Image credit: Mario Feliciano (Photo by Zachary Lucy/Four Seam Images)
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- Possible minor league future adjustments allow for five affiliates per team and the elimination of 42 teams. No worry for the Brewers who have only five minor league teams and none scheduled for disappearance. Do you see this as a big advantage for Milwaukee? (Compare to the Yankees who must shrink their feeder system substantially.)
Tom Haudricourt: Hard to say if this will be an advantage for the Brewers. Their rookie ball team in Colorado Springs is on the contraction list but they’ve been fielding two teams in the Arizona Rookie League. Lets see how all of this shakes out. Looks like there’s definitely going to be fewer affiliates.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- The Brewer’s Wisconsin farm team had only 16 position players on their roster the whole 2019 season. What a lack of prospect churn! What caused that? A lack of breakout on the part of any of the players? A desire of the front office to move guys in unison?
Tom Haudricourt: I really couldn’t tell you for sure. The Brewers have been placing young players at various levels and most of them need to play a full season at those levels. If you’re young for your league, you probably are going to stay there all year.
- Looking at the 2023 rotation projection, it appears the Brewers remain thin at SP. Who are some guys in this system who could break out into a frontline starter?
Tom Haudricourt: Right now, the Brewers are thin at SP. I expect them to add more pitchers before spring camp to address that. Trey Supak, who is on the 40-man roster and pitched well for the most part last year, would be someone to watch. Zack Brown, the 2018 organization pitcher of the year, struggled at AAA and wasn’t protected for the upcoming Rule 5 draft, so we’ll see if he gets plucked or stays.
Tristen Lutz (Future Top 100?):
- Thanks for chatting with us today Tom! Since my splashy debut in 2017, my first 2 full seasons have been encouraging but not spectacular. Do I have a true breakout in me to propel myself into being a top 100 prospect? Is the only piece left for me to unlock my relatively high ceiling is to cut down on the Ks?
Tom Haudricourt: You played almost the entire season at age 20. There is still more maturity and experience to come, and the Brewers still believe in your skill set. There is some swing and miss in your game but that often comes with power hitters. Just keep accumulating ABs and trust your skills.
- With the Brewers probably being a bottom 5-10 system right now, how does Tristen Lutz ranking #2 compare to the overall landscape of prospects in the minors? If he’s able to cut down his Ks and tap into his plus power more consistently, do you see him breaking into the top 100 like Brice Turiang above him?
Tom Haudricourt: As just noted, Lutz has a great skill set and is still quite young, just turning 21 in late August. It would not be surprising for him to take off at any time. He has shown mental toughness and competitiveness, beyond his natural talent.
Justin (Tucson, AZ):
- After his big season, would Trent Grisham have been their top prospect if this list came out before the trade? Has his FV increased to something over a 55? (Sorry if this question is better suited for the Padres chat)
Tom Haudricourt: Grisham would not have been on the prospect list because he exceeded the 130 at-bat limit in 2019 to retain rookie status. Once you lose rookie status, you come off these lists. Same with the young player they got back, Luis Urias.
- Do the Brewers have a sense of why Zack Brown struggled so much? Was it just command loss, as alluded to in write-up? Psychological spiraling after experiencing some failure? Drop in stuff/not sequencing pitches well? I’m wondering if the Brewers feel they have a “fix” for the 2019 AAA issues, or if they are confused as well.
Tom Haudricourt: Brown seemed to struggle with the “rabbit ball” that made it down to the AAA level. He tried to be better than he needed to be, started picking at the edges and suffered command issues. He needs to get back to trusting his stuff. It was somewhat telling that the Brewers didn’t protect him on the 40-man roster, though, especially with 26 man rosters coming in 2020. You don’t see that with Top 10 prospects very often.
Ramón (Ciudad de México):
- Victor Castañeda had a great AFL performance, Is he a starter in the future for the Crew?
Tom Haudricourt: He is a sleeper to watch, for sure. Those who saw him in the AFL were impressed. Sometimes, it only takes one breakthrough like that for a young player to take off. One to watch in 2020.
- Any news regarding Brewers Chinese signing Jolon (Lun) Zhao? Was not a lot of news to why he was shut down earlier in the season. Saw that he was topping 94/95mph at the end of Spring Training and that his curve has one of the top RPM’s in MiLB. Should Brewer fans be excited?
Tom Haudricourt: So hard to tell without more of a track record. I heard of no injury, so he likely was just limited to certain amount of innings. I know that folks in the organization were excited about his upside. We just need to see him more to know what exactly the Brewers have in him.
Andrew (Kansas city):
- If the brewers were to trade hader, do they have enough power arms in the farm system to become the next version of hader? Mainly failed starters that fit better in the bullpen.
Tom Haudricourt: Well, Drew Rasmussen was throwing in the high 90s last year. He was so impressive, we moved him into the Top 10. So, there seems to be high-leverage potential there if he isn’t kept in a starting role.
Joel (Mason, OH):
- How can the Brewers move forward without a rebuild? They have a weak farm system, and huge holes in the big league club. Would they trade Yelich? Hader? Thanks for your answer.
Tom Haudricourt: No way they’d trade Yelich. Their fans would riot. And even though they are listening on Hader, it would take a huge offer to pry him loose. So, the Brewers have some work to do. Their system is thin on Top 100 prospects and they’ve got holes on the MLB roster, as you noted. Next two months are going to be important.
- What’s the latest on Corey Ray? Is he still viewed as a possible stud prospect or is he moving closer to trade bait to upgrade the team’s holes?
Tom Haudricourt: He had hand and finger injuries that derailed his 2019 season, so it’s mostly a matter of staying healthy and returning to the form that made him the Southern League MVP in 2018. The skill set is there even though he has had significant swing-and-miss issues. Lot of talent.
- Tom, Huira to 1st is actually looking kind of likely. He does not have a good arm, he is same height as Thames, and of Arcia were to turn it around Urias needs a spot and 3rs seems unlikely. I know Brewers have said he is still gunna play 2nd, but high likely does this seem now?
Tom Haudricourt: I keep asking about that and keep being told no. But, with Thames gone, Urias better suited for 2B and Arcia now re-signed, it sure seems to have some merit, doesn’t it? Let’s see what happens. Would seem to solve multiple issues.
- The brewers minor leagues has a catcher named Robie Rojas drafted in the 38 rd 2017. He is a .300 hitter but the organization hasn’t given the kid a chance yet. He only gets 35 or 45 at bats a year, but I have seen this kid before he can play. I don’t understand why not give him 250 at bats let’s see what he can do.
Tom Haudricourt: To be honest, seems like he’s been pegged as a backup. I know the Brewers consider Mario Feliciano and Payton Henry as their catching future, and both are highly rated in their system. The fact that Rojas was taken in the 38th round probably tells us a lot.
- The brewers have been drafting a lot of pitchers lately but none seem to be going through the farm system quickly. Why is that and what can they do to improve on this going forward.?
Tom Haudricourt: I don’t know if I’d agree with that. Look how Rasmussen was moved. Zack Brown pitched in AAA. Ashby has been on the move. I think Ethan Small will be moved consistently as well after being taken in the first round as an advanced college pitcher.
- What do the Brewers do with Corey Ray? He’s 25 and has shown very little with the exception of a big HR season in 2018. Do the Brewers see him as a future contributor? It feels like he’s the #4 prospect purely on the basis of a weak system.
Tom Haudricourt: As noted earlier, injuries fouled up his 2019 season. He just needs to stay healthy. A lot of skills there, especially the power/speed combo, which is not easy to find. The Top 10 is a bit thin now, however, after some trades and graduations.
- A couple of the pitchers i would be excited about are noah zavolas and ethan small. Do you have an opinion on them? Thanks
Tom Haudricourt: Both have very good feels for pitching, which will help them move through the system. Small has a chance to move quickly because he is a lefty who knows what he’s doing, even without an overpowering fastball. Zavolas was on the short list for organizational pitcher of the year in ’19.
- Hi, Best prospects to start season at AA Biloxi? By the way, whats the status of Phil Bickford? Thanks
Tom Haudricourt: Bickford finally got back on the mound last year and actually threw the ball well in relief, so let’s see if he can build on that. Look for the catchers I mentioned earlier, Feliciano and Henry, to move up to that level as well as OF Tristan Lutz, No. 2 in the system. And lefty Aaron Ashby should be headed that way. Wouldn’t surprise me if No. 1 Brice Turang finds his way there at some point in 2020.
- Think there’s any chance Thames returns at a lower pay rate or has that ship sailed?
Tom Haudricourt: It wouldn’t be totally shocking but I have the feeling that he’ll find a deal he likes elsewhere. The Brewers could have kept him for $7.5 million, and not sure they’ll do any better at 1B at that price.
- Does Jacob Nottingham have the skill set to hit at the major league level? Do catchers take longer to develop or is that just hearsay that won’t go away?
Tom Haudricourt: Catchers often do take longer to develop, in general, because of all they are asked to do. The Brewers hoped Nottingham would be in the majors by now or at least ready for 2020 but it hasn’t happened thus far. Certainly hasn’t helped his prospect status.
Craig (Harlingen, TX):
- I know you have been making these lists for a while. Is this the weakest crop of top 10 prospects you have put together. What is the Brewers long term plan to replenish the system?
Tom Haudricourt: It is a bit thinner than in the past, for sure. The Brewers have been trying to be more active in the Latin market, so that could help. When the rest of the Top 30 comes out, you’re going to see a whole bunch of young OFs who were international signings in recent years. Many of them have skill sets that could allow them to jump on prospect lists.
John (Neenah, WI):
- Could Angel Perdomo make the roster this year?
Tom Haudricourt: It would not be shocking. The fact that the Brewers added him to their 40-man roster tells you that they think he could help the big-league team at some point in 2020. He scuffled a bit in AAA last season but is only 25.
Buddy (Bloomington, IN):
- With the glut of non-tenders and the gaping holes on the roster (1B, 3B, SP, C), it feels like David Stearns is playing with fire that he can cheaply fill those spots and get the same production as last year. If he gets burned and the Brewers are .500ish for the remainder of Yelich’s contract, how quickly will the fans turn on him?
Tom Haudricourt: If you check Twitter over the last couple of days, many already have turned. Let’s see how these openings are addressed. If he does go cheap and gets low-caliber players, criticism will be warranted. But we don’t know yet what’s going to happen. Stearns has shown a knack for making big moves in January and February.
- The last question kind of stole my thunder but the Brewers seemed to have stepped up their international signings the last couple of years. Are there any of those prospects on the verge of jumping into the Top 10? Are there some that you are especially high on to make a major league impact in the next few years?
Tom Haudricourt: Well, Garcia is already in the Top 10, so there’s that. Outfielders Carlos Rodriguez, Pablo Abreu, Eduarqui Fernandez and Larry Ernesto are all players who have impressive skill sets.
Tom Haudricourt: Looks like those are all of the questions in the queue right now, so we will call an end to this chat. Thanks so much to those who participated. Your interest is appreciated. — Tom H