Milwaukee Brewers' Top 10 Prospects for 2015

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterJanuary 15, 2015

Milwaukee Brewers' Top 10 Prospects for 2015

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    The Milwaukee Brewers’ system has been on a steep decline since the team drafted college pitchers Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley with the Nos. 12 and 15 picks, respectively, in 2011. Both pitchers were expected to make quick work of the minor leagues and become fixtures in the big league rotation. Instead, Jungmann reached Triple-A for the first time last season, while Bradley enjoyed an overdue resurgence and reached Double-A after three seasons at High-A Brevard County.

    However, as bad as those picks look in hindsight, the system does have upside at a few spots. Tyrone Taylor is a toolsy center fielder with excellent contact skills and power potential, while Orlando Arcia projects as an above-average defensive shortstop with the potential to surprise people with the bat. Both players are likely ticketed for Double-A next season.

    Outfielder Monte Harrison received glowing reviews this summer during his professional debut, as the former three-sport standout showcased loud tools as well as surprisingly advanced baseball skills. Meanwhile, there’s a decent chance 17-year-old infielder Gilbert Lara, the recipient of a club-record international signing bonus in July, bypasses the Dominican Summer League and makes his stateside debut.

    Devin Williams, the team's top pick in the 2013 draft, is an athletic right-hander with a lightning-quick arm and tons of potential. 2014 first-rounder Kodi Medeiros is probably a reliever in pro ball but is also a lefty who can touch the mid-90s with deception and a plus slider. The Brewers also have a collection of potential midrotation arms between the High- and Double-A levels such as Taylor Williams, Tyler Wagner and Jorge Lopez, and they’re all coming off career-best performances last season.

    Here are the Milwaukee Brewers’ top 10 prospects for the 2015 season.

How They're Ranked

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Position Players

    • Body type/athleticism
    • Speed
    • Hitting mechanics, bat speed
    • Injury history
    • Statistical trends
    • Age vs. level: How well a player fared at a certain level relative to his age and that of the competition
    • Tools: Number of projectable tools a player possesses in relation to his position, age and competition; present vs. future tool grades
    • Hit tool: In the evolution of the prospect landscape, the hit tool is the most importantbut also the hardest to project.
    • League and park factors
    • On-base skills: Approach, strike-zone management, pitch recognition
    • Makeup/character
    • Defensive tools and skill sets, present vs. projected position
    • Place on organization's depth chart
    • Positional scarcity, up-the-middle potential 

    Pitchers

    • Body type/athleticism/strength
    • Mechanics: Delivery, arm speed, release point
    • Age vs. highest level of experience
    • Injury history (durability)
    • Statistical trends
    • Arsenal quality and depth
    • Pitch projections: Present vs. future grades
    • Hitability: How tough is he to barrel? Does he keep the ball on the ground/in the park?
    • Control/command: Is he usually around the zone? Does he effectively command his stuff? How much development/refinement is needed?
    • Pitchability: Feel (and confidence) for using and sequencing entire arsenal.
    • Approach: Does he fearlessly attack and challenge opposing hitters?  
    • Projection: Does he project as a starter? If so, what type? Or is he likely to be relegated to the bullpen? If so, why?

    Resources

Close Calls

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    Clint Coulter, OF

    Taylor Jungmann, RHP

    Miguel Diaz, RHP

10. Kodi Medeiros, LHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 05/25/1996 (Age: 18)

    Height/Weight: 6’2”, 180 lbs.

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Drafted: First round, 2014 (Waiakea HS, Hawaii)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NA

    ETA: 2019

    2014 Stats

    Future Pitch Grades:

    FastballSliderChangeupControl
    65655545

    Scouting Report

    Hailing from Hawaii, Medeiros was one of the more intriguing and polarizing prep arms in this year's draft class due to his electric stuff but lack of physical projection. The Brewers selected Medeiros with the No. 12 overall pick and then sent him to the Rookie-level Arizona League, where the left-hander posted a 7.13 ERA but also struck out 26 batters in 17.2 innings.

    The 6’2”, 180-pound left-hander works from a unique low-three-quarters arm that gives his 90-94 mph fastball late life and causes it to jump on opposing hitters. Medeiros’ slider is a future plus-plus offering thrown with depth and late, swing-and-miss break, and the southpaw also has some feel for a changeup.

    Medeiros throws nothing straight—which is always a good thing—but he’ll need to refine aspects of his delivery and work from a more consistent arm slot before addressing specific concerns about his arsenal.

    Ceiling (OFP): 60 (No. 3 starter) – Extreme risk

9. Tyler Wagner, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 01/24/1991 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 195 lbs.

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Fourth round, 2012 (Utah)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NR

    ETA: 2016

    2014 Stats

    Future Pitch Grades:

    FastballSliderChangeupControl
    60504545

    Scouting Report

    Wagner was a model of consistency last season for High-A Brevard County, as the 23-year-old right-hander started 25 games and pitched to a stellar 1.86 ERA in 150 innings.

    The 6’3” right-hander pounds the zone and generates a ton of weak contact with his low-90s sinker. His slider is more of a swing-and-miss offering, thrown with decent depth and bite, and he’ll also mix in a changeup in order to keep hitters honest.

    Wagner is likely to achieve the major league level based on the merits of his sinker, but he’ll need to develop a more effective and consistent changeup to avoid a bullpen role.

    Ceiling (OFP): 50 (No. 4 or 5 starter/late-inning reliever) – Medium risk

8. Wei-Chung Wang, LHP

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    Position: LHP

    DOB: 04/25/1992 (Age: 22)

    Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180 lbs.

    Bats/Throws: L/L

    Signed: 2011 by Pirates (Taiwan)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NR (Brewers)

    ETA: Debuted in 2014

    2014 Stats

    Future Pitch Grades:

    FastballCurveballChangeupControl
    55605050

    Scouting Report

    The Brewers grabbed Wang in last year’s Rule 5 draft and kept him on the 25-man roster for the entire season, even allowing the 22-year-old to make 14 appearances out of the big league bullpen; however, a good chunk of Wang’s season was also spent in the minor leagues as he logged 27 innings across three levels during a rehab assignment.

    Wang obviously was not ready for the major leagues last year, as he was forced to make an unprecedented jump from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to The Show to begin his second professional season. The 6’1”, 180-pound left-hander still showed potential as a back-end starter with his 90-93 mph fastball, above-average curveball and promising changeup.

    The Brewers are now free to develop Wang as they choose, meaning he’s likely to spend most if not all of the upcoming season in the minor leagues.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (No. 3 or 4 starter) – Medium risk

7. Jorge Lopez, RHP

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Position: RHP

    DOB: 02/10/1993 (Age: 21)

    Height/Weight: 6’4”, 165 lbs.

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Second round, 2011 (Caguas Military Academy, PR)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NR

    ETA: 2016

    2014 Stats

    Future Pitch Grades:

    FastballCurveballChangeupControl
    55555045

    Scouting Report

    Lopez, a second-round pick in the 2011 draft out of Puerto Rico, moved up to High-A Brevard County last season and held his own over 25 starts in the Florida State League.

    Lopez is loaded with projection at 6’4” and 165 pounds, and it’s easy to envision his low-90s fastball sitting a few ticks higher at maturity. He also has a feel for mixing in a two-seamer that registers a few ticks slower with decent arm-side sink. The right-hander’s curveball is largely inconsistent at the moment but projects as an average offering with late bite out of the zone. He also throws a changeup that could be average once he learns to throw it less firmly.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (No. 3 or 4 starter) – High risk

6. Taylor Williams, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 07/21/1991 (Age: 23)

    Height/Weight: 5’11”, 165 lbs.

    Bats/Throws: S/R

    Drafted: Fourth round, 2013 (Kent State)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NR

    ETA: 2016

    2014 Stats

    Future Pitch Grades:

    FastballSliderChangeupControl
    65554560

    Scouting Report

    Williams carved up Midwest League hitters in his full-season debut, posting a 2.36 ERA with 112 strikeouts against 78 hits and 23 walks in 107 innings, and then, he finished the year with five starts at High-A Brevard County.

    Despite being undersized at 5’11”, 165 pounds, Williams, 23, has an above-average heater in the low- to mid-90s and an ability to spot it throughout the zone. The right-hander’s slider is at least a solid-average offering, though it tends to play up due to the deception in his delivery. He’ll also mix in a fringe-average changeup.

    Williams is probably best suited for a bullpen role, as his high-effort delivery, aggressive approach and fastball/slider combination should help him miss even more bats; however, his future as a starter shouldn’t be ruled out just yet, because there’s definitely something to be said for his combination of stuff and command.

    Ceiling (OFP): 55 (No. 3 or 4 starter/late-inning reliever) - Medium risk

5. Gilbert Lara, 3B

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    Position: 3B

    DOB: 10/30/1997 (Age: 17)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 205 lbs.

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: 2014 (Dominican Republic)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NA

    ETA: 2019

    2014 Stats (DNP)

    Tools Breakdown (Future Grades):

    HitPowerRunFieldArm
    5065405050

    Scouting Report

    The Brewers gave Lara a franchise-record $3.1 million bonus this past summer, and the 17-year-old promptly justified his price tag with an eye-opening performance during the fall instructional league.

    I cannot tell you much about Lara since I’ve yet to view him in person. Therefore, I thought I’d turn things over to Baseball America’s Ben Badler for a comprehensive scouting report (subscription required):

    Lara is one of the most physically mature players for 2014 and it shows in his offensive game. His plus raw power ranks second in the class only to Dominican shortstop Dermis Garcia, but Lara takes his power to the games with much higher frequency. His swing and hitting approach are unorthodox, but he has good bat speed and seems to find a way to make it work against live pitching.

    Shortstop isn’t an option for Lara, who’s a below-average runner and lacks natural infield actions. He might get a chance to begin his career at third base, where he does have a quick release to make up for below-average arm strength and a funky throwing stroke. He doesn’t have great hands, range or timing in the infield though, and he’s going to be so big that most scouts consider him a first baseman or left fielder exclusively.

    The Brewers went all-in on Lara for his bat, and considering the buzz he generated this past fall, the teenager could potentially open the 2015 season in a stateside league.

    Ceiling (OFP): 65 (Potential All-Star) – Extreme risk

4. Monte Harrison, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 08/10/1995 (Age: 19)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 200 lbs.

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Second round, 2014 (Lee’s Summit West HS, Missouri)

    Last Year’s Ranking: NA

    ETA: 2019

    2014 Stats

    Tools Breakdown (Future Grades):

    HitPowerRunArmField
    4555557055

    Scouting Report

    Before he signed with the Brewers, Harrison was a three-sport standout known mostly for his highlight-reel dunks and rating as a 4-star recruit wide receiver, per 247Sports. However, the 19-year-old proved to be more advanced than expected last summer in his pro debut, posting an impressive .261/.402/.339 batting line with a 13.8 percent walk rate and 32 stolen bases over 50 games in the Arizona League.

    Harrison’s plus speed and range profile are clean fits in center field, while his plus-plus arm strength—which was among the best in the 2014 draft class—is ideal for a career in right field. He saw time at both positions during his pro debut and will likely continue to moving forward.

    Harrison’s bat lags behind his other tools, but that’s mostly a result of having never focused on baseball exclusively. Yet, his patient approach and willingness to take walks during his pro debut were pleasant surprises, and his strength and bat speed should give him solid-average power at maturity. Overall, he seems ready to make huge developmental strides next season now that he has fully committed to baseball.

    Ceiling (OFP): 65 (First-division player/potential All-Star) - Extreme risk

3. Devin Williams, RHP

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    Position: RHP

    DOB: 09/21/1994 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’3”, 165 lbs.

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Second round, 2013 (Hazelwood West HS, Missouri)

    Last Year’s Ranking: 5

    ETA: 2018

    2014 Stats

    Future Pitch Grades:

    FastballSliderChangeupControl
    65556050

    Scouting Report

    Williams was all over the place during his first eight appearances in the Pioneer League, but the 2013 second-round pick righted the ship in late July and posted a 2.70 ERA with six walks and 33 strikeouts over his final 30 frames (seven appearances).

    With a 6’3”, 165-pound frame and plus athleticism, Williams, 20, is the definition of projectable. His fastball is currently above average but will flash plus, bumping 94-95 mph. It’s easy to envision him sitting in the mid-90s in the coming years.

    As far as secondaries, the right-hander throws a slider in the low 80s with inconsistent shape, although his arm speed and wrist action suggest it could be a potential weapon. Williams also throws a promising changeup that has late fading action and good velocity separation relative to his fastball, both of which give it above-average potential at maturity.

    Ceiling (OFP): 65 (No. 2 or 3 starter) – High risk

2. Orlando Arcia, SS

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    Position: SS

    DOB: 08/04/1994 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’0”, 165 lbs.

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Signed: 2010 (Venezuela)

    Last Year’s Ranking: 6

    ETA: 2016

    2014 Stats

    Tools Breakdown (Future Grades):

    HitPowerRunArmField
    5535506060

    Scouting Report

    Arcia, the younger brother of Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, enjoyed a breakout performance last season in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, batting .289 with a .738 OPS, 38 extra-base hits and 31 stolen bases in 127 games.

    Arcia has always stood out for his impressive defense at shortstop, leaving little doubt about whether he’ll be able to stick at the position long term. More specifically, the 20-year-old projects as a plus defender at the highest level, as he displays a genuine feel for the position along with advanced footwork, above-average range, soft hands and plenty of arm strength.

    Arcia’s strong defensive profile gives him a high floor as a big-league regular, whereas his ongoing development at the dish could turn him into an impact, first-division shortstop.  

    Ceiling (OFP): 60 (First-division player) – Medium risk

1. Tyrone Taylor, OF

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    Position: OF

    DOB: 01/22/1994 (Age: 20)

    Height/Weight: 6’0”, 185 lbs.

    Bats/Throws: R/R

    Drafted: Second round, 2012 (Torrance HS, California)

    Last Year’s Ranking: 1

    ETA: 2016

    2014 Stats

    Tools Breakdown (Future Grades):

    HitPowerRunArmField
    5550605560

    Scouting Report

    Taylor’s production this past season in the Florida State League mirrored his full-season debut at Low-A Wisconsin from the previous year, as he batted .278/.331/.396 with 45 extra-base hits (36 doubles) and 23 stolen bases in 130 games. The 20-year-old was moved up to Double-A for the final week of the regular season, and he’ll almost definitely return there to open 2015.

    The 6’0”, 185-pound outfielder does a good job staying inside the baseball, and he uses the entire field, with a majority of his power going to the gaps. Taylor has the potential for average power at maturity, but he’s still figuring out how to apply it in games.

    Taylor’s plus athleticism stands out in center field, as he possesses excellent closing speed and can flat-out go get the ball. Furthermore, he has an instinctual first step and takes direct routes, and he’s especially adept at going back and tracking the ball.

    Taylor likely won’t be ready for the major leagues for another two years, but the 20-year-old has the makings of a first-division center fielder with 20-20 potential in his prime.

    Ceiling (OFP): 60 (First-division regular) – Medium risk

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