Huntsville Stars right-hander Jimmy Nelson takes over the number one spot as he continues to produce at AA. Tyler Thornburg’s continued struggles saw him plummet down the list, while players like Orlando Arcia and Tyrone Taylor made significant jumps.
I’ll probably hold off on another ranking until late July/early August after the short-season teams have been in action for a while and we can evaluate some of the new draftees. So for now, here is my current Top 25.
1. Jimmy Nelson (RHP) – Nelson has been the most consistent of the Brewers pitching prospects and has continued to build upon last season’s success. He has a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts and has struck out 65 batters in 62.1 innings. There haven’t been many bad outings for Nelson, and he went eight innings in his last start, allowing just two earned runs. You would have to imagine a bump to Nashville is in order for Nelson before too long.
2. Hunter Morris (1B) – Morris wasn’t ready to take over the Brewers first base job out of Spring Training, but he’s looking more and more like his time is coming soon. Morris is batting .375 over his last 10 games and has been on fire since coming off the disabled list. He has 10 home runs and 25 RBI in 44 games for Nashville.
3. Taylor Jungmann (RHP) – Following a brief stint on the DL, Jungmann has been much better for Huntsville and has strung together four straight quality starts. This is only Jungmann’s second season of pro ball, as the Brewers chose to skip him over rookie ball and Low-A completely. I can’t help but wonder, what if he had started last season at Helena, advanced to Wisconsin, and was carving up hitters at Brevard County this season? Would his prospect star shine brighter?
4. Johnny Hellweg (RHP) – With a 3.99 ERA in 10 starts, Hellweg could get a crack at the Milwaukee rotation at some point this season. His control has been an issue at times, allowing 37 walks in 49.2 innings. When he’s on, he can be really good, but when he’s off, things can get ugly.
5. Victor Roache (OF) – Roache has not hit for much average thus far at Wisconsin, batting just .208 through his first 36 games, but he has shown off his plus power, belting five home runs. He’s averaging more than a strikeout per game, but has also drawn 20 walks. The second half of the season should give us a better idea about Roache and his future ceiling.
6. Orlando Arcia (SS) – I toyed with going even higher with Arcia, who at age 18 is more than holding his own in the Midwest League. Giving credit where it’s due, Brewerfan.net poster ramssuperbowl1999 has been trumpeting Arcia for a while now. Jim Breen of Disciples of Uecker also had some good things to say about Arcia in a piece he wrote. I’ve heard similar good things from the scouts I’ve talked to, all of whom are high on his potential.
7. Tyrone Taylor (OF) – One question I like to ask scouting folks when I talk to them is, if you were making a trade with the Brewers, who is the player you’d want to get from their system. The two names that pop up consistently are Arcia and Tyrone Taylor. Taylor is just six months older than Arcia and is having similar success at Wisconsin. He has 42 hits in 45 games, has shown some power, hitting 3 home runs, and leads the Rattlers with 11 stolen bases.
8. Clint Coulter (C) – The quicker the Brewers move him from behind the plate, the quicker I think he’ll shoot up this list. It’s not that I don’t think Coulter could eventually develop in to a good catcher. He has the tools to play the position, I just think he has a special bat and would be better served by concentrating on hitting, than trying to learn the toughest position on the field.
9. Scooter Gennett (2B) – Scooter’s come back down to earth a bit after a red-hot start to the season. He’s still batting .305 for the season and has many fans hoping for a promotion to Milwaukee. I know there’s the argument that Gennett doesn’t walk enough, but if teams are going to keep throwing him strikes and he’s going to keep squaring them up then walks aren’t as much of an issue. The walks only become a problem is Scooter’s pitch selection suffers and that doesn’t seem to be a huge concern with him. My guess is barring a trade or injury he spends the whole season at Nashville with a possible September call-up.
10. Mitch Haniger (OF) – Haniger showed the Brewers everything they wanted to see from him at Wisconsin and earned himself a promotion to Brevard County. He’s produced similar results in his first six games with the Manatees. For the season, he’s batting a combined .299 with 5 home runs and 7 stolen bases.
11. Tyler Thornburg (RHP) – It’s been a terrible 2013 season so far for Thornburg who is 0-6 with an ERA of 6.66. That would have been enough to drop him down a few spots, but the reason I dropped him so far has more to do with the fact he hasn’t made it through six innings in a single start. Many have long shared the belief that Thornburg is destined for the bullpen, and it’s looking more and more like that’s the case. As a reliever, Thornburg may have a better shot of contributing in Milwaukee, but his value as a prospect is simply not as high.
12. Ariel Pena (RHP) – Pena struggled after coming over from the Angels but appears to be back on track. He has a 2.63 ERA through 11 starts for Huntsville. Pena is 4-1 with a 1.11 ERA in the month of May. Jean Segura alone makes the Zack Greinke trade look like a winner, but with Pena and Hellweg having success, the deal could be an all-time steal for the Brewers.
13. Khris Davis (OF) – Davis received sporadic playing time during his stint with the Brewers before returning to Nashville. He got off to a slow start but has come on lately, racking up 8 hits in a 3 game span between May 25th-27th. He has 6 home runs in 26 games for the Sounds.
14. Jed Bradley (LHP) – Bradley has shown flashes at times, but his starts for Brevard have alternated between good and bad. One scout I talked to said the Brewers did Bradley no favors with his placement on the BC roster to begin last season. Much like Jungmann, the Brewers uncharacteristically aggressive approach with Bradley last year, is something they are still working to bounce back from.
15. Drew Gagnon (RHP) – Gagnon is another of the Brevard County pitchers who has been spectacular at times, while having trouble during other starts. He threw seven innings of no-hit ball on May 1st, but left his last start after being hit by a line drive. One thing working in Gagnon’s favor is his ability to throw strikes. He’s walked just 15 batters in 10 starts.
16. David Goforth (RHP) – Goforth may still be destined for the bullpen, but he’s done well for himself as a starter at Brevard County this season. In 10 starts he has a 2.77 ERA and has gone seven innings in each of his last four starts.
17. Caleb Gindl (OF) – Gindl’s in his third season at Nashville, but is still just 24 years old. He’s batting .256 on the season and .291 in the month of May. He has five home runs and 28 RBI.
18. Michael Reed (OF) – The 20-year-old outfielder is leading the Timber Rattlers with a .290 average. His 47 hits are also a team best and he’s second on the club with 9 stolen bases.
19. Kentrail Davis (OF) – Davis has shown a good eye at the plate in his second go round at Huntsville, drawing 30 walks in 52 games. He’s batting .283 with 4 home runs and 23 RBI.
20. Damien Magnifico (RHP) – The Brewers are using Magnifico as part of a tandem at Wisconsin. He’s 5-0 with a 4.15 ERA but has been much better when he’s started games. Magnifico has a 2.77 ERA in five starts and an ERA of 6.92 in three appearances out of the bullpen.
21. Chris McFarland (2B) – Another of the young Timber Rattlers prospects, McFarland has found himself in a bit of a platoon situation at Wisconsin. He’s batting .237 with 2 home runs in 35 games. I guess I don’t really understand why he’s not playing every day, but I’d like to see what he does with more consistent playing time and some warmer weather.
22. Jason Rogers (1B) – After starting last season with Wisconsin, Rogers has moved quickly through the system and is leading AA Huntsville in several offensive categories. He has 10 home runs and 43 RBI in 52 games. Though he has played some outfield in the past, Rogers is mainly a first baseman. He doesn’t walk much, drawing just 8 free passes so far this year.
23. Cameron Garfield (C) – Garfield started off the season on fire, but has cooled off a bit since then. He’s batting .245 with 6 home runs this season but his defense remains in question. He has hit safely in 8 of his last 10 games. His four triples also make him the Manatees surprising team leader in that category.
24. Kyle Heckathorn (RHP) – The former first round pick has moved to the bullpen and had a really nice string of outings earlier in the season. He has struggled recently, allowing earned runs in each of his last three appearances.
25. Jorge Lopez (RHP) – The Lopez ranking is based more on potential than results. The former second round pick shows flashes at times, but it hasn’t turned in to results for him yet. 1-4 with a 9.24 ERA, Lopez tossed six shutout innings on May 23rd against Quad Cities.