2017 Milwaukee Brewers Top 10 Prospects

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1. Lewis Brinson, of
2. Josh Hader, lhp
3. Luis Ortiz, rhp
4. Corey Ray, of
5. Isan Diaz, ss/2b
6. Trent Clark, of
7. Brandon Woodruff, rhp
8. Phil Bickford, rhp
9. Lucas Erceg, 3b
10. Marcos Diplan, rhp

In the first full year of their large-scale rebuild, the Brewers had two primary goals.

First, they wanted to be as competitive as possible under the circumstances and ignore all the preseason chatter about tanking. Considering how few experienced players were on the transitional 2016 squad and how many players (50) were used, the Brewers exceeded most expectations with a 73-89 record.

The second objective was to identify as many keepers as possible. Much of the rebuilding plan revolves around the vastly improved farm system, but the Brewers hoped to find others in the big leagues who could be contributors as well.

Beyond Ryan Braun—the last man standing from the 2011 National League Central champs—manager Craig Counsell and his staff found players to take into next season.

Shrewd offseason trade pickup Jonathan Villar, who moved from shortstop to third base during the season, led the majors with 62 stolen bases and led Milwaukee with a .369 on-base percentage, 168 hits, 79 walks and 92 runs scored. Infield rover Hernan Perez and center fielder Keon Broxton carved out roles for 2017.

Rookie righthanders Zach Davies and Junior Guerra made such an impact that they are penciled into the Milwaukee rotation for the foreseeable future.

The Brewers made a pair of trades on Aug. 1 that reshaped the top of the system.

Milwaukee shipped all-star catcher Jonathan Lucroy and closer Jeremy Jeffress to the Rangers for outfielder Lewis Brinson and righthander Luis Oriz, a pair of first-round picks from 2012 and 2014. The Brewers also snagged 2015 first-round righthander Phil Bickford plus catcher Andrew Susac from the Giants for reliever Will Smith.

The Brewers will look to keep the rebuilding process on track in 2017, but they were satisfied with progress made in 2016.

“At this stage, you have to set incremental goals for yourself, for your organization," first-year general manager David Stearns said. “We've achieved some of those goals, and so we should feel proud of that.

“But we recognize we have a lot of work to do to get to the ultimate stage of . . . competing for a division championship every single year."

The success of the rebuild will depend on how many prospects develop into big league regulars. Shortstop Orlando Arcia, the system's preseason No. 1 prospect, debuted in August. The Brewers expect others to follow suit in 2017.

Beyond the many prospects acquired in trades, the Brewers also used the fifth pick in the 2016 draft to select Louisville outfielder Corey Ray, who jumped straight to high Class A Brevard County.

After the season, the Brewers announced a reorganization of their scouting department. Tod Johnson moves up to scouting director, replacing Ray Montgomery, who becomes vice president of scouting.

1.  Lewis Brinson, of | bba_video_icon_red

Born: May 8, 1994. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 205. Drafted: HS—Coral Springs, Fla., 2012 (1st round). Signed by: Frankie Thon (Rangers).

Batting: 60
Power: 60
Speed: 60
Defense: 55
Arm: 60
Based on 20-80 scouting scale—where 50 represents major league average—and future projection rather than present tools.

Background: The Rangers selected Brinson with the next-to-last pick in the first round of the 2012 draft, and he broadcast his power-speed ability in five years in the Texas system. He had scuffled at Double-A Frisco in 2016, however, before the Brewers acquired him (and Luis Ortiz) from the Rangers at the trade deadline for Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress. Some of Brinson's struggles were related to a shoulder issue that forced him to the disabled list for a month in June. The Brewers opted to elevate him to the hitter-friendly environment at Triple-A Colorado Springs, and he thrived more than anyone could have anticipated by recording a 1.005 OPS in 23 games. High altitude or not, that showing was a huge confidence boost for both Brinson and the organization, and it put him in position to challenge for a spot on the major league roster in 2017. He quickly inherited No. 1 prospect status in the Brewers system after the promotion of shortstop Orlando Arcia to Milwaukee, which coincided with the trade.

Scouting Report: Brinson has worked hard to reduce his strikeout rate since whiffing 38 percent of the time in his full-season debut at low Class A Hickory in 2013. He trimmed that rate to 20 percent in 2016. Brinson has the coveted combination of speed and power, and he projects to be at least an average hitter. It is difficult for pitchers to get a fastball past Brinson, who has great bat speed, but he has trouble laying off breaking balls out of the zone and continues to work on plate discipline. He still needs plenty of work in patience, as evidenced by his two walks in 93 plate appearances at Colorado Springs. He has learned to use the whole field and is not as pull-conscious as he was earlier in his career. Some scouts question whether Brinson will be able to remain in center field, where he continues to work on his routes and throwing accuracy. He has good gap-to-gap range and arm strength, and the Brewers prefer to keep him in center until proven he needs to move to a corner. Brinson clearly has the raw tools to be an impact player, but it's up to him to make the most of them, especially on offense. His overall skill set will serve him well in the outfield, but he might not be cut out to bat near the top of the order unless he improves his walk rate.

The Future: While Keon Broxton got a foot in the door in center field for the Brewers over the final two months of 2016, Brinson is guaranteed to get a good look in spring training. The Brewers have stockpiled young center fielders in recent years—whether they be draft picks Trent Clark and Corey Ray or trade pickups Brinson and Brett Phillips—but only one can play there at a time. Brinson has the most experience of the group, but his arm strength and power potential also would play in a corner.

Frisco (AA) .237 .280 .431 304 46 72 14 6 11 40 17 64 11
Colorado Springs (AAA) .382 .387 .618 89 14 34 9 0 4 20 2 21 4

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