After yesterday’s trade chaos, the Brewers acquired a number of intriguing prospects in return for their major-league assets. Here were the deals that were spun (or almost spun) by GM David Stearns:
Trade # 0.5: Brewers traded C Jonathan Lucroy to Indians for C Fransisco Mejia, SS Yu-Cheng Chang, OF Greg Allen, and RHP Shaun Armstrong (Lucroy exercised his No-Trade Clause, trade revoked)
Trade #1: Brewers traded LHP Will Smith to Giants for RHP Phil Bickford and C Andrew Susac
Trade #2: Brewers traded C Jonathan Lucroy and RHP Jeremy Jeffress to Rangers for OF Lewis Brinson and RHP Luis Ortiz
While the very first move the Brewers made didn’t really pan out, they nabbed a number of high-end prospects from both the Texas Rangers and the San Fransisco Giants. While the idea of quantity may have been on many of our minds after the first trade, Stearns elected to nab top-quality arms to go with an incredibly toolsy bat and a former high-ranking catching prospect (Susac). Though only a few names were added to the farm, they make a sizeable difference in the current rankings from last Thursday.
P.S. While going through all the scouting reports and statistics with every name, I did find it enjoyable to do these rankings. Along with that, there were a few names which I felt I should move around, but left the names in the same order to display where these new prospects fit in. So in lieu of that fun and displeasure, I’m going to update these rankings every two weeks and possibly expand the writing to the top-20 names now that a number of great prospects still remain in the “Just Out of Range” category.
1) SS Orlando Arcia: Arcia’s sky-high ceiling still takes the cake out of the entire farm system. Just a level below the majors, Arcia’s offense has treaded water (.268/.320/.725 line in 439 PA’s) despite being about five-and-a-half years younger than his competition. There’s no question about his defensive abilities, so the only way he’ll fall from the top is when he sheds his rookie eligibility.
2) OF Lewis Brinson: Acquired in the trade that sent both C Jonathan Lucroy and RHP Jeremy Jeffress to Texas, Brinson offers through-the-roof potential in every facet of the game. Originally taken right after the Brewers’ 27th and 28th picks in 2012 (Clint Coulter and Victor Roache), he displayed immense physical abilities and raw tools for an 18-year old. Now standing at 6’3″ and weighing 195 pounds, the 22-year old has been slowly honing and polishing his game. His biggest initial issue came in his strikeout rates, but he’s improved upon it since his first full season (38% K-rate in 2013 to 19.9% this season). As the Rangers organization helped him make adjustments to his swing, he also saw a huge jump in performance last season with his .332/.403/1.004 slash line combined with 20 HR’s, 18 SB’s, and 59 total extra base hits in 100 games split between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A. Though he’s struggled to find that old approach and swing this season, many scouts believe he is only a couple of tweaks away from maintaining such a high-level performance on a yearly basis. He boasts above-average contact, power, and speed on the offensive side, as well as a very solid arm and fielding abilities in the outfield. If the Crew can figure out the minor issues with Brinson’s swing (and if he can stay healthy), he could be a perennial 25-25 threat in center field – a very rare combination to have at that position. He’ll be headed right to Triple-A Colorado Springs, so it should be fun to see him hit once he gets his swing adjusted.
3) OF Brett Phillips: If I continue these rankings, Phillips could be in for a slight drop in rankings. Though we know he can hit and field, his offensive abilities haven’t shown up since the last rankings (3 for 17, 5 BBs’s, 5 K’s). He can still project as a solid centerfielder, but the players below him (and the addition of the one above) on the list are displaying either solid numbers or serious promise.
4) LHP Josh Hader: Hader continued to prove the skeptics wrong on the 29th, tossing 5 innings of two-run ball while striking out 9. With a funky arm angle and solid secondary stuff, Hader will most likely make his debut as a starter for the Brewers if he can maintain his command.
5) RHP Luis Ortiz: In the final trade of the deadline with the Rangers, the Crew also nabbed Luis Ortiz, a 20-year old righty. Taken 30th overall in the 2014 draft, Ortiz has the size and abilities to be a solid 2 or 3 in a pitching staff. Big and bulky, the 6’3″, 230-pound prospect can really get momentum behind the ball, unleashing 92-97 mph fastballs with overall consistency and movement throughout a game. He also utilizes an above-average slider with some occasional upper-80’s zip, and an average changeup that he’s currently implementing to give him a third legitimate offering. His advanced control and velocity have already gotten him to Double-A this season, where he faces players that are on-average 4 years older than him. His numbers there (8 starts, 39.2 IP, 4.08 ERA, 1.361 WHIP, and 34-7 K-BB ratio) will improve with adjustment and further polish, meaning he could realistically hit the majors in a couple of years. The biggest part to watch with him will most likely be his weight, as he’ll need to stay in good shape in order to maintain flexibility and smooth mechanics that can ultimately move him to Miller Park in 2018.
6) OF Corey Ray: Ray has hit nicely since the last post, slapping 6 hits in 20 at-bats (.300) while walking twice. Though he’s cooled off after an impressive 9-game hitting streak, he has that similar 25-25 abilities as Lewis Brinson does – just without as high defensive abilities in the outfield.
7) OF Trent Clark: Clark’s offense shines through in his on-base percentage (.353) and gap power (14 of 26 hits for extra-bases) but has a long ways to go in the minors to reach his above-average hit tool to pair with average power. At age 19, he’ll have at least another 3 years to really show his stuff.
8) RHP Cody Ponce: The right-hander’s big and projectable frame is too solid to get bumped by Bickford right now. Though he hasn’t had the best of stuff in the last two outings (9 IP, 15 H, 2 BB, 4 K, 9 ER), there’s no doubt Ponce has the potential to be a mid-rotation starter if his command and velocity stay afloat.
9) RHP Phil Bickford: I’ll be honest, I probably have Bickford ranked lower than a number of major outlets. The right-handed starter was the lone prospect acquired in the trade of Will Smith (C Andrew Susac was also sent to MIL) and has some issues despite some really nice upside. Coming in at 6’4″ and 200 pounds, the right-hander has some question as-to whether or not he could continue as a starter. He’s got some serious effort in his delivery despite reaching the upper-90’s with deceptive arm action. Bickford also has some issues with repeating his mechanics, forcing himself into holes with walks and misplaced pitches. Aside from the slight doubt that he may not pan out as a starter, he features a mid-to-high 90’s four-seam and a low-90’s two-seam fastball with nice sink. His secondary stuff can be just as impressive, as he boasts an above-average slider and average changeup when his mechanics are consistent. He’s proven skeptics wrong so far this season, as he’s put up a 2.71 ERA in 93 innings (17 starts) with a 105-27 K-BB ratio. With consistency in his mechanics, he could be a mid-rotation guy barring injury. If not, Bickford could still profile as a solid late-inning reliever or closer.
10) 2B/SS Isan Diaz: It’s tough to nitpick a five game stretch, but Diaz struck out 8 times in 22 plate appearances since the 27th of July. Diaz’s power is very uncommon to find in middle infielders, and his .269/.349/.819 slash in 103 games this season definitely looks solid. It also helps that he’s got 46 extra-base hits (106 hits total). He won’t be ready for a few years, but Diaz will have some loud and exciting potential moving forward.
11) LHP Kodi Medeiros: Another 5 inning outing for the lefty saw him striking out four but walking three and giving up four runs (three earned). Of the top starters, Medeiros has the highest chance to move to the bullpen – which will be a serious hit to any prospect rank he gets. Nonetheless, he’s still only 20 year of age and has a few years to work out the kinks.
12) RHP Devin Williams: The Low-A Timber Rattlers got a nice start out of him on the 29th of July, as he tossed 6 innings of one-run ball while striking out five (but walking four). He’s been a project ever since he was drafted in 2013, but us fans can see that he is coming along as a potential mid-rotation guy.
13) C/1B Jacob Nottingham: The Sheriff only played three games since the last post, so it isn’t much of a sample to go off of. Nonetheless, he struck out in 7 out of 13 times at the plate. While he was perceived to be the incumbent long-term catching option, the Brewers nabbed C Andrew Susac in the Will Smith trade. With Susac ready and waiting, Nottingham has more time to adjust his approach, get comfortable, and get back to his power-hitting ways at the plate.
14) RHP Jorge Lopez: Though he walked five in his first outing in Double-A Biloxi, Lopez had a start that sets him in the right direction (5 IP, 2 ER, 5 K’s, 84 pitches). He’ll be stuck rebuilding his value for the rest of the season, but it’s difficult to think a guy with a hard 92-95 mph fastball with a great curveball can’t somehow claw his way back to some sort of relevance.
15) SS Gilbert Lara: It’s hard to really say anything about the 6’2″, 190-pound slugger. He’s known for his raw offensive tools – most notably his power – and strong arm in the field. The 18-year old has struggled mightily in Rookie League Helena (.198/.261/.523 in 126 at-bats), but both his body and abilities have yet to mature. We’d all like to think he is a top-tier prospect, but we need to see a lot more from him on the developmental side before we can really judge him.
Just Out of Range (In Order): RHP Marcos Diplan, 3B Lucas Erceg, OF Michael Reed, RHP Freddy Peralta, RHP Brandon Woodruff
Others To Keep in Mind (21 and Beyond): OF Demi Orimoloye, INF Jacob Gatewood, C Clint Coulter, OF Tyrone Taylor OF Victor Roache, OF Kyle Wren, RHP, RHP Bubba Derby, RHP Damien Magnifico, RHP Miguel Diaz, RHP Jon Perrin, RHP Trey Supak, 2B Wendell Rijo, INF Franly Mallen, OF Troy Stokes
Injured Names: OF Monte Harrison, RHP Taylor Williams, LHP Nathan Kirby, OF Rymer Liriano, RHP Adrian Houser
NOTE: Photo Credited to Shane Roper of MiLB.com.