The Brewers’ Prospect Landscape

What an invigorating trade deadline for those prospect watchers among us! The Brewers brought in seven new prospects to add to an already improving farm system. It was an exciting year for the first-year player draft as well. In the span of six months, the Brewers took what was a bottom-ten farm system and turned it into a top-half minor-league system.

It’s encouraging. But often we look at it too abstractly. I thought it would be beneficial to show prospects not by their ranking but rather by their potential major-league debut year. This is easier said than done, for obvious reasons. Prospects don’t move at the same pace. Developmental curves vary. Also, the lower a prospect is in the minors, the less accurate his estimated time of arrival is likely to be.

I decided to cheat a little bit. I took the level at which a prospect is playing right now and am assuming as though they will progress one minor-league level per year. Thus, a player in High-A would hypothetically advance the following season to Double-A, then to Triple-A the next year, and finally to the majors. I am also working under the premise that once a player reaches Triple-A, he could be in line for an in-season promotion to the big leagues. That could be for an injury replacement, a mid-season call-up, or just a cup of coffee in September. In other words, you can effectively read their ETA as the year they’re expected to reach Triple-A.

This exercise is not meant to be a wholly accurate estimation of when a player definitely will join the major-league club. That’s impossible to do. This also isn’t meant to suggest that each player will reach the majors or that each player can be a full-time regular. This is simply meant to give us an idea of what to expect in the coming years.

(Note: Position players will be listed first, followed by pitchers. Aside from that, they will be listed in no particular order.)

2016 Season

Orlando Arcia (SS), Michael Reed (OF), Brett Phillips (OF), Domingo Santana (OF), Tyrone Taylor (OF), Kyle Wren (OF), Nick Ramirez (1B), Luis Sardinas (INF), Zach Davies (RHP), Jorge Lopez (RHP), Ty Wagner (RHP), Adrian Houser (RHP), Josh Hader (LHP), Tyler Cravy (RHP), Mike Strong (LHP), Yhonathan Barrios (RHP), Damien Magnifico (RHP)

In this group, barring additional trades, the only player I see as having a realistic shot to win a full-time spot out of Spring Training is right-hander Zach Davies. He has the most experience among the pitchers, and I think the Brewers acquired him with this in mind. Domingo Santana has the most experience at the higher levels among position players. He’s had some major-league experience, but he needs significant development at the plate and is currently blocked by Khris Davis and Ryan Braun. Michael Reed and Orlando Arcia could be poised for mid-season call-ups. Jorge Lopez, Ty Wagner, and Tyler Cravy could find themselves in a major-league rotation someday, too. But for 2016 they strike me as more injury-replacement types who could fight for a starting role the next year.

2017 Season

Clint Coulter (OF), Omar Garcia (OF), Michael Ratterree (OF), Jose Pena (OF), Cy Sneed (RHP), Wei-Chung Wang (LHP), Javier Salas (RHP)

We’re looking just two years into the future, and it’s already getting hard to guess what to expect from these players. All of the above guys are playing for High-A Brevard County right now. If things go well, they should start the 2017 season in Triple-A. Clint Coulter is the only one in this group who may qualify as a top prospect in the Brewers system right now. At some point, he could start moving through the system a bit faster, which would obviously accelerate his ETA. The remainder of the outfielders here project best as role players or org guys. The pitchers’ ultimate roles are even harder to determine. Cy Sneed, Wei-Chung Wang, and Javi Salas are all having interesting seasons — though they might still fall outside the rotation on the depth chart.

2018 Season

Carlos Leal (C), Blake Allemand (INF), Dustin DeMuth (INF), Luis Aviles (INF), Tucker Neuhaus (3B), Brandon Diaz (OF), Elvis Rubio (OF), Nathan Kirby (LHP), Devin Williams (RHP), Kodi Medeiros (LHP), Cody Ponce (RHP), David Burkhalter (RHP), Eric Hanhold (RHP)

These guys currently play for the Brewers’ Class-A affiliate in Appleton. The pitchers on this list are more interesting than the position players. Nathan Kirby and Cody Ponce were drafted out of college this summer, so if anyone is going to beat their ETA out of this group, it will likely be one of them. Devin Williams and Kodi Medeiros are arguably the Brewers top pitching prospects. They’re young and at least for the next year or so will be moved slowly through the system. They seem to have the potential, at least, to stick in a rotation spot by mid-2018 or 2019.

2019 Season

David Denson (1B), Jacob Gatewood (INF), George Iskenderian (INF), Malik Collymore (UTIL), Monte Harrison (OF), Joantgel Segovia (OF), Troy Stokes (OF), Carlos Belonis (OF), Marcos Diplan (RHP), Jake Drossner (LHP), Jordan Yamamoto (RHP)

These players currently play for the Brewers’ advanced rookie league (Helena). It’s all projection with them, as most of them have yet to play in full-season leagues. Monte Harrison, David Denson, and Jacob Gatewood did spend a couple months in Appleton; however, they struggled with the aggressive promotion, though that wasn’t altogether unexpected. They’ll return to the Timber Rattlers next year and hope to progress as normal. Of this group Monte Harrison and Marcos Diplan have the highest ceiling. The hope is they can be regulars in the outfield and rotation, respectively.

2020 Season

Gilbert Lara (SS), Trent Clark (OF), Demi Orimoloye (OF), Nicolas Pierre (OF), Tyrone Perry (1B), Miguel Diaz (RHP), Nash Walters (RHP), Karsen Lindell (RHP)

These are players at the lower rookie league level (Arizona League). It’s difficult to say what the future holds for them. They are about as inexperienced as it gets, aside from maybe the Dominican Summer League. As mentioned above, the Brewers aggressively promoted Harrison, Gatewood, and Medeiros from the Arizona League to Appleton the next year. It’s possible they try the same thing with some of these players. If they can stick at the level (like Medeiros) without having to go to the Advanced Rookie League mid-season (like Gatewood and Harrison), it could accelerate their ETA by as much as a year. Trent Clark and Gilbert Lara are the true stars, with Miguel Diaz as a quality sleeper. If Clark and Lara can get close to reaching their potential over the next couple seasons, we could be looking at the future top prospects in the Brewers farm system.

It’s imperative to remember that few of these players will reach their true ceilings. Many of them will not even reach the major leagues at all. And if they do, it could happen before or after their estimated time of arrival. It’s also possible a minor-league player pops up that no one sees coming. However, this should provide a general idea of when fans can expect these prospects to get their first taste of the major leagues. I think that’s a good context to have when talking about the farm system and the future of the Brewers franchise.

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