Milwaukee Brewers Top 36 Prospects

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Milwaukee Brewers. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as our own observations. This is the second year we’re delineating between two anticipated relief roles, the abbreviations for which you’ll see in the “position” column below: MIRP for multi-inning relief pitchers, and SIRP for single-inning relief pitchers.

A quick overview of what FV (Future Value) means can be found here. A much deeper overview can be found here.

All of the numbered prospects below also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It has more details than this article and integrates every team’s list so readers can compare prospects across farm systems. It can be found here.

Brewers Top Prospects
Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV
1 Aaron Ashby 23.6 MLB MIRP 2022 50
2 Joey Wiemer 22.9 A+ RF 2024 50
3 Sal Frelick 21.2 A+ CF 2025 45+
4 Garrett Mitchell 23.3 AA CF 2022 45+
5 Brice Turang 22.1 AAA SS 2023 45
6 Ethan Small 24.9 AAA SP 2021 45
7 Jeferson Quero 19.2 R C 2024 45
8 Jackson Chourio 17.8 R CF 2025 45
9 Felix Valerio 21.0 A+ 2B 2023 45
10 Tyler Black 21.0 A 2B 2025 40+
11 Freddy Zamora 23.2 A+ SS 2024 40+
12 Abner Uribe 21.5 A SIRP 2023 40+
13 Hedbert Perez 18.7 A LF 2024 40+
14 Antoine Kelly 22.1 A+ SIRP 2023 40+
15 Max Lazar 22.6 A MIRP 2022 40+
16 Eduardo Garcia 19.5 A SS 2024 40+
17 Joe Gray Jr. 21.8 A+ RF 2023 40
18 Dylan File 25.6 AAA SP 2022 40
19 Korry Howell 23.3 AA CF 2022 40
20 Taylor Floyd 24.1 AA SIRP 2023 40
21 Carlos Rodriguez 21.1 A+ LF 2022 40
22 Hendry Mendez 18.1 R CF 2025 40
23 Zavier Warren 23.0 A+ 3B 2024 40
24 Russell Smith 22.8 R SIRP 2025 40
25 Alec Bettinger 26.5 MLB SP 2022 35+
26 Brett Sullivan 27.9 AAA C 2022 35+
27 Mario Feliciano 23.1 MLB C 2022 35+
28 Justin Topa 30.8 MLB SIRP 2022 35+
29 Hayden Cantrelle 23.1 AA 2B 2024 35+
30 Victor Castaneda 23.3 AAA MIRP 2022 35+
31 Eduarqui Fernandez 20.1 R RF 2023 35+
32 Nick Bennett 24.3 AA MIRP 2023 35+
33 David Fry 26.1 AAA C 2022 35+
34 Hobie Harris 28.5 AAA SIRP 2021 35+
35 Cam Robinson 22.3 AA SIRP 2022 35+
36 Clayton Andrews 25.0 AAA SIRP 2021 35+
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50 FV Prospects

1. Aaron Ashby, MIRP

Drafted: 4th Round, 2018 from Crowder JC (MO) (MIL)
Age 23.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 181 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/60 45/45 55/60 40/40 94-97 / 98

Ashby is still on the starter/reliever line from a strike-throwing perspective, but he graded out as a 50 FV player atop last year’s Brewers list under the assumption that he’d be a multi-inning relief buzzsaw, which is how he spent most of his six-week major league debut. His big league appearances were bookended by two putrid outings, but Ashby was dominant besides those: 30.1 IP, 38 K, 6 BB, 1.78 ERA in 11 outings, mostly in relief. While many post-shutdown arms were unable to hold the velocity spike they exhibited during 2020 instructs or ’21 spring training, Ashby was able to retain his 94-97 band. His fastball has swing-and-miss velocity but not swing-and-miss action, and instead has sinker shape that Ashby seemed to lean into during 2021, as his groundball rate skyrocketed to a whopping 65% combined between Triple-A Nashville and the big leagues. Working toward the bottom of the zone with his sinker may have helped his set up his changeup more consistently, as that pitch was once only flashing plus but is now consistently so. Ashby’s changeup and slider (the latter of which had a 250 rpm jump in spin rate from 2019) are now both two-strike guillotines while his curveball is a show-me pitch that he barely threw in 2021. It may become more important if Ashby ends up back in the rotation. He may follow a similar trajectory to Freddy Peralta‘s and find himself starting eventually, or buttress the back of the bullpen if Josh Hader is traded. Either way, this is an impact arm who is ready right now.

Drafted: 4th Round, 2020 from Cincinnati (MIL)
Age 22.9 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/40 60/70 35/60 55/50 30/60 70

Wiemer’s 2021 swing was different than the one he utilized in college. His stance opened up, his leg kick was replaced by a Sammy Sosa-esque toe tap, and his hands start from a position akin to Matt Olson‘s swing, though Wiemer uses a more dramatic flick of the wrist to get them there. This seems to have unlocked his ability to launch (while in college, Wiemer had among the best max exit velos in Division I but still only hit 12 career homers) without creating excessive swing-and-miss tendencies (22% K% in 2021, 20% throughout his college career, including his whiff-prone Cape Cod stint). The 22-year-old slashed .295/.403/.556 with 27 bombs and 30 stolen bases split between Low- and High-A, then had his Fall League stint cut short by a bruised thumb.

He has “freak factor” — size, speed, and explosiveness that set him apart from the other players — and he plays with his hair on fire, endearing him to scouts. There is 30-plus homer ability here, and after enacting a relevant swing change, the chances that Wiemer can get there have grown. His breaking ball recognition and tendency to swing inside ones that finish on the outer third of the zone are both still potential barriers. This is a traditional right field profile with K’s and gigantic power. There’s missing TrackMan/Hawkeye data from this org (more on that in the System Overview), which is particularly frustrating with regard to Wiemer, whose measurable power has been an important reinforcing data point. His 110 mph max exit velo from college was among the highest in his draft class, while his 105 mph measured max from the 2021 regular season (based on data sourced from non-Brewers personnel) is objectively wrong — it took digging into the data from just one of Wiemer’s Fall League games to find a ball in play harder than that, at 108 mph.

45+ FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Boston College (MIL)
Age 21.2 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 40/45 30/45 60/60 45/60 50

A Massachusetts multi-sport prep standout (he was the Gatorade POY in football as a quarterback, as well as a lauded hockey player), Frelick emerged as a baseball prospect during his freshman season at Boston College when he hit .361/.438/.594 and went 22-for-24 on stolen base attempts in just 35 games. He has several catalytic qualities already and might hit for more in-game power later as his swing and approach evolve. Right now Frelick is a slap-and-slash hitter who’ll occasionally show you low-ball power. He has good vertical plate coverage and can catch pitches near the top of the zone. It takes projecting on some elements of his offense to see him as an impact regular, which is part of why he fell to Milwaukee in the draft. As one scouting director put it prior to the draft, “Are there really any everyday center fielders who don’t hit 20 or more annual homers?” But so much of Frelick’s skillset is either new or changing and we’re betting on late development here because of the multi-sport, Northeast background and reps lost due to a 2019 knee injury/surgery and then the pandemic. There’s a chance Frelick’s feel for doing real damage has yet to arrive.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from UCLA (MIL)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 60/60 30/45 70/70 45/55 55

Mitchell is still in a holding pattern, possessing the skills of a high-end fourth/platoon outfielder with a chance to break out if he can make an effectual swing change. That hasn’t happened yet, however, and even though Mitchell slugged a BABIP-inflated .620 at High-A, his 64% groundball rate was a more telling indication that nothing has changed. That’s an extreme groundball rate and would place Mitchell second among qualified big leaguers (Raimel Tapia, 67%), with a huge gap between him and third place (Eric Hosmer, 55%). Curt, punchy, and geared for gap contact, Mitchell’s swing gives him no shot to drive pitches away from him. This gap approach is best deployed by sprinters like Mitchell, as he can slash-and-dash his way into a bunch of doubles. His feel for the strike zone carries real weight, and should help stabilize his offensive output amid other issues, similar to the way it has for Brandon Nimmo and Trent Grisham. At some point, it will be time to move on from the abstract hope that it will change and accept that Mitchell is a role player, but that time isn’t after just 60 pro games.

45 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Santiago HS (CA) (MIL)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 173 Bat / Thr L / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 50/50 30/35 55/55 60/60 55

Similar to Garrett Mitchell above, Turang’s offensive profile is also buoyed by his willingness to walk, which he’s done at a 14% career clip. While he has average pull-side raw power, the length of his swing makes it tough for him to get around on fastballs, which he tends to spray the opposite way. Only when he ambushes a hanging offspeed pitch does Turang really show off his juice in games. While his feel for the zone and plate coverage enable him to put lots of balls in play, it is often mediocre contact. Still, this recipe has enabled him to be a league-average or better offensive performer at each minor league destination. He has a chance to be a plus defender who reaches base a lot, a skill set tailored similarly to J.P. Crawford‘s.

Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Mississippi State (MIL)
Age 24.9 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 214 Bat / Thr L / L FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 40/45 55/60 45/55 91-94 / 96

Small had a sketchy 2021 from a walk-rate perspective but still managed to amass a 1.98 ERA across 18 starts split between Double- and Triple-A. Despite the unusual spike in walks, Small’s underlying in-zone fastball rate was fine when he was at Triple-A Nashville and with Escogido, at 65% and 69% respectively. His heater lives off of carry and angle, and has gotten lots of in-zone whiffs to this point. It’ll be more important for Small to locate more precisely at the top of the zone against big league hitters, because it is only 91-92 mph after all, and he stands the risk of being homer-prone if he’s loose with his in-zone fastball command. Small’s changeup is devastating, and it has consistent arm-side finish. He also does all sorts of crafty stuff, like varying his timing to the plate in several different ways, that disorients hitters. Some teams’ proprietary, stuff-assessing metrics like the movement of Small’s slider, but it’s a below-average pitch visually, and of the thousand Ethan Small pitches logged by Synergy Sports, only two of them are swinging strikes induced by a breaking ball. He’s a high probability no. 4/5 starter likely to seize a rotation spot sometime in 2022.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (MIL)
Age 19.2 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 50/60 20/55 30/20 40/60 60

Quero is a very physical, well-rounded catcher who already has sizable power even though his body isn’t maxed out. He can get on top of letter-high fastballs even though his levers are pretty long, he is capable of impacting balls the other way when he’s late on stuff away from him, and he tracks pitches well for an 18-year-old. He is also an advanced defender with a plus arm and above-average athleticism for a catcher, and his size portends resilience against the physical grind of catching. There’s a lot of risk inherent in teenage catching, and the 40-man roster timeline for international amateurs makes any developmental speed bumps especially consequential (for Quero, that’s December of 2023, weeks after he turns 21), but Quero has impact tools on par with first round high school players.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Venezuela (MIL)
Age 17.8 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/60 40/50 20/45 60/60 40/60 40

Chourio was one of the more electric Brewers prospects during 2021 extended spring training, but he’s still so young that he was sent back to the DSL for the summer (Milwaukee had no instructs, so this evaluation is still from the Extended look). Signed as a shortstop, Chourio has begun to transition to center field due to a lack of infield arm utility. His speed could make him an impact defender out there, and also gives him a traditional leadoff hitter’s toolset at present. He has precocious power for a 17-year-old that mostly manifests as doubles and triples right now, but he’s so young and athletic that more power is very likely to come. Chourio’s a bit of a bucket strider right now, but he has feel for moving the barrel around the zone. He can turn on pitches down and in and drive pitches up and away from him to right field. He’s an exciting collection of tools, youth, and athleticism who we underrated while he was an amateur.

9. Felix Valerio, 2B

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Dominican Republic (NYM)
Age 21.0 Height 5′ 7″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 45
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/70 30/30 30/40 45/45 40/45 45

Valerio has a .302/.399/.443 career line with more walks than strikeouts up through High-A, and he plays an up-the-middle position. Yes, Valerio is small, listed at just 5-foot-7, 165 pounds, but his swing is balanced, and he maintains barrel accuracy despite a high level of effort. Plus, his short levers enable him to get on top of fastballs that many hitters cannot. Based on Valerio’s level of in-the-box athleticism, I have big belief in his hit tool, and don’t think he is going to bottom out due to a lack of physicality. Landlocked at second base, it’s possible Valerio ends up with a trajectory similar to César Hernández’s, where at times his lack of versatility puts pressure on other elements of a team’s roster.

40+ FV Prospects

10. Tyler Black, 2B

Drafted: 1st Round, 2021 from Wright State (MIL)
Age 21.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 45/50 40/45 45/45 45/45 45

A big performer from a smaller school, Black showed enough against good competition early and late during his draft year at Wright State to make teams comfortable selecting him high, which the Brewers did when they took him 33rd overall. He ended up slashing .353/.468/.612 thanks to outstanding feel for the strike zone and a super-compact stroke that make him very difficult to beat within the zone. Black waits for pitches to drive and then does just that, showing average power from the left side with a sound, un-sexy swing that produces a lot of contact. His approach can waiver from patient to passive at times, and he’ll need to be selectively aggressive as a pro to help max out his power output and give himself the best shot at being at everyday second baseman, as a lack of twitch and a fringy arm limit him to the right side of the infield and will make it tough for Black to be a utility piece in the truest sense. Players like this tend to hit enough to be everyday second basemen or not enough to be anything at all due to a lack of versatility.

11. Freddy Zamora, SS

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2020 from Miami (MIL)
Age 23.2 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/60 40/40 30/35 60/60 45/60 55

Zamora missed all of his junior year at Miami with a torn ACL, though he really only ended up missing a fraction of the year relative to other players because of the pandemic. He hit the ground running in his first full season, though highly-drafted college players are expected to coast through Low-A so the biggest chunk of Zamora’s 2021 season mostly proved that he was healthy.

Zamora can play the heck out of shortstop. He’s a plus athlete with plus hands, actions, and enough arm for the left side of the infield. He also had a very strong surface-level statistical performance as a college underclassman, walking more than he struck out while at Miami. He did not, however, slug. While the visual evaluation of Zamora’s swing is positive because it’s so athletic and dynamic, he lacks bat speed and power. While well-composed, his frame straddles the line between medium and small. Without clear power projection, Zamora is more likely to be a good utility guy or low-end regular. There are evaluators who made a case for him to be paired next to Brice Turang on this list, as they have similar skill sets, but there’s a clear age/level gap to account for there as well.

12. Abner Uribe, SIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (MIL)
Age 21.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
70/70 60/70 20/35 98-101 / 103

Uribe has one of the most electric arms in the minors, with no-doubt closer stuff that’s currently undercut by 20-grade control. His fastball averaged 99 mph during the season and was up to at least 103, while his slider has an incredible amount of movement for a pitch that travels in the upper-80s. It’s unhittable when located, but Uribe has much better feel for landing it in the zone than he does locating it as a chase pitch. He may end up pitching backwards a lot. His delivery isn’t especially violent for someone who routinely sits mid-90s and above, which creates optimism about his potential strike-throwing progression. But as we’ve learned with prospects like Yadier Álvarez and Neftalí Feliz, mechanical fluidity and athleticism doesn’t necessarily lead to eventual strikes. If Uribe’s command never improves then we’re talking about a José Alvarado sort of reliever, while he’ll be a closer if he can polish it up.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (MIL)
Age 18.7 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 55/60 25/55 55/45 30/50 30

Perez is a physical, lefty-hitting outfielder with a swing that is compact but still has some lift, especially to his pull side. He runs well, has shown advanced feel to hit as a pro, and is generating more power on contact than is typical for a hitter his age. He doesn’t have big, frame-based power projection but already has plenty of pull-side juice. Despite his present physicality, Perez wasn’t assigned to an affiliate right away and hung back in Extended until the start of the Complex League season. He crushed it in Arizona, hitting .333/.394/.575 before a September promotion to A-ball, where Perez didn’t hit. The combination of Perez’s BABIP-inflated line in Arizona, his maxed-out physique, his tiny walk rate (just 4.5%), and the fact that his underlying hit data doesn’t support his summer line all create real trepidation among scouts and analysts. Perez is a projectionless left fielder whose early-career on-paper plate discipline is scary. He has the power to carry a corner outfield profile if he can hit enough, but that’s far from a foregone conclusion at this point, and there’s risk of limited athletic longevity due to Perez’s build at this stage. He’s a high-risk prospect with the ceiling of an everyday left fielder.

14. Antoine Kelly, SIRP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Wabash Valley JC (IL) (MIL)
Age 22.1 Height 6′ 5″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
60/60 60/70 30/40 93-96 / 98

Kelly had surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome in November of 2020, started throwing live BP in June of ’21 at the Brewers’ Phoenix complex, then began pitching in actual games in July. His workload slowly built from one inning to four over a series of starts, culminating in a dandy seven-strikeout early-August performance against Kannapolis. Then Kelly had a nuclear, five-walk first inning in his next outing and was shelved for two weeks. When he was pitching, Kelly was sitting 94-95 and touching 98 with a fastball that has top-of-the-zone utility despite his sidearm slot. Solely reliant on his heater early in his pro career, the org thought they had made real progress with his slider in 2020 but the industry didn’t have a great look at that pitch until Kelly was healthy later in ’21, and indeed it has huge sweeping action and will be a plus-plus pitch if he finds enough release consistency to locate it regularly. Kelly will enter 2022, his 40-man evaluation year, lacking a third pitch and without having proven he can stand up to a starter’s workload. His delivery, repertoire, injury history, and developmental situation are all pushing him to the bullpen, but he has the raw stuff to pitch high-leverage innings if he can develop even 40-grade control.

15. Max Lazar, MIRP

Drafted: 11th Round, 2017 from Coral Springs HS (FL) (MIL)
Age 22.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/50 40/45 55/60 35/55 86-89 / 91

Lazar had Tommy John early in 2021 and missed the whole year, then was left off the Brewers 40-man and will be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. Ironically, he sits just 86-89 but his deceptive, funky, over-the-top delivery combined with the extreme length of his stride down the mound (nearly seven-and-a-half feet of extension) makes him an uncomfortable at-bat for opposing hitters. If there’s an Oliver Drake delivery comp in the minors, it’s Lazar (though he gets much lower to the ground), and like Drake, Lazar can somehow turn over a changeup from this arm slot. We’ve seen plenty of fastballs thrive despite mediocre velocity before. Often it’s from someone who has an extremely vertical arm slot, like Drake or Josh Collmenter, or huge extension and a flat approach angle, like Yusmeiro Petit, guys who can successfully remove the table cloth without disturbing the place settings. Lazar has both of these attributes, and has a bat-missing changeup, too. His breaking stuff often finishes high in the zone, an aspect of his skill set that may be exposed by upper-level hitting. Even if they don’t develop further, Lazar has two legit weapons that should work fine in relief, and he throws strikes at such a high rate that he could be a multi-inning bullpen piece. Based on how Milwaukee deployed him in 2019 — 10 starts, nine relief outings, highly variable pitch counts — it appears he’s being groomed for a non-traditional role of some kind.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (MIL)
Age 19.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 45/55 25/45 40/40 45/60 60

Garcia broke his ankle and didn’t play in games at all in 2019, so his .268/.354/.470 line across two levels in 2021 was particularly impressive considering he had lost two years. But Garcia’s prospect foundation rests with his defense. His range, hands, actions and arm are all easy fits at shortstop, and he projects to have a plus glove there at peak. He’s filled out substantially over the last two years and now has close to average raw power, but the hit tool makes it hard for him to get to it in games. There’s arguably more upside here with Garcia than with the other shortstops in the system, even Turang, because more power potential exists. But there’s also risk Garcia’s profile bottoms out because the hit tool doesn’t allow the power to play at all in games. There are lots of Nick Ahmed similarities going on here.

40 FV Prospects

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2018 from Hattiesburg HS (MS) (MIL)
Age 21.8 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 55/60 35/55 55/50 35/55 55

Gray had a hot first half at Low-A but struggled after a promotion and again during the Fall League, where he struck out in a third of his at-bats against questionable pitching. His profile is still built on his feel for the strike zone, his raw power, and his consistent ability to hit the ball in the air. His swing did change at some point in 2021, as Gray was using a closed stance during the spring and an open one in the fall, but it’s unclear when or why it happened. The overall simplicity of his cut helps balance its extreme amount of lift and scoop. He’s going to swing and miss a bunch, but the combination of playable power and approach gives him a chance to hit 25-plus annual bombs amid some other offensive issues. Gray has good center field instincts but he doesn’t have the long speed to play there as he’s added mass (lots of 4.4 run times in Fall League) and he probably fits in a corner long-term. That defensive fit plus the strikeouts mean Gray’s profile is on relatively shaky ground, but he has some carrying tools that could make him a lefty-crushing role player.

18. Dylan File, SP

Drafted: 21th Round, 2017 from Dixie State (MIL)
Age 25.6 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
40/40 50/55 50/50 55/55 55/60 88-92 / 92

File’s 2021 didn’t begin until July because of surgery to repair a stress fracture in his elbow, but it only took four rehab starts for the Brewers to send him to Triple-A. His stuff was intact upon return, as he was once again sitting 89-92 and throwing strikes. File also hides the ball really well and it helps his otherwise pedestrian fastball sneak past hitters at the top of the zone for the occasional swing and miss, though his in-zone mistakes are very vulnerable due to the lack of arm strength. He also makes fairly even use of a mid-70s curve, an upper-80s slider (both with plus spin), and a low-80s changeup of the high-spin variety. The mix, and File’s control of it, helps offset his lack of velocity and allows for low-variance backend starter projection.

Drafted: 12th Round, 2018 from Kirkwood JC (IA) (MIL)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/35 50/50 35/40 70/70 45/60 45

Howell began the 2021 season on a tear and it looked as though something may have clicked for the toolsy former JUCO draftee, but his on-paper production took a dive after he spent 10 days on the shelf in June with an ankle injury. He slashed .210/.317/.399 split between High-A and Double-A after that, which was still a league-average batting line. It came with a 34% strikeout rate, though, and ultimately the Brewers decided to leave Howell off their 40-man roster and expose him to the theoretically upcoming Rule 5 Draft. Howell got consistent center field reps early in the season, and at times made spectacular plays out there, before re-integrating the three infield positions he played early as a pro into his duties later in the summer. Howell doesn’t have traditional infield arm utility, and he tends to hurriedly skip two- and three-hoppers over to first base when he’s asked to make tough throws. While he could become a special outfield defender with continued reps, his limitations on the infield prevent him from projecting as a super utility type in the truest sense. He still has plenty of on-roster utility (speed, the raw power to run into one on occasion, being a defensive upgrade in the outfield) as a bench player.

20. Taylor Floyd, SIRP

Drafted: 10th Round, 2019 from Texas Tech (MIL)
Age 24.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
50/50 60/70 40/40 92-95 / 96

Floyd spent two years at Grayson Community College and then his junior year at Texas Tech, where he was a dominant multi-inning submarining reliever for one year. He has already reached Double-A and looked good during the 2021 Fall League, striking out more than a batter per inning while inducing an above-average rate of groundballs. Pitchers with novelty deliveries like this tend to reside in the 35+ FV tier, but Floyd’s combination of velocity (which is greater than that of the typical submariner) and the length of the break on his slider might enable him to be more than just a middle-inning, up/down sideshow.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (MIL)
Age 21.1 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 150 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/60 30/40 20/30 70/70 55/60 50

Rodriguez is a plus-plus-running center field prospect with a slash-and-dash approach at the plate and outstanding feel for contact. He is currently unable to turn on pitches and do any real offensive damage, but his defensive profile, speed, and hand-eye coordination give him a reasonable outcome as an old school style fourth outfielder, which is a fifth outfielder in today’s game.

22. Hendry Mendez, CF

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (MIL)
Age 18.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding
25/60 40/50 20/40 50/50 40/50

Mendez has preternatural feel for contact and struck out in a microscopic 3% of his DSL plate appearances before the Brewers felt compelled to promote him to the Arizona Complex League later in the summer. As a 17-year-old, he still managed to walk as much as he struck out in the ACL while facing lots of older, recent draftees, and pitchers with a year or so of pro experience. While he appears to have special hand-eye coordination and bat control, Mendez’s quirky, downward-cutting swing generates zero lift and impact. He’s also fairly physically mature for his age, so there’s not overt power projection here — all of it exists in the abstract as a potential swing change and via Mendez’s hit tool allowing him to out-perform his raw power in games. Without one, well, that’s why Mendez and Carlos Rodriguez are stacked back-to-back on this list.

Drafted: 3rd Round, 2020 from Central Michigan (MIL)
Age 23.0 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
35/50 50/55 30/40 50/40 30/45 60

Warren’s playing time trended away from catcher throughout 2021 and after playing a C/1B/3B mix for much of the year, he caught just four times during the last six weeks of the season. Warren caught in high school but moved to the infield in college, and he’s struggled with throwing and smothering errant pitches in a meaningful way. His best chance of entrenching himself in a big league role is if he can catch, even just a little bit, so it makes sense for him and the Brewers to continue to make it work. If not, then Warren will be limited to a switch-hitting, corner infield bench role, and his lack of power relative to other hitters in that space would make him a lower-end option in that regard.

24. Russell Smith, SIRP

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2021 from TCU (MIL)
Age 22.8 Height 6′ 9″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Changeup Command Sits/Tops
50/55 50/55 30/50 90-93 / 95

Smith creates really tough angle on his pitches (a Brewers pattern of acquisition), will show you 95, and executes his changeup with remarkable consistency for a 40-grade athlete. He was a high-priority senior in the 2021 draft and projects as a quick-moving reliever. He was shut down after the draft and has yet to make his pro debut.

35+ FV Prospects

25. Alec Bettinger, SP

Drafted: 10th Round, 2017 from Virginia (MIL)
Age 26.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Cutter Command Sits/Tops
45/45 50/55 50/55 50/55 89-92 / 94

A 2017 senior sign reliever coming out of Virginia, Bettinger experienced a velo bump in his second pro season and also developed better movement separation between his curveball and slider, which has enabled both of them to play better. He still only sits 89-92 and experienced a significant drop in his fastball spin rate compared to 2019 per our sourced data, but Bettinger still managed a 24% strikeout rate and 6% walk rate against Triple-A hitters in 2021. He had a rough couple of big league outings amid an otherwise fine season in the minors. Bettinger’s heater plays because he gets way, way down the mound and generates about seven feet of extension, helping to create a flatter approach angle, which causes his heater to jump on hitters. He also has a power pitcher’s style of curveball, with power downward movement generating swings and misses even though it’s a 74 mph pitch. We consider him a high-probability spot starter type.

Drafted: 17th Round, 2015 from Pacific (TBR)
Age 27.9 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
55/55 35/35 30/30 30/30 40/40 40

Sullivan has a career .271/.317/.426 line across nearly 600 minor league games in Tampa Bay’s system. He covers the plate well and makes a lot of contact, especially for a catcher, but he was squeezed out of a deep Rays farm system that was lousy with backstops, and signed a big league deal with Milwaukee ahead of the lockout after departing Tampa in minor league free agency. While his arm is accurate, Sullivan’s slow exchange tends to cause him to pop close to 2.1 seconds, below average for the position. The receiver, who takes the one-knee approach, is also a below-average defender overall. He also has some experience in left field, however, making him somewhat more versatile than Mario Feliciano, with whom Sullivan is likely to compete for third catcher duties in 2022.

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Beltran Academy HS (PR) (MIL)
Age 23.1 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
45/45 50/55 35/40 30/30 30/35 55

While we’re sympathetic to the notion that catching in the Fall League is one of the more difficult jobs in the sport (since you’re at the end of a long season and suddenly have to learn a huge, totally new staff), Feliciano looked unplayable back there during the 2021 AFL season and we think it’s time to move on from him as a catching prospect. His combination of bat-to-ball skills and power once made Feliciano an enticing, high-ceiling prospect, but he’s not likely to play any sort of role unless he can catch since his approach and resulting OBP output have him short of profiling at 1B/DH. Having made little to no progress as a defender, and after having put very little performance on paper due to persistent injury, Feliciano is a change-of-scenery flier at this point.

28. Justin Topa, SIRP

Drafted: 17th Round, 2013 from LIU Brooklyn (PIT)
Age 30.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops
70/70 60/60 30/30 96-98 / 100

A healthy Topa has an upper-90s fastball with tailing action that diverges from that of his cutting slider. When he’s really humming, he looks like he might be able to pitch in high-leverage situations, but he’s had trouble staying on the field. His journey has included two Tommy Johns, a multi-year stint in Indy Ball and renewed elbow issues in 2021, including a flexor tendon strain at the start of the year and a 60-day IL stint at the end. He’s 30 but is still rookie-eligible due to his unique path, and his stuff is good enough at peak to merit inclusion on here despite his age. Topa has a shot to be a very important piece of Milwaukee’s bullpen at some point.

Drafted: 5th Round, 2020 from Louisiana Lafayette (MIL)
Age 23.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/30 45/50 30/45 60/60 35/45 45

Cantrelle is an athletic, switch-hitting infielder with doubles power. He’s not an especially deft hitter, he just swings with big effort from both sides of the plate and sprays hard contact to all fields when he finds himself able to make contact. Similarly, as an infielder Cantrelle isn’t especially smooth but makes a lot of plays via sheer effort and athleticism. He played short at Lafayette and has played both middle infield spots as a pro, and he could eventually get reps in center field because of his speed. Even in a smaller conference it was clear Cantrelle was pretty allergic to breaking balls, and he’ll likely never hit enough to play a huge role. But the fact that he switch-hits and has the speed and projected versatility he does provides other ways for him to impact a game in a reserve role.

30. Victor Castaneda, MIRP

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Mexico (MIL)
Age 23.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Changeup Splitter Command Sits/Tops
45/45 45/45 55/55 60/60 40/40 91-94 / 95

Castaneda pitched in relief during the 2019 regular season and was stretched out as a four-to-five inning starter during the 2019 Fall League, where he retained his velocity and continued to have success. He was again deployed as a starter in 2021 but struggled with walks and the Brewers chose not to add him to their 40-man after the season. His forkball (he has a split and a straight change) is an obvious out pitch and looks incredible on the high speed camera because it comes out of his hand with virtually no spin. Castaneda’s get-me-over curveball only works situationally (often to garner strike one) because it’s easy to identify out of his hand. He lacks the arm strength of a typical reliever but the repertoire depth and plus secondary pitch make him a likely bulk relief depth option.

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (MIL)
Age 20.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/35 55/60 25/50 50/50 40/50 60

Fernandez is a traditional high-variance corner outfield prospect with big present power, significant future power projection, and strikeout issues that put his overall profile on thin ice.

32. Nick Bennett, MIRP

Drafted: 6th Round, 2019 from Louisville (MIL)
Age 24.3 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
45/45 60/60 45/45 35/40 90-92 / 93

Bennett had an odd year. Across the entire season, he experienced a drop in velocity compared to 2019, but he still managed to strike out 11.5 hitters per 9 IP at High-A while utilizing his typical slider-heavy approach to pitching. He was promoted to Double-A in the middle of the year and then demoted back to High-A after a six-walk start toward the end of July. We have past notes indicating two different breaking balls for Bennett, but based on what we can tell, he has scrapped his curveball and is now a three-pitch lefty with a tertiary changeup. He’s looking like a lefty-killing up/down reliever, assuming there’s a velo uptick upon conversion to the bullpen.

33. David Fry, C

Drafted: 7th Round, 2018 from Northwestern State (MIL)
Age 26.1 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 215 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/40 50/50 35/45 35/35 40/45 50

A 2018 seventh round senior sign, Fry’s combination of power and a chance to play several positions (including catcher) makes him an interesting potential bench piece.

34. Hobie Harris, SIRP

Drafted: 31th Round, 2015 from Pittsburgh (NYY)
Age 28.5 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Splitter Cutter Command Sits/Tops
70/70 50/55 45/50 30/35 96-98 / 101

Harris is a late-bloomer who only first touched 90 mph while in junior college, and at best sat 90-94 when he was at Pitt. His velo didn’t really pop until later in pro ball. He sat 92-96 while with the Yankees in 2019; he was then a minor league Rule 5 pick by Toronto that year. His delivery has changed a bit and he was parked at 96-98 during 2020 instructs with the Jays, and was up to 101 out of the bullpen. He sat 97 in 2021 and reduced his walk rate some (it was still below-average) while pitching at Triple-A Trenton/Buffalo, but he departed via minor league free agency after the 2021 season and landed with the Brewers. Harris’ splitter, which he first learned as he entered pro ball, might also blossom late, as he has only used it against both-handed hitters for about a year now. He’s an interesting sleeper minor league free agent.

35. Cam Robinson, SIRP

Drafted: 23th Round, 2018 from University HS (FL) (MIL)
Age 22.3 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 187 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Curveball Cutter Command Sits/Tops
55/55 50/50 40/45 30/35 88-93 / 94

Robinson experienced a velo bump in 2021 and averaged 93-94 with his fastball after sitting a couple ticks lower than that in 2019. He also added a cutter, but his stuff is not vicious enough to overcome 30-grade control and force his way onto a 40-man roster. He and his vertical-action fastball/curveball combination will likely play an upper-level relief depth role in 2022.

36. Clayton Andrews, SIRP

Drafted: 17th Round, 2018 from Long Beach State (MIL)
Age 25.0 Height 5′ 6″ Weight 160 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops
30/30 45/45 55/60 40/50 85-91 / 93

Andrews is a plus on-mound athlete with a plus changeup and breaking ball. In 2019, the Brewers let him return to playing some center field and take a few dozen at-bats (he played two ways in college and barely ever struck out), which actually went pretty well (he hit .333/.391/.381 in 70 plate appearances) but that plan seems to have been scrapped. Now Andrews will either sink or swim with 30-grade fastball velocity. He’s a very short guy with a low arm slot, so his release height creates unique angle on his heater and it lives off of that rather than velocity. He’s split time between the minors and Team USA’s squad during the last couple of years, and he was scratched from the 2021 Olympics due to lingering elbow issues, which prevented him from throwing all but nine innings last year. He’s an upper-level pitching depth option at this point.

Other Prospects of Note

Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category.

Corner Power Bats
Ernesto Martinez, 1B
Weston Wilson, UTIL
Thomas Dillard, DH
Tristen Lutz, OF

Martinez, a 22-year-old Cuban player, has an elite baseball frame and incredible bat speed, but his swing path is barely usable and has been for a while. Wilson, 27, plays everywhere except catcher and center field, and has posted above-average batting lines throughout his minor league career, so he’ll likely get a four-corners cup of coffee with someone else eventually; Keston Hiura and Mike Brosseau are jammed in front of him on the depth chart right now. Dillard and Lutz both have plus power, but don’t have the hit tools to support where they fall on the defensive spectrum.

Older Arms and Indy Ball Finds
Peter Strzelecki, RHP
Jason Alexander, RHP
Andy Otero, LHP
Noah Zavolas, RHP
Kent Hasler, RHP
Zach Vennaro, RHP

Strzelecki, 27, spent a year at a JUCO and another one injured as an amateur, only entering pro ball at age 23. He’s had good peripherals for most of his career and dominated Triple-A in 2021 (47 innings, 65 strikeouts) largely due to deception and fastball carry. He and Jason Alexander have the best control of this group. Alexander, 28, is a minor league NRI signee who transferred several times as an amateur and missed a year with TJ. He didn’t end up in pro ball until age 24, but he has a good sinker/changeup combination and had been upper-level rotation depth for the Marlins. Otero, 29, has 30-grade velo but a snapdragon curveball and viable changeup. He’d probably make a fine four to five inning spot start if called upon. The same is true of the 25-year-old Zavolas, a kitchen sink righty with plus breaking ball spin rates among his bevy of offerings. He has struck out a batter per inning throughout his career and came via Seattle as part of the Domingo Santana/Ben Gamel swap. Vennaro, 25, was signed out of the Can-Am League. He sits 95, can sink it or ride it, and has an average slider. That was enough for him to miss about a bat per inning at Double-A. Hasler, 26, was signed out of the Frontier League. He sits about 91-92 with riding movement and throws his mid-80s slider about 60% of the time.

Youngins
Alexander Cornielle, RHP
Jheremy Vargas, SS
Edwin Jimenez, RHP
Jesus Chirinos, C
Jolon Zhao, RHP
Logan Henderson, RHP
Carlos Rodriguez, RHP

Cornielle’s slider has plus-plus movement and he got a late look in Low-A at age 20, but his delivery relief-only implications. Vargas, 18, has a skills-over-tools utility look. Jimenez, 20, has a prototypical pitcher’s frame and already sits about 90-92 with vanilla secondary stuff, though he mixes pitches in a mature way. Chirinos, another 20-year-old Venezuelan, is a maxed-out catcher who posted among the highest top-end exit velos in this system at a whopping 112 mph. The track record for guys who’ve spent four years in rookie ball — which Chirinos has if you count a lost 2020 — is not encouraging, though. Zhao was a sleeper as a teenager due to his low-90s arm strength and elite breaking ball spin. He returned from TJ this year and was very rusty, but is still worth monitoring because of his background (he’s from China) and the reps lost due to injury/the pandemic. Henderson, a 2021 fourth round JUCO arm, has a plus changeup, while Rodriguez, a sixth round JUCO arm, is a plus on-mound athlete with big time arm speed. He’s wild, but has more upside than Henderson.

Bench Types
Gabe Holt, UTIL
Corey Ray, CF
Zack Raabe, 2b

Holt has great feel for contact and could be a low-impact 2B/3B bench sort. Ray, who was arguably the top draft prospect in his class, has premium physical tools except for a 20-grade bat. Raabe had spurts of strong performance in college at Minnesota but never hit for power in wood bat leagues. He was the club’s 2021 eighth rounder.

System Overview

Some of this is due to the process by which we tend to arrive at our rankings, but the Brewers have clearly made a concerted effort to build via hit-tool oriented up-the-middle players; eight of their top 11 prospects are either middle infielders or center fielders. When the Brewers deviate from an up-the-middle approach, they’ve tended to target hitters with one premium tool, typically measurable raw power.

Their acquisition of pitchers has been less traditional, and they’re perhaps the best club in the game at plucking interesting pitchers from independent ball, including Jake Cousins, who should have been on last year’s list. Many of their pitching prospects have extreme release points or pitch characteristics that are unique in some way, which has been true for most of the David Stearns era. The group is a little thin at present and the Brewers probably need more pitching depth than they currently have to sufficiently navigate the injuries that typically befall a big league staff.

Milwaukee was one of a number of teams that seemed less inclined to protect their fringe 40-man prospects ahead of the deadline. I mentioned missing data in Joey Wiemer’s blurb. I sourced some specific TrackMan data across the entire minors at the end of the season, and most of the Brewers’ A-ball hitters are missing from it. When I checked with a source from a different org on some of those names, they were experiencing a similar issue. It’s a glimpse into how haphazard the data-sharing aspects of ops seem to be, if nothing else.





Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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Francoeursteinmember
11 months ago

Low velo guys everywhere! Is this by design?

sadtrombonemember
11 months ago
Reply to  Francoeurstein

They love guys with deceptive deliveries and flat approach angles. That said, what stands out to me isn’t the number of low velo guys, it’s the lack of pitchers who have any shot of starting someday. Small probably will, Ashby might in a couple of years once he masters the 3-inning relief role that the Brewers use to break in pitching prospects. Russell Smith, maybe. After that you’ve got a bunch of guys who might be 6th or 7th starters if they pan out like Bettinger, File, etc. Aaaand that’s it. Good thing this team more or less has the current rotation figured out!