2013 Milwaukee Brewers Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.

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When the Brewers were foundering in late July amid a bullpen crisis, GM Doug Melvin decided it was time to trade Zack Greinke, who had spurned overtures to sign a contract extension.

Melvin figured it best to recoup some young talent after dealing four players—Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi, Lorenzo Cain and Jeremy Jeffress—to acquire Greinke from the Royals in December 2010. The GM sent Greinke to the Angels for shortstop Jean Segura and righthanders Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena. Melvin would have traded other veteran pitchers too, but Francisco Rodriguez and Randy Wolf were struggling too badly to attract interest, and Shaun Marcum had an elbow injury.

A funny thing happened after the Brewers waved their white flag. They started winning. Milwaukee won 24 of 30 games to climb back into the National League wild-card race before being eliminated with three games left in the season. While they failed to make the playoffs, they did record consecutive winning seasons for just the second time in the last two decades.

The surge came with young players playing key roles. Mike Fiers had come up from Triple-A Nashville in late May to assume a starting berth, and he was followed by Mark Rogers and Wily Peralta. Those pitchers performed so well that the Brewers began rethinking their plans for 2013, when they'll give all three of them the opportunity to win permanent jobs in the rotation.

Segura made the Brewers feel better about their shortstop situation, which was thrown into turmoil in early May when veteran Alex Gonzalez tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. The 22-year-old Segura came up from Double-A just eight games after the trade and was thrust into a sink-or-swim situation. After taking on water early, he made adjustments and held his own down the stretch, and the Brewers are prepared to go with him at shortstop to open 2013.

Two other rookies made significant contributions to the lineup. After Mat Gamel went down in early May with a torn ACL in his right knee, Corey Hart moved from right field to first base and Japanese import Norichika Aoki took over in right and settled in as the leadoff hitter.

When Jonathan Lucroy broke his hand in late May and missed two months, Martin Maldonado proved he could handle everyday catching duties if necessary. When Lucroy returned, Milwaukee dealt George Kottaras to the Athletics and made Maldonado the backup.

After focusing on pitching in the 2011 draft, the Brewers used extra picks to stock up on hitters in 2012. They selected Washington high school catcher Clint Coulter and Georgia Southern outfielder Victor Roache in the first round, then followed with Cal Poly outfielder Mitch Haniger in the supplemental first. All three rank among Milwaukee's Top 10 Prospects.

The Brewers hope Coulter, Roache and Haniger will have an easier time getting acclimated to pro ball than the pitchers they took at the top of the 2011 draft. Taylor Jungmann, the 12th overall pick, didn't miss many bats when he went straight to high Class A. He had more success than 15th overall choice Jed Bradley, who got progressively worse on the same club before being shut down in early August.

Jorge Lopez, a 2011 second-rounder, battled back problems and took a rare step back from the Rookie-level Arizona League to the Dominican Summer League. The silver lining from the 2011 draft crop of pitchers was that Drew Gagnon (third round) and David Goforth (seventh) helped Wisconsin win the low Class A Midwest League title.

1. Wily Peralta, rhp Born: May 8, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 240
Signed: Dominican Republic '05 Signed by: Fausto Sosa Pena/Fernando Arango
Wily Peralta
Background: Peralta's handlers in the Dominican Republic advertised him as an athletic outfielder with a promising power-speed combination when he became available on the international market in 2005. But the Brewers were more enamored with his strong, quick arm, and they signed him as a pitcher for $450,000. He lasted just one pro summer before blowing out his elbow, however, requiring Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2007 season. Back to full strength by 2009, Peralta began a steady climb through the system. In 2011, he led the Double-A Southern League with a 3.46 ERA and was so dominant in five late-season starts at Triple-A Nashville that Milwaukee expected him to return there last season and cruise. That didn't happen. Peralta struggled with his mechanics, had trouble throwing strikes and allowed hitters to sit on his fastball. He allowed just four runs in his first three starts, but after a brief promotion to the Brewers—he gave up three hits and one run in his big league debut, a relief appearance on April 22—he returned to Nashville and couldn't get anyone out. His ERA swelled to 6.40 in late June, and his struggles cost him at least one chance to fill a hole in Milwaukee's rotation. Brewers officials grew quite concerned. Peralta finally was able to make adjustments—a key was closing his front side instead of flying open in his delivery—and pitched well enough to get a September callup to Milwaukee. He showed why he ranked No. 1 on this list a year ago, winning his first big league start against the Marlins and two-hitting the Mets for eight innings in his third.

Scouting Report: When Peralta has his mechanics together, he pounds the bottom half of the strike zone with a heavy 93-95 mph fastball. He also has the ability to reach back for a little extra velocity when needed, topping out at 98. He throws two- and four-seamers, and he likes to jam hitters by pitching inside. During his September callup, he featured a devastating slider that gave righthanders fits with its deception and sharp bite. He also has a reliable changeup with splitter action, and it keeps hitters off balance when they try to sit on his fastball. There's nothing wrong with Peralta's stuff, but he still needs to control and command it better. For a big-bodied pitcher, he's quite athletic, fielding his position well and controlling the running game with quick times to the plate. He gave up just nine stolen bases in 33 starts last year. His confidence waned during his early-season struggles, but he worked his way back and displayed solid poise while in Milwaukee. The Brewers like his aggressive nature, and he is a hard worker who listens to coaching suggestions.

The Future: Peralta's September re-established his standing as Milwaukee's top prospect and put him in position to make the major league rotation in spring training. He remains prone to bouts of wildness and must stay on top of his mechanics, but he profiles as at least a No. 2 starter. The Brewers haven't developed a pitcher this highly regarded since Yovani Gallardo debuted in 2007, so a lot is riding on Peralta's success.

'06 Brewers (R) 2 5 6.63 14 6 0 38 51 37 28 5 20 28 .309
'08 Helena (R) 1 1 3.07 15 2 2 29 23 14 10 4 8 36 .207
'08 West Virginia (LoA) 0 1 10.80 2 2 0 5 6 6 6 0 3 3 .286
'09 Wisconsin (LoA) 4 4 3.47 27 15 1 104 91 45 40 5 46 118 .226
'10 Brevard County (HiA) 6 3 3.86 19 17 0 105 102 50 45 5 40 75 .245
'10 Huntsville (AA) 2 3 3.61 8 8 0 42 43 22 17 5 24 29 .253
'11 Huntsville (AA) 9 7 3.46 21 21 0 120 106 57 46 9 48 117 .228
'11 Nashville (AAA) 2 0 2.03 5 5 0 31 21 7 7 0 11 40 .184
'12 Nashville (AAA) 7 11 4.66 28 28 0 147 154 79 76 9 78 143 .259
'12 Milwaukee (MAJ) 2 1 2.48 6 5 0 29 24 8 8 0 11 23 .216
Major League Totals 2 1 2.48 6 5 0 29 24 24 8 0 11 23 .216
Minor League Totals 33 35 3.99 139 104 3 621 597 597 275 42 278 589 .243

2. Tyler Thornburg, rhp Born: Sep 29, 1988 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-0 Wt.: 190
Drafted: Charleston Southern, 2010 (3rd round).  Signed by: Ryan Robinson
Tyler ThornburgBackground: The Brewers bounced Thornburg around in 2012. He was headed for the Southern League all-star game when they summoned him for an emergency start in mid-June. Then he went to Triple-A, where he sat for a couple of weeks with a sore wrist, before getting recalled again in late July and placed in an unfamiliar relief role. As a September callup, he mostly sat before getting a start after Milwaukee was eliminated from contention.

Scouting Report: Thornburg primarily works with a 91-94 mph fastball that hits 97 and an overhand curveball that buckles knees when he throws it for strikes. Scouts like his deceptive changeup more than his curve, though the latter was his best pitch in the majors. Thornburg has unorthodox mechanics, pinwheeling the ball to the plate a la Tim Lincecum and prompting some scouts to wonder if he'll be able to repeat his delivery enough. He does throw strikes but needs to improve his command. He left his somewhat straight fastball up in the strike zone too often in the big leagues and gave up eight homers in 22 innings.

The Future: Thornburg likely will open 2013 in Nashville. The Brewers still see him as a mid-rotation starter, though his future could be as a late-inning reliever.

'10 Helena (R) 1 0 1.93 9 6 1 23 15 6 5 2 11 38 .176
'11 Wisconsin (LoA) 7 0 1.57 12 12 0 69 49 14 12 3 25 76 .192
'11 Brevard County (HiA) 3 6 3.57 12 12 0 68 45 30 27 5 33 84 .181
'12 Huntsville (AA) 8 1 3.00 13 13 0 75 57 36 25 6 24 71 .202
'12 Nashville (AAA) 2 3 3.58 8 8 0 38 38 16 15 1 13 42 .252
'12 Milwaukee (MAJ) 0 0 4.50 8 3 0 22 24 11 11 8 7 20 .267
Major League Totals 0 0 4.50 8 3 0 22 24 24 11 8 7 20 .267
Minor League Totals 21 10 2.77 54 51 1 273 204 204 84 17 106 311 .199

3. Taylor Jungmann, rhp Born: Dec 18, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 210
Drafted: Texas, 2011 (1st round).  Signed by: Jeremy Booth
Taylor JungmannBackground: The 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft coming off a season in which he led NCAA Division I with 12 wins, Jungmann signed for $2,525,000, the second-largest bonus in club history. Sent to pitcher-friendly high Class A Brevard County for his pro debut, he had an up-and-down season. He didn't dominate as much as expected, but he made 26 starts and managed to finish strong, going 3-0, 1.66 in August.

Scouting Report: Jungmann is all about pounding the bottom of the strike zone with his 90-96 mph sinker and getting hitters to beat the ball into the ground. He uses his tall frame to pitch on a downward plane and get outs early in the count. When he stays on top of his slider, it's a solid pitch with sharp break. The Brewers are encouraging him to throw his changeup more, though it's still below average. Jungmann doesn't walk a lot of batters, nor does he pile up high strikeout numbers. There were concerns about his delivery coming out of college, but he smoothed it out and displayed good command of his pitches in his first pro season.

The Future: Jungmann will head to Double-A Huntsville in 2013 and could see Triple-A before season's end. He could join Milwaukee's rotation at some point the following year, with the club envisioning him as a future No. 2 or 3 starter.

'12 Brevard County (HiA) 11 6 3.53 26 26 0 153 159 70 60 7 46 99 .257
Minor League Totals 11 6 3.53 26 26 0 153 159 159 60 7 46 99 .257

4. Hunter Morris, 1b Born: Oct 7, 1988 B-T: L-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 200
Drafted: Auburn, 2010 (4th round).  Signed by: Joe Mason
Hunter MorrisBackground: Morris, who signed for $218,700 as a fourth-rounder in 2010, had a breakthrough 2012 season, becoming the first Brewers farmhand named Double-A Southern League MVP since Corey Hart in 2003. He led the league in hits (158), extra-base hits (74), homers (28), RBIs (113), total bases (294) and slugging (.563). Managers rated him the best batting prospect and best defensive first baseman in the league, and Rawlings honored him with a Gold Glove as the minors' top defender at his position.

Scouting Report: Morris hits with power to all fields and has produced 57 homers in 337 minor league games. He has an aggressive approach at the plate but improved his plate discipline last year. He drew more walks (40) than he had in his previous 201 games in the minors (38) and waited more patiently for pitches to drive. Morris also made dramatic strides in the field, enhancing his footwork and cutting his errors to six after making 19 in 2011. His range remains average at best, but he has good arm strength for a first baseman. He gets no leg hits thanks to his below-average speed.

The Future: The Brewers now believe Morris can be a big league regular. He'll move up to Triple-A and could be in position to start for Milwaukee in 2014, though winning a job will be more difficult if Hart remains at first base.

'10 Wisconsin (LoA) 291 38 73 19 4 9 44 20 58 7 2 .251 .306 .436
'11 Huntsville (AA) 17 6 6 1 1 1 2 0 1 0 0 .353 .353 .706
'11 Brevard County (HiA) 501 75 136 28 5 19 67 18 84 7 3 .271 .299 .461
'12 Huntsville (AA) 522 77 158 40 6 28 113 40 117 2 1 .303 .357 .563
Minor League Totals 1331 196 373 88 16 57 226 78 260 16 6 .280 .324 .499

5. Jimmy Nelson, rhp Born: Jun 5, 1989 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-6 Wt.: 245
Drafted: Alabama, 2010 (2nd round).  Signed by: Joe Mason
Jimmy NelsonBackground: While 2011 first-rounders Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley had inconsistent seasons at Brevard County, Nelson dominated and earned a promotion by mid-June. His control was much more erratic in Double-A, probably the result of shoulder fatigue that prompted the Brewers to skip some of his starts. He recovered in time to get more innings in the Arizona Fall League, though the strike zone remained elusive there.

Scouting Report: An imposing figure on the mound, Nelson often overpowers hitters with a 92-94 mph fastball that he can run up to 96. He also throws an effective two-seamer in the low 90s that has good sink and induces weak groundouts. He has become more consistent with his sharp 84-86 mph slider, which he uses to shut down righthanders, and more confident with his fringy changeup. He also did a better job repeating his herky-jerky delivery last year until the shoulder fatigue set in. Nelson is a bulldog on the mound with a confident demeanor. The key to his development will be improving his control and command.

The Future: Nelson likely will return to Huntsville in 2013, at least for the start of the season. He projects as a No. 3 starter and could find himself in Milwaukee's rotation before 2014 is done.

'10 Helena (R) 2 0 3.71 12 0 3 27 30 21 11 2 13 33 .273
'11 Wisconsin (LoA) 8 9 4.38 26 25 0 146 146 81 71 9 65 120 .250
'12 Brevard County (HiA) 4 4 2.21 13 13 0 81 63 24 20 3 25 77 .205
'12 Huntsville (AA) 2 4 3.91 10 10 0 46 34 25 20 2 37 42 .198
Minor League Totals 16 17 3.66 61 48 3 300 273 273 122 16 140 272 .233

6. Johnny Hellweg, rhp Born: Oct 29, 1988 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-9 Wt.: 210
Drafted: Florida CC, 2008 (16th round).  Signed by: Tom Kotchman (Angels)
Johnny HellwegBackground: Once the Brewers saw that Zack Greinke had no interest in signing a contract extension, they sent him to the Angels last July for Jean Segura and hard-throwing righthanders Hellweg and Ariel Pena. Because Hellweg already had exceeded his previous career high for innings by 31, Milwaukee pitched him sparingly afterward.

Scouting Report: The Angels switched Hellweg from relieving to starting in 2011 to give him more innings in an attempt to help him repeat his delivery and improve his problematic command. He has made strides with locating his pitches, but his strikeout totals have dipped as he has dialed back his fastball to get ahead in the count. Hellweg still pitches regularly in the mid-90s, featuring late sink, and he has hit 100 mph out of the bullpen. When he throws his slurvy breaking ball for strikes, he can be tough to hit. His changeup is a work in progress. Tall and skinny, he can overpower hitters with the downward tilt on his fastball, but his long limbs also make it difficult to maintain his release point.

The Future: When Hellweg throws all of his pitches for strikes, he looks like a potential No. 2 starter. But his lack of consistency could mean that his future will come as a late-inning reliever, possibly as a closer. He'll open 2013 in Triple-A.

'08 Angels (R) 1 0 4.98 14 3 0 22 19 28 12 1 38 25 .226
'09 Angels (R) 2 1 2.96 18 0 6 24 16 8 8 0 8 25 .180
'09 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 0 0 1.35 5 0 2 7 4 3 1 0 7 7 .167
'10 Cedar Rapids (LoA) 2 4 4.33 41 0 16 44 20 21 21 2 45 66 .132
'11 Inland Empire (HiA) 6 4 3.73 28 14 0 89 75 43 37 2 59 113 .219
'12 Arkansas (AA) 5 10 3.38 21 21 0 120 105 52 45 8 60 88 .226
'12 Huntsville (AA) 2 1 2.70 7 2 0 20 16 7 6 0 15 17 .211
Minor League Totals 18 20 3.59 134 40 24 326 255 255 130 13 232 341 .207

7. Victor Roache, of Born: Sep 17, 1991 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 225
Drafted: Georgia Southern, 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: Steve Smith
Victor RoacheBackground: The Brewers thought they got one of the steals of the 2012 draft when Roache fell to the 28th overall pick. After leading NCAA Division I with 30 homers in 2011, he broke his left wrist diving for a ball six games into his junior season. The injury required six screws, two pins and a metal plate to repair and he didn't play again for Georgia Southern or in the minor leagues after signing for $1,525,000.

Scouting Report: Roache's calling card is his top-shelf power potential, the product of strength, bat speed and patience. Some scouts question his ability to recognize and handle breaking balls, and his swing can get stiff at times. He may not make enough contact to hit for a high average, but his power should be worth it. Roache has fringy speed and average arm strength, with the instincts to be an effective corner outfielder. Milwaukee praises his devotion to coming back from his injury as soon as possible, as he worked hard so he could take part in instructional league.

The Future: The Brewers' medical reports indicate that Roache will make a complete recovery. With his track record of college success, he'll start his career at one of their Class A affiliates. It may take time for him to return to form, but he has the potential to be an impact offensive player.

Did Not Play

8. Scooter Gennett, 2b Born: May 1, 1990 B-T: L-R Ht.: 5-10 Wt.: 165
Drafted: Sarasota (Fla.) HS, 2009 (16th round).  Signed by: Tim McIlvaine
Scooter GennettBackground: Gennett did in 2012 what he has done at every level of the Brewers system—hit for a high average and make his league's all-star team. He also represented Milwaukee in the Futures Game and earned a spot on the 40-man roster. He continues to prove that his size won't stop him from succeeding and is motivated by those who say he's too small to make it in the majors.

Scouting Report: Using an open stance and a level swing, Gennett hits line drives to all fields. He makes consistent contact and has surprising pop for his size, most of it coming with doubles to the gaps. He's a free swinger who doesn't take many pitches and draws few walks, resulting in relatively low on-base percentages considering how many hits he accumulates. Gennett has average speed and knows how to run the bases. A high school shortstop, he has worked hard to improve at second base but still has rough edges to smooth out. He has led his league's second basemen in errors in each of his three pro seasons. His arm and range are average.

The Future: The next step for Gennett is Triple-A. If he succeeds there as he has at every other level, the Brewers will have to decide whether to keep incumbent Rickie Weeks at second base or move him to give Gennett a shot.

'10 Wisconsin (LoA) 482 87 149 39 4 9 55 31 91 14 4 .309 .354 .463
'11 Brevard County (HiA) 556 74 167 20 6 9 51 27 69 11 10 .300 .334 .406
'12 Huntsville (AA) 533 66 156 30 2 5 44 28 71 11 5 .293 .330 .385
Minor League Totals 1571 227 472 89 12 23 150 86 231 36 19 .300 .339 .416

9. Clint Coulter, c Born: Jul 30, 1993 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-3 Wt.: 210
Drafted: Union HS, Camas, Wash., 2012 (1st round).  Signed by: Shawn Whalen
Clint CoulterBackground: The Brewers fell in love with Coulter's offensive potential and quickly zeroed in on him as the first of their two first-round picks in 2012. He's a physical specimen who was a Washington state high school wrestling champion before turning his focus to baseball. After going 27th overall and signing for $1,675,000, he led the Rookie-level Arizona League in on-base percentage (.439).

Scouting Report: Coulter has considerable offensive upside. He's strong with good leverage in his quick swing, and he knows how to work counts to get pitches to drive, so he has above-average power potential. He doesn't get himself out at the plate. Though his high school coach was former big league catcher Tom Lampkin, Coulter is still raw defensively. He has solid arm strength but must improve his mechanics and agility after throwing out just 16 percent of basestealers and giving up 21 passed balls in 26 games in his pro debut. He has the leadership skills, desire and work ethic to remain behind the plate. He has below-average speed but good instincts and an aggressive nature on the bases.

The Future: The Brewers will be patient with Coulter, who's just 19 and didn't play a lengthy high school schedule in the Pacific Northwest. Whether he begins his first full pro season in low Class A Wisconsin will depend on how he looks behind the plate in the spring.

'12 Brewers (R) 169 37 51 3 3 5 33 37 40 3 5 .302 .439 .444
Minor League Totals 169 37 51 3 3 5 33 37 40 3 5 .302 .439 .444

10. Mitch Haniger, of Born: Dec 23, 1990 B-T: R-R Ht.: 6-2 Wt.: 180
Drafted: Cal Poly, 2012 (1st round supplemental).  Signed by: Dan Huston
Mitch HanigerBackground: As compensation for losing free agent Prince Fielder to the Tigers, the Brewers got the 27th (Clint Coulter) and 38th (Haniger) picks in the 2012 draft. Haniger headed to low Class A after signing for $1.2 million, but his pro debut ended after 14 games when he tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. That injury healed in time for Haniger to participate in instructional league.

Scouting Report: Milwaukee coveted Haniger for his power as well as his overall athleticism and arm. He improved his plate discipline as a junior at Cal Poly, taking pitches, drawing walks and doing a better job of handling offspeed stuff. Those upgrades and adjustment to load his hands better in his swing allowed him to make better use of his above-average raw power. After totaling 13 homers in his first two seasons at Cal Poly, he hit 13 as a junior, and he could produce 25 or more on an annual basis. Haniger is a fringy runner and average defender in right field. His arm is a weapon, as his throws are not only strong but also accurate. He draws praise for his work ethic, poise and confidence.

The Future: Because Haniger's pro debut was so brief, the Brewers will send him back to Wisconsin to begin 2013. They consider him an advanced player who can move quickly.

'12 Wisconsin (LoA) 49 9 14 4 0 1 8 7 13 1 0 .286 .379 .429
Minor League Totals 49 9 14 4 0 1 8 7 13 1 0 .286 .379 .429