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Nelson first emerged as a prospect at Niceville High in the Florida Panhandle, spurning the Reds as a 39th-round pick to attend Alabama. He has helped make up for the fact that the Brewers failed to sign 2010 first-rounder Dylan Covey, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and did not sign. A second-rounder that same year, Nelson signed for $570,600 and finished his third full season in the majors. Long considered a workhorse type who profiled as a mid-rotation starter, Nelson made a big leap in 2013, starting at Double-A Huntsville, then moving up to Triple-A Nashville at midseason and finally to Milwaukee as a September callup. His command was a bit more erratic at Nashville, but he remained tough to hit and moved to the front of the class of a developing group of pitchers who should make an impact in the big leagues soon. He ingratiated himself to the big league staff with his aggressive nature and mound presence, showing no signs of being intimidated or being in over his head. In the one start he was given, he had trouble gripping the ball and threw some very wild pitches. Nelson said the ball in the majors was slicker than in the minors and it was an adjustment he would have to make. Nelson can overpower hitters at times with a fastball that sits at 92-94 mph but also reaches 96 when he needs it. He is very aggressive, going after hitters with hard stuff that also includes an effective two-seamer in the low 90s with good sink and movement that he uses to induce groundouts. Nelson also can be very tough on righthanded hitters with his three-quarters arm slot and power slider, which has a sharp break and registers in the 84-86 mph range. He limited righties to a .213/.295/.290 batting line and three home runs over 370 plate appearances at three levels, including 0-for-15 in his brief big league trial. He continues to work on a changeup that is improving and will be key to remaining a starter going forward. Nelson has a great build for a pitcher, maintaining the quality of his stuff deep into games. When he is throwing strikes he mows through lineups, but on other days Nelson fights his delivery and walks hitters, creating doubt about his future role. He tends to overthrow and loses his release point, resulting in an average of 4.1 walks per nine innings for his minor league career, too many for a frontline starter. He also needs to polish his defense and ability to hold runners. Nelson likely will have to return to Nashville to open the 2014 season but could force his way into the big league picture with a strong spring. While some scouts think his iffy command will consign him to the bullpen, the Brewers see a potential No. 2 or 3 starter who misses barrels and eats innings. He appears destined for regular spot in the Milwaukee rotation before the year is done.
The Brewers knew they had a good athlete in Taylor, who also was a standout running back at Torrance High, and hoped he would blossom once he focused on baseball only. He impressed in Rookie ball after signing before a wrist injury cut short his season, and the Brewers jumped him to low Class A Wisconsin at age 19, where he recovered from a slow start to post a productive season. Taylor is a true center fielder with five-tool potential who figures to get better as he accumulates at-bats. He has smoothed out his mechanics at the plate and shows gap power and at times more than that. He has good bat speed and is an aggressive hitter, sometimes to his detriment. He needs to improve his plate discipline, but he doesn't strike out much and will stand in against inside offerings, which resulted in 14 hit by pitches in 2013. His above-average speed plays to his advantage in center field as well as on the bases. He shows good instincts in the field and has learned to get good jumps in stealing bases. He has an average, accurate arm and tied for third in the Midwest League with 13 assists. He adapts well to coaching and should become even stronger as he matures physically. Taylor will be tested at high Class A Brevard County, which has a tough park for righthanded hitters. He has the skill set to succeed, however, and the Brewers are excited to have a true center fielder who could hit in the top third of the order.
Haniger's brother Jason played college ball, and his cousins Nik (Orioles) and Alex Balog (Rockies) play pro ball. A knee injury limited Mitch, who signed for $1.2 million in 2012, to just 14 games in his pro debut. The Brewers cautiously started him at low Class A Wisconsin in 2013, then moved him to high Class A Brevard County and looked for him to survive in a pitcher's park and pitcher's league, but Haniger thrived and led the organization with 36 doubles. The Brewers like many things about Haniger, including his approach, athleticism, arm and budding power. They believe he will develop 20-homer power because of his plate discipline, pitch recognition and quick bat. He works the gaps and shows plus power to the pull side. His running is fringy at best and he is an average defender in right field. His arm is an asset because it's both strong and accurate. His solid baseball background has given him the confidence and work ethic he'll need to make adjustments. The Brewers' most advanced hitting prospect, Haniger reported to the Arizona Fall League to prepare for a 2014 jump to Double-A. If he continues to improve, he figures into Milwaukee's plans as early as 2015.
Acquired from the Angels in the July 2012 Zack Greinke trade, Hellweg had a schizophrenic season. He led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in walks (89, which ranked fourth in the minors) and hit batters (14). Yet he also led the PCL in opponent average (.228) while ranking second in ERA (3.15) and wins (12). He won the league's pitcher of the year award but flopped in his September callup. At 6-foot-9, Hellweg can't help but throw on a downhill plane. When he's pounding the lower half of the zone with fastballs in the 92-95 mph range, he induces one groundball out after another. He's capable of reaching 98 mph whenever he wants, but because of control problems he learned to dial back his fastball and pitch more to contact, and his strikeout numbers plummeted. He has such good movement on his fastball that hitters don't square him up much, but that life, as well as Hellweg's extra-tall frame, makes the pitch hard to control. He has a lot going on with his delivery and struggles to maintain a consistent release point. His average changeup has improved and some scouts prefer it to his slurvy, below-average breaking ball. The Brewers hope Hellweg is the classic late-blooming tall pitcher, and he clearly needs more time to improve his control. With a 70-grade fastball, he's worth waiting on. He could return to the Triple-A rotation or gain big league experience in the bullpen in 2014.
The Brewers knew it would take some time to get Roache back on the field and swinging the bat well after he missed most of his final season at Georgia Southern with a severe wrist injury that required screws, pins and a metal plate to repair. He made his pro debut in late-April 2013 and, as might be expected, he struggled to recover his stroke at low Class A Wisconsin in the first half. He settled in during the second half, posting an .840 OPS with 16 homers in 277 at-bats. Roache has the kind of raw power that isn't easy to find. He can send pitches to far-off places, using his strength, bat speed and timing. The righty hitter struggles with breaking balls at times but crushes mistakes. He has to become more selective as a hitter to maximize his offensive potential. Roache does not project to be a high-average hitter but could hit 30 homers if he puts enough balls in play. He has fringy speed and only adequate arm strength and profiles strictly as a left fielder. The Brewers like his work habits and devotion to come back from what could have been a career-limiting injury. Roache should continue to improve as he compiles at-bats and continues to knock off the rust from missing more than a year of competition. His power stroke will be tested in 2014 as he moves up to high Class A Brevard County, which is not home-run friendly. He could move quickly if he makes consistent contact.
After three years as ace of the Texas staff, Jungmann was attractive to clubs in the 2011 draft because he was supposed to move quickly. He seemed on the verge of living up to his $2.525 million signing bonus in the first half of 2013, when he limited hitters to a .204 average at Double-A Huntsville. But he wasn't as sharp after the break, struggling to a 5.91 ERA in nine outings. Jungmann's fastball hit 98 mph in college, but his game now is pounding a 90-92 mph sinker into the bottom of the strike zone and getting hitters to beat it into the ground. He uses his tall frame to pitch on a downhill plane and tries to get outs early in the count. He tied for second in the Southern League with 18 double plays. He has a sharp-breaking, 75-78 mph slider that is very effective against righthanders when he stays on top of it. Jungmann's fringe-average changeup can be effective if a bit firm. His command took a step backward in 2013, but scouts and the Brewers believe his delivery can be smoothed out to improve his strike-throwing capability. A groin strain ended Jungmann's Arizona Fall League stint after one start, short-circuiting his first attempt at improving his delivery. He'll head to Triple-A for 2014, likely projecting as a No. 4 starter, which would be good enough considering the difficulty the Brewers have had in developing starting pitchers.
Arcia missed the 2012 season when he broke his right ankle sliding into second base in extended spring training. Despite missing that year, the Brewers had Arcia skip Rookie ball in 2013 and assigned him to low Class A Wisconsin. His older brother Oswaldo, a power-hitting corner outfielder, reached the majors with the Twins in 2013. Unlike his big brother, the Brewers' Arcia focuses on contact ability rather than power at the plate, rarely striking out. He doesn't walk much either and has to work on his plate discipline to reach base more often. Arcia has decent pop for being so thin and figures to get stronger as he matures physically. He doesn't have great speed but is aggressive on the bases and shows good instincts there as well. In the field, Arcia can be fun to watch. He has above-average range to both sides, nimble footwork around the bag, soft hands and plenty of arm strength to stick at shortstop. Like all young players, he will make sloppy errors at times, but he has all-star potential in the field. As might be expected, Arcia had an inconsistent year at the plate but was dazzling at times in the field, showing tremendous natural instincts. His athleticism is evident and nobody doubts he will be major league ready with the glove first. He will step up to high Class A Brevard County in 2014.
The proverbial little guy with a quick arm, Goforth was in the midst of his best pro season, earning a promotion to Double-A Huntsville and tossing back-to-back, seven-inning, no-run outings in July. After the all-star break, however, the Brewers moved him to the bullpen. The organization insists he can remain a starter, but Goforth was closing in the Arizona Fall League. No one questions Goforth's ability to throw fastballs past hitters with velocity in the 93-97 mph range, and he touches higher in a bullpen role. He has improved his fastball command, locating to both sides of the plate when he's at his best, but he's more effectively wild than precise. Goforth throws a solid curveball with good shape that grades as average, but he throws more strikes with his hard, cutter-type slider, which will reach 90-91 mph. His fringe-average curve and cutter make him as effective against lefthanders (.200 average) as righthanders (.227). His pitchability and pitch selection still need polish. Many scouts have pegged Goforth as a future reliever, and the future appears to have arrived. If the Brewers do decide to pitch him strictly in relief, then he could rise quickly to the big leagues as a high-leverage reliever, perhaps as soon as 2014.
The Brewers didn't have a first-round pick in 2013 because they forfeited it to sign Kyle Lohse in late March. Accordingly, they were pleased to select Williams, whom they regarded as a late-first-round talent. His velocity increased dramatically the previous fall at the World Wood Bat Association World Championships, and he continued to show that heat as a West High senior. Williams pitches in the 88-92 mph range with his two-seam fastball and can hit 95 with his four-seamer. The Brewers believe his velocity will increase with time as he fills out his lanky frame. Williams can get out of whack at times with his mechanics, but when he keeps his front shoulder closed, he has a loose, easy delivery and shows a feel for three pitches. His breaking ball is a hybrid curve and slider at times, but when he stays on top of it, it has a sharp break at the knees in the low 80s. His changeup has fade and sink and keeps hitters off-balance. Both secondary pitches are inconsistent but have the potential to be plus pitches. The Brewers often used the word "upside" after drafting Williams. They coveted his athleticism and free-and-easy arm action, and they paid him $1.35 million to forgo a Missouri scholarship. He could be headed for low Class A Wisconsin if he looks good in camp.
A second-round pick out of high school, Morris didn't sign with the Red Sox and spent three years at Auburn, then was drafted two rounds later in 2010. The Southern League's player of the year in 2012, Morris had a modest encore in 2013. The Brewers had a revolving door at the position in Milwaukee but never summoned Morris, not even in September. Morris regressed into an all-or-nothing hitter in 2013 as the improvement that Morris showed with Huntsville took a step backwards at Nashville. He struck out far too often and struggled badly against lefthanded pitchers (.211/.256/.411). Morris has middle-of-the order power potential and ranked second in the Pacific Coast League in home runs despite the inconsistent year. He has averaged 24 home runs a season in his three full years in the minors. Considered a below-average first baseman when he was drafted, Morris has worked hard to make himself a better fielder but still led the PCL with nine errors. He doesn't have great range but his hands have improved and his throwing arm is adequate for the position. Morris has below-average speed and grounds into a lot of double plays (15 in 2013). Morris could still emerge as the starter in Milwaukee if the Brewers don't find a better option before Opening Day. Whether it's later than sooner, the Brewers still believe Morris can be their starter at some point.
The Brewers didn't want Coulter to sit around in extended spring training in 2013, waiting for the Rookie-level Helena season to begin, so they sent him to low Class A Wisconsin, knowing it would be a challenge for him. Accordingly, they weren't surprised when the 2012 first-rounder struggled at the plate, batting .207/.299/.345 in 33 games, to earn a ticket to Helena. Nagging injuries to Coulter's oblique muscle, knee and wrist as well as his struggles at the plate prompted him to drop a level lower to the Rookie-level Arizona League. Coulter has impressive tools. A former high school wrestling champion, he is a physical specimen with tremendous offensive upside. He gets good leverage and power from a quick bat and makes consistent contact, minimizing his strikeouts. The main question remains: Will he be able to stay behind the plate? Coulter still is a raw defensive player, though his strong arm and work ethic allowed him to show improvement in throwing out basestealers. The Brewers would like to keep him behind the plate because he shows leadership and confidence. Coulter doesn't run particularly well but shows good instincts and is aggressive on the basepaths. The 2013 season was a learning curve for Coulter in many aspects, particularly in learning how to deal with nagging injuries. He likely will return to Wisconsin to begin 2014, and the Brewers will keep him behind the plate until he proves he can't do it.
When the Brewers shopped around veteran reliever Francisco Rodriguez before the July 31 trade deadline in 2013, the Orioles showed immediate interest. The Brewers targeted Delmonico, who played a position of need in the farm system, but originally were told he was not available. When other teams joined in the bidding, Baltimore relented and offered Delmonico, whom the Brewers targeted because he bats lefthanded. However, he struggled at the plate after being assigned to high Class A Brevard County before an elbow injury stopped his season there after 21 games. The son of former Tennessee coach Rod, Delmonico has a strong, sturdy frame and shows an advanced approach and feel for hitting, working counts and recognizing breaking balls. Originally signed for $1.525 million, Delmonico has budding power but at times gets long with his swing. His offense will be his calling card, but some question whether he can stay at third base. He has had back and knee injuries, as well as missing time with a concussion in 2013. He played both first and second base during his pro debut in the Orioles system in 2012. Delmonico doesn't have the hands or footwork to play second, but the Brewers think he has enough quickness and range to stick at third, and he has the arm strength to have considered catching in high school. If he can stay healthy, which has been an issue thus far, Delmonico figures to use his bat to eventually get to the big leagues as a corner infielder.
If push came to shove and the Brewers needed a shortstop merely to play defense in the majors, Rivera probably could do it. That's how smooth he is in the field, with great range and instincts as well as the arm to make throws from the hole. Around the bag, Rivera shows good footwork and quickness as well as soft hands. But will Rivera hit enough to advance to the major leagues as an everyday player? He's a free swinger who doesn't work the count enough to tax a pitcher. He did make strides in 2013 at high Class A Brevard County, a pitcher-friendly environment, by cutting down his strikeout rate dramatically (15 percent of plate appearances) and raising his walk rate slightly (six percent). Rivera every now and then will juice a pitch and show more pop than expected from his lanky frame, but that generally leads to slumps because it makes him too pull-conscious and long with his swing. He sees a lot of breaking balls, especially with two strikes. Not blessed with above-average speed, Rivera improved his reads on the bases to steal 13 bases with Brevard. Still, it's his glove that makes Rivera a prospect to watch, and it'll be up to him to show he can hit enough to avoid the utility infielder tag. He will move up to Double-A Huntsville in 2014 and play every day at shortstop.
Simply put, Neuhaus' senior year at Wharton High was a nightmare. Before the season began, his older brother died in an auto accident, then a series of injuries--pulled quadriceps muscle and burst eardrum--cut into his playing time. Accordingly, the Brewers went on previous scouting reports and were thrilled when Neuhaus was still on the board in the supplemental second round of the 2013 draft. He shows all the skills and instincts you'd expect from a coach's son. His father Ken was the head coach at Division III Bethel (Minn.) and an assistant at Iowa before moving the family to Florida, where he served as a part-time scout for the Reds. Neuhaus is athletic for his size and shows soft hands and good footwork in the field. Some profile him as a future third baseman, but the Brewers want to keep giving him time at shortstop to see how he does. They believe he has the range and arm strength to stick there. Neuhaus didn't turn 18 until just after the draft and the Brewers believe he'll only get better as he accumulates playing experience. He shows decent pop from the left side and figures to get stronger as he matures. After playing third and short in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2013, Neuhaus probably is ticketed to Rookie-level Helena in 2014.
The Brewers have a lot of hard-throwers in their system who have command issues and Pena is one of them. Acquired with shortstop Jean Segura and righthander Johnny Hellweg from the Angels in the Zack Greinke trade in late-July 2012, Pena has the ability to throw the ball by hitters. He throws his sinker in the 92-94 mph range and can reach 98 with his four-seamer. He also throws a hard, late-breaking slider at 82-86 mph, but he overthrows his changeup at times and that has not been an overly effective pitch for him. Much like Hellweg, Pena gets himself in trouble by not throwing strikes, resulting in a walk rate of 5.0 per nine innings at Double-A Huntsville in 2013. He struggles at times with his mechanics and long arm action, and loses his release point, but he can escape trouble via strikeout, as attested by his 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings. The Brewers have used Pena strictly as a starter to allow him to work on his command and accumulate innings, but if he doesn't harness his control soon, he'll move to the bullpen. He could be dominant in that role with his fastball-heavy approach. Pena likely will move to Triple-A Nashville in 2014, where he may move to the bullpen if he stumbles.
No player in the system improved his stock in 2013 more than Wagner, who showed surprising staying power as a starter at low Class A Wisconsin. He worked as closer at Utah when the Brewers drafted him in 2012, but the club saw him as a rotation candidate. The results weren't pretty at Rookie-level Helena that same year--7.77 ERA and a 1.75 WHIP in 49 innings--but the Brewers stuck with Wagner and he bounced back in a big way at low Class A Wisconsin in 2013. His fastball features good sink and heavy life in the low- to mid-90s, touching 96. He uses it to induce groundballs, posting a 3.01 groundout/airout ratio, best among all minor league starting pitchers who qualified for their league ERA title. He induced 16 double plays, second in the Midwest League, finished third in the league in innings and eighth in ERA. Wagner has a sharp-breaking slider at 84-86 mph that is a big out-pitch against righthanded hitters. He also displayed an effective changeup that kept lefties off-balance; they posted a .652 OPS versus .629 for righthanded hitters. Wagner, who has a high leg kick in his delivery and low three-quarters release point, made strides in commanding the ball and executing clutch pitches when necessary. The mainstay of the Timber Rattlers' rotation, Wagner just might have the pitchability to profile as a starter, with a likely next step to high Class A Brevard County for 2014.
When the Cardinals showed interest in acquiring deposed closer John Axford before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline in 2013, the Brewers saw it as an opportunity to add another power arm to their system. Because Milwaukee viewed Axford as a probable non-tender candidate, they were pleased to swing a deal for Blazek, who had excelled in the St. Louis system and received a brief trial in the big leagues. A 35th-round pick in 2007, Blazek turned down an offer from Nevada to play middle infield so that he could concentrate on pitching in pro ball. He throws his fastball in the 94-97 mph range but sometimes fights his mechanics and has command issues. He'll mix in a curve in the mid-70s, a slider in the mid-80s and a changeup, all pitches that he relies on less in the bullpen than he did as a starter. When he gets his breaking stuff over, however, hitters have more to worry about. Assuming Blazek can throw enough strikes, the Brewers see him as a seventh-inning pitcher, perhaps a set-up man, at the big league level, with an ability to climb the ladder with his fastball.
As an advanced lefty coming out of Georgia Tech, Bradley profiled as a quick mover through the system when the Brewers made him the 15th pick in the 2011 draft. But the southpaw's transition to pro ball has been shaky, with injuries keeping him on the sidelines too often and mechanical issues plaguing him when he is active. Bradley made just 16 starts at high Class A Brevard County in 2013 before being shut down with shoulder issues, a disappointing conclusion to a season in which he reported to camp noticeably bigger and stronger. He also showed more life on his fastball than he had in his 2012 debut, though his velocity was below his peak as an amateur. When healthy and in control of his mechanics, Bradley throws an 89-93 mph fastball with good movement as well as a mid-80s slider, both with a loose, natural arm action. He creates deception with his low-80s changeup and will use it at any point in the count. The physical and mechanical issues have been unexpected because Bradley was a consistent power pitcher in college and was able to repeat his delivery consistently. The Brewers have a lot riding on Bradley, who will begin 2014 at Double-A Huntsville, because their system is short on lefthanders, but they expected him to be knocking on the door by now.
Sometimes, big things come in small packages. Listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Williams has a big fastball, which was one of the reasons the Brewers were glad to select him in the fourth round of the 2013 draft out of Kent State. He originally went to Washington State but didn't play much, so he transferred to Mount Hood (Ore.) CC, where he was a starter and middle infielder. He eventually followed some New England Collegiate League teammates to KSU, where as a junior he served as the most consistent starter for the Golden Flashes. Williams' draft stock rose considerably in a game against San Diego, when he struck out College Player of the Year Kris Bryant three times. He can run his fastball up to 94-95 mph with good life, but he sits mostly at 90-92. He features some effort in his delivery, but Williams also has good athleticism. He throws strikes, pounding the zone with his fastball and slider, which is a big out-pitch against righthanders. To keep lefthanders off his heater, he mixes in changeups. Because of Williams' combination of smallish stature and live fastball, many scouts project him as a reliever. For now, the Brewers plan to continue starting him, with the next step being low Class A Wisconsin in 2014.
As a 32nd-round pick out of Division II Columbus State (Ga.), Rogers didn't project to be a top prospect. It didn't help when he missed much of the 2011 season with a fractured hamate bone. But Rogers showed promise as a low Class A Midwest League midseason all-star in 2012 before moving up to high Class A Brevard County for the second half. Playing the 2013 season at Double-A Huntsville, Rogers led the system with 87 RBIs while belting 22 homers to place third. He performed better as the year progressed, batting .297 with a .906 OPS in the second half. Rogers has improved his plate discipline and pitch recognition, and he has a good two-strike approach, which helps him keep strikeouts in check (16 percent of plate appearances in 2013) moreso than other power hitters. Rogers is a below-average runner but has decent instincts on the bases. A stocky-but-athletic build allowed him to play left field in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .311 but struck out 21 times in 61 at-bats. The Brewers added Rogers to the 40-man roster rather than risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft, and he will move to Triple-A Nashville in 2014, where the likely presence of first baseman Hunter Morris will necessitate that he call on his left-field experience.
Shackelford was a catcher for two seasons at Marshall before converting to the mound and catching the eye of scouts. He made strides as a pitcher in 2013, especially after being promoted from high Class A Brevard County to Double-A Huntsville. Used to close games there, Shackelford blossomed and held opponents to a .217 average over 20 appearances. He threw his fastball in the 92-95 mph range and touched as high as 97, with a two-seamer that bore down in the strike zone and induced groundballs. His slider can be a swing-and-miss pitch, and the combination of the two power pitches makes Shackelford profile as a late-inning reliever in the majors. He's athletic with a clean delivery, but he release point can wander, causing his slider consistency. Shackelford throws on a solid downhill plane because of his 6-foot-5 height and continued his late-season success in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 13 in 12 innings. If he doesn't begin 2014 at Triple-A Nashville, he ought to arrive at that level during the season. Shackelford could see action in the Brewers bullpen before the season is out.
A star performer in the 2012 Arkansas bullpen, Astin closed games with aplomb and helped propel the school to the College World Series. He flashed a fastball at 94-95 mph that had heavy sink and induced groundballs regularly. Shifted to the Razorbacks rotation in 2013, Astin's fastball was less electric, sitting more at 88-92 mph under the increased workload. He throws a slider with cutting action that can be tough on lefthanders and mixes in a solid curveball with good tilt. He does a good job of pitching down in the zone, and when he misses, he usually misses down. He keeps the ball in the park and doesn't walk hitters, unafraid to throw the ball in the strike zone. Astin threw a lot of innings in 2013 and eventually wore down in his debut at Rookie-level Helena, but he finished strong with four no-hit innings in his final outing. Whether he will be durable enough to remain a starter remains to be seen, but at worst he profiles as a reliever who could move quickly. Astin likely will move up to low Class A Wisconsin in 2014.
Not many pitchers can throw a legitimate 100 mph fastball. Magnifico is one of them, but it's no secret as to why he lasted until the fifth round of the 2012 draft. His secondary pitches were almost non-existent at Oklahoma, and because his fastball is straight, it often got hit. Magnifico has made progress with his 83-87 mph slider in pro ball and also throws a changeup, but too often he throws them from a lower arm slot. His two-seamer has plus sinking action when he stays on top of the pitch and takes a little off the velocity. Magnifico has had elbow issues in the past, so it's imperative that he stays on top of his mechanics. His max-effort delivery may not be an innocent bystander in his injury history. Magnifico had success at low Class A Wisconsin in 2013, making the Midwest League all-star team, so the Brewers bumped him up high Class A Brevard County, where opponents batted .311 against him. Command has been an issue, as attested by his walk rate of 4.6 per nine innings at the two stops. The Brewers have used Magnfico as a starter to allow him to accumulate innings and work on his secondary pitches, but his blazing fastball and poor control mark him as a prime relief candidate.
When the Brewers drafted Lopez as a raw, 18-year-old in the second round of the 2011 draft, they knew his development would feature growing pains. His 2012 season turned out to be more problematic than expected, with back issues and the a demotion from the Rookie-level Arizona League to the Dominican Summer League. But the Brewers assigned Lopez to low Class A Wisconsin in 2013 and left him there to sink or swim. He showed flashes of the talent that initially piqued the club's interest but also plenty of inconsistency. Lopez throws his fastball in the 89-93 mph range with good action. The ball comes out of his hand with ease, and his two-seamer has good sink. His curveball comes and goes, but when Lopez stays on top of the ball it has quality bite. He has good feel for his changeup, though he sometimes overthrows it. Lopez must get more consistent with his delivery and release point, as evidenced by the 13 wild pitches and nine hit batters in 117 innings at Wisconsin. Lopez still is maturing, both physically and mentally, and the Brewers believe he has mid-rotation starter potential. He likely will move up to high Class A Brevard County to begin 2014.
After a strong 2012 season at two levels of Class A ball in 2012, Gagnon appeared primed for good things in 2013. Instead, he struggled upon returning to high Class A Brevard, didn't fare any better after moving up to Double-A Huntsville and was plagued by command issues throughout, averaging nearly four walks per nine innings. That was unusual for Gagnon, who when at his best pounds the zone with good life on an 88-92 mph fastball. His curveball can be tough on righthanders, but he was more erratic with it in 2013. Gagnon throws his fringe-average changeup with good arm action, and he mixes in a cutter that can be effective. He doesn't have the large margin for error of a power pitcher, and more experienced Double-A hitters took advantage, lighting him up for a 5.57 ERA and 12 homers in 16 starts. The lack of plus pitch limits Gagnon's ceiling to back-of-the-rotation starter. He probably will return to Huntsville to begin 2014.
Garcia has the one dominant tool that cannot be taught--speed. An 80 runner, he had been timed at 6.3 seconds in the 60-yard dash prior to the 2013 draft. Despite batting righthanded, he's a tough out even on routine grounders to the left side of the infield. A true singles hitter with little or no power, Garcia profiles as a leadoff type who can get on base and disrupt teams with his stolen-base potential. Using that approach, he had a successful debut as a 19-year-old at Rookie-level Helena. Garcia makes consistent contact, rarely striking out, and he will wait out walks to get on base and put his speed to good use. His offensive game centers on slapping the ball on the ground and legging out infield hits. He has decent range in center field and is learning to get proper jumps on balls in the gaps. His arm is average, which won't be a deterrent. Garcia must prove his approach will work against better pitchers or adjust by learning to drive the ball. He'll get just that opportunity at low Class A Wisconsin in 2014.
Banda helped lead San Jacinto (Texas) JC to a runner-up finish at the 2012 Junior College World Series. He struggled in the Rookie-level Arizona League following his selection in the 10th round of that year's draft, but he made strides in 2013 with Rookie-level Helena. Banda throws a fastball in the 89-92 mph range with good movement, an effective changeup and a sharp-breaking curveball that often is his best pitch. He shows good command of his fastball, keeping it down in the zone for the most part and pitching to contact. Banda's curveball was consistent throughout the season, and he showed a good feel for his changeup to keep righthanders honest. Banda did work too high in the strike zone at times and was hurt with home runs. He has a good pitcher's build and physicality. Short of lefthanders in general, the Brewers view him as a potential mid-rotation starter, and he will spend most of the 2014 as a 20-year-old at low Class A Wisconsin.
Ratterree entered 2012 as a potential high-rounds pick as a Rice junior, but he had a terrible time at the plate and went undrafted. He returned for his senior season and got off to an even slower start in 2013 before heating up in the second half and drawing the Brewers' attention. Once projected as an offensive-minded second baseman, Ratterree developed throwing problems in college and shifted to the outfield. Living up to previous expectations, he quickly made the adjustment to pro ball and led Rookie-level Helena to the Pioneer League playoffs while earning MVP honors. With good bat speed and plate discipline, Ratterree flashed raw power to all fields, accumulating home runs and extra-base hits with frequency. His confidence at the plate was apparent as he swung aggressively without worrying about drawing walks. He has good arm strength but fringy range and defensive skills, limiting him to the corner outfield. Thus, his bat will have to carry him. An early bargain as a 10th-rounder who signed for $25,000, Ratterree will move up to low Class A Wisconsin in 2014.
Cravy made big strides in 2013 as a swingman at high Class A Brevard County, making nine starts and pitching 16 times out of the bullpen. The Brewers were so intrigued by his performance that they assigned him to the Arizona Fall League. A finesse pitcher, Cravy uses a 90-91 mph sinker to induce groundball outs. He works fast and pounds the zone, staying ahead in the count and pitching to contact. He keeps the ball in the park with his sinker, allowing only one home run during the 2013 season before giving up another in the AFL. Cravy throws a slider at 84-86 mph with good bite, and to keep hitters further off-balance, he mixes in a slower curveball at 77-78 mph with good tilt. He throws his breaking stuff with good deception, notching strikeouts despite just average velocity on all pitches. Cravy has a good feel for setting up hitters and shows confidence and poise on the mound. He could be valuable as a middle reliever also capable of filling in as a spot starter when necessary. A ticket to Double-A Huntsville awaits Cravy in 2014.
Richardson fell completely off the radar when he quit baseball in 2012, with the former football/baseball star at Florida State saying he was burned out. But he had a change of heart and asked the Brewers to return in 2013. Told he'd have to start over from scratch and obey every team rule, Richardson did just that, advancing from the Rookie-level Arizona League to high Class A Brevard County. With the Manatees, he began flashing the skills that had the Brewers excited when they drafted him in 2009 and convinced him to give up football. Richardson has the speed and range to play center field, while possessing the strong arm that many lack at that position. He obviously has the tools to do many things but needs to refine his all-around game. He didn't flash as much power as might be expected in 2013, but he did show improved plate discipline by cutting down his strikeouts. Because he sat out a year, Richardson turned 25 in the middle of 2013 and is behind the curve. He may move to Double-A Huntsville in 2014, where he'll continue to fight long odds to become a big league contributor.