Tomorrow! Tomorrow the minor leagues are back in action. It’s thrilling to finally get the future of the Brewers back on the field, and right now, the rosters look packed at every level with exceptional talent. Let’s jump right into it!
Colorado Springs Sky Sox
Four of the Brewers’ top 10 prospects start the year off at AAA Colorado Springs. This list includes #1 on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 list Lewis Brinson and #3 Josh Hader. Both prospects are repeating at AAA after partial seasons with the Sky Sox last year. I wouldn’t expect either to hang around Colorado past July as both are knocking down the door to get into the majors.
While Brinson leads the team offensively, he’s accompanied by a couple other top prospects, #10 Brett Phillips and #16 Ryan Cordell. Combined, these three make up what’s sure to be one of the best outfields in the minors this season. This is the first trip to AAA for Phillips. Last year, Phillips came into the season as one of top prospects in all of baseball but had an off season in 2016. The friendly offensive nature of Phillips should help for some rebound, and he’s already a great defender with a .50 arm. Brinson and Phillips will be rotating through centerfield with Cordell, one of the prospects brought back in the Lucroy/Jeffress trade. Cordell looked amazing in spring training, had a good Brewers debut last year and is a third piece of what should be near-elite defense in the Colorado Springs outfield.
Paired with Hader in the Sky Sox rotation will be #8 prospect Brandon Woodruff. Woodruff was one of the org’s top risers in 2016 and hopes to quickly move into the Brewers rotation if a need arises. Just pray that Colorado Springs doesn’t kill his pitching ability.
Other Colorado Springs players to watch include: Damien Magnifico, Wei-Chung Wang, Yadiel Rivera and Kyle Wren.
The Shuckers are a very interesting club in 2017. The top ranked players on the club are #4 Luis Ortiz and #9 Mauricio Dubon. Meanwhile,#13 Jorge Lopez, #28 Michael Reed and Taylor Williams are on the squad. Reed is interesting as he was seen as a candidate to play with the major league team at multiple points last season when outfielders were needed. Now, due to an overflow of talent in the OF at AAA, Reed has been pushed into a demotion back to AA.
Lopez is also facing a demotion. The power pitching righty came into 2016 with a ton of high expectations but fell short at Colorado Springs. He was then bumped down to Biloxi where the environment was viewed as a more favorable situation for him to fix what was plaguing him. Lopez then had a successful run in the Winter League and looked to have regained some of the praise he had lost after his early 2016 failures. I think the Brewers are keeping Lopez at AA to make sure he maintains the good habits they worked to get him to maintain and not get distracted by the problems pitching in Colorado Springs creates.
Ortiz is an excellent pitcher with potential. He has never really been fully healthy in a season but is excellent when he’s on the mound. In just six starts last year, he managed a 1.93 ERA at Biloxi, although he had an uncharacteristic 3.9 BB/9. That’s well above his career 2.1 BB/9 average. The Brewers obtained Ortiz from Texas as part of the Lucroy/Jeffress trade.
Dubon makes his Brewers debut with Biloxi. The slick infielder came to Milwaukee as part of the Tyler Thornburg trade. Dubon does a little bit of everything well, except for hitting for power.
Williams is perhaps the most exciting player on the roster for me. Williams has missed over a season after Tommy John Surgery towards the end of 2015 and is trying to reestablish himself. Before that surgery, he was one of the most exciting names in the farm system. He has a strong fastball, decent slider and was starting to partner the change up with decent control. He was growing at an exceptional rate before the injury took him down. It will be worth watching his performance this season.
The Shuckers have a few other exciting faces, including: #14 Jacob Nottingham and Bubba Derby, the two prospects that came back to the Brewers in the Khris Davis trade. It’s a team worth watching.
Watch for part 2 tomorrow, when we break down the Carolina Mudcats and Wisconsin Timber Rattlers as their seasons get underway.