2014 Top 10 Prospects: Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee’s system has a few intriguing names but lacks both impact talent and depth. The organization has had a lot of bad luck with high draft picks in recent years but found value in later rounds.


#1 Tyrone Taylor | 60/A_ (OF)

19 549 133 33 8 35 63 19 .274 .338 .400 .341

The Year in Review: Just 19 years old, Taylor held his own during his first taste of full-season ball. However, his numbers would have been fairly pedestrian without his results from the month of June when he generated almost a third of his hits for the year (42) and hit .438 with a 1.159 OPS.

The Scouting Report: Taylor’s athleticism stands out and his above-average speed helps him both on the base paths and in the center field where he projects to develop into a plus defender. He should see his stolen base totals increase as he polishes his base running skills and some of his doubles should turn into home runs as he learns to create more loft. Taylor has a chance to hit for a solid average because he makes solid contact but he needs to use the whole field on a more consistent basis.

The Year Ahead: Taylor will move up to High-A ball in 2014 and will likely spend the whole season there unless he makes significant headway with his development. He continues to flash impressive tools but still has a lot of wrinkles to iron out.

The Career Outlook: If Taylor reaches his full potential, the athletic outfielder could be an impact up-the-middle talent for the Brewers, especially once he learns to generate more over-the-fence power and becomes more consistent.


#2 Jimmy Nelson | 60/MLB (P)

24 10.0 7.20 4.50 41.7 % 0.90 2.95 3.77 0.4 0.1

The Year in Review: Nelson opened the 2013 season in Double-A and produced a solid strikeout rate to go along with a high ground-ball-out rate. Moved up to Triple-A, his control fell apart and his walk rate rose dramatically from 1.96 to 5.40 BB/9. On the plus side, he continued to strike out batters and induce the worm-burners at a high rate. He finished the year with four big league appearances.

The Scouting Report: The right-hander is a big, strong pitcher capable of pitching tons of innings. He has an above-average fastball with good downward movement and a slider that flashes plus potential at times. His changeup still needs further refinement but it may never be more than a fringe-average offering.

The Year Ahead: Nelson will battle two other young pitchers — Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg — for a spot in the bottom of the Brewers’ big league rotation this spring. More likely than not, though, he’ll open the year back in Triple-A and look to be the first pitcher recalled in the event of an injury or poor performance by another hurler.

The Career Outlook: Nelson should settle into the middle of the Brewers rotation and provide a plethora of innings while keeping his infielders busy.


#3 Victor Roache | 60/A- (DH/OF)

21 516 114 14 22 46 137 6 .248 .322 .440 .347

The Year in Review: Roache had a slow start to the 2013 season but salvaged his year with a strong second half. Fifteen of his 22 home runs came in July and August. He flashed his above-average power but not on a consistent basis. It’s possible that the improvements in the latter half of the year came as a result of his wrist finally bouncing back from a significant injury suffered in February of 2012.

The Scouting Report: The young hitter is all about power but his game has been slowed by injury. He sells out for power, doesn’t handle off-speed stuff well and strikes out a ton. He’s also too aggressive for his own good and needs to wait for better pitches to drive. Defensively, he can handle left field but may eventually end up at first base.

The Year Ahead: Roache’s 2013 season was by no means an overwhelming success but his pedigree and age will ensure he’s pushed up to High-A ball to open the 2014 season. He’ll need to make more contact if he’s going to have any level of success once he reaches Double-A, and beyond.

The Career Outlook: Unless he continues to make adjustments, Roache’s approach is going to lend itself to low batting averages, low on-base percentages and high strikeout rates. The power is really going to have to be something special if he’s going to be an impact player at the big league level.


#4 Johnny Hellweg | 55/MLB (P)

24 30.2 2.64 7.63 55.2 % 6.75 7.06 6.81 -1.1 -0.7

The Year in Review: Hellweg spent much of 2013 in Triple-A where he was durable and relatively hard to hit but he struggled to find the strike zone with 81 walks in 125.2 innings. He didn’t strike out many batters but he induced a lot of ground-ball outs. Despite the command issues, Hellweg earned a promotion to the big leagues and walked 26 batters with just nine strikeouts in 30.2 innings.

The Scouting Report: Hellweg utilizes his height well and uses it to create a solid downward plane on his offerings, which lends itself to high ground-ball rates. He doesn’t command his mid-to-upper-90s fastball well enough to cause a lot of swings and misses on the offering and his secondary stuff still needs a fair bit of work, although his breaking ball has a chance to be an average or better offering. Hellweg’s lack of command and control are huge red flags at this point in his development.

The Year Ahead: Hellweg’s lack of command and control all but ensures that he’ll earn another trip back to Triple-A to open 2013. There is enough upper level pitching depth within the Brewers system to allow the tall righty to spend most of the year working out his issues in the minors.

The Career Outlook: Originally a reliever, the 25-year-old’s future probably lies back in the bullpen. He just doesn’t have enough consistency with finding the plate, or the secondary stuff, to be expected to work five or six innings game — and age is not on his side.


#5 Mitch Haniger | 55/A+ (OF)

22 656 153 44 15 68 110 10 .267 .349 .440 .362

The Year in Review: The 38th overall selection of the 2012 draft, Haniger open the ’13 season in Low-A ball and dominated with a .909 OPS. After 41 games he earned a promotion to High-A ball where his numbers dipped to a .720 OPS in 88 contests. The young outfielder recovered his footing with solid results and a better power stroke in the Arizona Fall League.

The Scouting Report: Haniger has raw power but he’s just starting to tap into it and he’ll need to do so since he’s projected to spend the majority of his time in the corner outfield — although he could certainly back up in center. The young hitter’s hitting has been inconsistent but his on-base percentage gets a boost from his (usually) patient approach. He’s ultimate ceiling will depend on how much future power he develops.

The Year Ahead: The good results from the AFL should ensure Haniger opens the 2014 season in Double-A. The downside the Brewers’ increasing depth in outfield prospects is that Ryan Braun is signed through 2018 while Carlos Gomez is locked up through 2016. The only weak spot appears to be fan favorite Khris Davis in left.

The Career Outlook: To be an impact player in Milwaukee, Haniger is going to have to start putting more balls over the fence because he’s likely going to end up in a corner outfield spot.


#6 Taylor Jungmann | 50/AA (P)

23 29 29 146.2 126 11 5.46 4.91 4.60 4.82

The Year in Review: A highly-touted college pitcher, Jungmann has not found as much success in pro ball. His 2013 season was spent in Double-A where his control evaporated and he walked 73 batters in 139.1 innings. On the plus side, he continued to be durable and induced a lot of ground-ball outs. He headed off to the Arizona Fall League after the regular season ended but he made just three starts with dreadful results.

The Scouting Report: The tall right-hander’s stuff isn’t as crisp as it was in college and his control took a big step backward in 2013. He’s going to have to command his fastball better if he’s going to get ahead in the count more consistently, which should lead to more strikeouts — although he’s predominantly a pitch-to-contact/ground-ball pitcher. His secondary stuff also needs more work although the breaking ball is starting to show some signs of improvement.

The Year Ahead: Jungmann could end up back in Double-A depending on how many veteran Triple-A arms Milwaukee brings in for depth purposes. He should, at some point, reach the upper level of the minors but he may not see the Majors until 2015.

The Career Outlook: At this point, the hurler looks like an innings-eating No. 4 starter capable of inducing an onslaught of ground balls but few swing and misses. But he’s going to have to find the strike zone on a more consistent basis to reach even that projection.


#7 David Goforth | 55/AA (P)

24 46 18 137.0 110 7 7.16 3.28 3.22 3.50

The Year in Review: Goforth split the 2013 between High-A ball and Double-A. He also opened the year as a starter but finished the season in the bullpen. He continued pitching out of the ‘pen during his post-season trip to the Arizona Fall League where he struck out 15 batters in 12.0 innings.

The Scouting Report: The right-hander’s ticket to the Majors is his mid-to-upper-90s heat. He also features a cutter, curveball and changeup but none of the offerings currently project as plus pitches. Goforth generates solid ground-ball rates and has been durable despite his modest frame.

The Year Ahead: A strong spring could help push Goforth to Triple-A to open the 2014 season. If he continues to add polish to his game — and indeed sticks in the bullpen — he could see time in the Majors in the second half.

The Career Outlook: After making 28 starts in 2012, it looks like Goforth’s future is in the bullpen. He has the skill to develop into a high-leverage reliever and could be a future closer if he has a reliable secondary offering to go with his heater.


#8 Clint Coulter | 55/A- (C/DH)

19 282 61 14 7 20 60 3 .244 .314 .400 .330

The Year in Review: It was a rough year for Coulter. Originally assigned to Low-A ball, he struggled and was reassigned to rookie ball where his OPS jumped from .643 to 1.026, albeit in just 17 games. He was then pushed up to advance-rookie ball where he once again struggled (.573 OPS).

The Scouting Report: Coulter possesses impressive raw power but his overall hitting approach needs work, as witnessed by his rough 2013 season. He needs to do a better job of waiting for his pitch, remaining patient and not getting pull happy. His defence needs work, especially his receiving and game calling, but he has a strong arm that allows him to compensate for inconsistent foot work.

The Year Ahead: Coulter should be given another shot at full-season ball to open the 2014 season. He faces the tough task of kickstarting his offence while also focusing on improving his defence behind the plate.

The Career Outlook: If his bat picks up, Coulter has a chance to be an offensive-minded backstop. If he doesn’t hit as well as expected, though, his future is murky given his lack of above-average defensive tools.


#9 Devin Williams | 50/R (P)

18 13 6 34.2 28 0 10.13 5.71 3.38 3.20

The Year in Review: The Brewers’ first pick of the 2013 amateur draft (in the second round), Williams enjoyed his first taste of professional baseball. Pitching in the rookie Arizona League he struck out 39 batters and did not allow a home run in 34.2 innings of work.

The Scouting Report: A raw high school pick, Williams is athletic and projectable with a three-pitch mix that includes a fastball that tops out in the low 90s, a breaking ball and a changeup. His delivery is currently inconsistent but his athleticism should allow him to solve those issues fairly quickly with the aid of professional coaching.

The Year Ahead: Williams showed enough in his debut to be in consideration for a fast-track development plan and promotion to full-season ball in 2014. Because his command and control need work, the right-hander will likely spend the full season at the Low-A ball level.

The Career Outlook: The Missouri native has a low way to go in his development but he has a shot at becoming a mid-rotation starter for the Brewers.


#10 Orlando Arcia | 50/A- (SS)

18 486 111 14 4 35 40 20 .251 .314 .333 .303

The Year in Review: A defensive whiz, Arcia didn’t exactly embarrass himself in the Midwest League in 2013 but he’ll need to step it up offensively if he’s going to avoid becoming a backup. He nabbed 20 bases but was caught nine times. He struggled mightily against southpaws with a .460 OPS.

The Scouting Report: As alluded to above, the young Venezuelan is all about the defense. He has above-average range, a strong arm and good actions. However, Arcia needs to get stronger. The 19-year-old shortstop also has to become more selective at the plate to both increase his on-base percentage and provide him with better pitches to drive. The ankle injury that caused him to miss all of 2012 has caused him to lose a step in the speed department.

The Year Ahead: Arcia should move up to High-A ball in 2014 but he’ll likely spend the full season there while focusing on his conditioning and make adjustments to his approach at the plate.

The Career Outlook: As it stands, Arcia looks like a future second-division starter or backup. If he gets strong and more dynamic at the plate (at least to the point where he can be replacement level with the stick), his glove will help him earn a regular gig.

The Next Five:

11. Tucker Neuhaus: The Brewers’ second round draft pick last year, Neuhaus had a modest start to his pro career but he projects to develop into a solid player on the left side of the field. He didn’t hit a home run in his debut but the Florida native has a solid frame and projects to add significant power as he matures as a hitter.

12. Nick Delmonico: Delmonico’s development has moved as swiftly as expected and he was traded from Baltimore to Milwaukee in the middle of last season. He shows flashes of above-average power potential but he struggles with his consistency and has limited defensive value. Delmonico has experience playing first, second and third base but his future likely lies at first base.

13. Jed Bradley: A former first rounder, Bradley’s career has been a disappointment to date due in part to decreased velocity and his 2013 was shortened by a shoulder injury. If he can beat the injury bug, the southpaw may end up in the bullpen or the back end of a starting rotation.

14. Damien Magnifico: The hard-throwing Magnifico may make a respectable reliever one day but the Brewers have slowed down his development by trying to stretch him out as a starter. If he can improve both his command and his control, while also polishing his breaking ball, the right-hander could ride his triple-digit fastball to big league success.

15. Hunter Morris: First base was a weak spot in Milwaukee in 2013 but Morris’ struggles in the minors kept him from receiving a big league tryout. A more selective approach might help him find better pitches to hit. If he can’t make more consistent contact, Morris might top out as a bat off the bench.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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8 years ago

This… is not a good list. It was not so long ago that MIL’s future looked so bright… now it looks like they’ll have work to not be last in this division for the next 5 years.

Pirates Hurdles
8 years ago
Reply to  Steve

They have similar bad luck with college SP to what happened with the Pirates in the early to mid 2000’s. The Bucs tried to patch a bad MLB rotation with quick fix 1st rounders like Van Benschoten, Bullington, and Lincoln. Everyone got hurt and a long run of unproductive drafts resulted. Combine that with uninspired drafting in later rounds (no real investment in over slot picks) and it can create a big hole to dig out of. Plus, they can’t just spend in the draft anymore like the Bucs did since 2008.

8 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Yeah, wow, Desolation Row. Not an A grade prospect in the system, and even the B grade guys are unexciting with question marks too boot. Pitiful drafting: if it ‘keeps happening,’ it’s not ‘bad luck.’ Say what you will about Jack Zd. as a GM but he and his crew knew (and know) how to draft—but he took that with him when he left.

Melvin’s accomplished little in his tenure. The 2013 offseason has been an embarrassment, the the FO’s misreading of several players and the market as a whole, in addition to not having any kind of development plan. If it wasn’t for the steal of a trade that brought in Carlos Gomez, they’d have nothing in Milwaukee. This entire organization needs a re-think and a re-do from the top to the bottom. But at least they can keep the stadium as is, it’s a nice place to play and watch a game . . . .

8 years ago
Reply to  Balthazar

Segura trade is chopped liver??