It’s difficult to overstate just how bad the Milwaukee Brewers farm system looked after the trades to bring in Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. It was the consensus worst system in the majors by a wide margin, largely due to an utter lack of star talent. To put it in perspective: the number one prospect on the Brewerfan.net Power 50 is Wily Peralta, rated a three-star prospect by Baseball Prospectus’s Kevin Goldstein
You may notice a new name in second place on the Brewefan Power 50. That name is Tyler Thornburg, a right-handed starting pitcher selected in the third round of last year’s draft. Thornburg laid waste to the Midwest League this spring as a member of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The 22-year-old started 12 games, striking out 76 batters in 68.2 innings, walking 26 and allowing only 49 hits — a total of 76 strikeouts against 75 baserunners, and an unsurprisingly low 1.57 ERA.
That performance earned Thornburg a quick promotion the High-A Brevard County Manatees of the Florida State League. He’s been solid there through his first three starts, striking out 20 of the first 65 batters he’s faced. His control has been a bit worse with the promotion, with seven walks in his first 16 innings, but nothing out of the ordinary for a three-start sample.
Given Thornburg’s age, an impressive performance at Low-A was a must for him to earn “prospect status,” and even then, expectations for Thornburg can still be tempered. Many prospect evaluators seem to think his future is in the bullpen, especially because his changeup is merely “functional.” However, as long as he continues to succeed in the minor leagues, Thornburg will at least be a Brewer farmhand whose future we can be excited about, and right now, those are few and far between.