A Look at the Milwaukee Brewers Minor League System Thomas Felsmaier March 11, 2014 1 Comment The Milwaukee Brewers have three pitching prospects that could see time in Milwaukee this season but will more than likely start the year out in Nashville. Both Nelson and Hellweg should be joining the likes of Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg in the starting rotation from 2015 on. After that, the Brewers have good prospects in Taylor, Haniger, and Roache but they are more than a couple years away from being in the big league fold. All-Star shortstop Jean Segura is under team control through the 2018 season and left fielder Ryan Braun is signed through 2020. While Braun’s contract should not handcuff the team too much, the Brewers will need to lock up Segura at some point in the future. They will also need their lower level prospects to pan out to keep them from spending too many years around the bottom of the division. Cumulative Brewers Top-10 Prospects Source Miller Park Prospects Baseball America Baseball Prospectus Fangraphs John Sickels Keith Law ($) MLB.com 1 Tyrone Taylor Jimmy Nelson Tyrone Taylor Tyrone Taylor Jimmy Nelson Tyrone Taylor Jimmy Nelson 2 Jimmy Nelson Tyrone Taylor Jimmy Nelson Jimmy Nelson Victor Roache Devin Williams Taylor Jungmann 3 Orlando Arcia Mitch Haniger Mitch Haniger Victor Roache Tyrone Taylor Nick Delmonico Johnny Hellweg 4 Victor Roache Johnny Hellweg Orlando Arcia Johnny Hellweg Devin Williams Michael Reed Tyrone Taylor 5 Devin Williams Victor Roache Johnny Hellweg Mitch Haniger Clint Coulter Johnny Hellweg Nick Delmonico 6 Mitch Haniger Taylor Jungmann Victor Roache Taylor Jungmann Orlando Arcia Jimmy Nelson Orlando Arcia 7 Taylor Jungmann Orlando Arcia Devin Williams David Goforth Mitch Haniger Mitch Haniger Hunter Morris 8 Johnny Hellweg David Goforth Taylor Jungmann Clint Coulter Johnny Hellweg Orlando Arcia Victor Roache 9 Hunter Morris Devin Williams David Goforth Devin Williams Taylor Jungmann Victor Roache Devin Williams 10 Clint Coulter Hunter Morris Yadiel Rivera Orlando Arcia David Goforth Hunter Morris Michael Blazek 2013 System Breakdown The Brewers system is pretty split with it’s arms in the top half and bats in the bottom half of the organization. The system has a whole was as disappointing as the Reds was last season. Only the Helena Brewers had a winning record and they ended up as the league runner-ups in the Pioneer League. Keep an eye on Brevard County this season as the likes of Reed, Roache, and Taylor should be slotted in the middle of the order and roaming the outfield. Milwaukee Brewers (74-88) (9-10 vs Reds) RHP Jimmy Nelson, RHP Johnny Hellweg, RHP Michael Blazek AAA – Nashville Sounds (57-87) 1B Hunter Morris AA – Huntsville Stars (59-79) (4-6 vs Blue Wahoos) RHP Taylor Jungmann, RHP David Goforth A+ – Brevard County Manatees (66-68) 3B Nick Delmonico, SS Yadiel Rivera, OF Mitch Haniger A – Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (59-76) (1-2 vs Dragons) SS Orlando Arcia, LF Victor Roache, CF Tyrone Taylor, OF Michael Reed R – Helena Brewers (43-33) (9-7 vs Mustangs) Pioneer Lg Runner-up C Clint Coulter R – AZL Brewers (23-33) (3-5 vs Reds) RHP Devin Williams Q&A with Brad Krause of Miller Park Prospects Once again, thanks goes to Brad and the Miller Park Prospects site. Go check them out and follow them on Twitter: @BrewersMPP & @bkrause2 RML: The Brewers farm system is viewed as one of the worst in MLB. However, Wisconsin’s outfield was loaded with potential and the higher levels of the system have some pitching depth. Why is the system viewed so poorly? MPP: What the Brewers seem to be lacking right now is any real top tier talent. They don’t have guys who stand out like the other teams in the division have. There’s no Javier Baez or Oscar Taveras getting ready to crack the big league roster. It’s not a total loss however, as the system is actually pretty deep with guys who could have Major League careers. The problem is that most of those guys are viewed as bench players, back of the rotation starters, or relievers. The guys they do have that offer some exciting tools – like Tyrone Taylor and Orlando Arcia – are really young and a few years off. If they progress, they could make the system look a lot better. But that’s a big if when you are talking about kids that are 19, 20 years old. RML: Signing Kyle Lohse last season caused the Brewers to lose their 2013 1st round pick. However, they were able to snatch up RHP Devin Williams in the 2nd round. Keith Law has him at #2, others have him as low as #9, and you have him in the middle at #5. What kind of prospect is he and why the wide range of rankings for him? MPP: I’ve seen Williams labeled as a first round talent that the Brewers landed in the second round. He probably has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the organization, but like Taylor and Arcia, is a long way off. Rankings are always very subjective as some people value upside and tools over results, and vice versa. If Williams heads to Wisconsin and pitches well this season, I would think he will shoot up everyone’s list. RML: Recently, pitchers Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg have graduated from prospects status. Current prospects Blazek, Hellweg, and Nelson could do the same this season with Gorforth and Jungmann a year or two behind. What does the future look like for the Brewers pitching staff as a whole and how do these prospects fit in? MPP: The big thing the Brewers rotation is missing is a leader at the top of it. They have a nice stable of #3 type starters in Lohse, Garza and Gallardo, but no ace like when they had Ben Sheets, CC Sabathia or Zack Greinke. Peralta flashes the stuff at times to be a top of the rotation guy, but he has to become more consistent. If he can take a step forward, that makes the rotation look much better. Gallardo could hit the market after this season and the hope is that someone from the group of Nelson, Thornburg, Jungmann, Hellweg can step up and grab a starting job. RML: On the other end of the spectrum, like many clubs, the Brewers have missed on top pitching draft picks in the past. What has derailed the likes of Eric Arnett, Jed Bradley, and Kyle Heckathorn and do they have any future in the majors at any capacity? MPP: Arnett was over-worked in college and that may have accounted for some of his struggles early on in the pros. He lost about 4-5 mph off his fastball from when I saw him at Indiana to the times I saw him in the Midwest League. He made the move to the bullpen in 2012 and had more success as a reliever, but then missed most of last season after suffering an ACL injury. He seems to have taken to the bullpen and should move to Double-A Huntsville this season. Heckathorn was in the same draft class as Arnett and has also moved to the pen. He had a pretty solid year at Triple-A Nashville last season and could find his way into the bullpen in Milwaukee at some point this year. Both could be valuable relievers still, but you’d hope for a little more out of your first round picks. As for Bradley, his struggles have been all about mechanics. He doesn’t repeat his delivery consistently and struggles with his command. He’s been shut down each of the past two seasons with injuries and mechanical issues, and hasn’t pitched above Single-A. Still, you want to hold out hope for a lefty with his size and his stuff, but 2014 will be a make-or-break season for Bradley. RML: As I mentioned earlier, the Brewers do have a lot of toolsy outfielder that include Haniger, Reed, Roache, and Taylor, plus I know you like the athleticism of D’Vontrey Richardson. What tools stand out on these guys and what does Keith Law see in Michael Reed that other ranking publications don’t? MPP: Tyrone Taylor is probably the most exciting of the bunch because he’ll show off all five tools at times, and is still so young and raw. He can hit and will hit for power on occasion, has good speed, an above average arm, and can go and get it in center field. Victor Roache is all about power. His defense is suspect and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him move to first base at some point, but he can hit the ball a mile. D’Vontrey Richardson might be the most “toolsy” of the bunch. He was a former quarterback at Florida State and has all the athleticism in the world. He retired from baseball in 2012 due to some personal issues he was dealing with, but he came back last season and didn’t miss a beat. This will be a big year for him as he moves to Double-A. Haniger and Reed are similar players to me, in that there isn’t one tool that really stands out, but they just do everything well. Both have strong arms that play well in right field. Haniger probably has more power at this point, while Reed has more speed. I can’t speak for Law, but the thing that stands out to me most about Reed is his approach at the plate and overall baseball instincts. He always has a good idea up there, is patient and doesn’t give away at bats. RML: One of the more interesting prospects to me is Clint Coulter. He was a 1st round pick in 2012 as a catcher with a potential power bat. Last season he fought to stay healthy and some are calling for him to move from behind the plate. What are your thoughts on him as a prospect and the possible position change. MPP: I’m torn on Coulter because I think he could develop in to a good catcher with time, but he has a long way to go. Being 6’3”, he struggles to stay low sometimes, resulting in passed balls. He also had trouble making the transfer from glove to throwing hand on stolen base attempts when I watched him last season. He’s got a great arm back there and that helps make up for some of the fundamental flaws. I think the thing with Coulter is that he was known for his bat coming out of high school and people want him at a position where his defense isn’t taking a toll on his offense. I’m fine with the Brewers leaving him behind the plate for now, but if he doesn’t show marked improvement they’ll need to think about moving him. RML: I got to see Hunter Morris play in 2012 and the ball shot off of his bat. Are the strikeouts the only thing keeping him in the minors? Can he have a Matt Stairs type of career on his power alone? MPP: The Brewers wanted him to take the job last season, but he had a really tough start to the spring and spent the entire year at Nashville. The Brewers have about seven first basemen in camp this spring, which, as the old saying goes, means they really don’t have one. If the strikeouts go down and the average comes up, Morris could take over the first base job in Milwaukee at some point. But again, we’re talking about a lot of ifs. RML: The Brewers are sitting at the #12 spot in the 2014 MLB Draft. Who are you eyeing in the first round and what is your overall draft plan? What holes do you need to fill within the organization from the draft? MPP: I’ll take the easy route and say best player available. I think it’s a real slippery slope when you start drafting players based on need at a certain position. The Brewers drafted Matt LaPorta in 2007 even though they had Prince Fielder entrenched at first base and were able to turn around and flip LaPorta (and others) for CC Sabathia. The organization’s biggest needs are probably third base and starting pitching but with one of the lowest ranked farm systems in baseball, there are plenty of holes to fill, so they could go any number of routes. RML: Thanks and good luck this season. MPP: Thanks. Same to you. One Response Doug Gray March 11, 2014 I was planning on running an article today about the international signees who will be in the US for the first time this year, but as I began writing it took on the feel that it needed more information with it and rather than just toss it up to have something posted I felt that I should put more time into it. I will run it in the morning.