2023 Milwaukee Brewers Top 10 Prospects Chat

Ben Badler hosted a chat regarding the Brewers system. You can read the transcript here.

Ben Badler: Hey everyone! We’re in the final stages finishing up the Prospect Handbook right now, but a good time to break from that talk some Brewers prospects. Let’s get started.

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):

     Of the pitching prospects moving up to the low A Carolina Mudcats from the FCL and lower leagues, which are most impressive to you?

Ben Badler: Misiorowksi, if he counts, but he’d be an obvious guy. Among their other Rookie ball arms, Patricio Aquino and Yujanyer Herrera are the most interesting guys. Aquino has been up to 96 mph, there’s feel for spin on a slider that he needs to refine and improve the shape of, but some good components there. Herrera’s another guy up to 96, shorter slider. Both cheap signs ($16K, $10K) where there’s more physical projection to potentially throw harder, but very much long-range projection guys.

Casey (Bothell, Washington):

     Thanks Ben, I always particularly enjoy your eye for players over the years. Cheers. Garrett Mitchell is an interesting player, so much to like; star-like personality, personable, fast, has some juice, good eye, but questions about the quality of the hit tool. What do you think of Mitchell’s future role as a Brewer?

Ben Badler: Thanks Casey. He’s a tough one. He’s one of the fastest players in baseball. It’s a premium position in center field. There’s obviously big raw power in there too if you watch him take BP or look at his upper-end exit velocity numbers. But the swing … I don’t know. It’s so downhill and not at all conducive to ever hitting for power. The optimistic view is he is a premium athlete and that should help him make swing adjustments to actually be able to take advantage of the power that he does have so that it shows up in games, but I’m always wary of guys actually being able to make that significant of a change for a movement pattern that’s been so ingrained for such a long time, and it doesn’t seem like there’s a major swing change in progress either. Between that and some of difficulties he’s had staying on the field, it’s a pretty wide distribution of outcomes for a player who’s already reached the big leagues.

Warren (New London):

     What’s the outlook for Hendry Mendez and Hedbert Perez at this point, and how far down the list have they fallen?

Ben Badler: Perez is in critical need of a rebound season next year. The power is there, he can get to it in games when he gets a ball into his kill zone, but his speed and arm strength have both regressed, so it’s LF all the way now, and his propensity to chase and try to cheat on the fastball eats away at his production. There’s still a swing and power to like, but he’s going to have to show a more selective hitting approach.

Ben Badler: Mendez does have a better eye for the strike zone. He’s patient, the contact rate is good, there’s some surprising athleticism in there for his size, but the swing is going to need an adjustment. His hand-eye coordination is really good so he doesn’t swing and miss much, but it’s a slasher, groundball swing, so he’s going to have to figure out a way to change his bat path to be able to drive the ball in the air more.

Daron (Madison, WI):

     I noticed the Brewers recently opened phase one of a new baseball academy in Santo Domingo. Curious if teams are mostly uniform in what they offer for international training facilities, or if that’s an area where there remains a lot of variance from team-to-team?

Ben Badler: It’s a big gap between the nicest ones and the bottom-end facilities. Ultimately it’s about the players you sign and not the buildings you’re putting them in, but there’s a huge difference in quality of life for players and staff between the newer, nicer ones like the Guardians, Giants, Mariners, etc. and the older ones that are more bare bones, functional (and sometimes not so functional) facilities.

Frederick (Boston):

     Acuna was mentioned in the Chourio report and that got me wondering where you would have Chourio in the ranks of previous Intl uber prospects to come up. For instance what are the evaluations on him compared to the ones previously on prospects like Vladdy, Tatis, Acuna, Soto, Franco, and JRod? How would you order them? Thanks Ben!

Ben Badler: He belongs in that echelon of player when they were 18. Vladdy, Franco, Soto, J-Rod … those guys were more polished pure hitters compared to Chourio at the same age, but the overall talent level is in the same tier when they were 18. He’s special.

Cathy (VT):

     How close are Cam Robinson and Abner Uribe to being able to help the major league team?

Ben Badler: Robinson could be a middle relief factor by the end of the season. Uribe’s upside is higher, it’s better raw stuff, but with an emphasis on raw still. I wouldn’t expect him to come before 2024 unless he take a dramatic leap forward in control.

Ken (Lakewood CA):

     He’s only 26 but no longer a prospect. I see Urias listed as the future starting 3B. Does he still hold promise as the Brewers see him? Or is it just nobody better for now to play 3B? He was a top prospect at one time- thinking with SD? Thanks.

Ben Badler: We do the Future Lineups because they’re a fun toy exercise people like that isn’t necessarily grounded in reality, but shows what a team might look like if teams only relied on internal options and didn’t bolster their team through free agency or trades (which we don’t have any real way of predicting). So it highlights the strengths and also the areas of need in an organization. I think Urias is probably gone by 2026, but third base is light position in the farm system. Zavier Warren really struggled, there’s hope for guys like Jhonny Severino and Johan Barrios, but they’re super far away.

David (Madison):

     Ethan Small struggled with walks last year and couldn’t make the leap to stay in MLB. Is his role still in the rotation going forward or is he most likely a reliever?

Ben Badler: Reliever. Even in that role, the control has to get better to stick around in a lower leverage role. He does have a great, great changeup but he was falling behind in too many counts and hitters were able to sit on his fastball and do damage.

Chris Anello (South of I80):

     Does Jackson Chourio’s propensity to chase make him a higher risk guy for a top 5 overall candidate?

Ben Badler: There’s more risk with Chourio compared to, say, Gunnar Henderson or Corbin Caroll, who would be other guys in consideration for the No. 1 prospect in baseball. He’s also coming off his age-18 season, basically the equivalent of a 2022 high school senior, and he was doing it mostly against mostly Low-A and High-A pitching. Now I don’t think he’s ever going to match the strike-zone discipline we see from Carroll, or the pure contact skills of someone like Sal Frelick if we want to stay in the system, and there does need to be some development with his swing decisions, but he does have the ability to recognize and do damage with different pitch types that is pretty good for his age.

David (Madison):

     Which off the radar prospect that no one is talking about yet catches your eye as someone that could become a legit prospect this year?

Ben Badler: We ranked Luis Lara pretty high after he signed and before he played, and he’s only enhanced his stock since then by backing it up on the field in the DSL, so he’s probably already on the radar. Luke Adams is one I’m intrigued by. It is not a swing that is going to win any beauty contests, but that was a loud debut in the ACL, there’s above-average power and at least at the lower levels he has shown a knack for making contact at a high clip. The defensive profile is pretty restricted and he’s going to have to prove his swing translates against better pitching, but for a 12th-round pick, that’s a good one to watch.

Tristen Lutz (Still top 30?):

     Thanks for chatting with us today. I had a lot of hype after being draft in 2019 but have seemed to fizzle out over the past couple of years while I climbed the minors. Am I still in the top 30 with thpeh ope fo appingt ito snoe upsidmeor am I purely a org depth piece at this point?

Ben Badler: More of a longshot type at this point. Some of the hardest contact in the organization when he does get the barrel on the ball, but it’s a low OBP, corner OF, doesn’t have the expected value to project as a regular.

Noah (LA):

     Milwaukee only has one pitcher in the top ten. Is there talent at the lower levels who will develop quickly, or is there a dearth of pitching in the org? Which arms do you see making the biggest jump next year?

Ben Badler: It’s very light on pitching after Misiorowski and Gasser. After those two (and obviously Misiorowski is a high risk guy), there’s nobody I feel great about projecting as fixture in a major league rotation. Carlos Rodriguez so far has been a pleasant surprise thus far, but we’ll see if it’s SP or RP long term. Uribe has an electric arm, but he’s a bullpen arm with a lot of risk.

Ben Badler: The pitcher to watch next year after Misiorowski and Gasser might be Logan Henderson. He had trouble staying on the field for most of the regular season and again when he was trying to get ramped up for the AFL, so it’s hard to take much from his 2022 season. But he was flashing a great changeup at times, not overpowering velocity (up to 94 mph) but a lot of life and ride up in the zone, and had a lot of success leading into the draft in 2021.

Daron (Madison, WI):

     While they’ve had success on the pitching side, it’s been a long drought since the Brewers last developed a homegrown impact bat. Are there indications that either amateur scouting or player development within their system has improved in recent years?

Ben Badler: The types of players they’re targeting as amateurs, both in the draft and internationally, are different now than what they were 5-10 years ago. More emphasis on high contact, strike-zone discipline, good swing decisions. Each player is different and depends on the situation… you’re more apt to take a chance on Joey Wiemer given his athleticism and tool set when we’re in the fourth round, or when Garrett Mitchell falls to you in the back of the first round). But where you saw them signing a player like Eduarqui Fernandez, a tooled-up athlete with lots of swing-and-miss risk, they just aren’t going after that type of player with their big bonuses in Latin America now. It’s a lot more hitter-ish types from both channels of amateur signings.

Joe (Georgia):

     Garrett Mitchell with 80-grade speed and strong defense is not projected to be in the long-term starting lineup. Is that due to the other three simply being better and/or because of BA being skeptical about Mitchell being able to hit enough?

Ben Badler: Some of both? Frelick, Chourio and even Wiemer are legit center field options (though Wiemer probably goes to RF). Mitchell’s in a good position because he should get big league opportunities before the others, but I have a lot more confidence in the pure hitting ability of Frelick and Chourio, and the game power of Chourio and Wiemer, relative to Mitchell.

Daron (Madison, WI):

     Even after trading Esteury Ruiz the Brewers have as much speed among their top position prospects as I can ever remember. With some of the new MLB rules designed to enhance activity on the base paths do you think it should change how players such as Garrett Mitchell and Brice Turang are evaluated going forward in terms of potential offensive impact?

Ben Badler: It does add some value at the margins. But what’s going to determine and drive value for most players is still primarily their ability at the plate. Even if we get back to a game where we have a bunch of players who are 50, 60+ stolen base guys every year, there’s a limit to how much overall run creation that can add.

Ben Badler: From a pure fan standpoint, I do love seeing more emphasis on stolen bases and more opportunity to watch catchers trying to throw out runners.

Keefths (Stuart, FL):

     How does Misiriowski’s control at this stage of his development to Brewer’s MLB pitchers ? What are the odds that he develops enough control to be a successful SP ?

Ben Badler: Control is pretty far behind. But the stuff itself is ahead. It’s already a triple-digits fastball that plays above the gun readings, the slider is filthy, it’s just a reliever-looking delivery and not a lot of strikes in his track record, outside of some brief but encouraging looks at instructs. The optimistic case would be obviously a bet on the stuff but then also that he’s still 20 years old and a gangly 6-foot-7 pitcher who in time and with more strength will be able to eventually sync up his long limbs consistently to throw enough strikes.

Fonz (Ayyyyyyy):

     Tyler Black’s plate discipline has been amazing, but will he hit for enough power that big league pitchers won’t be able to simply throw him strikes with impunity?

Ben Badler: Yeah, that and his defense are the red flags. He is a tremendously patient hitter, he uses the whole field, he has a lot of qualities I love to see in a hitter. He’s just going to have to find a way to drive the ball with more impact. That might mean sacrificing some contact to try to do more damage, but his average exit velocity this year was only 83 mph and I’m not sure how much more he’s going to be able to squeeze out.

Sam (NYC):

     Hi Ben – Thanks for the chat – With the acquisition of Contreras, what is Jefferson Quero’s future with the Brew Crew? Is he destined to be the backup catcher? Thanks –

Ben Badler: I think he’s a regular and the upside is there to be an above-average one too. Future plus defender, probably hits toward the bottom half of a lineup but with offensive production that among catchers can be league-average or better. He’s coming off his age 19 season and with catchers you don’t typically see them on a fast track, so the Brewers probably still have 2-3 more years before he’s ready.

Warren (New London):

     Felix Valerio hit pretty well for half a season and then fell off a cliff. He was young for AA, but with his size and defensive limitations, he doesn’t have much margin for error. Is he still in the 30, and do you expect him to bounce back?

Ben Badler: He’s in the 30. But you said it, he face-planted in the second half. He’s a little guy, which is fine, but in his last 50 games you can count the number of extra-base hits he had on one hand. You could see it in the drop in his exit velocity numbers too. So he’s a.) going to have to get stronger to drive the ball with some more impact and hold up over a full season and b.) improve defensively, because he’s still borderline at second base and has some left field risk. Like you said, he was only 21 and playing in Double-A, and he does have a track record of hitting, so there are things to like, but definitely a tough second half dinged his stock.

Bennie the Brewer (Mexico):

     Is Carlos Rodriguez a real SP prospect? What’s his outlook?

Ben Badler: He’ll pitch in the big leagues. Not overpowering velo, it’s low-90s, touch 95 mph, best pitch is a changeup with a lot of fade that he throws a lot and messes with the timing of hitters. Some feel to spin a breaking ball, but it’s definitely changeup over breaking ball, a profile I’m generally skeptical of for a RHP especially in the lower levels unless we’re talking about a potential 70 changeup. Double-A will start to be a bigger test for him, but from what he’s shown so far, he’s a top five pitching prospect within the system.

Buddy (Sacramento, CA):

     Eric Longenhagen over at FG also started his work on the Brewers system. In comparing the two, he’s more tepid (has him as a 60 FV which is noteworthy for ultra-conservative Longenhagen) on Chourio than over here at BA noting that Chourio has some noticeable swing and miss to his game. EL also mentions that Chourio would make adjustments during the season and there’s reason to believe the swing and miss won’t be too concerning. Do you believe there’s enough volatility in his profile to keep him from being the next Acuña, Franco or JRod?

Ben Badler: Yeah, those guys are stars (I guess depending how you classify Franco to this point… although at 6 WAR in 153 MLB games and based on how talented I think Franco is, he is for me), and I wouldn’t call anyone a can’t-miss prospect, especially someone who’s still 18. So there’s risk, but at least relative to other 18-year-olds who haven’t proven what he has already through High-A you can argue there’s less risk than other players in his peer group. And the upside is perennial all-star, franchise cornerstone, top 10 selling jersey in baseball type of player.

Michael (Chicago):

     Your 2026 lineup has Burnes and Woodruff atop the pitching staff. Would be great if we extended both. If they both leave via trade or free agency, other than Jacob Misiorowski who else in the organization could fill the rotation? Ethan Small seems to have taken a step back. It seems there are few high end options but a deep pool of interesting arms they are hoping for a breakout or two. Of the non obvious names who would you choose?

Ben Badler: Robert Gasser is the best option. A lot of back-end starter projections, but his feel for spin and ability to mix his stuff is intriguing enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if the Brewers especially were able to help him squeeze out more. Otherwise I think future rotation help is more likely to come outside the org or from future draft classes.

Ben Badler: Though I’ll mention Logan Henderson again as another one to watch who isn’t getting much attention at the moment given that he missed most of the year.

Michael Green (Ottawa, IL):

     Does Chourio spend the entire year in A+ or does he spend the majority of the year in 2A? Love the chats!

Ben Badler: If I had to bet, he starts in Double-A. If he isn’t, I don’t think it would take more than a month or so until he’s in Double-A. You’ll see him spend almost all of his time in the upper levels, and with players as talented as he is… I’m not saying he WILL play in the big leagues next year as a 19-year-old, especially since the Brewers have three other young outfielders who should see MLB time in ’23, but the mega talents like Chourio, I wouldn’t rule it out either.

Ben Badler: Thanks for all the questions today, I always enjoy these conversations with BA members. We’ve got prospect rankings for 20 teams up on the site now and we’ll be back after the new year with the rest of our lists and our 2023 Top 100. Always appreciate your support of BA, hope you all have a great holiday season!

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