Top 25 Prospects: Milwaukee Brewers by Eric Longenhagen January 24, 2017 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from my own observations. The KATOH statistical projections, probable-outcome graphs, and (further down) Mahalanobis comps have been provided by Chris Mitchell. For more information on thes 20-80 scouting scale by which all of my prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this. -Eric Longenhagen The KATOH projection system uses minor-league data and Baseball America prospect rankings to forecast future performance in the major leagues. For each player, KATOH produces a WAR forecast for his first six years in the major leagues. There are drawbacks to scouting the stat line, so take these projections with a grain of salt. Due to their purely objective nature, the projections here can be useful in identifying prospects who might be overlooked or overrated. Due to sample-size concerns, only players with at least 200 minor-league plate appearances or batters faced last season have received projections. -Chris Mitchell Other Lists NL West (ARI, COL, LAD, SD, SF) AL Central (CHW, CLE, DET, KC, MIN) NL Central (CHC, CIN, PIT, MIL, StL) NL East (ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WAS) AL East (BAL, BOS, NYY, TB, TOR) Brewers Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 Lewis Brinson 22 AAA CF 2017 60 2 Corey Ray 22 A+ OF 2018 60 3 Luis Ortiz 21 AA RHP 2018 55 4 Isan Diaz 20 A 2B 2019 55 5 Josh Hader 22 AAA LHP 2017 55 6 Brandon Woodruff 23 AA RHP 2017 50 7 Lucas Erceg 21 A 3B 2019 50 8 Marcos Diplan 20 A+ RHP 2018 50 9 Trent Clark 20 A OF 2020 45 10 Mauricio Dubon 22 AA SS 2017 45 11 Phil Bickford 21 A+ RHP 2019 45 12 Ryan Cordell 24 AA OF 2017 45 13 Jorge Lopez 23 MLB RHP 2017 45 14 Cody Ponce 22 A+ RHP 2018 45 15 Brett Phillips 22 AA OF 2018 45 16 Monte Harrison 21 A RF 2020 40 17 Gilbert Lara 19 R SS 2021 40 18 Corbin Burnes 22 A RHP 2019 40 19 Kodi Medeiros 20 A+ LHP 2019 40 20 Devin Williams 22 A+ RHP 2018 40 21 Demi Orimoloye 20 R OF 2022 40 22 Jacob Nottingham 21 AA C/1B 2018 40 23 Freddy Peralta 20 A+ RHP 2019 40 24 Mario Feliciano 18 R C 2021 40 25 Damien Magnifico 25 MLB RHP 2017 40 60 FV Prospects 1. Lewis Brinson, CF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2012 from Coral Springs HS (FL) Age 23 Height 6’3 Weight 170 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 60/60 50/60 60/60 50/55 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Slashed .382/.387/.618 at Triple-A Colorado Springs after trade. Scouting Report A physical freak who has undergone a half-decade of physical growth and mechanical adjustments to reach the doorstep of the majors, Brinson headlined the package sent to Milwaukee for Jonathan Lucroy ahead of the trade deadline. He had been struggling through the first few months of the season and missed several weeks with a shoulder injury. Injuries have been a prevalent aspect of Brinson’s pro career and he’s missed substantial playing time during each of the last three years with various ailments, including quad and hamstring issues. Despite that, Brinson’s physical gifts remain electric. He’s a plus runner and, unlike many other players with a similar build who take a few strides to hit top speed, Brinson accelerates quickly and gets down the line at around 4.2 flat. His speed allows him to play an average center field, though his routes there are inconsistent. I think he can be an above-average defender there with more reps, but if more lower-body injuries or a superior defensive option kick him over to a corner, he has the arm to profile in right field. He also has a corner-worthy bat. Strikeouts have long been an issue for Brinson, brought about not only by an overaggressive approach but by the length of his swing and levers. Brinson has dropped the height at which he loads his hands, which has allowed his barrel to get into the hitting zone and on plane with the baseball sooner. He has plus bat speed and plus raw power. Almost all of his game power comes to his pull side ,but that isn’t necessarily bad or even uncommon for big-league power hitters and Brinson pulling the ball on the ground means more opportunities for his speed to become meaningful and net infield hits. He’s shown an ability to move the bat head both in and down and has enough bat speed to catch good velocity in those spots and still do serious damage. Brinson will likely need to make adjustments at some point after major-league pitchers figure out how best to approach him. His career walk and strikeout rates point to some volatility and some think there’s still a chance he never hits. I’ve seen Brinson make adjustments at various points over the last several years and feel good about his ability to do it again when he inevitably needs to. Here’s video of Brinson in high school, where he’s clearly a talented mess treading water only because of his physical talent. Here’s video from early in 2015, where Brinson is swinging over multiple fringe breaking balls in the same at-bat, and here’s video from 2016 where we see Brinson laying off those exact same pitches. The progression Brinson has displayed both physically, mechanically and with secondary skills like breaking-ball recognition, is very encouraging. I think he has star potential, a chance for multiple 20/20 seasons as a good defensive center fielder. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 7.9 WAR 2. Corey Ray, OF Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Louisville Age 22 Height 5’11 Weight 185 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/60 55/60 30/55 70/70 40/50 40/40 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Slashed .310/.388/.545 with 15 homers as junior at Louisville. Scouting Report It’s not often that elite athleticism and makeup intersect. They seem to have done so with Ray, thouh, who is as impressive a young man off the field as he is on it. Ray is a 70 runner who should be able to remain in center field based on his speed alone, though his routes there are raw. He has a 40 arm and some scouts prefer him as a potentially elite defensive left fielder and would rather have someone more polished patrolling center. Regardless of where Ray ends up slotting in defensively, he’s going to hit. He has plus-plus bat speed; quick, strong wrists; and creates good extension through contact. He has the raw power to hit 20-25 home runs at peak. There’s some concern about Ray’s willingness to expand the strike zone and swing at pitches he should be spitting on — and some that think his approach to hitting is of the slash-and-dash variety, focused on spraying opposite-field contact but not producing power. In my opinion, these two things are related and Ray’s willingness to swing at what’s offered, even if it’s off the plate away where he can’t do much else but slap balls to left field, is what’s driving this issue. When he does get balls middle-in that he can pull in the air, he does it, and I think with time he’ll adjust and learn to lay off pitches he can’t punish, which should then aid his efforts to reach base as well as hit for power. Ray also stole 44 bases at Louisville this year but, again, this was more a product of pure speed than it is baserunning acumen at this point. If Ray is going to be a base-stealing threat anywhere near the monster he was in college, he’s going to need to sharpen his reads. I think the upside here is substantial, with a chance for a .280 average, 20 homers, 30 steals and viable defense in center field, which would make Ray a perennial All-Star. You could make a pretty good argument that this was the best prospect available in the 2016 draft, especially if you’re leaning heavily on Ray’s likelihood of making some sort of big-league impact. I went back and forth between Ray and Brinson atop this list. They’re completely different players in style/build but somehow project to have similar statistical profiles if Ray continues to have a liberal approach. Some consider Brinson’s injury history and approach a great risk; others prefer his near-ready profile. I think they’re both stars, but I’ve seen Brinson make adjustments and, while I’m fairly confident that Ray will when he needs to, he’s so talented that he hasn’t yet had to deal with failure. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.5 WAR 55 FV Prospects 3. Luis Ortiz, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Sanger HS (TX) Age 21 Height 6’3 Weight 230 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 60/60 60/60 45/50 50/55 45/55 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 26% strikeout rate in 2015, 20% at Double-A with Texas before trade, 15% with Milwaukee after trade. Scouting Report Acquired as the secondary piece in the Lucroy deal, Ortiz’s well-rounded repertoire and promising strike-throwing ability offer a solid mid-rotation ceiling that seems within reasonable reach if Ortiz can keep his body in check (or if he’s just one of those players for whom “physical fitness” makes little difference) and stay healthy. Those two qualifiers loom large for scouts who note that Ortiz, who body comps to Rich Garces already at age 21, looks like he’s pushing 250 pounds and has had issues staying on the field. Ortiz fell to the back of the first round during his draft year because of a forearm injury and then dealt with a flexor strain in 2015. He made 20 healthy starts in 2016, but scouts noted more mechanical variance as the year went along, leading to a downtick in his command and fastball effectiveness. Specifically, Ortiz’s arm slot became nomadic, at times sucking the downhill plane out of his 92-97 mph fastball, and he was more often 92-95 later in the year while sitting 94-95 before the trade. Ortiz only threw 50 innings in 2015, so an 80% uptick in workload is viable justification for his late-season struggles. Season-long stamina is likely the one significant bar Ortiz needs to clear before knocking on the door of the majors. He had a largely successful year at Double-A as a 20-year old in 2016, and his stuff is arguably ready to compete in the big leagues, but scouts want to see a fully intact repertoire late in July and August of 2017 before christening him as ready. In addition to a plus fastball, Ortiz has a plus, mid-80s slider that bites late and darts away from right-handed hitters. His changeup is already average with a chance to rise above that by a half-grade, and he has good feel for locating it away from left-handed hitters. He also has a fringe curveball that he can locate in the zone to change speeds on hitters for cheap strikes. It’s an above-average big-league-starter profile, perhaps a bit more than that, though scouts remain apprehensive about his future health. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.6 WAR 4. Isan Diaz, 2B Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Springfield HS (MA) Age 21 Height 5’10 Weight 185 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 60/60 30/60 50/50 40/50 55/55 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 39% fly-ball rate in 2016, according to MLBfarm. MLB average was 34%. Scouting Report Acquired from Arizona in the Jean Segura trade, Diaz took quite well to the Midwest League in 2016 before a lackluster performance in the Arizona Fall League. He has plus bat speed as well as raw power and can hit balls out to all fields. He’s also very patient, almost excessively so, but when he does swing Diaz takes big, aggressive hacks which — when coupled with an uppercut bat path that leaves him vulnerable up and in — has led to lots of strikeouts. Diaz was picked apart by advanced pitching in the Fall League, but he was one of the league’s youngest hitters and his physical tools remained apparent. His swing consistently produces fly balls that will allow his power to play even if his strikeout issues continue to plague him as he matures. Defensively, Diaz has the athleticism to be an average or potentially above-average second baseman. He has the requisite arm and range. His footwork is sometimes poor and there were several instances throughout the AFL during which Diaz attempted to execute plays with a smooth insouciance a la Robinson Cano, only to fail to make said play because, well, he isn’t Robbie Cano. If he can be broken of that he’ll be a fine defensive second baseman. Three-true-outcome hitters at an up-the-middle position are fairly rare. There’s some risk here because of the swing-and-miss profile, but Diaz has hit (and for much more power than I anticipated when I first saw him as a pro) for two seasons now despite them and done so for power. Jonathan Schoop was worth 2 WAR this year with a similar power, swing-and-miss and defensive profile as Diaz projects to have, but Diaz has better plate discipline. I think he’s a good bet to be an above-average everyday player and has an outside chance to make some All-Star teams. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.5 WAR 5. Josh Hader, LHP Video Drafted: 19th Round, 2012 from Old Mill HS (MD) Age 23 Height 6’3 Weight 160 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 60/60 55/60 50/60 40/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Produced strikeout and walk rates of 29% and 12%, respectively, in 14 Triple-A starts at Colorado Springs. Scouting Report Even with half a season of Triple-A ball under his belt, the debate about Hader’s ultimate role persists. Those who consider him a reliever cite the rarity of a delivery like this in starting rotations across baseball, the potential platoon issues Hader might face as a low-slot lefty, and his fringey control. I think Hader starts. Unique though the delivery may be, I think the arm works fine and, while Hader does throw with a little bit of visible effort, it’s caricatured by his luscious flowing mane of hair. I think his potential issues against right-handed hitters are going to be mitigated by a changeup that has continued to improve and now evokes future plus grades from scouts. And I think Hader lives in and around the zone enough to pitch as a starter, albeit an inefficient one, and has the stuff to get away with mistakes he makes within the zone. A key to Hader’s future is going to be how consistently he can work his fastball in to righties. Missing out over the plate as he’s attempting to do this is going to get him lit up, but he attacked right-handed htiters in on their hands in the 2015 Fall League and was doing it in Biloxi before his promotion to Colorado Springs. Club officials (we were not discussing Hader at the time) told me the org is still learning how best to deal with the hitter-friendly environment into which they were forced there, and a scout from outside the club said he thought Hader might have been pitching less aggressively there because of the ballpark. Hader will also need to more consistently back-door his slider for strikes. That slider is somewhat inconsistent, slurving in when Hader doesn’t get on top of it and tilting in rather nastily when he does. There’s a chance for three plus pitches here and, even with fringe control, I think the total package plays in a rotation. If it doesn’t, then Hader is a potentially dominant reliever. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 9.4 WAR 50 FV Prospects 6. Brandon Woodruff, RHP Drafted: 11th Round, 2014 from Mississippi St. Age 24 Height 6’2 Weight 225 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 60/60 55/55 45/50 50/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Led the minors in strikeouts in 2016. Scouting Report Woodruff led minor-league baseball in strikeouts this season by pounding the strike zone with a mid-90s fastball that usually hovers around 94-95 with some life. There are scouts who still consider him a reliever, citing more control over the fastball than command and inconsistency of secondary stuff that lacks the movement necessary to get away with mistakes in the zone. But Woodruff’s results at Double-A are pretty convincing. He quickened the pace of his delivery after his promotion to Biloxi at the behest of pitching coach Chris Hook, who was called upon to help instruct the big-league club in late September. Woodruff’s above-average slider is best when it’s located to his glove side, and it’s good enough to miss bats in on left-handed hitters as well as away from righties. His straight change is fringey but projects to average. This is a big (but not bad) bodied righty with a solid, league-average starter profile on stuff. This was a welcome development considering Woodruff struggled to miss bats as he dealt with an oblique injury in 2015. He’s got terrific makeup, pitched admirably through personal tragedy in 2016, and is on the doorstep of the majors. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.2 WAR 7. Lucas Erceg, 3B Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Menlo Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 200 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/55 55/60 30/50 50/40 45/60 70/70 Relevant/Interesting Metrics In 56 games at Menlo, hit 20 homers with 15 walks and 18 strikeouts. Also struck out 32 in 23 innings pitched. Scouting Report Erceg was a no-doubt first-round talent who fell to the second round due to off-field concerns. He looked very good in pro ball after signing, showing range and athleticism at third base to go with a 70 arm (he played some shortstop during instructs), a pull-heavy but effective swing that I think will result in both contact and game power. His bat looked sluggish at times in the Fall, but he was wrapping up a long season at a new school and spent significant time at two separate pro affiliates after signing. I don’t think it’s anything about which to worry in the long term. I think Erceg has a chance to be an above-average everyday player, and he has very little skill-centric risk associated with his profile. He hit well as a sophomore at Cal, as a junior at Menlo, in pro ball, the tools are clearly of major-league caliber, and the body even has some positive physical projection left. I think Erceg has a chance for above-average defense at third, an above-average bat and average game-power output. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.1 WAR 8. Marcos Diplan, RHP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2013 from Dominican Republic Age 20 Height 6’0 Weight 160 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 60/60 55/60 40/50 40/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 40 strikeouts in 43 innings at High-A after promotion. Scouting Report Many are inclined to relegate Diplan to bullpen duty because of his size, but I won’t be so quick to do so. Yes, Diplan is small, but he does some things that help compensate for his size and help him avoid the pitfalls to which other 6-foot righties often fall victim. For one, Diplan’s vertical arm slot allows him to generate significant downhill plane on his fastball and induce a lot of ground balls. Short pitchers with lower slots can be fly-ball prone due to a lack of plane on their fastballs. Secondly, Diplan’s delivery isn’t of the max-effort, ultra-violent variety that (anecdotally) portends to injury or inhibits command. There’s some effort here in the sense that Diplan gets his entire body involved, but he’s a good athlete and is able to maintain it. He repeats his delivery well and threw a good amount of strikes last year for a 20-year-old with mid-90s stuff. Diplan’s fastball sits 92-95 with arm-side run. His slider, 80-84, is above average, flashing plus, and misses bats regularly when he’s locating it to his glove side. That two-pitch mix could play at the back of a bullpen should Diplan eventually need to move. It’s not easy to create bat-missing run on a changeup from Diplan’s arm slot, and his is currently below average, but he has some feel for creating sink on the pitch and it could mature to average. Diplan has a chance to be a mid-rotation starter for me with a comfortably plus fastball, plus slider, viable changeup and average command and control. If he pitches well at High-A to start 2017, he could be in Double-A as a 20-year-old late in the summer and pitching in the big leagues by 21, impressive in whichever role he ultimately holds. Diplan signed with Texas in 2013 for $1.3 million and was traded to Milwaukee as part of the Yovani Gallardo deal in 2015. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.4 WAR 45 FV Prospects 9. Trent Clark, OF Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Richland HS (TX) Age 20 Height 6’0 Weight 205 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/50 45/50 30/40 55/50 40/50 50/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Slashed .231/.346/.344 at Low-A in 2016. Scouting Report Pro scouts who saw Clark this season didn’t like him. His bat looked sluggish and tardy for much of the year, he struggled to pull anything with authority, and just generally didn’t make the strong, trademark contact that prompted the Brewers to take him 15th overall in 2015. He was also just a 50 runner for much of the year, and scouts are mixed about his ability to play center field. He has an average arm and would likely need to move to left if he can’t stay in center. Now, if you like, some of Clark’s struggles can be explained away by the recurring hamstring issues from which he suffered last year. He went on the DL in late May and then again, for a month this time, in late June, but showed no difference in performance after returning. Clark does have a good approach, feel for the strike zone, and advanced breaking-ball recognition, but he simply didn’t appear to have the same bat speed in 2016 as he did as an amateur. Reports on the power are middling and, if he does have to move to left field, he’s going to have to reclaim what looked like a future plus hit tool to profile there. If he can stay in center field long term (I’m more optimistic about it than most of the scouts to whom I spoke) and start hitting again, then he could be a plus hitter with fringe game power who passes in center field. It’s fair to place Clark in a wait-and-see category because of the hamstring issues with which he dealt last year (not to mention he collided into a wall during 2015 AZL play, was knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion), but scouts are down on him right now. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.1 WAR 10. Mauricio Dubon, SS Video Drafted: 26th Round, 2013 from Capital Christian HS (CA) Age 22 Height 6’0 Weight 160 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/55 40/40 30/40 55/55 45/50 55/55 Relevant/Interesting Metrics In 62 games at High-A: 12% BB, 9% K, .072 ISO In 62 games at Double-A: 4% BB, 13% K, .199 ISO. Scouting Report I saw Dubon during various parts of the season, and he grew on me as I watched him, mostly during his six-week Fall League stint. He continues to flummox me and, to a degree, the scouts with whom I’ve spoken about him. Almost unanimously, scouts have 45s on Dubon (as I do), considering him either a low-end regular at shortstop or a strong utility option who might be able to play all three up the middle positions. I think it’s worth considering the chance that there’s more than that here. I’ve seen Dubon make strong contact to all fields with pitches in tough-to-hit spots of the zone, make athletic plays behind the bag at short and on well-hit balls in the 3/4 hole as a second baseman. He’s an above-average runner and, while very thin, he has broad shoulders that one could argue are indicative of physical projection. Conversely, I’ve seen him miss pitches he should be crushing, even several times in the same at-bat, he gets very little out of his lower half during his swing, and Dubon is so slight and narrow through his waist and legs that one could argue he lacks any sort of physical projection. He’s a perplexing and interesting player. Reports on Dubon’s makeup and desire to learn from veterans are strong, and I think his combination of tools and favorable defensive profile make it likely that he’s a useful big-league contributor in some capacity. With Orlando Arcia seemingly entrenched as the Brewers’ long-term shortstop, it’s likely going to come in a multi-positional role. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 3.5 WAR 11. Phil Bickford, RHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2015 from Southern Nevada Age 21 Height 6’5 Weight 205 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 50/55 50/55 40/50 40/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 30 strikeouts over 27 innings at High-A. Also recorded 15 walks, though. Scouting Report There was a lot of talk about Bickford’s velocity dying down in 2016 but, truthfully, he hadn’t been throwing all that hard since his Cape Cod stint as a rising sophomore. As a sophomore at Southern Nevada, Bickford was 88-92, reaching back for 94 or 95 on occasion and commanding it exceptionally well. He’d also flash a plus slider in the low 80s that was consistently average and which he also commanded. That’s essentially how hard Bickford was throwing this year, even during his brief Futures Game outing, during which he was 89-92 with a slider in the 83-86 range. If there’s cause for concern, it’s that the potentially special fastball command Bickford showed pre-draft vaporized this year: his walk rate after the trade was twice what is was over his first 11 starts at Augusta. When Bickford returns from his 50-game drug suspension in 2017 (he also tested positive for marijuana ahead of the 2015 draft), command reclamation will be atop my Phil Bickford wishlist. In the four or five times I’ve seen Bickford over the last couple of years, I’ve never seen a changeup. Scouts who have describe it as having a splitter-style movement and think it could develop to average. Such development, when coupled with an above-average fastball/slider combination and plus command, would likely make Bickford an average major-league starter. The needle is trending downward here, though — both because Bickford’s command took a clear step back as 2016 rolled on and because he has an off-field issue robbing him of reps. There’s also some who would add speculative risk to his profile because of the rumors that Bickford’s negotiations with Toronto after the 2013 draft (they drafted him 10th overall out of high school) fell through because of something medical. He hasn’t had surgery since neglecting to sign. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 5.6 WAR 12. Ryan Cordell, OF Drafted: 11th Round, 2013 from Liberty Age 25 Height 6’4 Weight 205 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 55/55 30/45 60/60 50/55 55/55 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Produced .220 ISO. Scouting Report Regarded before the draft as an athletic, small-school project, Cordell refined his swing and skills in the Rangers system before getting sent to Milwaukee as part of the Jonathan Lucroy trade. Since signing, Cordell has lowered where he loads his hands and slowed down his stride, both of which have helped him tap into his plus natural bat speed and hit for pull power in games. He hit 19 homers at Double-A in 2016, more than he did in three combined seasons at Liberty. Cordell is a plus runner capable of playing center field. The Brewers’ crowded upper-level outfield situation might necessitate a multi-positional role for Cordell, who has seen pro reps at shortstop, center field and all four corner spots, though he only played the outfield in 2016 and lacks the hands/footwork for regular infield duty. He’s a plus athlete with terrific purported makeup that could conceivably pass at either first or maybe third with focused development, but that might slow the progress of Cordell’s bat, which could be knocking on the door of the majors by mid-year, especially if the adjustments Cordell made to cut down on his strikeouts hold in Triple-A. Cordell was old for his level in 2016, a level he was essentially repeating. But the adjustments he’s made are substantive and are encouraging considering the likelihood that he and his long levers will likely need to make more of them down the line. Though none of them project to be especially loud, Cordell is closer to being a five-tool player than many other prospects gilded with such a title. I think he has a chance to be a second-division regular. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.8 WAR 13. Jorge Lopez, RHP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2011 from Caguas MA (PR) Age 24 Height 6’4 Weight 165 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command 60/60 60/60 45/50 30/40 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Produced 14% walk rate at Triple-A, after just 8% at Double-A. Scouting Report If you saw Lopez toward the end of 2015, you saw a filthy three-pitch mix that looked like it was headed for big-league success, even if Lopez still had trouble throwing consistent strikes. Things unraveled last year at Colorado Springs, where Lopez was walk and homer prone, before receiving a demotion to Double-A late in the year. Studies have been conducted on pitch movement at higher elevations and they show, due to the way air density effects Magnus force on the baseball, that pitches break less in places like Coors Field and at Colorado Springs. Lopez’s meal-ticket secondary pitch has long been a plus (and I’ve gotten some 70s on it as well), 12-6 curveball that simply wasn’t breaking as much in Triple-A as it previously had been. After his demotion, Lopez began missing bats more frequently and cuts back on walks. He’ll likely never even have average command, as he struggles to repeat and sync up the moving parts of his delivery, but his stuff might allow him to start anyway. Lopez’s fastball sits about 91-96. He often leans on his low-80s curveball to throw strikes when he’s behind. It’s also his favorite way to keep the peace against left-handed hitters. His changeup feel is poor, but the thing moves because Lopez has such spectacular arm speed. It will flash above average but is often up around 87-89 mph and some scouts think that’s too firm, even if Lopez is sitting in the mid-90s. There’s No. 2 or 3 starter stuff here, but the command likely caps Lopez’s ceiling around that of a No. 4 or 5 starter — or potentially dominant reliever. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.3 WAR 14. Cody Ponce, RHP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2015 from Cal Poly Pomona Age 23 Height 6’6 Weight 240 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Cutter Command 60/60 50/50 45/50 55/60 45/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded strikeout and walk rates of 22% and 5%, respectively, in 17 High-A starts. Scouting Report Clubs are concerned about Ponce’s recent injury history. He suffered from shoulder fatigue in 2015 as a junior at Pomona (where, when healthy, he looked excellent) and then spent time on the DL in 2016 with forearm fatigue and didn’t pitch in affiliated ball until June. He has a big, heavy body, but is about an average athlete with a quick arm for his size. It’s more control than command, but he throws strikes with a low- to mid-90s fastball when he’s healthy, and he was up to 98 as a rising junior on the Cape. Ponce will also flash three viable secondary pitches when healthy, the best of which is an upper-80s cutter that will flash plus. He has a solid-average curveball and a potential future-average changeup. Ponce’s pitch utility is a bit behind, as is to be expected for a JUCO arm that’s missed time during each of the last two years, but his stuff is of the mid-rotation variety, and his ceiling is still that of an above-average No. 3 or 4 starter for me, but his risk profile is substantial because of the injuries. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.2 WAR 15. Brett Phillips, OF Video Drafted: 6th Round, 2012 from Seminole HS (FL) Age 23 Height 6’0 Weight 175 Bat/Throw L/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 55/55 40/45 55/55 50/55 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 30% strikeout rate at Double-A. Scouting Report It was a difficult season for Phillips, who struck out excessively at Double-A and then continued to struggle with contact in the Arizona Fall League. He has stiff wrists, his swing can be long, and his noisy footwork is difficult to control. Scouts, universally, do not think he’s going to hit consistently, which is going to be an issue if Phillips has to move, full time, to right field. Most think he will. He was a 50 runner during the Fall League but did elicit some 55 grades from scouts with whom I spoke. He has at least a 60 arm and should be fine in right field, but a 30 bat doesn’t usually profile there. If there’s a saving grace here it’s Phillips’ approach, which allows him to reach base at an acceptable rate and get to some of his power as he works his way into counts more likely to net him a fastball. Phillips does have some power and bat speed. He hit nine opposite-field home runs in 2016, although one source notes that may have been due to the way the wind blows off the Gulf of Mexico and straight out toward left field in Biloxi. I think he has the chance to be the larger half of a platoon in right field, but that the swing-and-miss prevents him from profiling as a true everyday player. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.6 WAR 40 FV Prospects 16. Monte Harrison, RF Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 from Lee’s Summit West (MO) Age 21 Height 6’3 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/30 60/60 20/40 60/60 40/45 80/80 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Has career 30% strikeout rate. Scouting Report Harrison has tantalizing tools and explosiveness. A plus runner with an 80 arm and plus raw power, Harrison has neither performed in games nor been able to stay on the field consistently since he was drafted. He fractured his left hamate bone in mid-June and missed two months. His power looked intact in the fall, where I saw him vaporize several extra-base hits. Harrison was a dominant multi-sport athlete in high school (he was committed to Nebraska to play wide receiver) and, especially when factoring in the time he has missed due to injury, is relatively new to full-time baseball. He’s quite competitive and has a fair idea of the strike zone, but scouts question his hand-eye and the effort in his swing. He has star-level upside but at some point he’s going to need to perform, and that right soon. Another year of output commensurate with with his career norms will see Harrison forced down into the honorable mentions section of this list, if not off of it entirely. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.5 WAR 17. Gilbert Lara, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Dominican Republic Age 19 Height 6’2 Weight 193 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 60/60 30/50 40/40 45/50 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Owns .289 career OBP. Scouting Report Lara came stateside in the Fall of 2014 after receiving a $3.2 million bonus in 2013. He has spent parts of three years here. Scouts who have seen him consistently since day one still have a hard time figuring out what to do with him, as his prodigious skills pop up now and then between extended periods of offensive frustration and mental lapses. He has a comfortably plus arm and, despite his size (a broad shouldered 6-foot-2), still looks like he may eventually be a viable defensive shortstop for many onlookers, which is notable considering some projected the body over to first base when he began AZL play. But the quality of his at-bats is resoundingly poor, he looks tense and uncomfortable in the box, gets visibly frustrated when he struggles, and hasn’t tapped into his considerable raw power in games, even in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League. When Lara does connect out in front, he hits absolute bombs. There’s enough raw power projection here that, if Lara can stay at shortstop and just get to most of it in games, he’s a star. It’s been two years and he has made no progress in this area yet, but he only turned 19 just after the season so theoretically there’s still time. The ceiling here remains high, but the chances of Lara attaining it are much lower than they were when he was 17 and hitting Fall Instructional League pitching hard. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.1 WAR 18. Corbin Burnes, RHP Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2016 from St. Mary’s Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 205 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command 55/55 45/50 40/40 50/60 40/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Compiled 120 strikeouts in just 101 innings at St. Mary’s in 2016. Scouting Report Burnes is an above-average, quick-footed athlete with a low-90s fastball that was up to 94 when I saw him in the spring. He’s competitive and fields his position well but beyond that he’s rather raw for a college arm. He has a four-pitch mix led by a mid-80s changeup and slider, both of which have above-average potential. Burnes also has a curveball, but he clearly alters his arm slot to get on top of it (he doesn’t consistently get on top of either breaking ball), and I think it will only be useful as a change of pace breaking ball. Burnes’ delivery does feature some effort and his control is fringey, so there’s a chance he’s a reliever. He was throwing harder in shorter stints on the Cape, so a relief conversion would probably yield more velo should it happen. I buy into Burnes’ athleticism enough to project him as a back-end starter for now. 19. Kodi Medeiros, LHP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2014 from Waiakea HS (HI) Age 21 Height 6’2 Weight 180 Bat/Throw L/L Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 55/60 55/60 40/45 30/40 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Struck out 40% of left-handers in 2015, 13% of left-handers in 2016. Scouting Report Medeiros signed for just a little under slot as the 12th overall pick in 2014, which helped allow the Brewers get overslot deals done (Harrison and Jake Gatewood) later in the draft. Many considered him a likely reliever as an amateur because of his sidearm slot and erratic control. Medeiros flashed some glove-side command of his tailing, impossible-to-elevate low-90s fastball in some of his prep appearances. If you thought he was athletic enough to eventually do it with consistency, then you could dream on him as a starter. After a fairly encouraging first full pro season in the 2015 Midwest League (an aggressive assignment), Medeiros was sent to High-A in 2016, where his strikeout and walk rates both went in the wrong direction. Once dominant against lefties with his fastball and vicious wipeout slider, Medeiros struggled to strike them out last year, as well. Medeiros was pulled from a May 15th start after two innings because of back spasms. He had two bad starts after that and then went on the disabled list. He had struck out 31 hitters in his first 31 innings of the year before his stuff evaporated and he began having these issues. Medeiros doesn’t turn 21 until late May, and I think it makes sense to continue running him out there as a starter to see what happens; many of his struggles in 2016 can be explained away by a freak, non-baseball occurrence. But it’s very likely that he’s a reliever. If his pre-DL stuff returns, he could be an effective lefty pen piece. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.6 WAR 20. Devin Williams, RHP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2013 from Hazelwood West (MO) Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 165 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 55/60 45/50 40/45 40/45 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 11% walk rate in 2016. Scouting Report A well-built, hard-throwing righty with some physical projection and slider feel, Williams has issues repeating his arm slot (specifically on his changeup), which eats away at his command and creates inconsistent shape on his breaking ball. He dealt with arm injuries during each of the last two springs and started the season in extended. In 2016, it was shoulder fatigue. Williamms’ secondaries are fringe average right now, and flash above average, but his mechanical inconsistencies harbor their effectiveness. He’ll sit 89-93 and touch as high as 96 with varying amounts of sink. With his injury history, command issues and lack of true repertoire depth, Williams likely projects in a relief role. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.6 WAR 21. Demi Orimoloye, OF Video Drafted: 4th Round, 2015 from St. Matthew (Ontario, CN) Age 20 Height 6’4 Weight 225 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/40 55/60 20/50 55/50 40/50 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Listed at 225 pounds, nevertheless stole 18 bases in 23 attempts in 2016. Scouting Report Born in Nigeria and raised in Canada, Orimoloye is an amazing physical specimen with above-average speed and plus raw power. He’s also a work in progress mechanically, as the Brewers try to find a way for him to tap into his natural raw power. He’s come a long way over the last 18 months but remains raw. Orimoloye has a huge frame that will probably fill out and produce huge raw power at maturity. All we can do until then is sit back and look for signs that he’s learning how to get to it. He saw lefties well in 2016 and successfully quieted some of the noise in his swing but the on-paper results largely aren’t there yet. He’s a boom-or-bust lottery ticket with a chance to be a run-producing middle-of-the-order hitter if everything comes together. His risk profile is enormous. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.6 WAR 22. Jacob Nottingham, C/1B Video Drafted: 6th Round, 2013 from Redlands HS (CA) Age 22 Height 6’3 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/30 60/60 30/40 30/30 30/40 60/60 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Recorded 30% strikeout rate at Double-A. Scouting Report Nottingham has plus raw arm strength and power, but I can’t find anyone outside the org who thinks he can catch. (After watching him for six weeks in the AFL, I agree.) An overaggressive approach combined with swing-and-miss issues are going to make it difficult for Nottingham to profile at first base. He is monstrous and hits lasers if he can get a hold of one, but he’s also very stiff and has a hard time moving the barrel around the zone. Nottingham either needs to somehow make more consistent contact, which would give him a better shot of profiling at first, or find some way to pass behind the plate where whiffdom is more tolerable. Chiefly, Nottingham’s inability to keep balls in front of him needs remedying. If he can’t do either of those, then he’s a Quad-A type of bat. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 1.8 WAR 23. Freddy Peralta, RHP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic Age 21 Height 6’0 Weight 168 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command 45/55 45/50 45/55 40/50 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Produced 31% strikeout rate at Low-A. Scouting Report An undersized righty, Peralta nevertheless has a good build that still might have some projection left. He throws a low-90s fastball with above-average tail thanks to long, low arm action, and also features some changeup and slider feel. He has a cross-body delivery with good extension that plays up against right-handed hitters. Peralta might have the stuff to fit into the back of a rotation, but the delivery points to the bullpen. He was signed by Seattle for just over $130,000 and traded to Milwaukee as part of the 2015 Adam Lind deal. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 2.1 WAR 24. Mario Feliciano, C Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Beltran Academy (PR) Age 18 Height 6’1 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 45/50 20/45 40/40 30/50 55/55 Relevant/Interesting Metrics None. Scouting Report Well-built and athletic, Feliciano is a very intriguing low-level catching prospect with a chance to catch well and hit a little bit. He has fringe-average bat speed but has shown the ability to make adjustments (he’s already eliminated the big leg kick he had in high school) and track offspeed pitches. He has the frame for more mass and he might be able to hit for some power as a strength-over-batspeed type of hitter. His movement skills and arm strength are promising for his future behind the plate. He’s eons away but could move up into the 45 FV group next year with a strong showing at Helena. He’s a potential everyday player. 25. Damien Magnifico, RHP Drafted: 5th Round, 2012 from Oklahoma Age 26 Height 6’1 Weight 195 Bat/Throw R/R Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command 70/70 50/50 40/40 Relevant/Interesting Metrics Threw some 2800 rpm sliders in 2016. Scouting Report Magnifico was bumping 100 in the 2015 Fall League and sits 95-plus out of the bullpen with regularity. He drives the ball down from his overhand slot and induces ground balls. His release point makes it hard for him to create consistent shape on the slider, and the pitch is just average. His command is below average. Without a pitch that projects to miss big-league bats, a middle-relief profile is the likely outcome here, despite elite velocity. KATOH+ Projection for first six years: 0.7 WAR ***** Mahalanobis Comps Rank Prospect Most Noteworthy Comp 1 Lewis Brinson Vernon Wells 2 Corey Ray Terrence Long 3 Luis Ortiz T.J. Tucker 4 Isan Diaz Sean Rodriguez 5 Josh Hader Freddy Garcia 6 Brandon Woodruff James Shields 7 Lucas Erceg Jose Bautista 8 Marcos Diplan Jeremy Hellickson 9 Trent Clark Roger Bernadina 10 Mauricio Dubon Julio Lugo 11 Phil Bickford Tyler Clippard 12 Ryan Cordell Aaron Rowand 13 Jorge Lopez Dustin Moseley 14 Cody Ponce Aaron Harang 15 Brett Phillips Ryan Ludwick 16 Monte Harrison Chip Ambres 17 Gilbert Lara Brad Harman 19 Kodi Medeiros Hector Mercado 20 Devin Williams Juan Gutierrez 21 Demi Orimoloye Pat Watkins 22 Jacob Nottingham Yorvit Torrealba 23 Freddy Peralta Ubaldo Jimenez 25 Damien Magnifico Miguel Batista ***** Other Prospects of Note (In Order of Preference)Jordan Yamamoto, RHP, 2.2 KATOH+ WAR – A small righty with a low-90s fastball that will touch 95, Yamamoto has future average command, can miss bats up with the fastball at present, and get early-count grounders when he works down. His curveball feel took a step forward in 2016 and is a future-average pitch. His arm speed allows for changeup projection. Potential back-end stuff, maybe more if the curveball keeps developing, but the fastball lacks projection because the body does, too. He might need to develop better command than I have projected to be more than a reliever or sixth starter. Trey Supak, RHP, 0.8 KATOH+ – Supak sat at 89-92, touching 94 during instructional league, with a fringe-average curveball and below-average changeup. The command is promising for a 6-foot-5 20-year old, but there’s very little projection left on the body, if any, and he’ll have to find a way to navigate upper-level lineups with mediocre stuff. Could work as a No. 5. Kyle Wren, OF, 3.8 KATOH+ – In a vacuum, Wren profiles as a fourth or fifth outfielder. He runs well and has a simple but refined approach at the plate that allows him to put balls in play and exploit pitchers with control issues. He has no power, so starting is unlikely, but he should provide value as a bench bat and defensive replacement at some point. It may not come in Milwaukee, where the outfield car is becoming clownish. Nathan Kirby, LHP – Kirby was viewed as a potential first-rounder as a rising junior at Virginia but, like suspiciously many UVA arms, he didn’t have a great draft year and then got hurt. He barely pitched after signing in 2015 and missed all of 2016 recovering from Tommy John. When healthy he’s low-90s with sink and an above-average changeup. The slider is fringey, as is the command. Adrian Houser, RHP, 1.7 KATOH+ – Houser is a big-bodied righty with mid-90s fastball and inconsistent secondaries that include a curveball, changeup and cutter. The fastball doesn’t miss as many bats as you might expect given its velocity, so it’s not clear how he would profile in relief, given that there’s nothing else that misses bats, either. He’s more of a fifth or sixth starter for most scouts. Joantgel Segovia, OF, 0.3 KATOH+ – Segovia can hit and has a future 60 bat for me, but there’s not a whole lot else going on here. He doesn’t have the power to play in a corner and, at age 20 and a slightly built 6-foot-1, he’s unlikely to grow into it. Nash Walters, RHP – A big-bodied righty, Walters sat 90-94, touching 95, in extended spring training and during instructs. It appears that there’s a lot of tinkering going on here. I’ve seen a fringe, mid-70s breaking ball from Walters, a slider/cutter anywhere from 86-90 (some of those were average), and a below-average changeup. He walked more hitters than he pitched innings in 2016, and Walters’ control needs to take several huge steps forward if he’s going to remain a starting pitching prospect for long. Franly Mallen, 2B – Mallen was signed for $800,000 back in 2013 and then spent two years in the DSL before he skipped the AZL entirely and went straight to the Pioneer League this year. He’s already been moved to second base (has the arm but not the range for short) and will need to start adding good weight to his frame and hitting for more power to profile there. His feel for contact is good, so if the raw power comes there’s a decent chance he gets to it in games. Michael Reed, OF, 3.1 KATOH+ – Similar to Wren in many ways, Reed is a bit more strikeout prone and hits right-handed, making him objectively worse. There has always been less power output here than I thought there might be, and I think it might be due to plate-coverage issues that force Reed to punch at everything on the outer half. Trey York, 2B, 1.7 KATOH+ – York is a bat-first second baseman with a very simple approach and swing that allowed him to make clean contact with just about everything he saw in the AZL. There’s not much bat speed or power projection, so he’s going to have to rake all the way up to ladder. Troy Stokes, OF, 0.3 KATOH+ – Essentially the same profile as York, except as a likely corner outfielder rather than second baseman. Daniel Missaki, RHP – An undersized Brazilian righty who missed all of 2016 recovering from Tommy John, Missaki showed advanced command of a four-pitch mix before his surgery, headlined by a potentially plus changeup. Scouts were lukewarm on Missaki before his injury because he lacks physical projection and requires some effort to throw a fastball in the 88-91 range. He has a chance to pitch toward the back of a rotation if he can stay healthy and max out his command projection. Otherwise, there probably isn’t enough stuff here for that. Jon Perrin, RHP, 2.5 KATOH+ – Perrin is big-bodied college righty with consistent strike-throwing ability, which is funny because he had 40 command at Oklahoma State. He can miss bats with his average slider when locating away but, in general, lacks stuff to be more than an up-and-down arm. Clint Coulter, OF, 0.5 KATOH+ – Coulter is an average runner with a 70 arm and plus bat speed, but I’ve never seen a swing like this succeed in the majors. The walk-rate spike from 2014 turned out to be bogus. Tyrone Taylor, OF, 1.2 KATOH+ – Taylor is a name prospect who doesn’t run well enough to play center field full time and doesn’t incorporate his lower half in his swing, thus producing too little power to profile in a corner. A potential bench outfielder blocked by logjam of upper-level and big-league outfielders. Payton Henry, C – A big-bodied catching prospect who has some skill projection because he played prep ball in Utah, Henry has above-average bat speed and is a strong, physical 19-year-old. He tracks pitches pretty well, and I think he has a chance to hit if some of the noise in his swing is quieted. If he can stay behind the plate (there’s a marginal chance), the bat will profile. A move to first base is a non-starter. Chad McClanahan, 1B – McClanahan has nice natural loft to his swing and projectable frame. Most area scouts pegged him as a future first baseman, so there’s an enormous amount of pressure on the bat to perform. Jake Gatewood, 1B, 0.3 KATOH+ – Gatewood has the most raw power projection of any high-school hitter in his class, but he also went 0-for-Area Codes and his swing-and-miss issues have predictably followed him to pro ball, where he has promptly moved from one end of the defensive spectrum to the other. Gabriel Garcia, 1B – Right-righty first-base prospects are rarely worth mentioning, but Garcia showed a good feel to hit in the AZL and there’s talk of him giving things a shot behind the plate. If that conversion goes well, he becomes an interesting low-level prospect. Michael Petersen, RHP – A British-born, lanky righty, Petersen will flash mid-90s stuff and good breaking-ball feel when he’s healthy. His injuries have limited him to just 30 career pro innings, and he’ll be 23 in May. The delivery is ugly but the stuff is good, so there’s a chance he moves quickly if he can get healthy and let it rip in relief. Yeraldy Martinez, OF, 0.0 KATOH+ – Martinez is a physically impressive outfielder with above average raw pull power but an unbalanced and largely ineffective in-game swing. He’s 21 and still hasn’t hit in Rookie ball. Cistulli’s Guy Selected by Carson Cistulli from any player who received less than a 40 FV. Aaron Wilkerson, RHP, 2.7 KATOH+ Six different Brewers appeared this past season within the author’s weekly Fringe Five column. One of them, Junior Guerra, graduated to the major leagues. Two others, Cody Ponce and Brandon Woodruff, receive grades of 45 or higher from Longenhangen, thus rendering them ineligible for the designation of Cistulli’s Guy. The final three — Bubby Derby (0.6 KATOH+), Nathan Orf (0.4 KATOH+), and Wilkerson — all have their merits, as well. Nor does this exhaust the organization’s collection of compelling fringe types. What differentiates Wilkerson is the improbability of his journey to Triple-A. A product of NAIA school Cumberland University, Wilkerson has survived a Tommy John procedure and played in no fewer than three independent leagues. Nevertheless, he’s been excellent in affiliated ball, recording strikeout and walk rates of 25.8% and 6.7%, respectively — all while working almost exclusively in a starting capacity. The arm speed is a concern. Wilkerson rarely tops 92 mph, which was the average velocity among major-league starters last year. But he also possesses a strong overall repertoire and, most importantly, has experienced success at every minor-league level. ***** System Overview Despite suboptimal performances from several of their higher-profile prospects in 2016, this system remains deep and has potential high-end stars up top in Brinson and Ray. You’ll note a thread of homegrown, underperforming tools goofs throughout the system who could provide similar all-around impact if they somehow find a way to put things together. I think drafting players like this is fine, especially in a market like Milwaukee that has had difficulty attracting elite free agents. If the Brewers want to employ star players, they’re largely going to have to draft them. I think taking chances on players with Gothic cathedral ceilings — even if they have warts that make them quite risky — is a reasonable draft strategy. Look at Milwaukee’s last two drafts since Ray Montgomery was promoted to scouting director late in 2014. Nathan Kirby and Cody Ponce each had first-round stuff and/or resumes, but both fell in part due to health concerns. Demi Orimoloye has atypical upside for a fourth-rounder but was available because he was sushi raw. In 2015, the Brewers snapped up several “unsignable” high-school prospects just in case things worked out in such a way with their bonus pool that they might be able to make a competitive offer to one of them ahead of the deadline. The Brewers are hunting ceiling in the draft. This strategy has yet to bear fruit (eight of the top 12 prospects in the system were acquired via trade) but even one fully formed Monte Harrison is worth half-a-dozen failed experiments. It deserves time.