The Brewers affiliate in the rookie Arizona League limped to a record of 23-33 last season, finishing ten games under .500 and in last place in the AZL’s Central Division.
The 2016 version of the AZL Brewers should be a bit more competitive, as they look to feature some exciting young international players as well as several of Milwaukee’s top selections from MLB’s recently concluded draft.
Pitchers: Three of the Brewers top ten picks who appear ticketed for the AZL, at least to start, are college arms in third rounder Braden Webb, fourth rounder Corbin Burnes and seventh rounder Daniel Brown. That experience should give the Brewers an edge on the mound, at least until some, or all, of that group earn their way to Helena/Wisconsin. The rotation will also feature 6’5″ Texan Nash Walters, who was the Brewers third round pick in 2015, as well as several young Latin American arms worth keeping and eye on, including Nelson Hernandez (Venezuela), Carlos Luna (Panama) and Yosmer Leal (Dominican Republic).
Catchers: The Brewers will boast a pair of high draft picks behind the dish in Mario Feliciano, whom the Brewers selected with their competitive balance pick following round two and sixth round choice Payton Henry, who they were able to sign away from BYU. They’ll be joined by last year’s 15th round pick, Zach Taylor and 19-year-old Venezuelan Yoel Vasquez.
Infielders: The Brewers should have a pair of sluggers splitting time at first base with both Tyrone Perry and Nicol Valderrey seeing action there. They’ll have a pair of International prospects up the middle in Julio Mendez and Ignacio Otano with eighth rounder Francisco Thomas and ninth rounder Trey York joining the mix as well.
Outfielders: The outfield ranks are a bit thin but 19-year-old Dominican Nicolas Pierre is a player worth watching in his second stint in the AZL. 27th round pick Nick Cain and 39th rounder Jose Gomez should also be joining the Brewers in Maryvale after signing last week.
Coaching Staff: Tony Diggs will return to manage the Brewers AZL affiliate after spending the past three seasons at Helena. Diggs served as the Brewers AZL manager from 2008-2012 and also works as the Brewers Assistant to Director of Player Development and Roving Outfield Coordinator. He’ll be joined by coaches Steve Cline, Rolando Valles and Hainley Statia.
The Arizona League season gets underway on Monday as the Brewers travel to the Cubs complex in Mesa to take on Chicago in an evening affair.