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Milwaukee Brewers Top 10 Prospects Chat

Andrew (Greencastle PA): Who are the players to watch that are projected to start out with Carolina this spring? Tom Haudricourt: Ok, let's get this chat started. One of the things the Brewers pitched to the Carolina folks was how many of their top prospects would be assigned there in 2017. Just among the Top 10, you might get RHP Luis Ortiz, OF Corey Ray, INF Isan Diaz, OF Trent Clark (later in the year), 3B Lucas Erceg, perhaps RHP Marcos Diplan and RHP Phil Bickford, once he serves his 50-game suspension for a drug of abuse.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): Thanks for chatting, Tom. Did newly acquired Mauricio Dubon make any sort of noise to warrant inclusion on your top 10, and what are the Brewers' plans for him - both on the diamond and at what level? Tom Haudricourt: Dubon landed just outside of the Top 10. Certainly very close. The Brewers say they will keep him at shortstop for the present but he likely will profile at second base at some point if not center field. He is very athletic and versatile. I am told he would be a fine major league shortstop but the current plan is for Orlando Arcia to get a long leash there.

Tommy (Chicago): What did you think of Gilbert Lara's year overall, and will we see him in the 11-20 range in the Handbook? Is he a SS or 3B in the future? Tom Haudricourt: Lara has yet to fulfill the offensive promise shown when the Brewers signed him at age 16. The good news is that he's still a teenager. But he needs to show some progress in 2017. As for his position, that's a good question. It might turn out to be 3B, if he starts flashing the power the Brewers think he will have. It is so hard to know what's going to happen with these 16-year-old Latin signings but the Brewers sunk more than $3 million into Lara. That's how highly they regarded him.

Eric (Denver, CO): Is the "Sheriff" of Nottingham Milwaukee's best catching prospect at present? Is he ticketed for Colorado Springs, come April? Looking forward to seeing him. Thx Tom Haudricourt: Jacob Nottingham indeed is the Brewers top catching prospect. They pushed him to Class AA Biloxi at age 21 last season and it was no real surprise that he struggled. He went to the Arizona Fall League for more seasoning and scouts liked him there behind the plate. I'm guessing Nottingham will have to repeat at Biloxi in 2017, at least to begin the season. Still a young kid but with lots of potential.

Brett Phillips (Biloxi): Tom, what did scouts say I was doing wrong this past year, and can I regain my prospect status if I promise never to do it again? Tom Haudricourt: Gotta get that swing squared away and make more consistent contact. Way too many strikeouts. There's a lot of ability there but an adjustment or two must be made at the plate, scouts have told me. You can do it.

Sam (Washington, DC): Is Kodi Medeiros' future as a starter or reliever to you, especially given his delivery? Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers think Medeiros can be a starter but he certainly scuffled at Class A Brevard County (4-12, 5.93), a place usually friendly to pitchers. He is only 20, however, so there is plenty of time to figure out his best role. No sense limiting him to a relief role at this early stage. He is funkadelic with that delivery. so may a lefty specialist is in his future, but not any time soon.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): While Jorge Lopez certainly had his struggles this year, he seems to be back on track in winter ball. Are you optimistic he can regain his 2015 form and become a mid-rotation type? Is he in your next ten names in the top 30? Tom Haudricourt: Lopez is in the next 10 of Brewers prospects. Here's what scouts told me happened with Lopez at Colorado Springs: He couldn't get his signature curveball to break as it had in the past, started fiddling with it, got his mechanics all messed up, lost confidence, etc. He was removed from Colorado Springs for his mental health and eventually put back at Class AA Biloxi, where he was Southern League pitcher of the year in 2015. As you noted, he is dealing once again in Puerto Rico. Now, the Brewers must decide if they can risk sending him back to Colorado Springs in 2017 or just leave him at Biloxi to continue pitching. Tough call.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): Do you believe the Brewers were too aggressive in assigning Ray to Hi-A out of the gate? Tom Haudricourt: Sort of a no harm, no foul situation. Ray was an advanced college hitter from an advanced college program (Louisville), so why not see what he could do at high Class A? He eventually made some adjustments, as all talented players do, and so it probably was a good learning experience for him. He has a multitude of talents and should be fun to watch down the road.

Kelly (St. Cloud, MN): I see you have Ryan Cordell at 1B on your lineup card. Is this likely to become a reality, meaning, too many top prospects in the outfield for him to push past? Tom Haudricourt: Well, it's hard to tell where Cordell might end up because the Brewers are absolutely brimming with outfield talent. He is considered a versatile athlete with many weapons, including budding power, so first base might be it for him down the road. Or perhaps he will just be one of those players who moves around and versatility becomes his key. We shall see.

Ryan (Milton, WI): Do you see Brewers taking on bad contracts to acquire better young talent again like they did when they acquired Isan Diaz? Tom Haudricourt: Well, did the Brewers really take on a bad contract with Aaron Hill? They only paid half his $12 million salary, used him as a starter at third base for three months, where his leadership also paid off, then flipped him to Boston for a couple of minor leaguers. They figured they could use both Hill and righty Chase Anderson but as you noted, Diaz was the key to that deal. And, boy, do the scouts like him. Already hearing Robinson Cano comparisons at that age.

Zach (Wisc.): Were Kodi, Monte, and Gatewood close to making your list? Tom Haudricourt: I'm not exactly sure exactly where those three will land in the Top 30 because we were still hashing all of that out with some offseason moves. They certainly rate strongly on the prospect list. Harrison just needs some luck on the injury front. Man, has he been snake bit. Gatewood grew so much he now is considered a corner infielder instead of a shortstop. Just has to make more consistent contact.

Tony (Bernie's Chalet): Any idea of the team's thought process for prospect call ups to the bigs? What's the balance between "the player is ready" and "we better get this player some experience because we're going to need them in a year"? Tom Haudricourt: Those decisions are always a combination of readiness and opportunity. If there is an opening at the big-league level, you judge the readiness of the top prospect at that position. If you think he needs more seasoning, you make a different move. The Brewers want these players to come up and stick, not go up and down like a yo-yo. They are not afraid to be aggressive, however, so again it comes back to the proper balance.

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Of the two former Oriole pitching prospects (Zach Davis, Josh Hader) headed to the Brewer's staff which has the higher cieling? If you had to pick one or the other now, which do you chose? Tom Haudricourt: They are so different. Davis is a right-handed finesse pitcher who carves up hitters with precision pitching. Hader is a lefty who throws hard and has a funky delivery that makes him a big strikeout pitcher. I see them both being in the Brewers rotation for years to come. And what a righty-lefty complement to each other they would be. It just shows you there are many ways to skin that baseball cat.

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Compare the top 30 prospect lists of the 2016 Handbook and the anticipated 2017 Handbook. For the Brewers, who went up the most slots? Who dropped down the most? Tom Haudricourt: As noted, the rest of the Top 30 was still a bit fluid last time I looked. But Brandon Woodruff wasn't even in the Top 30 last year and now he's No. 7! Crazy, right? That's how good a year he had. Some of those going the other way included outfielders Tyrone Taylor and Clint Coulter, who suffered from both tepid showings and the huge influx of talent in the system over the last year or so. This Top 30 has been greatly rebuilt by the many moves the Brewers made in acquiring prospects during this rebuild.

MJ (Valpo): Monte Harrison and Jacob Gatewood were pretty hyped-up a couple seasons ago...they've both struggled but are still pretty young, so do they still have some potential to reach their expectations when drafted? Tom Haudricourt: Yes. Far too soon to give up on them. As noted, Harrison has had terrible injury luck. But, as also noted, the organization is far stronger than a year or two ago with the influx of highly regarded prospects, so the competition to be noticed is higher than ever.

Ben (Iowa): Any word on Daniel Missaki's rehab? Will he be ready for spring training? Tom Haudricourt: To be honest, I haven't heard. But unless there has been a setback we haven't been informed of, you would think the timing is right to pitch in the spring. I will see what I can find out and put it out there somehow.

Ben (Iowa): Any concern over Luis Ortiz's K-Rate dip in AA? Tom Haudricourt: I don't think so. Let's not forget how young he is and that it was a year of adjustments for him in many ways after being traded, etc. Ortiz didn't turn 21 until after the 2016 season was done.

Buff (Colorado): Looking at the Insider, pretty much the entire 2010 lineup projects to be prospects. What happens to the likes of relative youngsters Villar, Broxton, Perez, etc.? Jettisoned for cheaper, even younger prospects? Does the rebuild go that deep and take that long? Tom Haudricourt: I assume you meant the 2020 lineup. Who knows how all of this will shake out? There are so many moving parts and it's going to be fluid for some time. You can only project which prospects might make it and those who won't. As I've written in the past, the Brewers are a transitional team right now. History tells us most of the players in transition don't make it to the end of the rebuild. The Cubs are a good example of that. Buckle your seat belts and expect some turbulence.

Aaron (Mainz, Germany): Will, in Your opinion, Josh Hader make some starts for the Brewers this year? Tom Haudricourt: Yes, I think he will. History tells us you usually use 10 or so starters a year. Hader certainly falls within that depth chart.

Steve (New York): Brett Phillips had a tough year but where does he rank in the Brewers system? Is there precedent for a young player with his K/contact issues turning it around or is that really the exception to the rule? Tom Haudricourt: Phillips is very young and has many tools. He just needs to make adjustments with his swing and make more contact. Otherwise, he won't fulfill his potential. There is plenty of time to get this right but as noted earlier, the Brewers are brimming with outfield prospects. The competition is going to be fierce.

Jeff (Appleton): Tom, great to see the depth in the farm system, but what does it say for Brett Phillips to fall off the list? Tom Haudricourt: It says he had a tough year and the Brewers loaded up with some top prospects. Brinson and Ortiz, now Nos. 1 and 3, were acquired in the same trade (Lucroy and Jeffress to Texas). That pushed two out of last year's Top 10 right there. Corey Ray was a first-round draft pick and Lucas Erceg a second-rounder. There went two more players previously in the Top 10. Stuff happens when you keep adding top prospects.

John (Wisconsin): The Brewers appear to have a surplus of premium talent at OF, which is only complicated by their apparent plans to keep Ryan Braun. With Santana and Broxton at the MLB level, and Philips and Brinson MLB-ready and much talent to follow, what would you project as the 2018 opening day outfield? Tom Haudricourt: With this rebuild still in the early stages and no way to know what moves will be made between now and 2018, it would be folly to throw out three OF names right now. I'm both follically challenged and folly challenged, so I will pass. But nice try.

Trent Clark (Who Knows, USA): BA, I was a highly touted prospect coming into the 2015 MLB Draft. My draft stock was high coming off an impressive performance where I led my 18U USA team in hitting. But my first taste of pro ball was a disaster. It's like the only thing I knew how to do was walk? Will my hit tool take a step in the right direction this year, or was I overrated? Tom Haudricourt: Your first taste was not a disaster. You were terrific as a first-year pro in 2015. You can look it up. Then, you kept straining your hamstring in 2016 and had trouble staying on the field, remember? That makes it tough to move forward. If you're healthy in 2017, I'm guessing things will go much better. I've talked to you and I know you will leave no stone unturned in doing this.

Riley (Milwaukee, WI): Which of the Brewers top prospects are most likely to crack the opening day roster? Or even the starting lineup? Tom Haudricourt: I'm not sure any would crack the opening day roster unless there are injuries. Orlando Arcia is already up and next up would likely be Brinson and Hader. I'd think it would take injuries in spring camp for them to make the opening day roster, but you never know. And I'm keeping my eye on fast-rising Brandon Woodruff.

Joe (Madison): What prospects outside the top 10 are prime to break out this year and make the list next year? Tom Haudricourt: Hard to say but keep an eye on Nottingham, Dubon, Burnes, Feliciano and McClanahan. All have the talent to have big years and move upward.

Justin (Madison, WI): Who will make it to the Big leagues first from this group? Who do you think will make the greatest impact? Tom Haudricourt: Brinson, Hader, Ray and Diaz should be impact players, and it wouldn't surprise me if Erceg is as well. He plays a position of need in the organization and had a great first year.

Brad Solomon (Champlin, Mn): Injuries not factored in, what is your prediction for Brewers outfield at start of 2017 season, & at the end? Tom Haudricourt: Well, I passed on the 2018 outfield but I'm willing to make a stab at 2017: LF Ryan Braun, CF Keon Broxton, RF Domingo Santana. That's at the start. In-season moves will dictate how it ends.

And That (St. Paul): Assuming this was put together before the Thornburg trade, would Dubon be in the Brewers' top 10? Tom Haudricourt: No, Dubon was done in time for the Top 10. I believe he might be just outside at No. 11 or so. Almost made it. A great talent.

Ben (Montreal): Hi Tom, Love your work. Is Chris Sale a good comp for what Josh Hader could be in the near future ? Does he have a chance to be in the Brewers rotation by the end of the year ? Thanks! Tom Haudricourt: You hear a lot of Sale comparisons because of similarities in how he and Hader throw the ball but I would never put that kind of pressure on anyone to live up to that kind of performance. If Hader comes anywhere close to Sale, the Brewers will be quite pleased.

Diggy (Mil-town): How dangerous is the situation Phil Bickford finds himself in? Tom Haudricourt: Well, you can't keep making that mistake and stay in baseball. Hopefully, this wakes him up to that reality and he moves past this episode. Would be a shame to see him waste that kind of talent.

Aaron (Mainz, Germany): What's the status of Wei-Chung Wang? Could he reach the majors in the not-too-distant future? Tom Haudricourt: Well, I'm guessing he begins the year in Class AAA Colorado Springs. Hopefully, that hitter-friendly venue won't mess him up too badly. The Brewers are shy of quality lefties, so I'd say don't give up on Wang yet. He didn't go in the Rule 5 draft but that doesn't mean he won't make it.

Peter Pan (Neverland): How far from the Top 10 was Freddy Peralta? Tom Haudricourt: Peralta was in the next 10, so he is in good shape among the Top 30. He showed a lot of progress in 2016 and is definitely one to watch moving forward.

Brent (Milwaukee): Brewers now have a deep farm system, but elite level talent is what worries me. Other than Lara the Brewers have not spent alot on international draft and that is where, Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs have hit elite talent. Will Brewers change this approach now with a small payroll? Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers have put more emphasis on the international scene in recent years and I'd look for them to be active in future years. Playing a big of catch-up there but committed to do better.

Mitchell Baker (Evansville, IN): Jacob Gatewood. He was a high risk, high reward draft pick. Is it looking more and more likely that he'll never figure out his contact issues and will never come close to his ceiling? Or should we stay patient since he's still only 21? Tom Haudricourt: Former Brewers GM Doug Melvin used to always say that patience is the one thing hard to find in the game. Some will be necessary with Gatewood. Swing and miss players can make it to the big leagues, though. The Brewers had one lead the NL in home runs last season.

BadgerD (Northbrook, IL): Big jump for Woodruff. Could you discuss how he projects, including a comparison to MLB pitchers? Tom Haudricourt: Woodruff's stuff has improved so much since being drafted. He throws much harder, has a better idea of how to set up hitters and just worked his butt off to improve. Pitching coach Chris Hook deserves a lot of credit for helping him realize the importance of pace and rhythm. I won't compare him to MLB pitchers. But suffice it to say this guy put it all together in 2016. I hope Colorado Springs doesn't mess him up.

Johnny (Milwaukee): Is Victor Roache a lost cause at this point? Started out okay in 2015 with Brevard County then fell off the map after his promotion to Biloxi. Tom Haudricourt: As noted, the Brewers are brimming with OF prospects after acquiring a slew of them over the last year. That has not helped Roache or Tyrone Taylor. The competition is very stiff in the outfield right now.

brent (milwaukee): Coming off surgeries where does Williams and Kirby start the season? Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers haven't said. Williams should be ready for an opening day assignment but I'm not sure about Kirby. He was a bit behind Williams in the fall. Might be a candidate for extended spring training. The Brewers won't want to get too crazy with these guys until they get their feet back on the ground because the upside is considerable.

Ken (New York): Where will corey ray begin the year and do you think his offense will come soon Tom Haudricourt: I would think Ray will be assigned to the Brewers' new high Class A Carolina affiliate. As noted earlier, he is a very advanced hitter, so look for him to move steadily through the system.

Seth Ferguson (New York): Even though Demi Orimoloye only batted .205 he's only 19 and a crazy athlete. Do you still like his upside, and do we just have to stay patient and hope he figures most of it out? What type of ceiling does he have? Tom Haudricourt: Yes, yes and yes. No sense putting any ceiling on Orimoloye right now because, as you said, he is very young with a great skill set. Also, didn't play a ton of ball in Canada, so let's give him time to figure this all out. I'm guessing he will.

Shane (Little Chute, WI): Big jump for Woodruff. Is he the real deal? Tom Haudricourt: We think so. Let's see how he handles Colorado Springs, if assigned there. His pitching style has a chance to make it there. This is a pitcher putting it all together right now.

Han (Watertown): do you see cordell in milwaukee this year? Tom Haudricourt: Possibly. Depends on opportunity as much as anything. Cordell is considered a late bloomer with an advanced skill set. That bodes well for him.

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Raymond (Milwaukee): I realize you don't actually have a say, but how many of the top ten do you believe are worthy to make the BA top 100 list ? Tom Haudricourt: Impossible for me to say because I don't know the other organizations from top to bottom, like my good friends and experts at Baseball America do. But I'm guessing the Brewers will fare well. I'd like to thank the aforementioned folks for the opportunity to do this chat and for their help in putting together the Top 10 and Top 30. I am forever impressed at how dedicated and knowledgeable they are in this area. It ain't easy figuring all that stuff out. And much of it is objective, which makes it so fun (and unpredictable). With that, I will bid adieu to all of you folks who participated today and showed interest in this chat. Take care and Happy Holidays to all. -- TH

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