Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Track Record: The Brewers considered Hiura the top college hitter in the 2017 draft and did not hesitate to take him with the ninth overall pick, despite a problematic elbow that relegated him to DH as a junior at UC Irvine. He signed for a below-slot $4 million and was assigned to the Rookie-level Arizona League to undergo a throwing program. The Brewers' confidence in Hiura's offensive ability has already been rewarded. He soared from high Class A to Double-A in his first full season and earned a Futures Game selection in 2018. Hiura's elbow also held up and allowed him to play second base regularly starting in June, easing fears that he might need Tommy John surgery. To work further on his defense, he was assigned to the Arizona Fall League, where he continued to open eyes with his offensive prowess. Including an impressive stint at big league camp in 2018, Hiura has exuded confidence in his ability to hit, and it's easy to see why. The Brewers have not had a hitter with this kind of upside since Ryan Braun, the fifth overall pick in 2005. Scouting Report: Hiura has a compact, powerful stroke with tremendous bat speed and the hand-eye coordination to barrel pitches consistently. With so few moving parts in his swing, he should be able to avoid long droughts. Though not a power hitter per se, he has explosive hands and enough pop to project to be above-average in that department, with an approach of hitting to all fields. Hiura projects to hit for a high average with good power for the position. Though not a threat to steal bases, he is an average runner and shows good instincts and awareness on the basepaths and has shown the ability to take a bag when opponents aren't paying attention. Hiura merely will have to hold his own in the field, where he has shown improvement since turning pro, with decent footwork and range. His calling card is his bat, and it's a good one. The Future: It's up to the Brewers to decide whether to push Hiura to Triple-A to begin 2019, or with an in-season promotion. One thing is certain: Hiura will be the Brewers' starting second baseman and middle-of-the-order hitter sometime in the near future. Teams already have tried to pry Hiura away in trade proposals, but the Brewers have no intention of trading a young hitter with this kind of potential.
Track Record: Burnes began the season in the Triple-A Colorado Springs rotation but moved to relief with the Brewers wanting to see if he could help them during their second-half playoff push. He performed so well that he was quickly transitioned to high-leverage situations and pitched critical innings in the NL Championship Series. Despite that success, the plan is for Burnes to return to starting in 2019. Scouting Report: Burnes has the four-pitch repertoire of a starter and pounds the strike zone with all of those pitches, keeping hitters on the defensive. With a quick arm action, he throws his fastball in the 93-95 mph range with natural movement, doing a good job of keeping it down in the strike zone. He relied more on his above-average mid-80s slider in 2018, which was death on righthanded hitters when he put it where he wanted. Burnes mixes in an upper-80s split-changeup and upper-70s curveball, both average, that give opponents more pitches to process. He maintains his stuff deep into starts with plus control and can be a groundball machine when he keeps his fastball low in the zone. The Brewers love the way Burnes competes and shows great mound presence even under stress. The Future: Burnes will audition for the big league rotation in 2019. His confidence and conviction in his pitches is apparent, and the Brewers think he is a star in the making.
Track Record: No prospect in the Brewers' system had more to prove than Ray, the fifth overall pick in 2016 who signed for a franchise-record $4.125 million. He suffered a knee injury in instructional league in 2016 that required minor surgery, then he got totally out of whack in 2017 with his hitting mechanics. He regrouped in 2018 at Double-A Biloxi, rediscovering his power stroke and performing so well he won Southern League MVP. Scouting Report: With his swing back in order, Ray displayed tremendous bat speed and power with plenty of hard contact. He still has considerable work to do in pitch recognition and plate discipline after striking out 176 times. Strikeouts likely will remain a part of Ray's game due to his aggressiveness and long swing at times, but it's a fair trade-off for the all-fields power he generates. Ray's plus speed makes him a threat to steal any time he reaches base, and it also allows him to chase down balls in center field, where he is above-average with an average arm. The Future: Now that his confidence is back, Ray should continue to improve as a hitter. He'll head to Triple-A San Antonio in 2019 and fits t he swing-and-miss, power-packed profile being played at the top level these days.
Track Record: Turang put together a pristine amateur track record, starting all four years at Santiago High in Southern California's top division and starring for USA Baseball's 18U National Team in both 2016 and 2017. He was frequently mentioned as the possible No. 1 pick leading up to the 2018 draft and put together a solid senior year, but he fell short of sky-high expectations and fell victim to so-called prospect fatigue and slid to the Brewers at No. 21 overall. He signed for $3,411,100 at the deadline and passed up an opportunity to play at Louisiana State. Scouting Report: Turang ranked among the more polished prep players as an advanced hitter with solid plate discipline and a gift for putting the ball in play to all fields. He takes a smooth, lefthanded stroke that covers the entire plate and lines the ball hard from line to line. His calling card is his speed, a plus tool that makes him a difference-maker on the bases and also a shortstop who covers vast expanses up the middle. Turang flashes sure hands and good footwork and a strong enough arm to remain at shortstop. The biggest knocks against him are his slight build, fringy strength and limited power potential. Turang is the son of former big league outfielder Brian Turang, and is a baseball gym rat who knows how to survive and play the game. The Future: Turang has a chip on his shoulder after sliding down the draft. After batting .283 with a .396 on-base percentage at the Rookie levels, low Class A Wisconsin is next.
Track Record: Brown fell in the 2016 draft after a miserable 2-11, 6.08 junior year at Kentucky, but the Brewers stayed with him and signed him for just over $400,000 in the fifth round. After conquering the Class A levels in 2017, he broke out with Double-A Biloxi in 2018, going 9-1, 2.44 and winning Southern League pitcher of the year. Scouting Report: Brown has made huge strides commanding his three-pitch mix, allowing him to produce his best results as a pro and maintain his stuff deep into games. He throws his fastball in the 92-95 mph range and hits both corners of the plate while also using a two-seamer to induce a ton of ground balls. Brown began using his curveball more as a pro and it has been his best pitch at times, growing to plus and keeping hitters off his hard stuff. He also developed a better feel for an average changeup, which also made his fastball play more. In short, Brown became a pitcher rather than a thrower, and the Brewers love the way he competes and attacks the zone. The Future: Brown is firmly on the Brewers' radar after winning the Brewers' minor league pitcher of the year award. He will open 2019 at Triple-A as a starter and could make his major league debut as a reliever, much like Josh Hader and Corbin Burnes.
Track Record: Acquired from the Red Sox with Travis Shaw in the Tyler Thornburg trade in December 2016, Dubon got off to a brilliant start in 2018 at Triple-A Colorado Springs, including a 23-game hit streak. Then, trying to escape a rundown in a game against Oklahoma City, he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, ending his season after just one month. Scouting Report: Dubon is a good athlete with sharp instincts in all areas of the game. He has superb bat-to-ball skills at the plate and solid bat speed, allowing him to generate consistent line-drive contact. He seldom walks but doesn't strike out much, and he projects to at least an average hitter who will hit enough to make up for little home run power. Dubon is a natural shortstop but also is comfortable at second base, with the hands, range and arm to play either side of the bag. He has above-average speed and is very aggressive on the bases, making him a constant threat to steal. He plays with a high energy and enthusiasm, showing an obvious love for the game, and he demonstrates both leadership skills and maturity on and off the field. The Future: Dubon is expected to be recovered by Opening Day. A return to Triple-A is likely, with his major league debut on target as long his knee holds up.
Track Record: The Brewers paid Lutz more than $2.3 million as the 34th overall pick in 2017, going nearly $370,000 above slot value to lure him away from Texas. The native Texan got off to a slow start in the cold weather of the Midwest League but stayed strong mentally. As the Brewers expected, Lutz heated up with the weather, posted an .814 OPS from May 15 onward at low Class A Wisconsin. Scouting Report: Lutz's biggest upside is considered to be his budding above-average power, but he also is an impressive athlete with the tools to succeed. His power comes from bat speed and sheer strength, which will only play better as he gains experience and collects more at-bats. The Brewers do not think Lutz will be an all-or-nothing hitter because he recognizes pitches well for his age and is willing to use the whole field. He runs the bases well as an average runner with advanced instincts and shows better range in center field than might be expected. His future almost certainly is in right field because of his above-average, accurate arm. The Future: Lutz's power potential, athleticism and maturity gives him a solid foundation the Brewers are high on. He'll move to high Class A Carolina as a 20-year-old in 2019.
Track Record: Some thought Erceg would breeze through the Brewers' system as an advanced college hitter, but his progress has been slowed by health issues. Already dealing with a bulging disc in his lower back, Erceg was hit in the head with a pitch in April 2018 at Double-A Biloxi and struggled for several weeks to get going at the plate. He improved in the second half, but his overall numbers were still down from previous seasons. Scouting Report: Erceg has several tools that excite the Brewers, topped by his raw power. He can hit balls out of sight, showing tremendous pull power when pitchers miss their spots. As with most power hitters, he has swing and miss in his game and can get overly aggressive, taking big hacks at suspect pitches and limiting his walk rate and ability to get on base. A good athlete, Erceg has a strong arm but needs to slow down and not rush his throws. He committed a Southern League-leading 23 errors in 2018. He normally has good footwork around the bag and also runs the bases alertly with average speed. The Future: The tools and work ethic are there for Erceg to be successful, but he must stay healthy and improve his plate discipline to reach the majors. He should see Triple-A San Antonio in 2019.
Track Record: Much like first-round pick Brice Turang, Gray was on high school prospect watch lists since before he could drive. And much like Turang, Gray plateaued a bit and dropped further in the 2018 draft than originally expected. Thus the Brewers were excited to get a player with his athleticism in the second round for a $1.1 million price tag. to forgo a Mississippi commitment. Gray hit .182 in the Rookie-level Arizona League but showed a good eye and got on base enough to make a positive impression. Scouting Report: Gray gets scouts' attention with his plus raw power and tremendous arm strength, his two biggest tools. He also runs well enough to play center field, though he may move to right field as he matures and gets bigger. What remains to be seen is if Gray will make enough consistent contact to take advantage of his power and above-average speed on the bases. During his showcase days, Gray often tweaked his batting stance and needs to find a consistent setup that works. The Future: The Brewers believe a young player with raw tools like Gray can develop into an impact player. He will play the entire 2019 season at age 19, so he has plenty of time to prove them right.
Track Record: Ever since the Brewers acquired Nottingham in the trade that sent Khris Davis to Oakland in February 2016, there have been questions whether he could put his physical gifts together offensively and defensively. After middling results in two seasons at Double-A, Nottingham made huge strides at Triple-A in 2018 and was rewarded with his first big league callup. A couple of injuries, including a chip fracture in his right wrist suffered on a foul tip, limited him to 50 games, the only downside to his season. Scouting Report: Nottingham's 6-foot-3, 230-pound size helps him produce big power but hinders his quickness and agility behind the plate. He has worked hard to improve his game-calling and blocking, now showing enough to get the job done at an average level to go with his above-average arm. Nottingham's mammoth raw power has yet to yield big home run totals because he's still too aggressive with too many strikeouts. He has moved in the right direction by reducing his strikeout rate and improving his on-base percentage each year. The Future: Nottingham's biggest improvements have come on the defensive side, the key for any catching prospect. He now projects as a power-hitting backup at least and is still young enough to emerge as more.
Track Record: The more you see Supak, the more you like him. Originally acquired from the Pirates with Keon Broxton for Jason Rogers in December 2015, Supark was so impressive last season in his first nine starts at high Class A Carolina that the Brewers bumped him up to Double-A Biloxi, where he became one of the most consistent performers on a strong staff. Scouting Report: Supak has picked up velocity in recent seasons and now regularly works in the 93-95 mph range, taking advantage of his 6-foot-5 height to add good downhill plane. Supak's curveball has become an above-average pitch, and he has shown good aptitude in improving his changeup to average as well. By improving command of his pitches, his strikeout totals have remained strong while his walk rate has improved. In particular, the Brewers love the way Supak competes and makes big pitches when needed. The Future: As he continues to work on his delivery and smoothing out his mechanics, Supak projects to be a reliable, durable starter with a four-pitch mix. He'll move to Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2019.
Track Record: Following two years in Rookie-ball after signing for $550,600 as a sixth-round pick in 2016, Henry moved to full-season ball in 2018 and played the entire season as low Class A Wisconsin's No. 1 catcher. Though his .234 batting average and overall numbers weren't impressive, the Brewers loved his take-charge approach behind the plate, high energy level and leadership skills he displayed. Scouting Report: Henry has physical strength that plays on both sides of the ball. He has above-average raw power that should continue to develop, although he still has some swing and miss to his game as well as a tendency to try to pull the ball too often. Henry manages the strike zone decently well, drawing enough walks to assure a fine on-base percentage. Behind the plate, Payton is a solid defender with above-average arm strength that helps him control the run game. He threw out 35 percent of attempted base stealers in 2018 while showing sub-1.95 second pop times, an above-average to plus arm. The Future: Henry's intangibles and defense behind the plate give him a strong foundation to work from, as does his budding power. He'll try to take the next steps as an overall hitter at high Class A Carolina in 2019.
Track Record: Long considered a boom-or-bust prospect because of his immense power and swing-and-miss tendencies, Gatewood was in the midst of his best season at Double-A Biloxi before he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in July 2018 while running to first base. It was particularly unfortunate because Gatewood had already set career highs with 19 home runs and .767 OPS in 94 games. Scouting Report: With great leverage and extension out of his physical, 6-foot-6 frame, Gatewood has big power to all fields and can hit the ball a long way. He is aggressive and doesn't draw many walks, but sharper vision thanks to new contact lenses has helped improve his plate discipline and pitch recognition. Drafted as a shortstop, Gatewood initially moved to third base and now is considered an athletic first baseman who has learned his way around the bag. The Future: Gatewood's knee injury came at an unfortunate time in his development. He won't be ready for spring training and will hope to get out to an affiliate by the summer.
Track Record: Webb was projected to be a high pick out of Owasso (Okla.) High in 2014 after throwing consecutive no-hitters to start his senior season, but he injured his elbow in his third start and had Tommy John surgery. He spent one year rehabbing and one year pitching at South Carolina before the Brewers drafted him in the third round in 2016 and signed him for $700,000. After a fine pro debut at low Class A Wisconsin, Webb moved up two levels to Double-A in 2018. Scouting Report: Webb's stuff is progressively coming back. His fastball sits 91-93 mph and can reach 96 mph, and he gives batters a different look with a mid-80s two-seamer. Webb's big out pitch is a 12-to-6 curveball that buckles knees in the mid- to upper 70s, but there's also days it's below-average and loopy at 72-74 mph. He has worked to improve his mid-80s changeup. Webb's command of all three pitches has improved, but there is still work to be done. The Future: Webb will start 2019 back at Double-A Biloxi. He gets a little better every year, a trend the Brewers hope will continue enough to make him a back-end starter.
Track Record: Ever since the Brewers drafted Stokes in the fourth round in 2014 and signed him for $400,000 to forgo a Maryland commitment, his calling card has been his outfield defense. Stokes won the minor league Gold Glove award for left field at Double-A Biloxi in 2018, and he added some sock with 19 homers followed by a strong offensive showing in the Venezuelan Winter League. Scouting Report: Stokes' above-average speed already was a big part of his game, and his growing power gives him two coveted tools. At 5-9, 200 pounds, Stokes has a strong, compact frame with a short, compact swing that sends balls out to left field with average power. That tendency to pull leaves a lot of swing and miss in his game, however, as evidenced by his 147 strikeouts and .233 batting average. Still, Stokes' overall approach at the plate is solid, resulting in walks and an acceptable on-base rate. His speed plays well both on the basepaths and in the outfield, but a below-average arm limits him to left field. The Future: Stokes' blend of power and speed, in combination with great defensive skills, gives him a chance to keep rising. He will open 2019 at Triple-A San Antonio.
Track Record: Ashby is the nephew of 14-year big league pitcher and fellow Crowder (Mo.) JC alum Andy Ashby. He led all Division I junior college pitchers with 156 strikeouts in 2018, an average of 18.8 strikeouts per nine innings. The Brewers drafted him in the fourth round and signed him for an above-slot $520,000 to forgo a Tennessee commitment. Ashby moved quickly after signing, making seven starts at low Class A Wisconsin and posting a 2.17 ERA. Scouting Report: Ashby's fastball velocity has crept from the upper 80s in college to 91-93 mph as a professional, with room for more growth. Ashby's best pitch is a plus, sharp-breaking curveball he can spin harder to morph into a slider, giving him two breaking balls to confuse hitters. Few young hitters are adept at hitting breaking balls of his quality, leading to a total of 66 strikeouts in 57.2 innings in his pro debut. Ashby has a funky delivery that gives him great deception but also hampers his strike-throwing at times. He doesn't throw his changeup much, and it remains to be seen how his stuff will play against advanced hitters as he moves up the ladder. The Future: Ashby gets a lot of strikeouts by getting hitters to chase his breaking stuff, and at the very least projects to a situational lefty in the majors. The Brewers think with maturity and more work on his changeup, he can remain in a starting role.
Track Record: The 6-foot-6 Lemons showed signs of growing into his body as a high school senior and signed with the Brewers for $1.45 million as the 46th overall pick in 2017. He remained in Rookie-ball his entire first season and showed he remains a work in progress with many rough edges to be smoothed. He posted a 5.97 ERA in 10 outings at the rookie levels, allowing more than one hit per inning. Scouting Report: Lemons is a long-term project whose progress will come as he fills out his tall, lanky frame and gets stronger physically. Pitching from a three-quarter arm slot, Lemons gets good movement on his low-90s fastball but also struggles to repeat his delivery, leading to below-average control. He mixes in two breaking balls--a low-80s slider that flashes average and a fringy curveball--and dabbles with a changeup as well. In addition to lacking the coordination to repeat his delivery, Lemons' arm speed is also not yet where it needs to be, further hampering his stuff. The Future: It's going to take time to put everything together, but the Brewers think a 6-foot-6 pitcher with the potential to throw four pitches is worth the time and effort to develop. Lemons will get his first look at full-season ball in 2019 at low Class A Wisconsin.
Track Record: Houser has been a prospect for a while as a second-round pick of the Astros in 2011. After coming to Milwaukee in the Carlos Gomez trade in July 2015, his career was sidetracked by Tommy John surgery that wiped out most of 2016 and 2017, but in 2018 he climbed back up through Double-A and Triple-A and made seven relief appearances with the Brewers. He became a fixture of sports talk radio when, on June 18 against the Phillies, he vomited twice on the mound. Scouting Report: Pitching in short relief bursts in the majors, Houser threw his fastball in the 95-97 mph range with good sinking action that produced a lot of groundouts. A big, physical workhorse, Houser throws a powerful curveball in the low 80s with his changeup serving as a third pitch that continues to need work. He has worked hard since his injury to repeat his delivery and pitch to contact. To give him innings and allow him to work on all of his pitches, the Brewers continued to use Houser in a starting role in the minors. The Future: The Brewers will continue to develop Houser as a starter, but his future in the majors will likely be in the bullpen as a multi-inning reliever with a power fastball and curveball.
Track Record: Rodriguez caught the attention of scouts while playing in national and international tournaments in Venezuela, showing an advanced feel for hitting not often seen at that age with a fluid, graceful swing. He became considered one of the top outfield prospects in the 2017-18 international signing period, and the Brewers nabbed him with a $1.355 million signing bonus. Rodriguez made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League and was so advanced finished stateside in the Rookie-level Arizona League, batting .325 between the two levels. Scouting Report: Rodriguez is small in stature at 5-foot-10, 150 pounds, but is highly athletic with tools to be a plus hitter. He also has the plus speed to make an impact on the bases and be an above-average defender in center field. Rodriguez projects to have a strong enough arm to remain in center, where he will have more impact. He has not shown much pop but stings the ball to all fields, hitting line drives with solid bat speed. The Brewers expect his trend of high batting averages will continue as he moves up the ladder. The Future: Rodriguez will play the entire 2019 season at age 18 and has yet to physically mature, so he still has a long way to go. A return to the AZL is likely.
Track Record: A former top prospect who has stagnated, Diplan returned to high Class A for the third straight year in 2018 and finally held his own for a half-season before getting a bump to Double-A Biloxi. Though he finished strong with a 10-strikeout game in the Southern League playoffs, his longstanding control issues remained a real issue with 74 walks in 118 total innings. Scouting Report: When he does command his pitches, Diplan has an electric arm with a fastball in the low to mid-90s, a plus slider and a decent feel for his changeup. His control issues are caused by inconsistent mechanics, with Diplan struggling to repeat his delivery. He has been one of the younger pitchers at each level of the organization and has matured physically along the way, creating different challenges as his body changes. The Future: Diplan will be 22 all of next year and has has time to get squared away, but he needs to start throwing more strikes to advance to the major leagues. The Brewers will continue to develop Diplan as a starting pitcher. If strike-throwing remains a challenge, he will soon switch to relief.
Track Record: Hill looked like a first-round pick early in 2018 before losing feel for the strike zone. . The Mets snagged him in the fourth round and assigned him to short-season Brooklyn, where he struck out 15.3 batters per nine innings while averaging about 30 pitches per appearance. Scouting Report: Hill's arm action reminds scouting director Marc Tramuta of former Mets starter John Maine, whom he scouted and signed for the Orioles in 2002. At 6-foot-6, Hill is two inches taller than Maine but throws with a similar low three-quarters arm slot and misses bats up in the zone despite modest fastball velocity. Hill pitched at 91-92 mph in his pro debut but hit 96 as a college junior. He gets swings and misses above the barrel with the riding life on his fastball. Hill's above-average curveball registers at 79-84 mph with good break. He can shape the pitch to sweep across the zone or throw it with tighter break for swings and misses. He must continue to refine a below-average changeup. The Future: Hill can pitch effectively in short bursts using only his fastball, but to profile as a starter he must develop consistency of his secondary pitches and sharpen his control.
Track Record: The Brewers have tried to stockpile as many young, middle-of-the-field players they can find, thinking that is the true currency of baseball. So it was not surprising when they went after Fernandez in the 2018-19 international period, signing him for $1.1 million. Scouting Report: Though obviously still quite young, Fernandez profiles as a center fielder with good offensive and defensive tools and a makeup that scouts noticed. Fernandez is aggressive at the plate, driving the ball to all fields with a good bat path that projects to have power as he matures physically. If he fills out to the point of no longer fitting in center, he could slide to a corner outfield spot with enough projected power to play there. Speed is a big part of Fernandez's game--he was clocked consistently at 6.4 seconds in the 60-yard-dash, which is elite speed--and he also has an above-average arm. Fernandez shows an advanced knowledge of the proper routes to take in the outfield and generally shows good instincts for his age in all areas of the game. The Future: Fernandez will make his pro debut in 2019. He may be advanced enough to jump to the Rookie-level Arizona League before the year is out.
Track Record: Feliciano has moved slowly since the Brewers signed him for $800,000 as the 75th overall pick in 2016, in large part due to injury. He missed the first two months of 2018 with an arm injury and played in just 42 games for high Class A Carolina. The Brewers sent him to the Arizona Fall League to get more at-bats, but he reported right shoulder discomfort and had arthroscopic surgery at the beginning of November. Scouting Report: When healthy, Feliciano projects as an offensive player. He has a smooth swing with good barrel-to-ball ability that generates hard contact to all fields. He has shown a natural feel for hitting at a young age and should hit for average with health and experience. Feliciano has shown some power, but it has not translated to many home runs. As he gets stronger and learns better pitch recognition, his power is expected to play more into the double-digit home run range. For a catcher, Feliciano is a good athlete who runs respectably, and that athleticism helps him behind the plate, where he moves well and displays an above-average arm. The Future: Feliciano's physical tools are there, but he needs to stay on the field and accumulate more games behind the plate to work things out. He is expected to be ready for spring training.
Track Record: The Brewers have been one of the most active teams in mining Hawaii for talent, namely drafting Kodi Medeiros, Jordan Yamamoto and Quintin Torres-Costa in recent years. They grabbed undisputed top talent on the island again in 2018, selecting Bello with the 73rd overall pick and signing him for $550,000 to pass up a St. Mary's scholarship. Scouting Report: Bello has a long track record of performing well offensively, both in high school and in high school showcases on the mainland, and he is the highest-drafted position player from Hawaii since 2013. He uses a small leg kick and good bat speed to produce solid contact and line drives to all fields. He has solid-average speed that makes him a threat to steal bases and also plays well in the outfield. With a plus arm, he has the tools to be an above-average defender, although he's more likely to shift to a corner. The Future: Bello has a chance to be a top-of-the-order table-setter with some extra-base potential as he matures physically. Bello debuted in the Rookie-level Arizona League and probably will be moved up a notch to the Pioneer League next summer.
Track Record: The Brewers quickly zeroed in on the athletic Ernesto during the 2017-18 international signing period and agreed to sign him for a $1.8 million bonus. The switch-hitter showed a good approach at the plate, especially for his age, sending line drives to all fields. He spent most of the 2018 season in the Dominican Summer League, where he struggled to make contact at times because of over-aggressiveness at the plate. Scouting Report: The switch-hitting Ernesto has the tools to hit if he improves his approach. He is a better hitter from the left side of plate, but the Brewers think he will become a factor from both sides and eventually develop more power as he matures physically. He has above-average speed that plays well in center field and on the bases. Ernesto shows good instincts in center but needs to work on improving his routes and angles on drives in the gaps. His arm strength is above-average and should improve with physical maturity. The Future: The Brewers see the tools for Ernesto to develop into an all-around performer on both sides of the ball. Improving his strength and approach will be key for him to get there.
Track Record: Ward drew uneven reviews his senior year of high school, but the Brewers gambled on the tools they saw in the 2017 Boras Classic and the fact he was just 17 at the time. They paid him $475,000 as a 12th-rounder, nearly four times the recommended slot amount, to forgo a scholarship to Southern California. Ward made his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League and looked raw, but he moved up one notch to Rookie-level Helena in 2018 and flourished offensively as his tools came together. Scouting Report: Ward is the son of former Notre Dame wide receiver Reggie Ward and the nephew of former Pro Bowl NFL safety Mark Carrier. With those bloodlines, his best attribute is his above-average speed and long strides. That speed gives Ward an advantage breaking out of the left side of the batter's box and also makes him a threat to steal bases. It also allows him to cover the gaps well in center field, although his instincts need work. The Brewers think Ward also has untapped, average power potential that will come forth as he gets more experience and learns how to unleash it in games. For now, he has a compact lefthanded swing that made more contact as the year went on and his strike-zone awareness improved. The Future: The Brewers think there is upside to be developed in a still very young player with Ward. With further skill development, he may move to low Class A Wisconsin in 2019.
Track Record: Ponce's track has been up and down since the Brewers drafted him in the second round in 2015 and signed him for just over $1.1 million. After a forearm strain derailed his progress in 2016, he bounced back with a strong 2017 and reached Double-A by the end of the year. But he returned to Biloxi in 2018 and the sailing wasn't nearly as smooth, prompting a switch from a starting to relieving. Scouting Report: Ponce has dialed back what once was an upper-90s fastball to achieve better command and now sits 90-93 mph and will touch 95 mph. He pairs his fastball with an average, upper-80s cutter he uses to attack lefthanded hitters. His curveball sometimes is his second-best pitch, and he can throw it more as a "slurve"when needed. Ponce often throws his below-average changeup too firmly, but that pitch won't be as important if he remains a reliever. He throws all of his pitches for strikes and uses his physical size to his advantage, throwing the ball on a downward plane to induce groundball outs, although nothing he throws is plus. The Future: It has become evident that Ponce's future at the top level is probably as a reliever, where he can reach back for more with his fastball and focus on pitching in shorter bursts.
Track Record: Grisham, who used to go by the last name Clark, was considered one of the best prep hitters in the country when the Brewers drafted him in the first round in 2015, but he's never lived up to that as a pro. He put together a second straight uninspiring season in 2018, this time at Double-A Biloxi after the Brewers tried to challenge him. Scouting Report: Grisham still is trying to find a consistent stroke at the plate. He has a good eye, drawing enough walks each season to produce a respectable OBP (.356 in 2018) but has shown little power while compiling low batting averages every season. Grisham often is too passive at the plate, taking good pitches and falling behind in the count, leading to too many strikeouts for a hitter of his supposed caliber. When he does choose to swing, he hits enough line drives to make you wonder if power eventually will come, but he also takes an alarming number of noncompetitive swings where he pulls off the ball. Grisham continues to play all three outfield positions, with his average speed and below-average arm fitting best in left field. The Future: Grisham is still young enough to hope he will turn it around, but it's time for a big season that befits a first-round pick.
Track Record: Garcia had not yet turned 16 when the international signing period began in 2018, so the Brewers had to wait a week or so to make his signing official. They were so impressed with his tools and growth potential that they gave him a $1.1 million bonus out of Venezuela. Scouting Report: Garcia caught the eye of scouts with strong showings in showcase events in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, quickly establishing himself as one of the top defenders available on the international market. It's impossible at his age and weight to project Garcia as having power, but his hitting mechanics already are advanced enough to think he'll at least sting line drives into the gaps. He is expected to be an average runner and already shows the hands and range you want at shortstop with a plus arm. His defense projects to be ahead of his offense, although he's so young a lot can change. The Future: Garcia will be a fascinating project to watch develop in the coming years. He will get his first experience as a pro in the Dominican Summer League in 2019.
Track Record: Originally acquired from the Mariners with Freddy Peralta for Adam Lind in December 2015, Herrera progressed up to low Class A Wisconsin in 2017 but spun his wheels at the same level in 2018, largely due to control issues. In 85.2 innings, when piggybacking as a starter/reliever, he issued 48 walks, uncorked 17 wild pitches and hit 10 batters. Scouting Report: Herrera has added strength since being acquired and has more physical maturity ahead. For now, he throws his fastball consistently in the low 90s and spins a solid curveball that projects above-average. His below-average changeup is still developing. The Future: The Brewers still believe Herrera has considerable upside and the stuff to advance through the system. He merely needs to learn how to repeat his delivery and throw strikes. He may get a shot high Class A Carolina in 2019.
In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account.
Login or sign up