2018-19 International Reviews: Milwaukee Brewers
This is part of Ben Badler's 2018-19 International Reviews series chronicling all the moves made by teams on the international market over the prior year. To see all 30 teams, click here.
Total 2018 (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2018) signings: 48
When the 2018-19 international signing period opened last year on July 2, the Brewers signed 17-year-old Dominican center fielder Eduarqui Fernandez for $1.1 million. Fernandez has some risk with the bat, but he has a well-rounded tool package with a chance to be a power/speed threat in center field. He has a lean, athletic build (6-foot-2, 175 pounds) with good strength projection that's already starting to bear out. As an amateur, Fernandez made hard contact when he squared it up, with his power now jumping to above-average. Fernandez has the ability to drive the ball over the fence from center field over to his pull side, though he shows swing-and-miss tendencies he will have to cut down on as he moves up. Scouts were mixed on Fernandez's defensive instincts, but he projects to stay in center field with plus speed, a good running gait and a strong arm. Fernandez trained with Jaime Ramos.
Third baseman Branlyn Jaraba also signed for $1.1 million, the biggest bonus of the year for a Colombian player. Jaraba is a strong, physical 16-year-old at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds whose calling card is his power. He has near-average power now and could grow into plus power, driving the ball well to the middle of the field with a compact swing from the right side. His stroke can get top-heavy and he has a power-over-hit profile, with scouts mixed on his pure hitting ability, although he does show a solid idea of the strike zone for his age. With his size, Jaraba will have to work at his first-step quickness, agility and defensive actions to stay at third base and avoid a move to left field or first base. He's a below-average runner with an average arm. Jaraba trained with Orlando Cabrera.
Milwaukee's top Venezuelan player in their 2018-19 class was Eduardo Garcia, who signed when he turned 16 on July 10. He's 6-foot-2, 155 pounds with a thin lower half, wide shoulders and a lot of space to fill out. Garcia is a smooth defensive shortstop. He's a 45 runner and doesn't have the first-step explosiveness of some of the other top shortstops in the class, but he's an instinctive defender with a good internal clock. He's light on his feet with soft hands, good rhythm and body control at shortstop along with an average arm. As an amateur, Garcia was a defensive-oriented player with a light bat from the right side, prone to diving at the ball with timing and balance issues, but after signing he was one of the Brewers' better offensive performers between Tricky League (an unofficial league for July 2 signings) and Dominican instructs.
Erys Bautista is a 17-year-old Dominican outfielder who trained in the same program as Fernandez and signed for $500,000 on July 2. He's 6 feet, 240 pounds, built like Mets' first baseman Dominic Smith, with all of his value tied into what he does at the plate. He's a switch-hitter with advanced power from both sides, and while he can get pull-conscious at times, he's not a free-swinger, showing some feel for translating that power in games. With below-average speed and arm strength, Bautista has enough mobility for now to play left field, but he might end up at first base.
In addition to Garcia, several of the Brewers' top 2018-19 signings came from Venezuela, including shortstop Jesus Parra, who signed when he turned 16 on Aug. 30. Had Parra been born 48 hours later, he would have been a 2019 player, so he's one of the youngest players in the 2018 class and will play all year as a 16-year-old in his professional debut. Parra was one of the better hitters available in Venezuela last year, and he's continued to trend up since signing. He has grown to 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, with a promising blend of size, hitting ability, strike-zone judgment and power. Parra performed well in games as an amateur, both in terms of getting on base and hitting for power. He's already showing above-average power that could climb once he fills out. A below-average runner, Parra is an offensive-oriented player who might outgrow shortstop, but his hands and feet work well for his size and he has a plus arm that would fit well at third base. Parra trained with Alejandro Chividatte.
Rafael Martinez signed with the Brewers out of Venezuela last year on July 2. At 17, Martinez (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) is an excellent athlete with loud tools—including plus speed and a strong arm—who will split time between shortstop and center field. He's a plus runner with a strong arm. Martinez's raw tools are ahead of his game skills, but he's a switch-hitter with fast bat speed and makes loud contact when he finds the barrel. Martinez trained with Oswaldo Camacho.
The Brewers also signed 17-year-old Venezuelan shortstop Carlos Roa on July 2. He's 5-foot-11, 165 pounds with an advanced bat from the right side. He has performed well at the plate in games, with gap power now but the projection to grow into 15-20 home run power. He's a steady defender at shortstop who some scouts thought would end up at second base, but he's improved defensively and could stick at the position. Roa trained with Wilmer Serrano.
Jhonnys Cabrera is a 16-year-old Venezuelan catcher the Brewers signed on July 2. Cabrera (5-foot-11, 160 pounds) stood out as an amateur for his defensive skill set. He's flexible and agile behind the plate with strong, soft hands to receive pitches well. He's a high-energy player behind the plate who works well with pitchers and has a strong arm. Known more as a defensive-oriented player as an amateur, Cabrera ended up being one of the Brewers' better hitters during Tricky League after signing. He trained with Carrillo.
While Major League Baseball banned clubs from signing Mexican League players last year, teams could still sign Mexican prospects who weren't affiliated with Mexican League clubs. That was the case with 16-year-old righthander Mario Perez, who trained with Edgar Gonzalez and signed with the Brewers for $328,750 in July. Perez is an athletic pitcher who has grown to around 6 feet, 155 pounds with advanced feel for pitching. Perez threw in the low to mid-80s as an amateur, but he's now working in the upper 80s and has touched 90 mph now that he's added more strength. He locates his fastball well for his age, showing good shape to his curveball and feel for a changeup.
Among lower bonus players, the Brewers on July 2 signed 16-year-old Venezuelan infielder Joneiker Ponce de Leon. He's 5-foot-9, 150 pounds with good bat-to-ball skills from the right side and plus speed. He could bounce around between shortstop, second base and center field.
Abner Uribe, 18, is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound Dominican righthander who threw in the mid- to upper 80s and touched 90 mph when the Brewers signed him for $85,000 on July 2. His velocity has bumped to touch 95 mph.
Last year in February, during the 2017-18 signing period, the Brewers gave $300,000 to Orveo Saint, a shortstop from the Bahamas. Saint, who turned 19 in November, has raw baseball skills and struggled last year in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he hit .126/.303/.207 with 60 strikeouts in 28 games. He has limited baseball experience but stood out for his fast-twitch, explosive athleticism, plus speed and power potential from the right side out of his 6-foot-2, 190-pound build.
Another notable signing the Brewers made last year for the 2017-18 signing period was Lun Zhao, a 17-year-old Chinese righthander who got $50,000 in June. He's 5-foot-10, 180 pounds with a fastball that touches the low 90s and stands out for a high-spin rate curveball with tight, sharp break. He pitched a little bit as a reliever in the AZL last year, with one run allowed in 8.1 innings and a 6-2 K-BB mark.
Devin Williams Breaks Through In New Role
The power-armed Williams returned from Tommy John surgery in 2018, but he didn't really find his groove until moving to the bullpen in 2019.
See also: 2017-18 Brewers International Review
See also: 2016-17 Brewers International Review
See also: 2015-16 Brewers International Review
See also: 2014-15 Brewers International Review
See also: 2013-14 Brewers International Review
See also: 2012-13 Brewers International Review
See also: 2011-12 NL Central International Review