hellweg is a pitching prospect where the performance hasn't quite caught up to the scouting reports. There's a lot to like, both in terms of projectability as well as the stuff also, but the largest issue at this point seems to be consistent command. Since converting to the starting rotation in 2011, Hellweg has not posted a walk rate below 4.5 per 9 in any of his stops. It sounds like Hellweg will continue to be developed as a starting pitcher, but should that fail, he should still provide value as a bullpen arm.
We ranked Gennett as our #12 prospect at the 2B position, and all Gennett seems to do is hit at every level he reaches. He isn't likely to provide a ton of any particular category once he reaches the Majors, but I personally like him to provide a high batting average, along with a little bit of power and a little bit of speed. Realistically, that most likely translates to a deep league MI or an NL-only profile in the long-term, but there is a little bit here.
Hunter Morris (BBRef Statistics)
Morris appears to be the heir apparent to the 1B job in the long term in Milwaukee after hitting 28 home runs with a .303/.357/.563 slash line in AA this season. The largest concerns regarding Morris seem to be whether or not he can hit enough in the Majors to provide good value at a position where he will need to hit quite a bit. Reports seem to point to an improvement during the season in his approach, but he remains a 1B only prospect.
High-A in 2012
These players reached the Brewers' Florida State League affiliate in Brevard County, and are at least 2 full seasons away from contributing in the Major Leagues.
Bradley was one of the Brewers' first round picks in the 2011 draft, and it really looks like a lost season for him. In 20 starts in High-A, Bradley struck out just 60 batters and walked 43 in 107 innings pitched. The scouting reports on him actually manage to portray him even worse, as there seems to be legitimate concerns about whether Bradley is the pick many teams thought he was. Inconsistency seems to follow Bradley, which I would imagine has to be driving the Brewers crazy.
Jungmann was the Brewers' other first round pick in the 2011 draft, and was sent straight to their High-A affiliate for the 2012 season. Jungmann threw 153 innings this year, striking out 99 and walking 46 in that time. The reports after his first season seem to point to a pitcher who should be useful for both the Brewers and fantasy owners, but that he may not have the ceiling that was originally thought. I believe he will be sent to AA to start the 2013 season, and could potentially see time in Milwaukee before the end of the season.
Short Season in 2012
These players made it to one of the Brewers' short season affiliates in the Arizona League or Pioneer Leagues. They are likely to be at least 3 or more seasons away from contributing at the Major League level.
Clint Coulter (BBRef Statistics)
Craig Goldstein wrote about Coulter back in Catcher week, so I won't go into too many specifics about Coulter. The thing that jumps out to me is the excellent zone awareness (37 walks/40 strikeouts in 49 games) in his brief stint in the Arizona League, and while the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, a high walk total there from a high school catcher is still very impressive. It sounds like he has at least a reasonable chance to stick behind the plate, which could make his value to fantasy owners sky high. I would look for him to get a full season assignment if the Brewers want to be aggressive with him.
Others of Note:
Mark Rogers (SP) - Rogers finished the season in the Milwaukee rotation, and is likely to be one of the candidates for the 5th rotation spot. This is a prospect who has thrown just 49 innings in the Majors at this point, despite being drafted 8 years ago. Someone to keep an eye on in deeper leagues, especially if he wins that 5th rotation spot.
Ariel Pena (SP) - Acquired in the Zack Greinke trade, Pena had a complete nightmare of an outing at the Futures Game prior to the trade. Pena is another prospect where the performance doesn't necessarily match the scouting reports yet, but he has already reached AA and seems reasonable to be moved to AAA for the 2013 season.
Khris Davis (OF) - Davis appeared in just 82 games last year across three levels, yet crushed the pitchers at each level to the tune of a .350/.451/.604 slash line. More of an interesting name at this point, as he was added to the 40-man roster last week. He has shown decent power (22 and 15 home runs) to go with at least reasonable speed (17 and 10 SB), but the reports are that the speed won't keep up.
Victor Roache (OF) - The second of the Brewers' top draft picks this year, Roache did not play as a professional this season. He did break his wrist back in February, but that didn't stop the Brewers from drafting the OF with the 28th overall pick in the draft. Roache was viewed at the start of the year as a potential top 10 draft pick, so the Brewers may have a very nice value here.
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