2021-22 International Reviews: Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee's Low-A Carolina team shows how influential the team's international scouting department has been on its farm system in recent years, particularly in Venezuela. All three Carolina catchers are Brewers Venezuelan signings, led by Milwaukee's No. 7 prospect Jeferson Quero. Five of their six outfielders are homegrown international signings, including No. 6 prospect Hedbert Perez and No. 11 prospect Hendry Mendez. Three of their four infielders are also Brewers international signings, including a pair of Top 30 prospects in Eduardo Garcia and Jheremy Vargas. It wouldn't be surprising to see center fielder Jackson Chourio join them by the end of the year.
There has been some turnover in the team recently. After the 2021 season, Mike Groopman—who had been in charge of the team's international scouting—left to become an assistant general manager with the Red Sox. The Brewers brought in former Phillies general manager Matt Klentak as a special assistant to lead their international scouting.
Top Of The Class
Early in the scouting process in Venezuela, Luis Lara was a slender 5-foot-6 outfielder who wasn't getting much attention. He's still on the smaller side at 5-foot-9, but he has developed into an exciting, high-energy player with a promising mix of athleticism, tools and game skills. Lara is a premium, quick-twitch athlete and a true switch-hitter with good bat speed from both sides of the plate. His swing is short and quick with good rhythm and a knack for being on time, leading to a high contact rate in games. At Lara's size, some scouts question his ultimate power upside, though others say he puts a surprising charge into the ball for his size and think he has a chance to be a 20-plus home run threat. His best tool is his plus-plus speed, with a good gait to sprint around center field with good range and closing speed, along with a solid-average arm.
Once a long, lean shortstop, Venezuelan shortstop Johan Barrios has started to fill out his 6-foot-2 frame and is developing impressive power for 17. Barrios' easy power stands out, but it's more than just batting practice displays, as he generally performed well in games as an amateur player, with a chance to grow into plus raw power. Barrios has also improved his speed, running plus underway, though as he matures physically, that might back up. His plus arm fits at shortstop, and while he has a chance to stick there, he might outgrow the position and end up at third base.
Dominican shortstop Jhonny Severino is another power bat, with even more power than Barrios from his 6-foot-2 frame with the bat speed and strength projection for more power coming. He's a switch-hitter who could have plus raw power from both sides of the plate, with more advanced hitting ability from the right side. He has shown a solid approach for his age, too, with the patience to draw walks and get himself into good counts. An average runner, Severino is an offensive-oriented infielder who might start off at shortstop but will likely move elsewhere, with a plus arm that would fit at third base.
Names To Know
Gery Holguin, SS, Dominican Republic: Holguin is the best defensive shortstop in Milwaukee's class, projecting to stick at the position with potentially above-average fielding ability. Early in the scouting process, Holguin was 5-foot-10 but has grown to 6-foot-1, showing solid feel for hitting and a chance to develop average or better raw power with more strength projection remaining.
Fabricio Valera, OF, Venezuela: Scouts saw a lot of Valera at showcases in Colombia, with Valera consistently performing at a high level in games. He has a sweet lefthanded swing, makes frequent contact and has an advanced approach for his age, traits that should translate to early success. He's a corner outfielder with a skinny 6-foot-2 frame, so getting stronger to add more power will be important for Valera.
Anthony Flores, LHP, Venezuela: Flores has impressive pitchability and secondary stuff for his age. He operates off a fastball that touches 90 mph with good carry up in the zone, but the separator pitch for him is a big-breaking curveball with spin rates north of 3,000 rpm. That pitch has the makings of a plus, swing-and-miss weapon, and he shows feel for an advanced changeup as well.
Bryan Rivera, RHP, Nicaragua: The Brewers signed three righthanders out of Nicaragua in January, with Rivera the most advanced. He already touches 92 mph, but stands out for his secondary stuff, particularly a changeup that flashes plus potential and a curveball that could develop into an average or better pitch.
Dominican outfielder Reminton Batista is a switch-hitter with plus speed who should start his career in center field. If he outgrows the position, he has the arm strength to play right field and projects to have average or better raw power. For a $10,000 signing with good tools, Batista shows surprising feel for hitting, too, making him an intriguing player to watch this year in the Dominican Summer League.
Venezuelan righthander Yorman Galindez is 19 and could have signed earlier based on his age, but he had to wait until Jan. 15 this year because he wasn't previously registered to sign with Major League Baseball. He's a strike-thrower with a fastball up to 94 mph and feel to spin a curveball.