30 Farmhands #3: Depth, Surprises, Replacements | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

Unfortunately for Brewers fans that look to the minor leagues for entertainment when the big club is struggling, only one of the Brewers’ 2015 affiliates currently boasts a winning record. The brand new Biloxi Shuckers immediately took to the road to open the season, and they’ll be there for a while. However, while the club is touring southern cities, they are also tearing through the Southern League, claiming a 16-9 record on 88 runs scored and 58 runs allowed (!!!). The Shuckers feature star prospects like Orlando Arcia and Tyrone Taylor, as well as a whole host of intriguing organizational contributors, such as Michael Reed, Brooks Hall, Jorge Lopez, and Tyler Wagner, to name a few. With the Brewers likely to face some lean years if this current roster core does not improve, it is exciting to know that some solid talent is as close as AA.

AA Performers Best Stat Age
Orlando Arcia 9 K / 7 BB & 32 H (96 PA) 20
Tyrone Taylor 8 K / 7 BB & 17 H (83 PA) 21
Michael Reed 22 H & 9 BB (89 PA) 22
Jorge Lopez 3.52 ERA (103 BF) 22
Yadiel Rivera 26 H & 7 XBH (92 PA) 23
Tyler Wagner 1.03 WHIP & 1.86 ERA (115 BF) 24
Kyle Wren 9 / 13 SB (92 PA) 24
Damien Magnifico 7 K / 1 BB / 0 HR 24
Hobbs Johnson 2.53 ERA (87 BF) 24
Brooks Hall 24 K / 5 BB / 0 HR (105 BF) 25

Stats and Records compiled on Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Even if Brevard County (Advanced A, 11-13), Wisconsin Rapids (A, 8-17), and Colorado Springs (AAA, 8-16) are not excelling as units, there are some star prospects and other intriguing players to continue following on those clubs.

A-ball Pitchers to Watch 2015 IP / ERA Level (Age)
Kodi Modeiros 18.3 / 3.44 A (19)
Victor Diaz 15.3 / 2.35 A (21) (DSL grad)
Angel Ventura 16.0 / 0.56 A (21) (DSL grad)
Cy Sneed 17.7 / 1.02 A (22)
Zach Hirsch 25.0 / 3.24 A (24)
Jorge Ortega 21.0 / 3.00 Advanced A (22) (DSL grad)
Javi Salas 25.0 / 2.16 Advanced A (23)
A-ball Batters to Watch 2015 PA / OPS Level (Age)
Monte Harrison 76 / .571 A (19)
Jake Gatewood 60 / .519 A (19)
David Denson 71 / .569 A (20)
Clint Coulter 87 / 1.087 Advanced A (21)
Victor Roache 84 / 1.006 Advanced A (23)
Taylor Smith-Brennan 87 / .715 Advanced A (23)
Dustin DeMuth 75 / .756 A (23)

Chart for A and Advanced A compiled on May 1, 2015. 

Currently, A and Advanced A ball feature a few of the Brewers’ Top 10 prospects, as well as a group of organizational depth players that are performing well or exhibiting solid strike zone approaches from 2014-to-present. It’s difficult painting a similar picture at Colorado Springs, where much of the roster is relatively old, save for Luis Sardinas (22 years old, .320/.347/.412). Brewers’ minor league diehard fans will likely hold out hope for Corey Knebel, Tyler Cravy, Drew Gagnon, and Taylor Jungmann. From these squads, one can look for the organizational depth that will help the Brewers make decisions about rebuilding trades, force playing time at certain positions, or help the team around the edges.

30 Farmhands Series:
Part One: Dominican Summer League
Part Two: The Best of the “Rest” of the 2014 Draft

All stats below compiled on Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

Depth, Surprises, Replacements
RHP Damien Magnifico (5th Round, 2012; AA, age 24 season)
In his second season as a starter at Advanced A ball in 2014, Magnifico put together an excellent campaign, especially in terms of runs prevented. Now, the organization unleashed the righty’s big fastball in a relief role at Biloxi, and the strike out numbers are finally following. Magnifico sat down 7 of 36 batters faced on strikes, driving his solid runs prevention. With the righty freed from a starting pitching role, one wonders whether a hot start will earn him a promotion to the struggling Colorado Springs staff, or even Milwaukee by September. Magnifico suddenly appears to be an interesting depth arm for the Brewers, especially to skeptics that never expected him to start at the big league level. Even if Magnifico does not make the majors in 2015, one must expect that he could help to anchor a young, hard-throwing pen in 2016.

RF Michael Reed (5th Round, 2011; AA, age 22 season)
BaseballAmerica placed Reed almost exactly halfway in their Top 30 organizational rankings, and the outfielder is recapturing some of the offensive magic he flashed in 2012-2013 at the A-ball level. Currently, Reed’s .293 AVG does not look as great when one considers three extra bases from the RF position. However, Reed is flashing solid discipline with his walk rate, which should help support his current strike out rate. Should Reed continue the disciplined eye he showed throughout the last few years (71 BB in 2013, 78 BB in 2014), he can potentially provide the Brewers with an effective depth glove.

RHP Tyler Wagner (4th round, 2012; AA, age 24 season)
Along with Taylor Williams, Wagner and Wei-Chung Wang are currently the highest ranked BaseballAmerica prospects pitching in the Brewers’ system, and Wagner is dominating AA bats in 2015. Since the young righty did not perform well as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League, his early season performance is a welcome turnaround. The renowned sinker is leading to a fair number of strike outs, but Wagner is simply limiting baserunners and runs thus far; most notably, the righty is giving left-handed bats more trouble than righties. Against 115 batters overall, Wagner has allowed 7 runs on 21 hits and 9 walks, alongside 21 strike outs. It’s difficult to argue with his results, and if Wagner can continue his development as he climbs to the upper minors, he can help Brewers fans forget about Jungmann and Jed Bradley rather quickly. He might not beat either Jungmann or Bradley this year, but Wagner could make noise as a potential rotation replacement into 2016 if his current success and development continues.

C Carlos Leal (34th Round, 2014; A, age 23 season)
Carlos Leal is a fascinating Brewers prospect, if only for the fact that he was scouted out of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi as a .336 hitting catcher, but drafted by the Brewers as a pitcher. Leal’s strikeout rate was excellent in rookie ball last year, but luckily for the Brewers, he allegedly requested to return as a catcher in 2015 (according to Brewerfan.net). Leal hasn’t missed a step since returning to catcher, nabbing nearly half of potential basestealers in 19 attempts (thus far). Certainly, Leal is old for A ball, but it’s still thrilling to see him absolutely tear the league apart, batting .386/.444/.579 with 11 K / 6 BB and 8 extra base hits early in 2015. It will be interesting to see how Leal’s success rate translates as he advances through the system, but so far it’s difficult not to look at his performance and feel excited that the Brewers might have grabbed another late-round catcher (see also Adam Weisenburger). The Brewers seem to have a knack for developing catchers, and while recent rumors hint than Jonathan Lucroy is going nowhere (and it’s not like Leal is going to bump Lucroy out of the role any time soon), it’s good to see the club building even more depth up the middle.

OF Victor Roache (1st, 2012; A+, age 23 season)
There may not be a bigger lightning rod than Roache in the Brewers system among Brewers fans, as some fans bemoaned his selection from the very day he was drafted. Still, if one follows the Brewers’ logic of seeking Roache’s power once his wrist healed, it finally looks like Roache is paying the expected dividends. Certainly, Roache is older for Advanced A ball to begin 2015, and his overall discipline at the plate continues to be heavier on strike outs than walks (33 K / 10 BB thus far). On the other hand, 10 walks in 105 plate appearances is quite strong, especially when coupled with 28 hits (11 for extra bases). Yet, Brewers fans aren’t necessarily watching Roache for the doubles, so it’s great to see the righty bat with six homers to his name already. One must expect Roache to advance to AA Biloxi at some point this season, and if he continues to walk and homer there, the Brewers could have more power replacement options for the corner outfield before they know it.

Keep an Eye On:
LHP Zach Hirsch, A Wisconsin (19th, 2014. 24 K / 2 BB / 2 HR / 124 BF)
IF Sthervin Matos, A Wisconsin (DSL, 2011-2013. 3 BB, 4 XBH / 58 PA)
IF Dustin DeMuth, A Wisconsin (5th, 2014. 4 XBH, 5 BB / 90 PA)
OF Brandon Diaz, A Wisconsin (8th, 2013. 6 BB, 5 SB / 70 PA)
IF Gregory Munoz, A Wisconsin (DSL, 2013-2014. 16 BB, 12 H / 85 PA)
RHP Taylor Williams, A+ Brevard County (4th, 2013. 25 K / 5 BB / 108 BF)
IF Taylor Smith-Brennan, A+ Brevard County (37th, 2012. 19 BB, 26 H / 110 PA)
IF Christopher McFarland, A+ Brevard County (18th, 2011. 10 XBH / 113 PA)
OF Omar Garcia, A+ Brevard County (7th, 2013. 13 BB / 77 PA)
RHP Jorge Lopez, AA Biloxi (2nd, 2011. 3.52 ERA / 103 BF)
OF Kyle Wren, AA Biloxi (Atlanta 8th, 2013. 9 / 13 SB, 11 BB / 92 PA)
LHP Jed Bradley, AAA Colorado Springs (1st, 2011. 9 K / 58 PA since conversion to relief role)
C Tanner Norton, Not Yet Playing in 2015 (13th, 2013)
OF Michael Ratterree, Not Yet Playing in 2015 (Retired? No news noted)

40-Man Roster Depth
LHP Wei-Chung Wang, A+ Brevard County (Rule 5 2014)
IF Yadiel Rivera, AA Biloxi (9th, 2010. 26 H, 7 XBH, 5 BB / 92 PA)
RHP Michael Strong, AA Biloxi (10th, 2011. 12 K / 7 BB / 44 BF)
IF Luis Sardinas, AAA Colorado Springs (Rangers, 2009 Amateur. 31 H, 7 XBH, 4 BB / 107 PA)
RHP Corey Knebel, AAA Colorado Springs (Tigers 1st, 2013. 18 K / 6 BB / 47 BF)
RHP Taylor Jungmann, AAA Colorado Springs (1st, 2011)
RHP David Goforth, AAA Colorado Springs (7th, 2011)
RHP Tyler Thornburg, AAA Colorado Springs (3rd, 2010. 6 K / 1 BB / 1 HR)
IF Matt Clark, AAA Colorado Springs (Free agent, 2014. 30 H, 11 XBH, 7 BB / 109 PA)
OF Shane Peterson, AAA Colorado Springs (Waivers, 2014. 25 H, 8 XBH, 8 BB / 97 PA)
OF Logan Schafer, AAA Colorado Springs
RHP Johnny Hellweg, Recovering from Tommy John surgery
RHP Jim Henderson, Disabled List
C Jonathan Lucroy, Disabled List

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