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The Brewers knew Taylor was a talented athlete when they selected him in the second round of the 2012 draft and signed him for $750,000. He was a standout running back in high school, and the Brewers figured he would improve when focusing on baseball only--and that's exactly what has happened. Taylor impressed in his 2012 debut in Rookie ball before a wrist injury cut short his season, and he played at low Class A Wisconsin in 2013 at age 19, where he started slow and finished strong. Taylor followed that pattern again in 2014 at high Class A Brevard County, playing better in the second half (.299 average, .350 onbase percentage) while leading the Florida State League with 45 extra-base hits. He ran out of gas in the final month (.532 OPS), but he received a promotion to Double-A Huntsville for the Southern League playoffs. Taylor is more of a gap hitter--36 of his extrabase hits were doubles, the most in the FSL'than a bopper. He has good bat speed and is aggressive at the plate but makes contact and does not strike out much. Taylor doesn't walk much, either, and, therefore, needs to work on his plate discipline to improve his OBP. He hit lefthanders hard in 2014 (.852 OPS) and has learned how to pull inside pitches down the line for doubles. Taylor has decent speed on the bases, but he isn't a burner and has worked hard on getting jumps on the pitcher. He is a true center fielder with good range and instincts and an average, accurate arm. In 129 games in the outfield in 2014, he committed just two errors. Taylor played in a very tough park for righthanded hitters at Brevard County and should continue to be more productive. The Brewers love Taylor's aggressiveness on the field and the way he takes to coaching. He is difficult to get off the field, and he led Brevard County by playing in 130 of 135 games. He kept going in the Arizona Fall League as well, though he hit a soft .271. Taylor will play the entire 2015 season as a 21-year-old at Double-A. The Brewers know they don't have to rush Taylor, but he continues to earn quick promotions and rapidly assumed the mantel of top prospect in the system. Taylor projects to be a top-of-the order hitter in the majors who will be effective at the plate and in the field.
Arcia played most of the 2014 season at high Class A Brevard County at age 19, but he didn't play like a teenager. In fact, he shows uncommon maturity and a well-rounded game . He moved full-time to his natural position of shortstop at midseason when double-play partner Yadiel Rivera moved to Double-A. Arcia's older brother Oswaldo plays right field for the Twins. Arcia could probably play shortstop in the big leagues in 2015 and hold his own. He has a plus arm, great first-step quickness and aboveaverage range. His hands are soft and his instincts are good, and he believes he can make every play. At the plate, Arcia continues to improve, with good hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition that keep his strikeouts manageable. He shows mostly gap power at present but has enough pop to stop pitchers from grooving the ball, especially for his size. With plus speed, he is a threat on the bases and an exciting, daring player to watch. Sometimes his swing gets long and his plate discipline lags, but that can improve with experience and coaching. Everyone agrees that Arcia will get to the big leagues on the basis of defense alone, but the Brewers also have high hopes for his offense . He shows leadership skills that add to the package, and it's only a matter of time before he is wearing a Brewers uniform.
Coulter was not ready to compete at low Class A Wisconsin in 2013 as a teenager and received a demotion to Rookie-level Helena, with injuries playing a factor in stalling his development. He made a triumphant return to the Midwest League in 2014, leading the league in home runs (22) and on-base percentage (.410). Coulter does not have a picture-perfect swing, for it involves an exaggerated load and powerful cut that makes it difficult at times to control the barrel. That combination leads to swings and misses on pitches he should hit, but when he does make contact, he does so with power (53 extra-base hits). His plate discipline improved in 2014 and he stopped getting himself out as often by swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. Coulter's defense at catcher remains a work in progress, however, particularly with his throwing mechanics and footwork. Coulter has good arm strength and is a tremendous worker, but catching is not his future . Coulter's bat will get him to the big leagues, so the Brewers sent him to instructional league and to the Arizona Fall League in 2014 to learn to play right field. They were encouraged with how quickly he improved there, though big league right fielder Ryan Braun is signed for six more years. Coulter will be tested at a challenging high Class A Brevard County ballpark in 2015.
Considered by many to be the best athlete in the 2014 draft, Harrison landed with the Brewers in the second round. They forked over $1.8 million to entice him to forego a scholarship to play both baseball and football at Nebraska. Upon reporting to the Rookie-level Arizona League, Harrison put the tools on display that make him special. Harrison led the AZL with 31 walks, showcasing impressive plate discipline, and also swiped a circuit-best 32 bases while getting caught just twice. He has plus bat speed, and though his swing needs more polish and consistency, he showed an advanced approach and patience. He stood tough in the batter's box, getting hit 12 times by pitches. His speed not only makes things happen on the bases but also plays well in center field, where he just needs more experience. But he also could settle into right field, where his strong arm will play. In terms of tools and upside, Harrison might have been the most impressive player in the AZL. He showed little power, but that could come with time and isn't a necessity considering his other skills. The Brewers could challenge him by sending him to low Class A Wisconsin in 2015, but no matter where he lands, he has the makings of an exciting player to watch.
How badly did the Brewers want Lara? After never spending more than $800,000 for an international amateur, they committed a whopping $3.1 million to sign the 16-year-old shortstop in July 2014. The Brewers buttressed their allotted bonus pool amount of $2,611,800 by trading Cuban righthander Rodolfo Fernandez to the Athletics for slot No. 57, worth $339,000, bringing their total to $2.95 million. Thus by signing Lara, they exceeded their bonus pool by just five percent, while satisfying a goal to become more active in Latin America. Few players in Lara's signing class could match him in terms of raw power. His swing gets out of control at times, and he can be pull-happy, but those are not major issues at his age. He impressed scouts in showcases, where he drove the ball with regularity. Already big-bodied, he isn't expected to be able to stay at shortstop, which requires more dexterity. Offense is his calling card, particularly with a tremendous upside as a slugger. The Brewers are thin at third base and likely will give Lara a good look at the hot corner. That position could prove to be a challenge as well, so a move to first base or the outfield could be in his future. The Brewers might wait until 2016 before assigning Lara to Rookie ball in the U.S. Did not play
Rule 5 draft picks don't often make prospect lists the year after their restrictions are lifted, but Wang is an exception. His initial contract with the Pirates had been voided--he required Tommy John surgery--leaving him eligible for the Rule 5 draft in 2013 when the Pirates didn't add him to the 40-man roster. Pittsburgh didn't envision any other team taking Wang to the big leagues, but the Brewers did exactly that in 2014 while pitching him 14 times. Brewers scouts who saw Wang pitch in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2013 were impressed with his command, poise and arm. The wiry lefty throws his fastball in the 91-93 mph range and touches 95 at times. He has an outstanding changeup that makes him effective against righthanders and a solid curveball as well, giving him the repertoire to be a successful starter. Those pitches, combined with his control and calm demeanor on the mound convinced the Brewers to keep the 22-year-old Wang in spring training and try to get through the season with him.When he did pitch in the majors, he wasn't sharp and often was hit hard. After Wang spent the requisite 90 days on the active roster to satisfy his Rule 5 restriction, he was shut down with a tight shoulder and later sent on a minor league rehab assignment to work as a starter. He also started and pitched well in the Arizona Fall League (23 IP, 2 BB), and likely will pitch in high Class A Brevard County's 2015 rotation.
Williams might be smallish in stature, but he stood tall on the mound in 2014 and made a huge leap in the eyes of the organization. Working in low Class A Wisconsin's tandem starter sytem, he established himself as one of the best arms in the Midwest League, compiling a 0.94 WHIP while holding opponents to a .201 average. He struggled in five starts at high Class A Brevard County, but that did little to diminish the 2013 fourth-rounder's breakthrough season. Williams not only has a big fastball that reaches 95 mph consistently (even touching 100) and sits at 92, but he has outstanding command of his pitches. He pounds the zone with his fastball and slider, using both sides of the plate effectively. Because Williams keeps his pitches down, for the most part, he tends not to get hurt by home runs. His slider is a big out pitch against righthanders, and he keeps lefties off his hard stuff with an effective changeup. He played some middle infield as an amateur, so he's athletic and fields his position well. The Brewers like his aggressive nature on the mound, constantly pitching ahead in the count. Because of Williams' lack of size, some scouts see his future in the majors as a reliever, but the Brewers think he has the stuff to be a starter, particularly the way he commands his pitches. They plan to keep him in in the rotation at Double-A Biloxi in 2015.
The Brewers didn't have a first-round pick in 2013, but they considered Williams a borderline first-round talent when they took him in the second round. They signed him for $1.25 million to forego a scholarship to Missouri. Williams acquitted himself well in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2013, holding opponents to a .215 average, but the Brewers bumped the 19-year-old only to Rookie-level Helena in 2014 because they wanted him to get his feet on the ground. Williams has a live arm, throwing his two-seam fastball in the 88-92 mph range and getting his four-seamer up to 95. When he keeps his front shoulder closed, Williams has an easy arm action and shows a feel for three pitches. His breaking ball is more of a slurve that he throws in the low 80s with good command. His changeup has good fade and sink and keeps hitters off his fastball. The Brewers were impressed with his improved maturity while pitching in the instructional league in the fall. The Brewers like Williams' athleticism and free-and-easy delivery, and at some point he might take a big leap. Until that happens, the Brewers intend to proceed cautiously, and he probably will join low Class A Wisconsin to start the 2015 season.
A Las Vegas high school product, Wagner turned in one of the most impressive showings of any pitcher in the system in 2014, backing up his strong showing at low Class A Wisconsin in 2013. The closer at Utah when the Brewers drafted him in the fourth round in 2012, he has the stuff to start. He ranked among the Florida State League leaders in 2014 with a 1.86 ERA, 118 strikeouts and .221 opponent average. Wagner's bread-and-butter is a heavy sinker that has good life, and he keeps the pitch down in the zone to induce groundballs. He sits in the low to mid-90s but also reaches back for 96 mph when he needs it. For the second year in a row, he finished near the top of his league in innings (150), a tribute to his command and economy of pitches. Wagner has a sharp-breaking slider that he throws at 84-86 mph and uses to torment righthanders (.570 opponents OPS). He also has an effective changeup that keeps lefties at bay (.617 OPS). He has a high leg kick in his delivery and throws from a three-quarters arm slot with excellent command and deception. With two quality seasons under his belt, Wagner has proven he has the repertoire as well as the mentality to pitch in the rotation. He'll likely be promoted to Double-A Biloxi in 2015.
Jungmann spun his wheels at Double-A Huntsville in 2013 and wasn't invited to big league camp in 2014. Sent back to Double-A in 2014, he made nine solid starts before earning a bump to Triple-A Nashville. The tall righty found a groove in the final weeks, posting a 1.80 ERA over his final six starts. Jungamann doesn't throw with the same velocity he did at Texas, where he often reached the high 90s, so he has to rely more on a sinker to get groundball outs. He moved to the arm side of the rubber so that his fastball caught more of the outside corner to lefthanders and his breaking stuff didn't wander too far out of the zone. Jungmann throws his fastball in the 90-92 mph range and pitches down in the zone, emphasizing contact early in the count. He throws an effective curveball at 75-78 mph that is a quality out pitch against righthanders. It took longer than expected, but Jungmann has reached Triple-A in 2014 and joined the 40-man roster after the season. He has a chance to reach a ceiling of back-end starter.
The Brewers surprised many when they tabbed the prep lefty Medeiros with the 12th pick in the 2014 draft, making him the highest-drafted prep player ever out of the state of Hawaii. The Brewers scouted him extensively during his senior year and also were impressed with what he showed in a pre-draft workout in Milwaukee. In fact, they were so impressed they gave the Pepperdine recruit a $2.5 million bonus, one of the highest in club history. Medeiros throws from a low arm angle with a fastball that sits at 90-92 mph and reaches 95 at times with plus life, movement and sink. He keeps the ball down in the zone and induces groundball outs. Medeiros complements his fastball with an above-average slider that ranked as one of the best prep breaking balls in the 2014 draft class. He throws an improving changeup that has a chance to also be a plus pitch for him down the road. The Brewers believe Medeiros' athleticism and strength (in part a result of a lifelong passion for judo) will allow him to repeat his low-slot mechanics. Despite his upside, Medeiros made nine appearances in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2014, but he logged poor results--7.13 ERA, 2.09 WHIP--so he might not be ready for full-season ball in 2015.
The Brewers have groomed Goforth as a reliever, shifting him to a closer role in 2013. He converted 27 of 33 save chances in 2014 despite a low strikeout rate. Goforth pitches off a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and has touched 100. He also started throwing more hard cutters/sliders in 2014 at 89-91 mph, pitching more to contact than trying to strike out hitters. Sometimes he overthrows the slider, but he also throws a solid curveball with good shape. He's a tremendous competitor who at least profiles as a setup reliever in the majors. Added to the 40-man roster, Goforth likely will open 2015 season at Triple-A Colorado Springs.
The book on Rivera has not changed from past seasons. He is a quality defender who could hold his own at shortstop in the majors, but he has not proven he will hit enough to be a regular. He began the 2014 season alternating between shortstop and second base at high Class A Brevard County, then played short exclusively at Double-A Huntsville. In the field, Rivera is fun to watch. He has long, fluid strides with range to both sides and great instincts. He has soft hands and good footwork around the bag, and his plus arm makes throws from the hole look easy. Rivera remains a free swinger who draws few walks. Though his quickness plays well in the field, he has average speed on the bases and does not try many steals. He has room to mature as a hitter, and will be a 22-year-old at Double-A Biloxi in 2015. The way Rivera plays defense, he profiles as at least a dependable utility infielder.
The Brewers have had high hopes for Reed since signing him for $500,000 in 2011, but they knew that because of his youth, he would require time to fulfill his potential. The more scouts see of Reed, the more they like him, for he does many fundamental things well. Reed has the speed to handle center field, but with his strong, accurate arm he played mostly right field in 2014, in deference to Brevard teammate Tyrone Taylor. Reed has not yet shown the pop normally associated with a corner position. Though he didn't hit for a high average at Brevard, which is a tough park on righthanded hitters, he showed better discipline and took enough walks to lead the high Class A Florida State League in OBP. He must continue to work on lowering his strikeout rate and put more balls in play. Reed has had injury issues as a pro and missed about 30 games in 2014. He appears poised to move up to Double-A Biloxi in 2015.
Selected as a raw 18-year-old in the 2011 draft, Lopez took a while to get his feet on the ground professionally. Slowed by back issues early in his career, he experienced little initial success and even moved back to the Dominican Summer League in 2012. He worked his way through continued growing pains and finally began to fulfill his potential in 2014 at high Class A Brevard County, and under the most difficult of circumstances. Lopez's infant son Mikael was seriously ill and needed constant medical care that led to considerable medical bills. But Lopez managed to keep his focus on the mound before fading in the second half. He throws his fastball in the 90-94 mph range with good movement. He has a nice, easy delivery and good sink on his two-seamer. His improved curveball has become a solid-average secondary pitch at 75-78 mph with good bite. Lopez's changeup remains a work in progress, but he is not afraid to use it. Lopez took a step forward and continues to profile as a possible back-end starter in the big leagues. He likely will be assigned to Double-A Biloxi.
Signed for the bargain amount of $85,000 in December 2011, Diaz quickly caught the attention of scouts while pitching in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Though small in stature, he improved his arm strength and lower-half coordination, which boosted his fastball velocity into the 94-96 mph range. He has a live, loose arm and the ball comes out of his hand well, and hitters often were late on his fastball. Diaz's slider is a quality pitch at 75-78 mph, though his command of it was spotty at times. He also throws a changeup, but it was too firm in the mid-80s and needs work. Diaz throws with a high three-quarters arm slot and sometimes had issues repeating his delivery. Regardless, his arm is electric, and if he develops his changeup, he could possibly develop into a mid-rotation starter. At the least, Diaz profiles as a power reliever. The 20-year-old probably will jump to low Class A Wisconsin in 2015.
Gatewood displayed the most raw power of any prep player in the 2014 draft, and the Brewers paid an over-slot bonus of $1.83 million to sign him. His father Henry, a catcher, was drafted in the first round of the January 1982 draft by the Dodgers, so he comes from a baseball pedigree. Gatewood won multiple home run derbies in big league stadiums in 2013. With that power comes exploitable flaws in his swing, however, and Gatewood has not proven he will hit for even a modest average. He had difficulty getting on base in his pro debut. He has good hands and impressive bat speed and leverage in his swing. A prep shortstop who stayed at that position in his first pro season, Gatewood's 6-foot-4 frame likely will push him over to third base at some point, if not to a corner-outfield spot. He has smooth actions in the field, good first-step quickness and a strong arm. His speed is average at best. Gatewood might have to repeat Rookie ball at Helena, and he has to become a better all-around hitter.
The Brewers knew it would take time for Roache to get going after he missed most of his final season at Georgia Southern in 2012 with a severe wrist injury. That didn't stop them from taking him in the first round. To this point, he has been an all-or-nothing hitter because of poor plate discipline, in particular the inability to lay off breaking pitches off the plate. His raw power has been his only real tool of note, leading to 40 home runs in his first two seasons. But Roache must improve his contact rate (28 percent career strikeout rate) and on-base percentage (.310) to profile as a regular player. He is a fringe defender with an average-at-best arm, likely limiting him to left field. The Brewers like his work ethic and believe his dedication gives him a chance to make the most of his ability, but at this point he projects to be a hitter along the lines of Jonny Gomes. The Brewers probably will promote Roache to Double-A Biloxi.
The son of former Braves general manager Frank Wren, Kyle has leveraged his speed as a pro. The Brewers acquired him in mid-November, trading righthander Zach Quintana to Atlanta after the Braves fired his father as GM. An intelligent player who plays to his strengths, Wren has an explosive first step that allows him to run down balls in the gaps and steal bases with consistency. He is aggressive on defense and gets good momentum behind his throws, which helps overcome below-average arm strength. Wren has a good feel for the strike zone and can drive the ball to the gaps despite possessing little power. An effective drag bunter, he keeps the ball on the ground to make the best use of his speed. He has great instincts on the basepaths and reads pitchers well. Wren needs to get stronger in order to hold up over a full season. He has the ceiling of a fourth outfielder and could reach Milwaukee in 2015 with a good stint at Triple-A.
Injuries and issues with maintaining a consistent delivery have sidetracked Bradley, but he took a major step forward in 2014 upon returning for a third season to high Class A Brevard County. He finally stayed healthy, threw more strikes and working ahead in the count to earn a bump to Double-A Huntsville. Bradley has not pitched with the same consistent peak velocity he showed at Georgia Tech, and he now pitches at 89-93 mph with good movement. Only one qualified minor league starter had a higher groundout/airout ratio than Bradley (2.72). Bradley has good deception and arm speed with his low-80s changeup and is not afraid to throw it when behind in the count. Bradley more closely resembles the pitcher he was in college with a delivery he repeats, and he'll give Double-A another go at Biloxi in 2015.
With so many moving parts to Hellweg's 6-foot-9 frame and trouble repeating his mechanics, he seemed almost destined to blow out his elbow and require Tommy John surgery. And that's exactly what happened after just four starts at Triple-A Nashville in 2014. Hellweg always has had a big arm and seemed on the verge of big things after earning Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year honors in 2013. But he flopped badly in his big league debut in 2013, going 1-4, 6.75 in nine games. When Hellweg is at his best, he pounds the bottom half of the zone with fastballs in the 92-96 mph range with good movement and sink. He still needs to hone his secondary pitches, which consist of an average changeup and below-average, slurvy breaking ball. Still on the 40-man roster, Hellweg profiles more as a reliever.
The unheralded Segovia made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2014. Playing the entire season at age 17, he led that circuit with a .384 average and was third with a .457 on-base percentage. Segovia showed a good eye at the plate and rarely struck out, though he did not flash much power. He has good knowledge of the strike zone and advanced plate coverage for a player of his age. A large majority of Segovia's hits were singles, but he showed an ability to spray the ball to all fields and occasionally to the gaps. He might not develop power but doesn't need to do so to be an offensive contributor. With aboveaverage speed, he plays center field with ease, showing great range and good instincts. He has good work habits and excellent hand-eye coordination, hitting the ball where it is pitched. Segovia shows good poise for a teenager. The Brewers see him as a quality defender in center and leadoff hitter who puts the ball in play without chasing pitches. Look for him in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2015.
The Brewers really liked what they saw out of Johnson in 2014. They challenged him to work on his offspeed pitches, and he did so to become a more complete pitcher. He doesn't overpower batters, throwing his fastball in the 88-91 mph range, but he is aggressive and attacks hitters with no fear, pitching ahead in the count with consistency. Johnson's fastball has good sink and he makes a living inducing hitters to beat the ball into the ground. He throws a curve that needs more consistency, but his changeup is aboveaverage and a prime weapon against righthanders. Because of his advanced pitchability and improved command, Johnson could move quickly. The Brewers like his bulldog approach and the way he pitches with confidence, and plan to keep him as a starter for now, but long term he is more likely a reliever. Johnson is a grinder with mental toughness and should jump to Double-A Biloxi in 2015.
After a few undistinguished seasons in the bullpen, Cravy has flourished since the moving to the rotation in 2013. That was the case again in 2014 at Double-A Huntsville, where he put together a strong first half and started the Southern League all-star game. The Brewers bumped him to Triple-A Nashville, but he strained his oblique in his first start. He made up for lost time by pitching in Venezuela's winter league. Cravy works fast and pounds the zone with a 90-91 mph sinker. His slider sits at 84-86 mph with good bite, and he keeps hitters off balance with a slower curveball. Mix in a cutter and a changeup and he has a starter's repertoire and the kind of command that makes him difficult to hit. The Brewers love the way he competes and pitches with no fear, allowing weak contact and recording quick outs. Some scouts still see Cravy as a middle reliever, but the Brewers will keep him in the rotation at Triple-A Colorado Springs, where his penchant for keeping the ball down should serve him well.
After putting Hall on the 40-man roster after the 2013 season, the Brewers expected big things from the righthander. He broke out of the gate with five strong starts, but an elbow injury stopped his season there and he never got back on the mound. To make up some of that lost time, Hall logged 19 innings in the Arizona Fall League. When healthy, he throws a 91-94 mph fastball with armside run and pitches to contact. His best secondary pitch is an above-average changeup at 79-82 mph that is effective against lefthanders. Hall mixes in a fringe-average curveball with solid rotation and isn't afraid to throw it when behind in the count. Hall projects as a back-end starter or middle reliever capable of providing multiple innings. The injury setback probably will prompt the Brewers to send him back to Double-A Biloxi.
The Brewers were anxious to see how Gagnon would bounce back from a shaky 2013 season in which he struggled at both high Class A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville. He had trouble controlling the ball, averaging nearly 4.0 walks per nine innings. Back at Huntsville in 2014, his control improved, with a 1.29 WHIP and .239 opponent average. The athletic Gagnon was a workhorse, ranking among the Southern League leaders in innings (155) and strikeouts (118). He uses an 88-92 mph fastball with good life and pounds the bottom of the zone. Gagnon's curveball is tough on righthanders and he did a better job of commanding it. He mixes in a fringe-average changeup with good arm action and also regularly uses a cutter to keep lefthanders off his fastball. He is prone to home runs because he pitches with little margin for error if he misses his spot in the zone. The lack of a plus pitch limits Gagnon's ceiling to back-end starter, and he faces a probable shift to the bullpen. His next stop will be Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2015.
Rogers got the Brewers' attention in 2013 with an offensive showing at Double-A that made him the organization's minor league player of the year. The Brewers sent him back to Double-A to open last season to convert from first base to third, a position of great need in the system. He fared well offensively but was a definite work in progress at third base, committing 14 errors in 66 games. Promoted to Triple-A Nashville in late June, he swung the bat even better (.947 OPS in 57 games) to earn a September callup. Rogers has good pitch recognition and discipline, which helps him limit strikeouts. He is a below-average runner with decent instincts on the bases. He'll have to tone up his stocky build if he's going to play third base regularly, but he has decent hands. His arm is borderline at third base and obviously not an issue when he plays first. He faces a probable return to Triple-A in 2015, and he could serve as insurance for both infield corners.
The Brewers acquired Pena from the Angels in July 2012 as part of the Zack Greinke trade that also netted shortstop Jean Segura. Milwaukee knew Pena had a strong arm but was prone to command issues. When he throws strikes, hitters have a difficult time putting the ball in play with authority. He throws his fastball past hitters in the 92-96 mph range with good sink, and he can reach 98 with his four-seamer. He also throws a hard, late-breaking slider but still needs work on a changeup that he overthrows. He has been unable to lower a walk rate that also raises his pitch counts. Despite a revamped delivery, Pena struggles with his mechanics and release point. The Brewers have kept Pena in the rotation at Triple-A Nashville to try to help him improve his control through repetition, but that hasn't happened yet, so he faces a likely move to the bullpen. With his power arm and strikeout ability, Pena could profile as a late-inning reliever with better control. Out of minor league options, he could make the big league bullpen in 2015.
Strong took a big step forward in 2014 at high Class A Brevard County and the Brewers were so impressed they sent him to the Arizona Fall League, then added him to the 40-man roster in November. His fastball command was much improved, helping set up his curveball and changeup while holding his walks down considerably (2.7 per nine innings) from previous seasons. Strong throws his fastball with confidence in the 88-92 mph range with good movement. His curveball is especially tough on lefthanders, and his changeup is average and sometimes a tick above. While improving his control, Strong still recorded strikeouts (9.2 per nine). Used occasionally as a starter, he profiles as a middle reliever in the big leagues. With three serviceable pitches, he could remain a swingman capable of making starts and getting through the lineup a few times. Strong should begin 2015 at Double-A Biloxi, but the Brewers' lack of lefties--he was one of three on the 40-man roster--could earn him a quick look.
It's one thing to be able to throw 100 mph. It's another to control it. Magnifico had trouble doing both when he was drafted out of Oklahoma in the fifth round in 2012, so he learned to dial it back a bit and trade strikeouts for better control. Magnifico, whose mechanics have been retooled considerably, still reaches the high 90s but now mostly sits around 95 mph with his fastball. His two-seamer has good sinking action when he stays on top of it, and he mixes in an improved slider. His third pitch is a changeup that needs work but is more consistent than in the past. Magnifico commanded his pitches better and found a steady routine that worked for him until he came down with arm fatigue in August. He lowered his walk rate from 4.6 per nine innings in 2013 to 3.2 in 2014. His strikeout rate also dropped to 5.7 per nine as he pitched more often to contact. Most scouts see Magnifico's future role as a late-inning reliever, and he could switch roles in 2015 at Double-A Biloxi.
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