Ryan and I collaborated to bring you our Midseason Top 30 Prospects. As always, this list serves as a compromise between the two of us. Both of our personal lists differ slightly, but we discussed the list at length to meld our two lists together and present to you a composite ranking.
1) RHP Wily Peralta (stats)
Peralta had lofty expectations coming into the season and greatly disappointed in the early months. Recently, however, he appears to have turned a corner and is re-establishing his value as a starter. The right-hander has not allowed more than three runs in seven of his last eight starts, including only one overall run allowed in his last 23.1 innings for Triple-A Nashville.
2) RHP Taylor Jungmann (stats)
The #12 overall pick from the 2011 is having a solid, though unspectacular, pro debut in High-A Brevard County. His 3.59 ERA is mildly concerning and his 5.4 K/9IP is downright unexpected, but Jungmann generates lots of early weak contact and tons of ground balls, nor does he walk many. A future in the middle of a big league rotation still seems like the most likely outcome.
3) RHP Jimmy Nelson (stats)
Our preseason breakout pitcher prediction, Nelson has established himself as a legitimate mid-rotation pitching prospect, dominating the Florida State League with a 2.21 ERA and almost a strikeout per inning. His fastball continues to sit 94-96 with sink, and scouts continue to rave about his ultimate upside. Shortly after his promotion to Double-A Huntsville, the 23-year-old was sidelined with shoulder fatigue.
4) RHP Tyler Thornburg (stats)
It’s been more of the same for Thornburg through the first half. He missed bats at an elite rate in Double-A, trimmed his walks, and posted a 3.00 ERA in 75 innings. Scouts have expressed more faith in his ability to start long term than ever before, but there are still plenty of doubters. He will receive some chances to start, though, so it will almost certainly be up to him where he ends up.
5) C Clint Coulter (stats)
The Brewers drafted Coulter with their first pick in the 2012 MLB Draft because of his power/patience combination at the plate. He has shown an ability to draw a walk, but his production with the bat has been underwhelming thus far — though it should be nothing to worry about, as the natural small sample caveats apply to his first 15 games as a professional. Scouts do not ultimately believe he will stick at catcher, either.
6) 2B Scooter Gennett (stats)
Scooter Gennett has continued to hold his own after being promoted to Double-A Huntsville to begin the season. As usual, most of his value has been tied directly to his batting average. He will probably never take a ton of walks, but there are some, as referenced by Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein on our podcast last month, who believe he will eventually develop double-digit home run power. He also appears to be improving defensively, something that would help his case to start at the big league level tremendously.
7) RHP Jorge Lopez (stats)
Coming into the season, Lopez was one of the most exciting prospects in the organization. Scouts raved about his projectability and fluid pitching motions. Some concern has developed, as he has struggled in his Arizona League starts this summer and his velocity has not been as high as it was prior to the Brewers’ drafting him in the second round of the 2011 Draft. Still, the young man spins a good curveball and could become a special pitcher for the organization; he simply is eons away from reaching that ceiling.
8) LHP Jed Bradley (stats)
Bradley, the number 15 pick in 2011, was always more of a boom/bust pick than Jungmann. Thus, far it has been mostly the latter this year. The stats are pretty ugly, and there are reports that his velocity is sitting 3-4 MPH lower than when he was drafted and he has also struggled with mechanical issues. How much of that can be tied to a groin injury he’s fought through is hard to say, but there is obviously still plenty of time for a turn around.
9) OF Logan Schafer (stats)
Schafer was the talk of big league camp this spring and should be a lock to contribute at the big league level in some capacity next season. Some believe he can be a second-or-third division starter in center field, but he is at least a quality fourth outfielder with a simple line-drive stroke and an above-average glove at all three outfield positions. His nine home runs in Triple-A Nashville show increased power, though that is more due to the Pacific Coast League run environment than any change in his skill set.
10) OF Victor Roache (stats)
Perhaps no draft pick in this June’s first round inspired as much debate as the man the Brewers selected at number 28. There are those that see his 30 home runs as a sophomore, body and age and see a potential middle-of-the-order monster. Others see a backside collapse, a major wrist injury from which he’s still recovering, and do not believe that he was a legitimate first round talent. Roache hopes to play in the fall instructional league, but full recovery from the injury may take considerably longer.
11) 1B Hunter Morris (stats)
The 23-year-old slugger has been the hottest bat in the Brewers’ system this summer. He is now hitting .314/.369/.552 with 31 doubles, four triples, and 15 home runs. His improved plate discipline has stemmed from a mechanical adjustment and a better understanding of the strike zone. Once just a raw power bat with little overall value at the plate, Morris has become a bona fide first base prospect with intriguing upside. The key will be sustaining this new approach throughout the remainder of the season.
12) OF Mitch Haniger (stats)
Taken with the compensation round pick received for Prince Fielder, Haniger offers a nice juxtaposition to Roache, in that his upside is more limited but there is a pretty good chance he’ll play in the majors someday. He offers more gap than homer power, but he understands the strike zone, and should play a solid right field down the road. Unfortunately, he tore a knee ligament after only 14 professional games, so further development will have to wait until the fall instructional league.
13) OF Caleb Gindl (stats)
Scouts who saw Gindl this spring lauded his ability to square up the baseball. Once sent to Triple-A Nashville, though, the 23-year-old scuffled out of the gates, causing many to forget about his abilities at the plate. His .247 batting average is a bit misleading. He has caught fire this summer, as evidenced by his .385/.442/.667 slash line in July. Caleb Gindl can hit. His value is more tied to his defensive abilities and power as a corner outfielder..
14) OF Tyrone Taylor (stats)
When the Brewers drafted the two-sport star from Torrence, California in the second round this June, the consensus was they had they had a project on their hands. Instead of taking time to adjust, though, the toolsy 18 year old has excelled. Perhaps most surprisingly, he’s hit for power, which had graded out as his weakest tool. It remains way too early to read too much into the statistics, but no hot start is quite as pleasing as one from a player who had been tagged as “raw.”
15) RHP Drew Gagnon (stats)
The 22-year-old right-hander has flown under the radar since being drafted in the third round of the 2011 Draft, but his performance this year could put him on the map. He breezed through the Midwest League, posting a 2.83 ERA and 3.37 FIP. That success has continued in the Florida State League with Brevard County. His three-pitch mix gives him a legitimate shot to stick as a starting pitcher, though talent evaluators have never pegged him as anything more than a back-end starter since last year’s draft.
16) SS Orlando Arcia (stats)
There is probably no more intriguing a mystery in the Brewers farm system right now than the young infielder from Venezuela. He put up outstanding numbers in the Dominican Summer League in 2011 and was impressing scouts considerably in extended spring training before breaking his ankle in late May. With any luck, that won’t negatively impact his ability to stay at shortstop long term. He won’t even be 18 until next month, so time is still very much on his side.
17) RHP Hiram Burgos (stats)
The right-hander has been the talk of the system since dominating the Florida State League with a 0.87 ERA in 41.1 innings to begin the year. He has continued to find success with Double-A Huntsville and is currently in the midst of eight-consecutive quality starts. His greatest strength lies in his ability to pound the strike zone. He changes speeds well, and one scout told me that his slider has been the difference maker this season. The 24-year-old has a real chance to develop into a swingman or back-end starter at the big league level if he continues his development as a pitcher.
18) OF Michael Reed (stats)
Reed acquitted himself well for a 19 year-old in brief stints in Double-A and High-A as an injury fill-in, and he has since held his own in a longer run in the Pioneer League. There is some disagreement as to just how well he projects going forward. If he can harness his solid raw power and make contact, a future in the big leagues is possibly in the cards based on his ability to play defense.
19) RHP Nick Bucci (stats)
This has been a lost season thus far for Bucci, who has yet to appear in a game this season due to a shoulder injury. At just 22 in Double-A, though, he still has time on his side. The organization believed he possessed the ability to be a mid-rotation starter at the big-league level prior to his injury. It will be interesting to see how his stuff rebounds, once he returns to action.
20) RHP Cody Scarpetta (stats)
The moment of truth is quickly arriving for Scarpetta, whose string of injury issues continued even before the 2012 season started with a torn elbow ligament and Tommy John surgery. He will be out of minor league options in 2013, so if he proves healthy and is not on rehab, he will have to be in the major leagues. The stuff has always been there, but the Brewers will have to just cross their fingers that his command plays up in the bullpen.
21) 2B Chris McFarland (stats)
The organization needed a $315,000 signing bonus to lure the 18th-round pick away from a collegiate commitment to Rice University. He will ultimately be a second baseman as a professional, and he provides some intrigue at the plate. With Helena this summer, he is hitting .324/.397/.390 in his first 26 games, though his 31 strikeouts and questionable power hold him back from flying up the prospect rankings.
22) OF Jose Pena (stats)
The Brewers thought enough of Pena in 2009 to sign him for $400,000, which is one of the larger bonuses they’ve ever given out internationally. After a couple of nondescript years in the Dominican Summer League, Pena has started to show the potential that landed him that bonus in the Arizona League this year. There is a long ways to go, but he has a chance to be among the first fruits of the Brewers recent reinvestment in Latin America.
23) RHP David Goforth (stats)
Though he has struggled with a 5.11 ERA as a starting pitcher for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Goforth has a chance to be an impact reliever down the road. His high-90s fastball should play well from the ‘pen, and the Brewers are just allowing him to log innings and develop his offspeed repertoire in the starting rotation. The lack of strikeouts are a bit concerning, though that K-rate would likely increase in the bullpen, as well.
24) SS Yadiel Rivera (stats)
The story is pretty simple with Rivera, as it is with so many young middle infielders. His defense projects to be major league quality, but there are serious questions about the bat. He is showing a little more power in 2012, but the same old contact and discipline problems don’t seem to be going anywhere. File under, “there’s always a chance.”
25) RHP Brooks Hall (stats)
One of the Brewers’ sleeper prospects coming into the season, the 22-year-old South Carolina native has not found the success everyone expected. His extreme flyball tendencies and low strikeout-rate has currently quelled the buzz swelling just below the surface regarding Hall. It will be interesting to see if he can take a step forward in his development during the second half.
26) RHP Kyle Heckathorn (stats)
The 2009 supplemental rounder showed some promising signs earlier in the season that perhaps he was finally living up to his draft billing. Then he fell back into some of the same old problems with hitability that have plagued his professional career. The Brewers have moved him to the bullpen, and the hope is that his stuff will play up there in the long term, even if the early returns are not sparkling.
27) OF Khris Davis (stats)
Davis has struggled through injuries this year, but he still possesses above-average power from the right side when healthy. The fact that he is limited to left field — maybe right field — his bat needs to carry him and truly be something special. Currently, he resides low in the rankings because his power has not translated to the Double-A level as well as one would have hoped, though the injury could have played a significant role in that.
28) RHP Zach Quintana (stats)
Apparently the third round is where the Brewers are going to start deviating from their stated philosophy of seeking big pitchers, and considering their success with Thornburg, that seems sensible. What he lacks in height, he makes up in velocity on his fastball and break on his curve. Though his ultimate destination is uncertain, he’s hit the ground running in pro ball at least in terms of missing bats.
29) RHP Damien Magnifico (stats)
Fans immediately gravitated toward the right-hander due to both his 70-grade name and his fastball, which can reach triple-digits on a regular basis. At this point, he possesses no real secondary pitch and has experienced elbow injuries in the past, which both scream a future bullpen role. With that fastball, the Brewers are hoping they can teach him a secondary pitch, and if they can, Magnifico could be a true impact reliever down the road.
30) RHP Santo Manzanillo (stats)
Manzanillo opened a lot of eyes in 2011 with his big fastball and developing secondary offerings, but things have not gone well since. First, he suffered a shoulder separation in an offseason car accident, and he has twice been on the disabled list already in 2012. When he has been on the mound, he’s struggled mightily both to miss bats and to avoid walks. All is far from lost, but it would be nice to see him healthy sometime soon.
Just Missed (no particular order): RHP Eric Arnett, OF Kentrail Davis, C Cameron Garfield, RHP Jim Henderson, 1B Nick Ramirez