Johnny Hellweg posted a 6.75 ERA and 9-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 30.2 innings last season with the Brewers.
The last Brewers pitching prospect drafted in the first round that developed into an impact major-league starter was Ben Sheets in 1999. Since then, the organization has struck out repeatedly when drafting a pitcher in the first round.
Milwaukee drafted college right-hander Eric Arnett in 2009, who’s now a 25-year-old reliever that has yet to graduate from A-ball. They targeted upside the following year and drafted prep right-hander Dylan Covey in the first round. However, Covey decided not to sign and ultimately honored his commitment to the University of San Diego.
And while many pitchers from the 2011 draft—Jose Fernandez, Gerrit Cole and Sonny Gray, for example—have each made an impact in the major leagues, Milwaukee’s pair of first-round picks from that year, college pitchers Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley, have struggled to climb the minor-league ladder and lack favorable long-term projections.
The Brewers finally landed a much-needed power arm this past June, drafting prep right-hander Devin Williams with its first pick (coming in the second round). The 19-year-old is a project and will need time to develop in the minor leagues, but the finished product has the potential to be a solid No. 2 or 3 starter.
The organization houses several under-the-radar position prospects that seem poised for breakout campaigns in 2014. Shortstop Orlando Arcia and outfielders Tyrone Taylor and Mitch Haniger are likely to open the season at High-A and, if everything goes smoothly in their respective developments, they could conceivably reach Double-A by season’s end.
Here’s a look at the Milwaukee Brewers’ top-10 prospects for the 2014 season.
DOB: 07/12/1992 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 196 pounds
Drafted: Sixth round, 2011 (Farragut HS, Tenn.)
Delmonico has a strong 6’2”, 196-pound frame; decent athleticism; concerning injury history; left-handed batter has a good approach and solid plate discipline; hit tool should improve if he can stay healthy; demonstrates feel for the zone and tracks the ball deep; ability to make in-game adjustments; yet to tap into his raw power; swing can get long and lead to some swing-and-miss; decent extension after contact.
Below-average runner with fringy long-term profile at third base; lacks range to handle position at highest level; solid hands and glove; average arm strength; has seen time at first base and should ultimately move back to the position.
Projection: Utility corner infielder
Video courtesy of Baseballnewshound.com
DOB: 10/11/1988 (Age: 25)
Height/Weight: 6’0”, 186 pounds
Drafted: Seventh round, 2011 (Mississippi)
ETA: Late 2014
Goforth is an undersized right-hander at 6’0”, 186 pounds; broad shoulders with strong, thick build; showcases big arm strength; plus fastball (sometimes better) sits at 93-97 mph; flirts with triple digits out of the bullpen; decent control of the pitch; lacks command but is around the plate often enough to be effective; slider flashes above-average potential; thrown hard with low-90s velocity and late, cutter-like glove-side slice; curveball is an average offering with a good shape and pace; more of a thrower than a pitcher; feel for sequencing should improve with experience.
Projection: Setup man
DOB: 09/17/1991 (Age: 22)
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 225 pounds
Drafted: First round, 2012 (Georgia Southern)
ETA: Late 2015
6'1”, 225-pound outfielder has plus-raw power to all fields; gets weight off his back side and drives through the ball with authority; above-average bat speed; over-aggressive approach; fringy pitch recognition but mashes mistakes; struggles to control the strike zone; fringe-average hit-tool projection; lack of speed will limit him to career in left field; arm strength is solid-average; if he overcomes the injury and develops as expected, he could turn out to be a steal as a late first-rounder.
Projection: Platoon corner outfielder
Video courtesy of Alec Dopp
DOB: 12/18/1989 (Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6’6”, 210 pounds
Drafted: First round, 2011 (Texas)
ETA: Late 2014
Jungmann is a presence on the mound at 6’6”, 210 pounds; high-maintenance mechanics; delivery lacks rhythm; inconsistent landing point with front foot; crossfire action with upper body hinders his command and overall explosiveness of stuff; once upper-90s fastball now sits in the low 90s; generates good sinking action when thrown on downhill plane; mechanical issues cause him to linger up in the zone.
His slider is another average offering; thrown in the high 70s with decent bite; struggles to throw it for a strike early in counts; release point varies; changeup is fringy; lacks fade; thrown with too much velocity; control and command regressed in 2013; needs to develop a more repeatable delivery for moving forward developmentally.
Projection: No. 4 or 5 starter
DOB: 08/04/1994 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’0”, 165 pounds
Signed: 2010 (Venezuela)
Younger brother of major league outfielder Oswaldo Arcia (Twins); good athlete at 6’0”, 165 pounds; wiry, thin build; plenty of room to add strength as he matures physically; scrappy right-handed hitter who grinds out at-bats; high contact rate reflects advanced bat-to-ball skills and hand-eye coordination; rarely strikes out or walks; good extra-base pop but below-average power.
Above-average speed plays up thanks to his strong instincts; creative and exciting defender at shortstop; displays genuine feel for the position; quick feet; range is above average; good first step; footwork is advanced; above-average glove and soft hands; high error totals will come down as he gains experience; above-average arm strength.
Projection: Second-division shortstop
Video courtesy of Alec Dopp
DOB: 09/21/1994 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 170 pounds
Drafted: Second round, 2013 (Hazelwood West HS, Mo.)
Williams has a very projectable frame at 6’3”, 170 pounds; should add about 15-20 pounds of muscle as he develops physically; arm-heavy delivery; doesn’t consistently utilize lower half; falls off the first-base side after release; delivery will undergo a few tweaks so as to put less stress on shoulder.
Right-hander shows above-average velocity and has bumped 94-95 mph; potential to sit in the 92-96 mph range at maturity; inconsistent release point; works up in the zone too often; throws two-seam fastball with some arm-side movement; plus velocity and future command leads to plus-plus projection.
Slider in the low 80s lacks consistent shape; potential to develop into a solid-average offering with better feel; tends to rip open with front side, which in turn prevents him from consistently getting on top of pitch; has enough arm speed and movement to make slider a weapon; excellent arm action and speed on changeup; good fading action deep when its the zone; excellent velocity separation relative to fastball; above-average potential.
Projection: No. 2 or 3 starter
Video courtesy of Jason Cole
DOB: 10/29/1988 (Age: 25)
Height/Weight: 6’9”, 215 pounds
Drafted: 16th round, 2008 by Angels (Florida Community College)
ETA: 2014 (Debuted in 2013)
6’9” right-hander moved to the first-base side of the rubber in 2013, but control was still an issue; uses height to work on steep downhill plane; big-time arm strength produces a plus-plus fastball that sits at 92-96 mph; capable of pumping triple digits in short bursts; two-seam fastball comes in a few ticks slower; plus arm-side movement and sinking action induces weak ground-ball outs.
Hellweg’s breaking ball is below average due to its lack of consistency; can be absolutely nasty and legitimate swing-and-miss offering when he’s on; inconsistent release point generates slurvy action and a lack of bite; changeup continues to improve and shows average potential; control/command issues will likely force him to the bullpen at some point next season.
Projection: No. 4 or 5 starter; setup man
DOB: 12/23/1990 (Age: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 213 pounds
Drafted: First round supplemental, 2012 (Cal Poly)
Possessing intriguing blend of athleticism and strength at 6’2”, 213 pounds; mature right-handed hitter with consistent approach; solid pitch recognition; strikeout totals should come down as he gains experience; doubles machine who pounds the gaps; plus raw power to the pull side; above-average bat speed, but he’ll struggle at times with good velocity; corner outfield defensive profile; fringe-average speed plays up due to strong instincts; strong, accurate arm is a clean fit in right field if his power develops.
Projection: Fourth/reserve outfielder
DOB: 06/05/1989 (Age: 24)
Height/Weight: 6’6”, 245 pounds
Drafted: Second round, 2010 (Alabama)
ETA: 2014 (Debuted in 2013)
At 6’6” and 245 pounds, Nelson is already physically mature and doesn’t require projection; durable build; potential innings-eater; some effort and inefficiency to delivery that can hinder his ability to flood the zone with strikes; right-hander utilizes his height by throwing a heavy sinker in the low 90s and can reach back for 95-96 when working up in the zone; pitch is difficult to barrel and results in excessive ground outs; uses the pitch to attack both right- and left-handed hitters.
Slider is a future average offering thrown in the mid-80s with tilt and late break; changeup is fringy and lags behind other pitches but could be an average pitch after more refinement; development and consistency of secondary arsenal will determine whether he sticks as a starter in the major leagues or moves to the 'pen.
Projection: No. 3 or 4 starter; setup man
DOB: 01/22/1994 (Age: 19)
Height/Weight: 6’0”, 185 pounds
Drafted: Second round, 2012 (Torrance HS, Calif.)
Features athletic build at 6’0” and 185 pounds with broad shoulders; projectable body; present strength with potential to add more; moves well on both sides of the ball; developing a thick lower half is moderate concern.
Right-handed hitter has fluid swing; too much pre-pitch movement but gets quieter before initiating swing; mature barrel control through the strike zone; will rush weight transfer at times and impede ability to achieve a favorable point of contact; demonstrates mature feel for strike zone; features line-drive oriented bat path; above-average raw power but still learning how to tap into it in game; present gap pop with a feel for using entire field; swing lacks leverage to consistently drive ball over the fence.
Above-average and aggressive defender in the center field; excellent closing speed; flat-out goes and gets it in center field; takes instinctual first step; consistently good reads and routes; adept at going back and tracking the ball; isn’t afraid to lay out for the ball; slightly above-average arm strength; quick release; throws are accurate with decent carry; plus runner at full speed; doesn’t explode out of the batter’s box; wheels are more noticeable on defense.
Projection: Second-division center fielder
Video courtesy of Alec Dopp