Brewers Minor League Awards

The minor league regular season wrapped up last week, ending the year for most of the prospects within the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization. As a whole the organization’s seven affiliates combined for a 328-423 record and had just two winning teams – AA Biloxi at 72-67 and low-A Wisconsin at 71-69. The Brewers had just one postseason entrant in those Timber Rattlers, who were quickly dispatched from the first round of the Midwest League playoffs. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t several noteworthy individual performances, however, so let’s take this opportunity to recognize the best pitching and offensive performances at each level.

AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox (67-71)

MVP: C/1B Josmil Pinto

Pinto spent the entire season with Colorado Springs, splitting time between first base and catcher. The former top-101 prospect posted the highest OPS on the team among players with at least 200 plate appearances while also throwing out 30 percent of attempted base thieves from behind the dish and accruing a sterling 16.4 FRAA (despite a reputation as a subpar defender). Pinto is a minor league free agent after the season, but it might be a good idea for Milwaukee to try and keep the 27 year old around as organizational depth at both catcher and first base.

315 PA || .308/.362/.517 || 11 HR || 0 SB || .282 TAv

Pitcher: LHP Brent Suter

Prior to being called up to the big leagues in August, Suter was undoubtedly the Sky Sox’ best pitcher. Despite a menacing pitching environment in Colorado Springs, the soft-tossing Harvard grad prevented runs as a rate well-below league average and was leading the team in innings pitched at the time of his promotion. Suter has functioned as both a starter and reliever in the minors, but his best role in the big leagues might be as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen.

110.7 IP || 3.50 ERA || 3.41 FIP || 75 K || 14 BB || 5 HR || 1.29 WHIP || 41% GB

2016 A-AAA Bats (League) TAv (Median) Age (Median) oppOPS (Median)
Pinto (PCL) .282 (.2655) 27 (27) .752 (.756)
Phillips (SOU) .274 (.246) 22 (24) .683 (.683)
DeMuth (FSL) .287 (.2575) 24 (23) .674 (.6735)
Diaz (MID) .290 (.243) 20 (22) .666 (.669)

AA Biloxi Shuckers (72-67)

MVP: OF Brett Phillips

It was a down year offensively for most of the Shuckers roster, and Phillips is no exception despite being named the team’s MVP. He saw a significant and concerning increase in his strikeouts leading to a large drop in batting average, though he did take plenty of walks and lead the club with 16 home runs. Some of the sheen has worn off Phillips’ prospect star thanks to his down season and the addition of shiny new prospects through trades, but he still has a chance to be an above-average regular in center field with what’s probably the best outfield arm in the organization.

517 PA || .229/.332/.397 || 16 HR || 12 SB || .274 TAv

Pitcher: RHP Brandon Woodruff

The 23-year old began the year in high-A but eventually wound up leading the Shuckers in innings pitched after a well-deserved early season promotion. Woodruff lead all the minor leagues in strikeouts this year and has started gaining some attention outside of Brewers’ circles, including being frequently mentioned in Fangraphs editor Carson Cistulli’s “Fringe Five” column. He’s a shoo-in for the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year, and some have said he could factor into the big league starting rotation as soon as next season.

113.7 IP || 3.01 ERA || 2.49 FIP || 124 K || 30 BB || 4 HR || 1.04 WHIP || 49% GB

2016 A-AAA Arms (League) FIP (Median) Age (Median) oppOPS (Median)
Suter (AAA) 3.41 (4.42) 26 (26) .724 (.7475)
Woodruff (AA) 2.49 (3.595) 23 (24) .677 (.680)
Perin (A+) 2.66 (3.97) 23 (24) .676 (.664)
Yamamoto (A) 2.53 (3.40) 20 (22) .669 (.670)

High-A Brevard County Manatees (40-97)

MVP: 1B/3B Dustin DeMuth

A fifth-round senior sign from the 2014 draft, DeMuth has hit rather well since reaching the professional ranks (though he’s been old for most of his leagues). The Manatees had a season to forget; however, DeMuth was one of the lone bright spots on offense, overcoming a slow start to league the club in OPS and home runs before earning a promotion to AA Biloxi to finish out the season. He’s played a little bit of third base, second base, and corner outfield during his professional career, but spent almost all year at first base in 2016, and could perhaps have a true corner utility profile at the big league level.

411 PA || .287/.358/.404 || 6 HR || 2 SB || .287 TAv

Pitcher: RHP Jon Perrin

If you love to root for late-round success stories, then Perrin is the man for you. The 27th-round pick from 2015 began the year by dominating the Midwest League before being moved up and dominating the Florida State League and earning a start in AA to close out the year. Perrin’s outstanding control should help him make it to the big leagues, where his three-pitch mix could help him become a back-end starter.

110.7 IP || 2.60 ERA || 2.66 FIP || 95 K || 19 BB || 4 HR || 1.15 WHIP || 49% GB

Low-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (71-69)

MVP: 2B/SS Isan Diaz

Diaz came over from Arizona this past winter and it’s safe to say he made a good first impression on his new organization. The 20-year old infielder showed off impressive power and an advanced approach at the plate while tearing through the Midwest League, and should undoubtedly be named the club’s minor league player of the year. He split this season between shortstop and second base, though his long-term home will be at the keystone. Diaz should be a solid defender there, rounding out a potential first-division regular profile.

587 PA || .264/.358/.469 || 20 HR || 11 SB || .290 TAv

Pitcher: RHP Jordan Yamamoto

Marcos Diplan was on-track for this award before a mid-season promotion to Brevard County, so I’ll go with Yamamoto for this award after leading the T-Rats in innings pitched while posting solid run prevention numbers and even better peripheral statistics. Baseball Prospectus scout James Fisher noted that Yamamoto throws a four-pitch mix but can struggle with command, adding his likely role is more like organizational depth. Maybe if the command can improve, there’s a potential back-end starter in there somewhere.

134.3 IP || 3.82 ERA || 2.53 FIP || 152 K || 31 BB || 6 HR || 1.20 WHIP || 48% GB

Rookie Helena Brewers (28-46)

MVP: 1B Ronnie Gideon

Another late-rounder to root for, Gideon absolutely throttled Pioneer League pitching after being chosen in the 23rd round out of Texas A&M in this summer’s draft. He finished with the league lead in home runs and was eighth in OPS while playing first base for Helena. I don’t know how much of a ceiling there is here when one considers that Gideon was a collegiate player who was old for the league, but home run power is becoming a rarer commodity in the game. If Gideon keeps hitting boatloads of home runs, he’ll keep getting chances to advance.

245 PA || .321/.371/.638 || 17 HR || 1 SB || .329 TAv

Pitcher: RHP Jordan Desguin

Desguin was Milwaukee’s 36th-round pick out of Florida Gulf Coast in 2015 and he’s posted solid run prevention numbers at each stop as a pro. He began this year by tossing 40 quality innings for Helena in an environment that heavily favors offense before earning a promotion to low-A. Desguin began his collegiate career as a shortstop and has only been pitching for about three years, but Fisher doesn’t think he has much more room to grow before settling in as organizational depth.

40.0 IP || 3.60 ERA || 4.45 FIP || 40 K || 11 BB || 3 HR || 1.12 WHIP || 39% GB

Arizona Brewers (24-29)

MVP: C/1B Gabriel Garcia

The 18 year old Garcia was drafted in the 14th round in this year’s draft as a catcher. However, Garcia spent most of his time in the AZL at first base, though he also appeared behind the plate, at third base, and shortstop. He slugged 18 extra base hits in 37 games, and his OPS was more than 100 points higher than anyone else on the team. He showed good power in junior college, too, and if he can stay behind the plate it’s an intriguing profile.

150 PA || .300/.393/.500 || 2 HR || 4 SB || .325 TAv

Pitcher: RHP Emerson Gibbs

The Brewers took Gibbs in the 33rd round out of Tulane in this year’s draft, and he looked dominant in the AZL before getting promoted to Helena to finish the season. He probably should have dominated, since he was nearly a year and a half older than the league, but it’s still nice to see strong numbers on a team that generally struggled with pitching performances. Gibbs throws a fastball/curveball combo with good control but at this point it’s hard to see him as more than intriguing depth with a potential relief profile.

27.0 IP || 2.00 ERA || 2.31 FIP || 29 K || 3 BB || 0 HR || 1.11 WHIP || 56% GB

Dominican Summer League Brewers (26-44)

MVP: C/1B Moises Perez

This was Perez’s first season as a professional at age 17, and he made it a pretty good one. He split time at first base an catcher, though a 17 percent caught stealing rate from behind the plate might mean he’s better suited for first. Perez lead the club in home runs and OPS and will be hoping to make the jump stateside next season.

175 PA || .226/.339/.438 || 7 HR || 5 SB || .272 TAv

Pitcher: RHP Alberto Paulino

This was also Paulino’s first professional season, and he was dominant in the DSL while serving as the Brewers closer. He saved five games and let in just one earned run all season, but at age 25 he was nearly six years old for the league. Paulino might’ve earned a job playing baseball somewhere next season, but there’s not likely to be much of a future in baseball.

23.2 IP || 0.38 ERA || 2.06 FIP || 23 K || 7 BB || 0 HR || 0.97 WHIP || 50% GB

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