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Brinson had a disjointed 2017 season, beginning with a dislocation of his left pinkie finger on Opening Day at Triple-A Colorado Springs. He had two short stints with the Brewers, getting his first shot at the big leagues, but he didn't hit much and went back down. Slated for a September callup, he suffered a significant hamstring strain in August and was done for the season. Brinson performed for the Sky Sox when healthy (.962 OPS) and the Brewers designated him as the organization's player of the year despite seeing action in just 76 games. The Athletics tried to pry him away during trade negotiations for Sonny Gray, but the Brewers backed off rather than part with Brinson. Brinson provides the rare combination of power and speed that every team seeks. He showed maturation as a hitter in 2017 by improving his plate discipline (.400 on-base percentage), with a better walk rate than the previous season and a lower strikeout rate. Part of that maturation was learning to lay off breaking balls off the plate and continuing to use the entire field, an improvement that began the previous year. While playing mostly in center field at Colorado Springs but also seeing some action in the corners, he worked on getting better jumps on the ball and taking better routes. Brinson has enough speed to play center in the majors but also has the arm and power to be a right fielder. Brinson hit barely .100 during his two stints with Milwaukee but didn't see regular action and pressed when he got a chance to play. He showed some pop with a couple of home runs, and his skill set bodes well once he gets a chance to be a regular at the top level. He has an even-keeled personality and a confident, but not cocky, approach to the game. Brinson turns 24 in 2018 but will have to hit his way into the outfield picture. Left fielder Ryan Braun still has three years remaining on his contract and 25-year-old right fielder Domingo Santana is fresh off a breakthrough season. That leaves center field, where Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips have a foot in the door.
Woodruff led the minors with 173 strikeouts in a breakthrough 2016 season, then reached the majors a year later. He pitched effectively at Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2017 to earn a mid-June callup, but a hamstring strain delayed his debut by another six weeks. He started hot but recorded a 4.81 ERA in eight starts overall. When Woodruff is on top of his game, he pounds hard sinkers at hitters in the 93-95 mph range with good movement. He once had issues with tempo and rhythm but worked those out and his command improved markedly. Woodruff has an above-average slider he throws in the mid-80s and also mixes in an average changeup. He needs to work more on locating his changeup down in the zone, because he gets hit when he leaves the pitch up. A bulldog on the mound, he pitches with authority and confidence. Woodruff did not change his game plan during a tough Pacific Coast League assignment. Thus the Brewers were confident starting him in the final weeks of 2017 while battling for a playoff spot. He will challenge for a big league rotation spot in 2018 and has No. 3 starter upside.
No prospect made a bigger leap in the organization in 2017 than Burnes, who ranked second in the minors with a 1.67 ERA while working at high Class A Carolina and Double-A Biloxi. His meteoric rise left Burnes closer to the big leagues than the Brewers envisioned when making him a fourth-round pick in 2016. Burnes pounds the strike zone with quality stuff and growing confidence. He modified his delivery in 2017 with the help of minor league pitching coordinator Rick Tomlin and Carolina pitching coach Dave Chavarria to square up to the plate and allow his lower half to drive forward. At Biloxi, he even switched to a traditional windup instead of a modified stretch. With quick arm action, Burnes throws a 92-95 mph fastball with natural cut. He has three secondary pitches--a 77-80 mph curveball, a mid-80s slider and a high-80s split changeup--none of which grade much above average, but he commands all three. His curveball is his best secondary offering, but his slider is effective as well. Burnes maintains his stuff deep into starts with above-average control and can also be a groundball machine. With an athletic, repeatable delivery and an aggressive demeanor, Burnes could help the Brewers in 2018 and has a No. 3 or 4 starter ceiling. His next test will be at hitter-friendly Triple-A Colorado Springs.
The Brewers selected Hiura ninth overall in 2017 despite the fact he didn't play an inning in the field as a college junior. A partial tear in his right elbow limited him to DH. One of the most productive college hitters of recent memory, he led Division I with a .442 average and signed for a below-slot $4 million. Hiura completed a throwing program while in the Rookie-level Arizona League, then hit .333 at low Class A Wisconsin following a promotion. Hiura has a short, powerful stroke with tremendous bat speed and a good feel for the zone. He has explosive, strong hands with raw power that projects to be above-average. He will hit for average and show power to all fields. He is an average runner albeit not a basestealer. He played the outfield and second base in college, and some evaluators think he is destined for left field. The Brewers plan to give Hiura every chance to play second base, and barring any future elbow issues, he has the arm strength to play the position. Hiura was throwing without problems by instructional league, and his advanced hitting ability should put him on the fast track to Milwaukee. He may begin 2018 at high Class A Carolina, but has a chance to go straight to Double-A.
The Brewers found out what Harrison could do if only he stayed healthy. In a breakthrough 2017 he reached high Class A Carolina, played in 122 games and demonstrated his power-speed potential with 21 home runs and 27 stolen bases. He had missed time in 2015 with a gruesome ankle injury and in 2016 with a broken left hamate. He appears to be back on track after having his mental toughness tested multiple times. A strong, powerful athlete who could have played college football, Harrison has excellent bat speed with budding power. He sometimes gets long with his swing, resulting in big strikeout numbers, but overall has a good approach and is getting better at pitch recognition. Harrison has plus speed, making him a basestealing threat and also an above-average outfielder. He can handle center field but probably projects as a right fielder because of his physical frame. After missing so much time early in his career, Harrison merely needs at-bats to realize his impact potential. Harrison appears destined for Double-A Biloxi in 2018. One of the more impressive athletes in the system, he requires only maturity and repetitions.
After acquiring Ortiz from the Rangers in the 2016 Jonathan Lucroy trade, the Brewers assigned him to Double-A Biloxi at age 21 and he recorded a 1.93 ERA in six starts. Sent back to Biloxi in 2017, he pitched effectively but missed time with a hamstring strain as well as an illness late in the year. Given Ortiz's large, hefty frame, conditioning has been an ongoing focus. Ortiz's low-80s slider has a tight, late break that makes it look like a fastball initially. He throws his fastball in the mid-90s and maintains his velocity throughout his outings, a good sign in terms of remaining a starter. Ortiz continues to work on his changeup, an improving pitch that has a chance to be at least average. By working hard on repeating his delivery, he has become a consistent strike-thrower with a high ceiling. Ortiz still makes too many mistakes in the strike zone, so staying healthy to take regular turns is paramount. If Ortiz proves he has a starter's stamina, he has No. 3 upside and could reach the majors in 2018. The Brewers will wrestle with the decision whether to send him to hitter-happy Triple-A Colorado Springs.
After Phillips had a disappointing season at Double-A Biloxi in 2016, the Brewers could have returned him to that club in 2017. Instead, they challenged him by promoting him to hitter-happy Triple-A Colorado Springs. Phillips met the challenge and earned his first big league callup in early June. By September he was playing regularly. Phillips' swing tends to get long at times, but he produces hard contact when he keeps it compact. He was too pull-conscious in 2016 but got away from that in 2017. Phillips still strikes out frequently, but he became more consistent at hitting mistakes. He has plus speed, which plays on the bases and in center field. Phillips has a cannon for an arm and unleashed a Statcast-record 104 mph throw to the plate in September. His combination of power, speed and arm strength make him a candidate for regular action. Beyond his physical tools, Phillips is a high-energy player with a desire to improve. He put himself in the Brewers' outfield picture for 2018, with a floor of fourth outfielder and ceiling as a regular contributor with room for growth.
The Brewers considered Erceg to be a second-round steal in 2016 after he transferred from California to NAIA Menlo College. He put together a strong first pro season in 2016 with an .894 OPS but struggled for much of 2017 at high Class A Carolina. at times looking too eager at the plate and getting himself out by swinging at bad pitches. Erceg shows a broad set of tools, but his raw power probably tops the list. He can hit the ball a long way, with tremendous pull power evident when he crushes mistakes. He would benefit greatly by improving his plate discipline and thus his on-base percentage. He runs well for a third baseman, though stolen bases are not a big part of his game. He has good hands and feet at third base and a cannon for an arm (he pitched a little in college). The athletic Erceg has a strong work ethic, with the potential to be a complete player and difference-maker with the bat. The Brewers have had trouble developing homegrown third basemen, but Erceg has a chance to put an end to that drought. He merely has to learn not to force things and let the game come to him. An assignment to Double-A Biloxi looms in 2018.
The Brewers considered Diaz the key to the five-player trade that sent shortstop Jean Segura to Arizona after the 2015 season. After a big season at low Class A Wisconsin in 2016, Diaz joined high Class A Carolina in 2017 and was unable to repeat that success. His frustrations often showed, resulting in bad body language and failure to run balls out. Diaz's lefthanded bat is what will carry him. He has plus bat speed and makes hard contact, driving the ball to all fields. He has impressive raw power, but with that comes an elevated strikeout rate. Diaz is aggressive at the plate, sometimes too much so, but also draws walks when being pitched around. He dealt with a broken right hamate for part of the season, which impacted his hitting. He is an average runner but has good instincts and gets decent jumps. The Brewers value versatility in their system, so Diaz made 32 starts at shortstop, but his future is at second base, where his range and average arm will play. His hands and feel work well enough to be a good defender there. He remains an advanced hitter for his age and merely must improve his plate discipline and find an even keel on the field. Diaz's ceiling as a power-hitting second baseman should carry him to Double-A Biloxi in 2018. At age 22, he has plenty of time to polish his rough edges.
When the Brewers tabbed Ray with the fifth overall pick in 2016 and signed him for a franchise-record $4.125 million, they assumed he would rise quickly through the system as an advanced college hitter. Instead he struggled badly at the plate at high Class A Carolina in 2017, looking nothing like the hitter he was at Louisville. He got a delayed start in 2017 after being held back in spring training to assure he was fully recovered from minor knee surgery. Ray looked completely out of sorts for much of the season, showing signs of frustration. He swung at breaking balls off the plate, got jammed by inside pitches and generally did not make pitchers throw strikes. He had huge holes in his swing, displaying little of the bat speed and budding power he flashed in college. Ray also showed too much head movement at times and will need major mechanical adjustments to get back on track. Ray used his plus speed to chase down balls in center field and showed enough arm to remain there. He is a threat to steal when he reaches base, though he needs to improve his jumps. The Brewers sent Ray to the Arizona Fall League with the hope of salvaging something from 2017, but he struggled badly there too. He might have to repeat the Carolina League to reestablish his plate discipline and hitting setup.
The Brewers weren't going to let Lutz get away after taking him with the 34th pick of the 2017 draft. So with their last remaining bonus money that wouldn't result in losing a future draft pick, they signed him for $2,352,000, nearly $370,000 above the slot value, to lure him away from a commitment to Texas. Lutz is considered to have a high ceiling as a righthanded power hitter. He has great bat speed and strength, which he immediately put on display by homering twice in his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League. After tearing up that circuit for a few weeks, he was promoted to the Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he continued his offensive assault, with the ball jumping off his bat. With powerful wrists and a good feel for pitches he can handle, the athletic Lutz generates plenty of torque that results in hard contact. He's also an above-average runner, which is why he has handled center field well and been a factor on the bases, showing good instincts in both areas. As he matures and gets even stronger, he'll likely move to right field, where his strong, accurate arm will play. Lutz hits out of a crouch and might get even more leverage if he stands a bit taller in the box. Beyond his power, Lutz shows natural hitting ability to all fields and recognizes pitches well for a young player. Low Class A Wisconsin awaits in 2018.
Acquired from the Mariners in the 2015 trade for Adam Lind, Peralta has long been knocked for being too undersized for a starting pitcher. He hardly let that get in his way in 2017 as he cruised through high Class A Carolina and Double-A Biloxi, posting a combined 2.63 ERA with 169 strikeouts in 120 innings. He led the minors with a .178 opponent average. Peralta is confident and aggressive on the mound, challenging hitters with a fastball in the low to mid-90s, with good movement and improved command. He has deception with a bit of a crossfire delivery, and hitters have trouble picking up the ball, leading to plenty of swings and misses. Because of his “disappearing fastball,” many have compared him with former Brewers starter Mike Fiers, who got the job done without an overpowering fastball because hitters picked up the ball so late. Peralta repeats his delivery well and mixes in a slider to keep opponents off his fastball. He also has an above-average changeup he throws for strikes with deceptive arm speed. Peralta strikes out opponents with seeming ease but still issues too many walks and must improve his control. He displays good mound presence and a feel for pitching, particularly given his youth. He's an intelligent pitcher with good instincts. Despite concerns about Peralta's size, the Brewers believe he can be a mid-rotation starter because of his stuff and intangibles. He might be challenged with an assignment at Triple-A Colorado Springs.
The trade that sent reliever Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox at the 2016 Winter Meetings should keep giving for years to come. Not only did the Brewers obtain major league third baseman Travis Shaw, they picked up Dubon, rightahander Josh Pennington and 18-year-old shortstop Yeison Coca. Dubon began the 2017 season at Double-A Biloxi and earned a Southern League all-star berth before being promoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he continued to perform well while splitting time at shortstop and second base. The native of Honduras also represented the World Team in the Futures Game. Dubon is an athletic player who displays good instincts at the plate, in the field and on the bases. He has good hands and range in the field, and should be able to play either middle infield position in the majors. He makes solid contact, limits his strikeouts and has more pop than might be expected from his wiry frame. His arm strength, quick hands and feet play well on both sides of the bag. Dubon also has above-average speed, making him a threat to steal. He is a high-energy player and competes every day, showing leadership abilities and maturity on and off the field. At the very least, Dubon should be able to find a niche as a utility player because of his athleticism and versatility.
Gatewood was drafted as a shortstop and later moved to third base, but he continued to grow, which ultimately landed him at first base in 2017. With power being his main offensive tool, Gatewood profiles well at first base and got better in the field with each passing day. The Brewers knew when they signed Gatewood that he would swing-and-miss frequently, and that continued to be the case in his early pro years. But he got contact lenses to improve his vision and made big strides in all areas of his game at high Class A Carolina in 2017, earning Carolina League all-star honors and a promotion to Double-A Biloxi. In taking his biggest leap, Gatewood realized that he has opposite-field power and doesn't need to pull everything. Helped by his improved eyesight, he began chasing less and made pitchers come to him more often, improving his plate discipline and on-base percentage. Gatewood has good bat speed and is making more contact without sacrificing power. With good hands, range and footwork going back to his days at shortstop, he is an athletic, sure-handed first baseman. Officially back on track and having reaffirmed his prospect status, Gatewood has a chance to move upward in a system with no real roadblocks at first base ahead of him.
Grisham, who was drafted as Trent Clark and took his mother's maiden name after the 2017 season, scuffled through an injury-plagued first full season and wasn't much better at high Class A Carolina in 2017, hitting .223 with a 708 OPS. Grisham struggled to make consistent contact, striking out far too often with ugly swings and misses through hittable pitches in the strike zone. He did show a good eye at the plate, drawing 98 walks but had trouble getting comfortable while constantly tinkering with his batting stance. Grisham frequently pulls off the ball, nullifying his average raw power. It was obvious to many he was seeking a comfort zone, perhaps related to his switch from a golf-style grip to a more conventional grip of the bat. When he did get on base, he used his above-average speed to make things happen, with 37 steals in 42 attempts. That skill also helped in the outfield, where he handled all three positions while showing a fringe-average but accurate arm. Grisham's hitting mechanics have never been consistent, making him a shell of the player who was considered arguably top prep hitter in the 2015 draft. Grisham likely will be sent back to Carolina in 2018 and is still young enough to get on a proper path to the majors.
Harrison saw little time behind the plate during his junior year at Oregon State, mostly playing at first base and DH. That didn't stop the Brewers from announcing that they planned to play him primarily at catcher after they drafted him in the third round in 2017 and signed him for $667.000. Few doubt Harrison's offensive ability. He opened eyes in the Rookie-level Pioneer League with easy power to all fields and a .546 slugging percentage. He showed good pull-side power but also took what pitchers gave him without over-swinging, the sign of an intelligent hitter. That approach should allow him to hit for average. Harrison needs considerable work behind the plate. He has a solid-average arm but a slow release affects his pop times on throws to second base. Nevertheless, he threw out 26 percent of basestealers in his pro debut. Harrison shows soft yet strong hands behind the plate, but he needs to clean up his mechanics, including his footwork. He has below-average speed but is smart on the bases and gets good jumps. Being able to stay behind the plate would enhance Harrison's offensive profile but could also slow down his progress in the system. A position switch in the future, perhaps to first base, is in the cards.
The 2017 season was mostly a lost one for Bickford, who was acquired from the Giants in August 2016 with catcher Andrew Susac in the trade of reliever Will Smith. First he was suspended 50 games following a second positive drug test, believed to be for marijuana. Then, while pitching in extended spring training in preparation to return to action, he took a liner off his pitching hand, fracturing it. Those setbacks resulted in Bickford pitching just 17 innings, all in the Rookie-level Arizona League. When on top of his game, he throws a four-seamer in the mid-90s and mixes in a low-90s two-seamer with sink that results in ground ball outs. His slider is a plus pitch when he stays on top of it, but gets slurvy at times when he loses his release point. A split-changeup gives him another pitch with above-average potential, which is why he should be able to remain a starter. Bickford is athletic on the mound, but also struggles at times with his mechanics, particularly dropping his arm slot. The Brewers need to be able count on him to remain clean and show he can remain focused to get the most out of his natural ability. Some scouts believe that Bickford is destined to eventually move to the bullpen, where his stuff will play better in shorter bursts, but the Brewers' plan is to continue to develop him as a starter.
A right forearm strain delayed Ponce's first full season in 2016 for two months, and he scuffled in high Class A after being activated. He returned to the level in 2017 with Carolina and showed what he can do. Ponce had his ups and downs with the Mudcats but still posted a 3.38 ERA before a late-season promotion to Double-A Biloxi, where he finished strong with three impressive starts. A big, physical pitcher, he attacks with a 90-93 mph fastball that can go a bit higher and a cutter he uses against lefthanded hitters. He has worked to tighten the spin on his curveball, but still has to improve his changeup, which he throws too hard at times. Ponce has worked to be more of a pitcher, and his strikeout rate has suffered as he dials back his fastball. But his goal has been to get quicker outs and command all of his pitches, not light up radar guns. He also has focused on pitching to both sides of the plate, and keeping his walk rate down. Ponce is athletic and uses his height to pound fastballs in the lower half of the strike zone. The Brewers still believe Ponce has a future as a starter with a four-pitch mix and aggressive nature. He merely needs to sharpen his secondary pitches to continue moving forward.
The Brewers acquired Pennington and two others from the Red Sox after the 2016 season for Tyler Thornburg. Pennington had surgery to remove a bone chip from his elbow and was not be ready at the start of the 2017 season. That procedure was in addition to the Tommy John surgery he had as a high school senior that caused him to plummet to the 29th round in 2014. Pennington had a setback in 2017 that delayed his return until late June, but after a brief outing in the Rookie-level Arizona League, he acquitted himself well with a 2.97 ERA in nine starts at low Class A Wisconsin. Pennington has a big fastball in the mid- to high 90s with solid command. An upper-70s curveball has the potential to be a plus secondary pitch, but he still needs to work on his changeup. Considering his physical setbacks, he showed better control than expected. If Pennington improves his secondary pitches, he has a chance to remain a starter despite his slight frame, and the Brewers plan to keep him in that role. He is tentatively ticketed for high Class A Carolina.
The Brewers knew Feliciano's offense was ahead of his defense when they drafted him 75th overall in 2016 but liked his tools enough to believe that he could develop into a solid defensive catcher. Feliciano made his full-season debut as an 18-year-old at low Class A Wisconsin in 2017, making him the youngest catcher in the Midwest League. Feliciano got off to a strong start with a .778 OPS in April before running out of steam. Feliciano has a good idea of hitting, keeping his hands in the zone and showing some feel. He has hit only four home runs in his first 133 career games, but has the potential to develop more power as he matures and fills out. Feliciano did better at working counts after initially being too aggressive at times. He runs well, particularly for a catcher, and has athleticism behind the plate that should work in his favor. Feliciano has above-average arm strength but must work on his fundamentals, including a quicker transfer and release, to improve throwing out runners. Some question Feliciano's long-term future behind the plate, but the Brewers see no reason to make a change now, particularly at a position of need in the organization. If he's able to stay behind the plate, Feliciano's potential as an offensive-minded catcher could pay off. He is still very young and raw however, and will be moved slowly.
Ever since the Brewers took Medeiros in the first round of the 2014 draft, the same question has been asked: Is his future as a starting pitcher or a lefthanded specialist out of the bullpen? The Brewers have developed him as a starter, but Medeiros scuffled for a good portion of 2017 at high Class A Carolina, convincng most evaluators that his future is, indeed, in the bullpen. With a funky delivery and low arm slot, he remains a big swing-and-miss pitcher, particularly against lefthanded hitters. Medeiros throws his fastball in the 92-95 mph range with great movement--too much, sometimes--and a plus slider he uses to put hitters away. His changeup has deception and fade, with a chance to be above-average. Medeiros is athletic, strong and mature for his age, but needs to sharpen his command to continue in a starting role. He has well below-average command and control, which resulted in 20 hit batters and 12 wild pitches in addition to a high walk rate in 2017. His low arm slot and high-effort delivery doesn't project for his command to improve much, but the Brewers think he has upside and can succeed as a starter with his three-pitch repertoire. Medeiros has a bright future as a lefty specialist, if nothing else. He'll move to Double-A Biloxi in 2018.
Diplan made tremendous strides during his first two seasons in the system, after being acquired in a trade with the Rangers before the 2015 season. Pitching the full year at advanced Class A Carolina at age 20, he finally struggled, in large part due to command issues (71 walks in 125.2 innings). There were questions from the beginning if the undersized righty would be able to remain in a starting role, but Diplan has an electric arm and the Brewers certainly aren't going to give up on him after one tough season. He throws a fastball with late movement consistently in the mid-90s and complements it with a plus slider. Diplan also shows a good feel for his changeup, especially for a young pitcher. His main task is being more consistent with his delivery and therefore his command. His problems in that area led to high pitch counts and early exits from games. As his body has filled out a bit more, Diplan has had to make adjustments to repeat his delivery. When throwing strikes, he exhibits high swing-and-miss potential and generates lots of weak contact. The Brewers believe that Diplan can be a dependable starting pitcher in the majors, but if he continues to struggle with pitch counts and getting deep into games, his future could be as a high-leverage reliever. Diplan has good makeup and takes coaching well, and at such a young age there's no reason to abandon the role of starting pitcher at this point.
When the Brewers sent slugger Khris Davis to Oakland before the 2016 season in a trade that netted Nottingham, the plan was to have a young prospect develop as their catcher of the future. Davis hit 40-plus homers in each of his first two seasons with the Athletics, while Nottingham has stalled in Double-A. The raw Nottingham has worked hard to make strides defensively behind the plate, but his offense has suffered in the process. Back for a second season at Double-A Biloxi in 2017, the big, powerful Nottingham slugged just .369 and didn't reach 10 home runs. He has worked on cutting down his strikeouts but doesn't walk much, and needs to improve his general plate discipline. On defense he has improved his receiving, throwing accuracy, blocking and mobility behind the plate. He still has work to do, particularly in game calling, but is committed to the position and the Brewers plan to keep him there. Nottingham will play the entire 2018 season at 23, so there's still time to get him on track, but he needs to rediscover his big power.
It's all about ceiling with Lemons, who figures to throw harder and get better as his long, lanky frame fills out. As it is, the righthander saw his draft stock soar as a high school senior in the spring when his fastball went from 89-91 mph to touching 96. The Brewers drafted him 46th overall and paid him $1.45 million to forgo a scholarship to Mississippi. They were careful with Lemons afterward, allowing him to make only three short starts in rookie ball. With a three-quarters arm slot and a 6-foot-6 frame, Lemons gets good movement on his fastball but struggles to repeat his delivery and release point, making his secondary pitches erratic. He throws both a low-80s slider and a curveball, with the former showing more consistency. He has to continue to work on spinning the ball. Lemons also mixes in a changeup that needs work, but the potential of a four-pitch mix is intriguing for a young, raw pitcher who will need plenty of development. Lemons showed some improvement with his balance and pitching mechanics in the spring, but that will be a constant focus as he fills out physically and learns his body as a pro. Lemons likely will spend the entire 2018 season at rookie ball as the Brewers ease him into a career with vast potential.
The Brewers already feel good about the December 2015 trade with the Pirates that brought center fielder Keon Broxton, a 20-home run, 20-stolen base player in 2017, to Milwaukee for infielder Jason Rogers. But Supak also came in that trade, and if he makes it to the majors as well, that deal will become an even bigger steal. Pittsburgh went over slot to sign Supak in 2014, giving him $1 million to forgo a commitment to Houston. He took a big step forward in 2017, pitching so well in eight outings for low Class A Wisconsin that he was promoted aggressively to high Class A Carolina. Supak's fastball sits in the low-90s, but he can reach 95 with late life. With a big, projectable frame, he has learned to throw downhill more and pound the bottom of the strike zone, inducing weak contact. Supak also features an above-average curveball and developing feel for a changeup with good fade. He induces many swings and misses, pitching ahead in the count and issuing few walks. Supak is still young and should continue to improve, with a ceiling of being a back-end rotation starter and floor of a late-inning reliever. An assignment to Double-A Biloxi is likely to begin the 2018 season.
One of three teenaged pitchers acquired from the Mariners in December 2015 in a trade for first baseman Adam Lind, Herrera was only 18, and coming off an impressive showing in the Dominican Summer League. Herrera was assigned to the Rookie-level Arizona League the next season and led the circuit with 49 strikeouts. The Brewers knew Herrera was raw when they traded for him, but figured his lanky frame would fill out and he would add velocity to his fastball. He has continued to make progress, getting promoted after a couple of weeks in 2017 to low Class A Wisconsin, where he more than held opponents to a .180 average. Herrera's fastball sits in the low 90s, and he has a curveball that's above-average as well as an improving changeup. Not a big strikeout pitcher at this point, he still has command issues at times and needs to work on pitching more in the bottom of the strike zone, but the Brewers believe he'll continue to improve as he logs more innings and his body matures. Herrera didn't turn 20 until after the season ended and has plenty of time to fill out.
It's easy to forget Kirby at this point, because he hasn't thrown a pitch in a real game since 2015. Kirby had Tommy John surgery after throwing only 13 pitches that season, and was forced to sit out all of 2016. Then, just when it appeared that he was ready to return last spring, he began experiencing elbow discomfort again, and had another surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve. That procedure led to yet another full season of inactivity. He threw well in instructional league after the season with no issues. Kirby is far behind schedule, but as an advanced lefty, still has the chance to make an impact in the organization. He pitches in the low-90s with his fastball with good action and knows how to use both sides of the plate with it. His mid 80s slider is an above-average secondary pitch and he also shows a deceptive changeup that he throws with good arm speed. Add it all together and it's a three-pitch mix that should allow Kirby to remain a starter. He's a smart, athletic pitcher. Health will be Kirby's biggest test, with an assignment to high Class A Carolina likely to begin 2018.
The Brewers liked Henry's potential enough to nearly double the recommended bonus for his slot, paying $550,600 for him to forgo a scholarship to Brigham Young. Playing high school ball for his father, he was a two-time Gatorade player of the year in the state of Utah. Henry is a physical catcher with above-average power and good bat speed, and he flashed power potential with 17 doubles and seven home runs at Rookie-level Helena in 2017, although with considerable swing-and-miss and a 29 percent strikeout rate. Henry gets too pull-happy at times, and it affects his overall hitting ability. A below-average runner, he'll have no impact on the basepaths. Henry has a ways to go with his footwork behind the plate, but overall is a good defender with an above-average arm that produces sub-1.95 second pop times. Henry showed progress in calling games and has the potential to be a solid catcher with a power bat. Henry should be ready for his first full-season assignment in 2018.
Pinero originally signed with the Red Sox for $300,000 during the 2016 international signing period, but his contract was voided because of a rules violation and the Brewers got him for a mere $75,000. Coming out of the Dominican Summer League at age 18, he skipped the Rookie-level Arizona League. What was obvious immediately was that Pinero had superior defensive skills. His arm is not particularly powerful but he has everything else you want at shortstop--range, soft hands, smooth actions around the bag. Still skinny and needing to gain strength, Pinero has the makings of a plus defender, turning in many highlight plays that drew attention. He was mostly overmatched offensively, basically swinging to make contact rather than work counts and make pitchers throw the ball over the plate. Scouts believe Pinero has the potential to hit because he has a short, compact swing and good hand-eye coordination. It's merely a matter of maturing, filling out and learning what pitchers are trying to do to him. If Pinero hits at all, he'll advance because of his defensive skills. He set to see low Class A Wisconsin.
The physical tools are definitely there for McClanahan, but not everyone is convinced he can put them all together to maximize them. The Brewers are banking on it, having paid far over slot value with a $1.2 million bonus as an 11th rounder in 2016. McClanahan homered in his first pro at-bat but has otherwise struggled, including a .234/.339/.315 slash line at Helena in the hitter-friendly Pioneer League in 2017.. A 6-foot-5, 200-pound specimen with big raw power, the fact his his power numbers never materialized were a major disappointment for a player of his size and potential. He's a below-average runner and has worked hard to improve his defense at third base, where he shows a strong-enough arm. But McClanahan also saw action at first base and eventually might move there on a permanent basis. He also has enough athleticism to move to an outfield corner, if it comes to that. As McClanahan gets more at-bats and matures at hitter, the Brewers believe he'll get to his power more consistently. He didn't turn 20 until just before Christmas, so there's of time for McClanahan to make the most of his physical raw skills.
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