1) SS Orlando Arcia (Last Ranked #1): This may be one of the last rankings Arcia could be on due to his graduation from rookie status with just 56 more plate appearances. But while Arcia’s overall line doesn’t look terribly pretty, he’s been swinging a hot stick over a 5-game stretch ending on the 27th of August (.467/.529/.800 slugging slash with five RBI and two 2B). Arcia also has had four errors in the field (two throwing, two fielding) out of the first 22 games of his career – not exactly what you’d expect from a guy who was considered a Gold Glove-calibur fielder right away. We shouldn’t look too much into his -1 Defensive Run Saved too soon, as he’s made some spectacular plays in the field as well.
2) OF Lewis Brinson (Last Ranked #2): With Arcia soon to graduate from this list, Brinson will be the incumbent top prospect for the Crew after being acquired a month ago. His .397/.403/.662 line through his first 18 games (72 plate appearances) are incredibly high, but it should be noted that the combination of Colorado Springs and his .434 BABIP could be indicators of skewed numbers. Despite all of that, he hasn’t missed a beat since returning from the DL and his 15 home runs and 17 stolen bases on the entire season prove his two-way abilities that prove very valuable as a regular. Anticipate the front office to find him a spot on the 40-man roster for a potential September call-up.
3) LHP Josh Hader (Last Ranked #3): Hader dazzled audiences with his scoreless 12-strikeout outing on the 21st of August (striking Carlos Gomez and Joey Gallo out a combined four times), but got nailed for five runs in four innings on the 27th. What’s most promising about Hader is his ability to transfer to Triple-A and maintain an 11+ K/9 – indicating that he could be ready to strikeout a healthy amount of big leaguers in the very near future. With the work he’s put in this season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start a game for the Brewers in September. But the only issue that keeps him from being the top prospect is his Triple-A average outing in terms of length: 5 innings, 90 pitches – a total of 18 pitches per inning. While under 20 is a passable number, it still remains to be seen if he can ever go consistently deep into games with the amount of pitches he throws.
4) RHP Luis Ortiz (Last Ranked #4): After four straight scoreless outings that included a five-inning outing on the 22nd, he gave up an earned run (two total) against the Jackson Generals in his last game. His 5.48 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 with the Shuckers isn’t all that impressive at this point, and he’s stranding almost 95% of baserunners – an unheard-of number. However, Ortiz’s abilities border on more control and stamina. Though he hasn’t been pitching exactly like scouting reports have initially indicated, he’s proving his ability to adapt to new situations. He isn’t as explosive as Hader, but has the best chance at being a long-term starter out of anybody in the system.
5) OF Corey Ray (Last Ranked #6): After watching and listening to Ray’s resurgence as of late (.306/.370/.490 slugging line, 6 2B’s, 1 HR), it should be presented in this rankings that he’s finally getting comfortable in his surroundings. It’s apparent that he has that power potential, as it’s been one of his stronger points so far (19 of his 52 hits for extra bases). I personally like to see 250 plate appearances to really look into a player, and Ray is right at 240 going into tonight’s game. Comparing him to Brett Phillips is difficult due to the level difference, but Ray’s all-around five-tool potential is showing through in his first taste of professional ball and should be ranked as such.
6) OF Brett Phillips (Last Ranked #5): The one difference between the Phillips now and the Phillips two weeks ago has been in his walk-rate – seen in his .390 OBP in the last 10 games excluding last night’s 2-for-2 showing. He might finally be fine-tuning his plate discipline as the organization may have hoped for. Then again, it could also be due to his .274/.361/.371 line from August 3rd to the 22nd that scared opponents into throwing more pitches outside the zone for him to chase. He’s flashed his power-speed combination this year despite a horrid July, but it’ll be interesting to see his play going into next year at Colorado Springs. He may get a September call-up this year, but the 40-man roster (and the Triple-A squad) is flush with outfield depth.
7) OF Trent Clark (Last Ranked #7): Clark’s .229/.362/.292 line since the last ranking (59 PA) dropped his batting average down a tick or so, but his overall month of August (.250/.351/.302 in 112 PA) proves his already-solid case to advance to High-A next season. He doesn’t have the power tools as the other three outfielders, but he’s maintaining a 115 wRC+ as a 19 year-old in Low-A – meaning he has both immediate tools for us to gawk at and the ability to grow more into his body to produce more power. While he’s rated at the bottom of the top-tier outfielders, he could jump by leaps and bounds in the next couple of years.
8) SS/2B Isan Diaz (Last Ranked #8): Though we all thought about Diaz being the teenage phenom at Appleton, he’s been enjoying his first few months being a 20 year-old prospect. But after all the noise he made this season, he’s finally slowing down (if you can really call it that). Though his .214 average in the last 13 games (53 PA) looks pretty upsetting, opposing pitchers are still weary of him – possibly indicated by a .377 OBP in the same stretch. It’s almost a sure-bet that his 130 games played this year are the most in his career, and it definitely has to be hard on a young body for the first time. Nonetheless, Diaz could be considered a potential top-100 prospect going into next year with his power and success.
9) RHP Cody Ponce (Last Ranked #9): The past two weeks have been ones to forget for the big righty, as he got tagged for 13 earned runs (15 total) in only 11 innings (3 starts). His big frame can sustain a starting pitcher’s workload, but the month of July has been his only solid month (six starts, 30 IP, 2.90 ERA, 33-6 K-BB ratio). There’s no doubt that his body compared to Bickford’s projects much better as a starter, but what is the ultimate comparison – a potentially higher floor with Ponce or the higher potential of Bickford? The two are essentially interchangeable at this point, with momentum starting to sway in Bickford’s favor.
10) RHP Phil Bickford (Last Ranked #10): We saw the best and worst of Bickford in his previous two starts. The first – a three inning outing where he walked six batters – displays his at-times poor command, likely due to inconsistent mechanical issues the constantly plague him. The second – a five strikeout affair through 6 quality innings – accentuates his solid ceiling as a starter. While the organization could begin to slow him down at this point, he currently remains behind Ponce on the list…for now.
11) RHP Devin Williams (Last Ranked #11): Similar to Ponce, Williams had a trio of subpar outings since the last rankings, giving up 11 runs (9 earned) on 20 hits (.317 opponent AVG) and an 8-7 K-BB ratio. Williams is at the drop-off in pitching talent, as he faces questions with his underdeveloped abilities. However, he has a better shot at sticking as a starter compared to Medeiros – who continues to skip further in these rankings. However, on-the-cusp starters Brandon Woodruff and Marcos Diplan could also project as solid bets to at least get a chance down the road, but Williams has the higher ceiling/closer timetable combination the other two don’t have.
12) C/1B Jacob Nottingham (Last Ranked #13): The Sheriff cooled down from his hot streak, going 5-for-25 with nine strikeouts in seven total games. It’s wrong to think that the Brewers lost the Khris Davis trade after just one season, especially since Nottingham is only 21 years of age. His power has been displayed in brief spurts this season, but the 30% K-rate is the highest of his career. Surely Milwaukee being the third team in the last year-and-a-half for him paired with a bump in competition didn’t help this season, and he still has a couple years left to find his swing. Either way, with the transactions Stearns has made thus far, the Crew can afford to wait on Nottingham to get the power and plate discipline ceiling he has – regardless if he’s catching or playing at first base.
13) 3B Lucas Erceg (Last Ranked #14): The second-round pick has continued his hot-hitting ways, bringing his total numbers up to a staggering .341/.391/.532 line with 8 HR, 9 SB, 16 2B, 4 3B, and over 150 wRC+ between Low-A Wisconsin and Rookie League Helena. The power-speed combination is Erceg’s shining grace on the list, but there should be little hope that he can maintain an average of that caliber for his minor league career. His .299 average with the Timber Rattlers is a little more normal, seeing as his BABIP is a more-normal .349 (though still high). He could still jump in the rankings with a strong finish to the season, but won’t be ready until 2018 at the very earliest.
14) LHP Kodi Medeiros (Last Ranked #12): After the first couple of ranks I still had some hope that Medeiros could continue a decent stretch, but has lost his touch in the month of August (32.1 IP, 10 games, 5.85 ERA) – especially noted in the 15-31 K-BB ratio (yes, that isn’t reversed…). He still has time to figure it all out before they push him to a bullpen role, but Woodruff and Diplan could eclipse him come next season – especially if he moves into a relief role.
15) SS Gilbert Lara (Last Ranked #15): You guys have no idea how hard it is for me to not place another name in the top-15, but Lara’s size and potential eclipse those names under him – though others may be a safer bet to make it to the majors (i.e. Reed, Woodruff, Magnifico, etc.). He’s had a horrid two weeks since the last rankings (.161/.188/.226 line in 32 PA), but he played at third base in two of the games – the first time he’s been there all season. Though it isn’t a huge note now, it’s indicating that he may make a move over there full-time after some offseason work.
Just Out Of Range (In Order): RHP Brandon Woodruff, OF Michael Reed, RHP Marcos Diplan RHP Jorge Lopez, RHP Freddy Peralta
Others To Keep in Mind (21 and Beyond Names): OF Demi Orimoloye, INF Jacob Gatewood, C Clint Coulter, OF Tyrone Taylor OF Victor Roache, OF Kyle Wren, RHP Miguel Diaz, RHP Bubba Derby, RHP Damien Magnifico, RHP Miguel Diaz, RHP Jon Perrin, RHP Trey Supak, 2B Wendell Rijo, INF Franly Mallen, OF Troy Stokes, RHP Corbin Burnes, LHP Brent Suter, OF Monte Harrison
Injured Names: RHP Taylor Williams, LHP Nathan Kirby, OF Rymer Liriano, RHP Adrian Houser
NOTE: Photo credited to the Brevard County Manatees and Tim Holle (photographer)