2021 Milwaukee Brewers Midseason Top 30 Prospects Update
The Brewers entered the year with a farm system that ranked toward the bottom of the pack. But the system received a boost from a promising draft that landed two of the top hitters in college baseball in Boston College outfielder Sal Frelick and Wright State second baseman Tyler Black.
The team's international program has had several young Venezuelan players tick up, including promising performances in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League from outfielder Hedbert Perez, catcher Jeferson Quero and infielder Jheremy Vargas.
Outfielder Joe Gray has been one of the most improved players in the minors, going from a raw, toolsy player who struggled at the lowest levels to translating those tools into performance this season.
1. Garrett Mitchell, OF
Age: 22. Team: Double-A Biloxi.
The Brewers were happy to scoop up Mitchell when he fell to them with the 20th overall pick in the 2020 draft. Mitchell combines physicality (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), explosive athleticism and a good performance record from his UCLA days that has carried over into pro ball. He also has plus raw power that didn't show up much in college games because of his approach, but he is starting to tap into more of that power with the Brewers.
2. Brice Turang, SS
Age: 21. Team: Double-A Biloxi.
The Brewers continue to push Turang aggressively as he has spent his age-21 season in Double-A. Turang has a quick, compact swing from the left side and makes frequent contact by staying through the ball well. It will probably always be a hit-over-power profile with Turang, but his five home runs through early August were already more than he hit in his previous 171 career games.
3. Sal Frelick, OF
Age: 21. Team: None.
NEW Frelick, the 15th overall pick in the 2021 draft, is a quick-twitch athlete with plus-plus speed in center field. At 5-foot-9, Frelick has a small strike zone and mostly stays within that zone, showing strong contact skills with quick hands from the left side. Frelick can occasionally sneak a ball out to his pull side, but it's below-average power in games, with Frelick's value coming from his ability to put the ball in play and take advantage of his speed to play in the middle of the field.
4. Tyler Black, 2B
Age: 21. Team: None.
NEW The Brewers drafted Black in the supplemental first round (33rd overall) and signed him for $2.2 million out of Wright State. Black developed into one of the top pure hitters in college, hitting .383/.496/.683 with 13 home runs in his final season, showing a sweet lefthanded swing and good strike-zone discipline. It's an offensive-minded profile, with Black having spent time at second and third base this spring but projecting best at second base.
5. Hedbert Perez, OF
Age: 18. Team: Rookie-level Arizona Complex League Brewers
Perez signed out of Venezuela in 2019 and looked so advanced that the Brewers brought him to their alternate training site last year when he was 17. He's playing against more age-appropriate competition now in the ACL, where he has shown a quick lefthanded stroke with good bat path and power that continues to trend up, including one home run that landed over the batter's eye.
6. Ethan Small, LHP
Age: 24. Team: Triple-A Nashville.
Small continues to have success as a polished, pitchability lefty with deception that helps his stuff play up. His walk rate has increased this year, but he has had success pitching off a low-90s fastball and missing bats with an excellent changeup. A strained tendon in his left middle finger, however, sidelined him after his July 6 start.
7. Jeferson Quero, C
Age: 18: Team: Rookie-level Arizona Complex League Brewers
Quero signed for $200,000 out of Venezuela in 2019 but quickly elevated his stock to the point where he is now one of the organization's best prospects. He's a potentially above-average defensive catcher with a plus arm and good blocking and receiving skills for his age. He has shown a promising bat for a catcher as well, with a good mix of contact, patience and power.
8. Aaron Ashby, LHP
Age: 24. Team: Triple-A Nashville.
Ashby was the talk of instructional league last year, albeit as a 23-year-old against much less advanced competition. The jump in stuff he saw last year pitching in shorter bursts has carried over into 2021, leading to an impressive strikeout rate in Triple-A, though he needs to cut down on his walks. He made his big league debut on June 30.
9. Joe Gray, OF
Age: 22. Team: High-A Wisconsin.
NEW Few players in the minors have taken a bigger leap forward than Gray. A second-round pick out of high school in 2018 with power, speed and a strong arm, Gray struggled during his first two years in Rookie ball, including a .164/.279/.300 season in 31 games in the Pioneer League in 2019. Things are starting to click this year for Gray, who still has some swing-and-miss tendencies but is a vastly improved prospect from where he was coming into the season.
10. Antoine Kelly, LHP
Age: 20. Team: Low-A Carolina
After an auspicious pro debut in 2019, Kelly looked outstanding last year at the Brewers' alternate training site, where the 6-foot-6 lefty was sitting at 93-97 mph and snapping off sharp sliders. He looked like a breakout candidate for the 2021 season. Instead, he had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in November 2020, which kept him out of game action until July. Now, he’s slowly making his way back.
11. Freddy Zamora, SS
12. Mario Feliciano, C
13. Zavier Warren, C/3B
14. Eduardo Garcia, SS
15. David Hamilton, SS/2B
16. Jheremy Vargas, 3B/2B/SS
17. Jackson Chourio, OF
18. Russell Smith, LHP
NEW A second-round pick signed for $1 million this year out of Texas Christian, Smith is a 6-foot-9 lefty with impressive body control for his size to be able to throw strikes consistently. Smith doesn't have one knockout pitch, but his low-90s fastball has good movement and he mixes in an above-average changeup to go with an average slider.
19. Hendry Mendez, OF
NEW Signed out of the Dominican Republic in January, Mendez has been one of the most improved international prospects in his class over the last couple of years. A 6-foot-3 lefthanded hitter, Mendez has been off to a hot start in the Dominican Summer League, showing impressive hitting ability, bat speed and the potential for big power as he continues to fill out his frame.
20. Alex Binelas, 3B/1B
NEW A third-round pick this year out of Louisville, Binelas has big raw power that earns plus to plus-plus grades from scouts, but it's very much a power-over-hit profile with swing-and-miss risk. Binelas started his college season at third base but flipped over to first base, which is where he likely fits best defensively, but puts more pressure on his offensive output.
21. Logan Henderson, RHP
NEW The Brewers drafted Henderson out of McLennan (Texas) JC with their fourth-round pick this year. He's a 6-foot righthander with plus control of a high-spin fastball in the low 90s, a plus changeup and an average curveball.
22. Felix Valerio, INF
NEW Valerio came over from the Mets in the 2019 trade that sent Keon Broxton to New York. He’s played all over the diamond at Low-A in his age-20 season, and is showing excellent contact ability and strike zone discipline. Through Aug. 2, Valerio was among the top 10 in his league in average and on-base percentage and had walked more times (46) than he’d struck out (40).
23. Abner Uribe, RHP
24. Carlos Rodriguez, OF
25. Justin Topa, RHP
26. Jesus Parra, 3B/2B
27. Joe Wiemer, OF
28. Gregory Barrios, SS
29. Daniel Guilarte, SS
30. Dylan File, RHP
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OF Joe Gray was an athletic but crude player his first couple of years in the organization, but he has had a breakthrough 2021 season with much improved game performance.
INF Jheremy Vargas is a 2019 international signing from Venezuela who doesn't have huge tools, but he's an instinctive player who makes a lot of contact with a disciplined offensive approach, leading to an excellent pro debut so far in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League.
OF Hendry Mendez signed in January and has quickly looked like one of the top offensive threats in the Dominican Summer League, with a mix of good contact skills and power.
LHP Antoine Kelly looked outstanding last summer, but it's been a slow return to the mound coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.
OF Tristen Lutz, the Brewers' supplemental first-round pick in 2017, seems to have hit a wall in Double-A, lacking the defensive profile for center field with swing-and-miss issues that continue to hold back his offensive game.
OF Luis Medina was one of Milwaukee's big international signings in its 2019 class, but he has struggled with his timing and game performance early on.
LHP Ethan Small hasn't pitched since July 6 due to a strained tendon in his left middle finger.
RHP Justin Topa, who has had Tommy John surgery twice, missed much of the season with an elbow strain, but he has returned to Triple-A Nashville.
RHP Dylan File had surgery to fix a stress fracture in his right elbow in February, so he was out for most of the season before returning on July 13.