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2017 Milwaukee Brewers Midseason Top 10 Prospects



Brewers Midseason Top 10
1. Lewis Brinson, OF
2. Brandon Woodruff, RHP
3. Josh Hader, LHP
4. Luis Ortiz, RHP
5. Corbin Burnes, RHP
6. Isan Diaz, 2B
7. Keston Hiura, 2B
8. Corey Ray, OF
9. Mauricio Dubon, SS
10. Lucas Erceg, 3B
The Brewers have two of the biggest surprises in the major leagues this season. The first is Eric Thames, who left South Korea for a three-year deal with the Brewers and has already slugged 23 home runs after not playing in the majors since 2012.

The second surprise is the Brewers themselves, who have defied most prognostications and hold a healthy lead in the National League Central. They’ve done so with a robust offense that has the second-most home runs in the majors, and a surprisingly stout pitching staff with the fourth-best ERA in the National League.

Besides Thames, the Brewers have also received big years from Red Sox import Travis Shaw (20 home runs) and Domingo Santana (15 home runs and a .385 on-base percentage) and a strong season from Jimmy Nelson in the rotation. Jacob Barnes and Corey Knebel have been strong out of the bullpen, too. Former top prospect Orlando Arcia has emerged as a stout defender at shortstop with improving offensive ability.

There's room for internal improvement, with Ryan Braun healthy after playing roughly half of the season to date, while second baseman Jonathan Villar struggles to recapture last year's form, when he led the NL in stolen bases.

The Brewers are in contention for the first time in years, and they are positioned to be buyers at the trading deadline with a deep well of prospects to deal from. With a system stocked with high-end talent, the Brewers are should be able to add the necessary reinforcements for an October run if they so desire.


1. Lewis Brinson, OF Triple-A Colorado Springs Age: 23

Brinson has been everything the Brewers hoped for after they acquired him in the Jonathan Lucroy deal last year. Brinson tore up the Pacific Coast League and was considered by many scouts to be the best prospect playing in the western U.S. this year with his blend of size, speed, and power. He made his big league debut in June. Brinson is a true center fielder with long, smooth strides and has seen time in both corner outfield spots to enhance his versatility. He also earns raves for tremendous makeup and is capable of making an impact for the Brewers down the stretch.


2. Brandon Woodruff, RHP Disabled List Age: 24

Woodruff was all set to make his big league debut in June before a right hamstring strain landed him on the disabled list. The Brewers sped up Woodruff’s delivery this season to get him in sync throughout, and the result was improved stuff with the best command of his career.


3. Josh Hader, LHP Milwaukee Age: 23

Hader’s been traded twice since the Orioles drafted him in 2012, and appears to have found a home in Milwaukee. The Brewers still believe in Hader as a starter but have utilized his fastball-slider combination in the majors out of the bullpen, where most evaluators believe he will stay.


4. Luis Ortiz, RHP Double-A Biloxi Age: 21

Ortiz came to the Brewers last summer along with Brinson in the Lucroy trade, and his new organization has been pleased with what it’s seen. Ortiz’s mid-90s fastball and well above-average slider have always been weapons for him, and now the Brewers are nudging him to continue developing his changeup into a third option.


5. Corbin Burnes, RHP Double-A Biloxi Age: 22

Burnes has dominated high Class A and Double-A with an arsenal that features almost nothing straight. He manipulates his 92-95 mph fastball any way he chooses, and also features a pair of strong breaking balls and a solid changeup. His lack of anything truly plus limits his ceiling in some evaluators’ eyes, but he is pitching like an ace with a 1.09 ERA (best in the full-season minors) and 67 hits allowed in 107.1 innings.


6. Isan Diaz, 2B High Class A Carolina Age: 21

Diaz has struggled in his first taste of high Class A with a .232 average but has shown athleticism and power with 11 home runs. He’s also shown promising tools at both second base and shortstop defensively. Scouts note Diaz hasn’t always given a full effort, but some believe that is frustration manifesting itself in negative ways.


7. Keston Hiura, 2B/OF Rookie-level Arizona League Age: 20

This year’s No. 9 overall pick was lauded out of UC Irvine for his offensive game (he led Division I in batting and OBP), overcoming concerns about how an elbow injury would affect his defense. He’s laid waste to the competition in the Rookie-level Arizona League with 12 extra-base hits in his first 62 at-bats but been a DH every game. The Brewers are betting he’s solid enough at second base to play the position as a pro, and he runs well enough to turn to the outfield if necessary.


8. Corey Ray, OF High Class A Carolina Age: 22

Last year’s No. 4 overall pick has had a rough go of it this year at Carolina, but the Brewers still believe in the tools he showed as an amateur at Louisville. They’d like to see him cut down on his swing and miss tendencies, especially on pitches on the outer half, to help him unlock the raw power they see in batting practice.


9. Mauricio Dubon, SS Triple-A Colorado Springs Age: 22

Dubon does a little bit of everything. Evaluators like his bat and ability to make hard contact, as well as his defensive versatility and above-average makeup. He’s got the chops to play both shortstop and second base and could play center field in a pinch, too. He's got speed and lacks only home run power.


10. Lucas Erceg, 3B high Class A Carolina Age: 22

Erceg has struggled at Carolina because he takes huge hacks with little regard for the situation or the pitcher, but the Brewers believe a tweak to his approach to take more pitches will lead to a breakout. Even with subpar results, he has profile third base power and more than enough defensive ability to stick at the hot corner long-term.


RISING

• RHP Freddy Peralta, acquired from the Mariners in the deal that sent Adam Lind to Seattle, doesn’t have knockout stuff but has continued to dazzle. His fastball sits in the low 90s but has the type of late movement that earns comparisons to the versions thrown by Mike Fiers and Marco Estrada.

• 1B Jacob Gatewood got contact lenses, has moved over to first base and has seen a huge uptick in production. He ranked among the minors' leaders in doubles (fifth).

• OF Monte Harrison, from the same 2014 draft class as Gatewood, has had his best season as a pro, staying healthy, slugging a career-best 15 homers and showing the power-speed combination that excited scouts in his amateur days.


FALLING

• RHP Marcos Diplan has shown knockout stuff at times but mechanical issues have led him him leaving the ball up and kept him from utilizing it to its full potential.

• OF Trent Clark is between approaches at the plate and becomes too aggressive at times despite an above-average idea of the strike zone, resulting in ugly swings and modest production. He had drawn walks and stolen bases, but he’s not driving the ball consistently.


HURTING

• OF Ryan Cordell has been on the disabled list since late June with a back injury and his timetable to return is unknown.

• RHP Josh Pennington missed the first two months after having bone chips removed from his pitching elbow but returned to action in late June.

• LHP Nathan Kirby had a second elbow surgery, this one to relieve stress on his ulnar nerve. He had Tommy John surgery in 2015 that cost him all of last season.

• RHP Phil Bickford broke bones in his hand while pitching in extended spring training during his suspension for testing positive for a drug of abuse.


GRADUATING

• RHP Jacob Barnes has been nails out of the bullpen this year, striking out 48 in 41.2 innings with just 31 hits allowed.

• 1B Jesus Aguilar has been a find after being claimed off waivers from Cleveland, hitting .291 with nine home runs, 34 RBIs and an .897 OPS. He's served as an effective platoon partner for Thames.

Nick Madrigal Danielshirleygetty

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