MLB

Weekly Prospect Update: Milwaukee Brewers

Brandon Woodruff

For a team that was supposed to be rebuilding in 2017, the Milwaukee Brewers performed exceptionally well. They fell just short of the playoffs but still have a lot to be happy about after their season. What’s even more encouraging is that there is even more talent on its way to Milwaukee.

10. Lucas Erceg, 3B

  • Age: 22
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 2(46) – MIL
2017 stats: (High-A Carolina): 127 games, .256/.307/.417, 15 HR, 81 RBI, 66 R, 35 BB, 95 K. (Triple-A Colorado Springs): 3 games, .400/.455/.600, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. 

It’s been a long time since the Brewers have had a homegrown third baseman. While it’s still too early to tell, Erceg may be the answer. Erceg burst on the scene after being Drafted last season and spent the bulk of his first full year at High-A Carolina. He put his impressive pop from the left side on display, hitting 15 homers in 127 games. He performed well enough to jump all the way to Triple-A for a short three-game stint. Erceg collected four hits, including two doubles in the four games. His high offensive ceiling will definitely help him work his way onto top prospect lists in the near future.

9. Mauricio Dubon, SS/2B

  • Age: 23
  • Drafted: 2013, Round 26(773) – BOS
  • Acquired by trade in 2016
2017 stats: (Double-A Biloxi): 71 games, .276/.338/.351, 2 HR, 24 RBI, 34 R, 31 SB, 25 BB, 42 K. (Triple-A Colorado Springs): 58 games, .272/.320/.420, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 40 R, 7 SB, 14 BB, 34 K.  

Dubon broke out last season and continued that pace all throughout 2017. In his first season with the Brewers organization, he was named an All-Star at the Double-A level after a great first half. He batted .276 and swiped an impressive 31 bases in just 71 games with Biloxi. Dubon was then promoted to Triple-A, where he represented the World Team in the All-Star Futures Game. His pace didn’t slow after being promoted to the highest level of the minors, either. His defensive versatility and consistency at the plate should help him reach the Majors as early as next season.

8. Tristen Lutz, OF

  • Age: 19
  • Drafted: 2017, CBA(34) – MIL
2017 stats: (ROK- AZL,PIO): 40 games, .311/.398/.559, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 35 R, 16 BB, 42 K. 

The Brewers liked the all-around versatility Lutz showed in high school and lured him away from a commitment to Texas. His strongest tool is his power from the right side. In his short professional debut, he put it on display with nine homers in 40 games. He also batted .311 and worked 16 walks across the two rookie leagues. The 19-year-old has plenty of talent, but it’s still far too early to tell where he will end up.

7. Corbin Burnes, RHP

  • Age: 23
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 4(111) – MIL
  • MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#96)
2017 stats: (High-A Carolina): 60 IP, 5-0, 1.05 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 56 K, 16 BB. (Double-A Biloxi): 85.2 IP, 3-3, 2.10 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 84 K, 20 BB.  

Burnes emerged as one of the brightest young arms in the minors after a breakout campaign in 2017. The righty flat-out dominated in 145.2 innings across High-A and Double-A. In 10 starts at High-A, Burnes posted a 1.05 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and was a perfect 5-0. In 16 starts with Biloxi after being promoted, Burnes posted a 2.10 ERA and 1.00 WHIP despite the tougher competition. He struck out 140 batters across both leagues and walked just 36. Burnes’ season put any concerns about him being able to stay a starter to rest.

6. Isan Diaz, 2B/SS

  • Age: 21
  • Drafted: 2014, CBB(70) – ARI
  • Acquired by trade in 2015
  • MLB lists: Top 100 Prospects (#85), Top 10 2B Prospects (#4)
2017 stats: (High-A Carolina): 100 games, .222/.334/.376, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 59 R, 9 SB, 62 BB, 121 K.

Back in 2015, Diaz was named MVP of the Rookie-level Pioneer League. The following year, his first with Milwaukee, he was named the top minor leaguer in the Brewers’ system. Unfortunately, he didn’t have quite the same success in 2017 as he did the past two years. Diaz batted just .222 with 13 homers and 121 strikeouts in 110 games. Diaz did miss some time with injury, which could have attributed to his poor performance. Nonetheless, he’s still one of the top second base prospects in the game.

5. Keston Hiura, 2B

  • Age: 21
  • Drafted: 2017, Round 1(9) – MIL
  • MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#81), Top 10 2B Prospects (#3) 
2017 stats: (RK- AZL): 15 games, .435/.500/.839, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 18 R, 6 BB, 13 K. (Single-A Wisconsin): 27 games, .333/.374/.476, 15 RBI, 14 R, 7 BB, 24 K.  

The Brewers showed they’re stockpiling second base prospects after they drafted Hiura with the No. 9 overall pick in this year’s Draft. Hiura was arguably the best hitter in the pitcher-heavy Draft and lived up to it in his professional debut. After batting .435 with four homers in 15 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League, the Brewers sent him to Single-A Wisconsin. The 21-year-old continued to impress, batting .333 in 27 games with the Timber Rattlers. Hirua was placed at No. 81 overall before even playing in a game. After a very strong debut, he should start climbing that list in no time.

4. Brandon Woodruff, RHP

  • Age: 24
  • Drafted: 2014, Round 11(326) – MIL
  • MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#80)
2017 stats: (Triple-A Colorado Springs): 75.1 IP, 6-5, 4.30 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 70 K, 25 BB. (MLB- Milwaukee): 43 IP, 2-3, 4.81 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 32 K, 14 BB.

Woodruff’s solid command and ability to generate groundballs earned him a promotion to the Majors in 2017. In eight starts with the big league club, he posted a 4.81 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. While he gave up too many runs, Woodruff was able to limit his walks and struck out 32 batters. He may not be an ace, but Woodruff should fit nicely as a middle-of-the-rotation starter for years to come.

3. Luis Ortiz, RHP

  • Age: 22
  • Drafted: 2014, Round 1(30) – TEX
  • Acquired by trade in 2016
  • MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#69)
2017 stats: (Double-A Biloxi): 94.1 IP, 4-7, 4.01 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 79 K, 37 BB.

Along with Lewis Brinson, Ortiz was a key piece in the blockbuster Jonathan Lucroy trade last season. He performed well after joining the Brewers last summer and continued that pace this season. In 94.1 innings at Double-A, Ortiz kept his ERA right around 4.00 and posted a 1.23 ERA. He struck out 79 batters and walked just 37 while keeping batters to a .227 average. Ortiz has the makings of a top-of-the-rotation starter. While there’s a chance he could reach the big leagues next season, he should definitely play a major role in 2019.

2. Corey Ray, OF

  • Age: 23
  • Drafted: 2016, Round 1(5) – MIL
  • MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#58)
2017 stats: (High-A Carolina): 112 games, .238/.311/.367, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 56 R, 24 SB, 48 BB, 156 K.

A torn meniscus in his left knee last season limited Ray to 112 games this season. While it definitely slowed his progress, he looks to have made a full recovery. When healthy, Ray has a great combination of power and speed that could help him hit the fast track to the Majors. He’s an all-around great player and once everything clicks, he should put together a breakout campaign.

1. Lewis Brinson, OF

  • Age: 23
  • Drafted: 2012, Round 1(29) – TEX
  • Acquired by trade in 2016  
  • MLB.com lists: Top 100 Prospects (#12), Top 10 OF Prospects (#5)
2017 stats: (Triple-A Colorado Springs): 76 games, .331/.400/.562, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 66 R, 11 SB, 32 BB, 62 K. (MLB- Milwaukee): 21 games, .106/.236/.277, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 7 BB, 17 K.

Out of all of Milwaukee’s outfield prospects, Brinson definitely has the brightest future. Like Ray, Brinson has an excellent combination of power and speed. On top of that, he already has some Major League experience, playing in 21 games with the Brewers in 2017. In his five seasons as a professional, Brinson has grown to become more selective at the plate, working more walks and striking out less. Before the call-up, Brinson batted .331 with 13 homers and 11 stolen bases in 76 games. While his cup of coffee with the Brewers may not have been great, MLB experience is something you can’t fabricate. Expect Brinson to play an important role with the Brewers next season.

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