It’s incredibly difficult to imagine that just three short months ago the Brewers were drafting the next crop of hopeful professional prospects. Though that time has whisked passed us in a blink of an eye, we finally have numbers to look at from roughly 36 players who signed on to become a farmhand in one of the league’s most richest farm systems. Of those 36 names, just over half were given enough playing time to warrant serious looks from writers and fans – though the amount of plate appearances and innings pitched are still vastly under the mark for legitimate analysis.
For the rookies, the groups were split into three groups: five in the 200+ plate appearance category, seven in the 140-199 group, and another seven under the 30+ innings pitched category. While all three groups played mostly on a consistent basis after being signed, they still only provide a small blip in each players career. These numbers may be skewed due to relative inexperience in the professional setting along with a lack of scouting information from the opposing teams. Nonetheless, the Crew amassed an interesting group of rookies that could provide the team with some serious depth that will replenish the farm system when the bigger-named prospects begin to graduate from their rookie status.
200+ Plate Appearances
|OF Corey Ray (1st)||21||A/A+||270||.239||.307||.370||5||17||26||10/10|
|3B Lucas Erceg (2nd)||21||Rk/A||295||.327||.376||.518||9||51||34||9/13|
|2B Trey York (9th)||22||A+||233||.289||.387||.407||1||23||33||15/16|
|3B Weston Wilson (17th)||21||Rk||265||.323||.395||.498||4||38||38||5/9|
|1B Ronnie Gideon (23rd)||21||Rk||237||.319||.638||.371||16||41||42||1/3|
Out of the entire crop of rookie positional players, the five that have at least 200 plate appearances are ones who we can evaluate to some degree. The Brewers’ top-two selections in the 2016 Draft have performed well in their professional debuts. Although fifth overall selection Corey Ray got off to a slow start, he accrued a .254/.345/.462 line in the months of August and September – smacking 16 extra-base hits and 17 walks in 34 games. There’s a good chance Ray will begin to patrol center field for the Double-A Biloxi Shuckers some point next season – as he’s shown offensive capabilities this early in his professional career. Second round selection Lucas Erceg also proved his value to the club, though it was at a much higher pace. Despite being a potential risk in the draft, Erceg had one of the most impressive showings out of any draftee this season. After posting a 158 wRC+ for Rookie-League Helena in just 26 games, he exploded in Low-A Wisconsin alongside Isan Diaz and Trent Clark, hitting .281/.328/.497 with seven home runs. Though he’s only played 68 games within the organization, Erceg may have placed himself as the top minor league option currently employed at third base.
Though only two players are high-quality prospects at this point, the Crew has put the other three in everyday roles to determine their value at organizationally-shallow positions. Middle-round selections Weston Wilson and Ronnie Gideon both displayed impressive numbers in the Rookie Leagues. The 6’3″ first basemen Gideon quietly had the best offensive season by any rookie in the Brewers draft class – smashing 16 home runs and 20 doubles in just 59 games, good enough for a 1.010 OPS and a 143 wRC+. It’s clear that the young man has some serious pop in his bat, and we could see that next season as he could become a regular for the Timber Rattlers. 9th-round selection 2B Trey York also posted solid numbers after being placed directly into High-A Brevard County. His combination of speed (15 stolen bases) and discipline at the plate (16% walk rate compared to an 8% strikeout rate) could make him an interesting second base option in a couple of years even if he continues at a slightly-lower pace.
140+ Plate Appearances
|3B Chad McLanahan (9th)||18||Rk||159||.208||.277||.333||3||14||22||1/2|
|INF Trever Morrison (12th)||21||Rk||146||.265||.315||.288||0||10||17||5/8|
|1B/3B Gabriel Garcia (14th)||18||Rk||150||.300||.393||.500||2||27||24||4/6|
|OF Zach Clark (19th)||20||Rk||140||.252||.314||.409||2||16||19||6/8|
|1B/OF Ryan Aguilar (31st)||22||Rk||197||.252||.369||.362||2||16||34||9/11|
|OF Caleb Whalen (38th)||23||Rk||175||.222||.293||.320||1||18||25||8/8|
|OF Jose Gomez (39th)||22||Rk||190||.280||.372||.348||2||15||26||8/12|
After the first five prospects that logged 200+ plate appearances, the Crew doled out playing time for a much longer list of positional draftees. Of these names, 3B Chad McLanahan may be the most impressive prospect. Though his numbers unimpressed most, it’s important to remember that he’s only 18 years of age after bypassing his commitment to Arizona State to sign with the Brewers. The most prominent aspect he showed in his game was his power; 11 of his total 30 hits went for extra bases. He’s got solid height for his age (6’5″) and should fill in more the older he gets – making him an interesting player to monitor for the next couple of seasons. Corner infielder Gabriel Garcia played at an impressive clip all season, though he cooled down slightly in the month of August (.243/.361/.343 in 83 PA). Coming in at 5’3″, OF Jose Gomez was the second-to-last pick the Brewers had, but made surely made big impressions on Rookie League coaches. He plays all outfield positions and managed to have a seven-game multi-hit streak going between late July and early August despite being 2.3 years older than the average opponent.
30+ Innings Pitched:
|Name (Round)||Age||Level||Appearances (GS)||IP||ERA||WHIP||AVG||SO-BB||BABIP|
|RHP Corbin Burnes (4th)||21||Rk/A||12 (6)||35.2||2.02||1.15||.185||41-18||.268|
|RHP Zack Brown (5th)||21||Rk/A||12 (6)||38.1||4.46||1.30||.255||34-10||.306|
|RHP Thomas Jankins (13th)||21||Rk/A||12 (9)||37||3.16||1.43||.304||35-8||.384|
|RHP Scott Serigstad (15th)||21||Rk||14 (9)||43.1||10.59||2.03||.372||35-14||.416|
|LHP Cam Roegner (22nd)||23||Rk||14 (4)||41||3.07||1.22||.238||27-16||.282|
|RHP Emerson Gibbs (33rd)||22||Rk||15 (6)||46.2||3.47||1.41||.316||47-6||.408|
|RHP Matt Smith (34th)||23||Rk/A||14 (5)||48||4.12||1.40||.290||39-11||.349|
Similar to offensive numbers, it’s incredibly difficult to make any concrete evaluations on rookies who pitched less than 100 innings in a given season. The number of arms were also lessened due to the fact that three of the top six pitchers drafted by the Brewers – RHP Braden Webb (3rd round), LHP Daniel Brown (7th round), and LHP Blake Fox (10th round) – logged less than 12 innings altogether. However, there were a number of arms that tossed over 30 innings that might give us some indication as to what their future could hold.
Overall, the best performance out of the bunch came in RHP Corbin Burnes, the fourth-round selection (pictured). A serious steal in the draft at that slot, Burnes dropped to the Crew, who in turn allowed only seven earned runs in 28.2 innings for Low-A Wisconsin at the end of the season, notching over a strikeout per inning (9.73 K/9) and holding opponents to a .196 average. What’s even more impressive is the fact that his BABIP (usually around .300) remained at .271 – indicating that it wasn’t completely a fluke. Burnes should pitch regularly in the rotation for a Single-A affiliate next season – even perhaps in Double-A Biloxi by the end of the 2017 season.
Though the earlier rounds were filled with intriguing names, a number of lower-tier draftees shined in their professional debuts. Righty Thomas Jankins tossed well enough in Rookie League Helena (11.2 IP, 14-2 K-BB, 3.09 ERA) to get promoted to Low-A, where he continued to post solid control (21-6 K-BB ratio) in 25.1 innings of work. Though 33rd-Round selection Emerson Gibbs owned one of the best K-BB ratio (7.83) among the draftees, he gave up 33 hits in just 19.2 innings worked in Helena – ultimately leading to his high WHIP. Nonetheless, his .408 BABIP indicates that he got unlucky in a number of balls hit in-play, so his production was much better than what his ERA and WHIP indicated. Lefty Cam Roegner also posted solid peripherals in both Rookie Leagues despite posting a normalized .299 BABIP – indicating his performance of a 3.66 ERA/1.38 WHIP/20-14 K-BB in 32 innings may be what we might be in store for down the road.