Continuing Disciples of Uecker‘s prospect coverage, we’re highlighting all of the prospects throughout the Brewers’ organization that merit some extra attention. This series will serve as a primer for our forthcoming “Top Prospect List,” to be revealed at the end of these features. These features should hopefully provide details on some prospects that may not be listed on year-end / 2016 lists, and also to add substance to the “prospect list” process. We’ve broken the prospects down into four groups: Young Arms, Young Position Players, Advanced Arms, and Advanced Position Players. For reference, any prospect that is likely to begin the 2016 season at high-A or below we considered “young.” Today’s installment features the young position players.
OF Malik Collymore || 2016 age: 21 || 2013 Draft – 10th Round [Cardinals]; traded to Brewers at 2015 deadline.
Malik Collymore poses a fun logical problem for assessing farm systems and prospects, which ultimately shows the value of looking beyond numerical rankings: Collymore was a Mid-to-Low 20s prospect for the Cardinals entering 2015, a system that was stronger than the Brewers prior to Milwaukee’s big leap forward as an organization. In terms of overall prospect grade (50), risk, and age, Collymore basically ranked somewhere between Victor Roache and Joantgel Segovia entering the season. Isolating the Brewers’ acquisition from the overall rebuilding plan and stunning draft for a moment, Collymore looks like an intriguing prospect in the Brewers’ system.
But 2015 buries Collymore beneath several outfielders, not the least of which includes breakout Michael Reed, acquisition Brett Phillips, and draftees Trent Clark and Demi Orimoloye. Adding Collymore’s own struggles with the Cardinals’ system in 2015 into the equation seemingly hammers the youngster’s prospect status with throngs of rough luck.
Yet, Collymore’s tools that landed him within the Top 30 for the Cardinals shone in Rookie Helena. After the trade, Collymore was a completely different player, hitting for a ton of average while improving his overall extra base hit total (thanks to many doubles), running effectively, and walking at a decent clip. If J.J. Cooper ranked Collymore among the “worth a flier” candidates traded at the deadline for BaseballAmerica, Collymore’s own age, previous acclaim for intelligent hitting, and power/speed intrigue add some punch to that flier. There are certainly other “under the radar” outfielders in the Brewers’ system, and I could have easily featured Troy Stokes or even Omar Garcia or Nicolas Pierre (among others) here; Collymore’s status as a deadline trade, as well as his white hot performance in Helena should squarely place him on this list of outfielders to watch.
SS Franly Mallen || 2016 age: 19 || 2013 International Signing (Dominican Republic).
I once saw it written on a scouting report / prospect aggregation that if a person does not have direct scouting connections, their rankings are more or less reliant on collection and manipulation of information (instead of using actual scoops and anonymous leaks to go “high” or “low” on a prospect). Writing as someone without such connections, this seems correct, on the surface: when I began learning about prospects, researching scouting systems, and farm reports, I did so because of others’ information. This is perfectly fine, as I have also learned what I value about certain prospects over others.
In the case of Mallen, I learned that an aggressive assignment is a big development where there is a lack of information. Since I lack a scouting connection, seeing the Brewers’ promotion helps me develop my position on the shortstop.. A similar lesson can be applied to someone like RHP Jacob Barnes; when the Brewers invited him to the Arizona Fall League, and then placed him on the 40-man roster, that immediately signaled that there was more to look for in the RHP. So too with Mallen, when Milwaukee pushed the shortstop to Rookie Helena in the middle of his second Dominican Academy season. Instead of waiting for a careful, linear jump in 2016, the Brewers suddenly raised the question of where Mallen will play in 2016, and whether (or how) they will build on this aggressive promotion.
BaseballAmerica did not rank Mallen within their Top International prospects for 2013, but they did profile him at the shortstop position, noting his raw status around the field and plate. What is interesting about Mallen is that he is not necessarily supposed to have a big tool, but BaseballAmerica did note that he has shown some power with his swing. In 2015, that type of raw report translated into 20 doubles, 2 triples, and 4 homers in 265 Dominican League plate appearances. The homers are especially intriguing, as the academy leagues do not typically feature much home run power (0.7% HR was the 2015 rate; Mallen more than doubled that rate).
Coupling the aggressive assignment and in-game power appearance, Mallen will be one of the shortstops to watch in the 2016 system. He may end up just behind Gilbert Lara and Jake Gatewood, and with those two potentially moving off of shortstop, questions about Mallen’s ability to outgrow shortstop will become more important.
OF Demi Orimoloye || 2016 age: 19 || 2015 Draft – 4th round.
What’s left to say about Orimoloye that hasn’t already been said here at DoU? By now, regular readers know that I am in the “high on Orimoloye” camp that cites his near-half-decade of professional-level / high-amateur competition and tools as strengths for the outfielder. The knock on Orimoloye would be his “raw” status and need for development, but that knock has yet to show in the youngster’s professional career. Orimoloye destroyed Rookie Arizona before leaving early to represent Team Canada for the 18U tournament in Japan.
Rather, I’d like to make a simple argument about Orimoloye’s tools in the context of other Brewers outfield prospects: depending on how aggressively the front office assigns Orimoloye, and how he takes to his next advancement, I would not be surprised to see the young outfielder contend for a top ranking chance after the 2016 season. Certainly, Orimoloye is still young enough that such a distinction is not necessary, but the outfielder already represents a good chance at a draft steal for Milwaukee in 2015. If the power (4.2% HR / 11.8% XBH in 2015) and speed (19/25 SB in 2015) continue to play in games for Orimoloye, the next areas to watch will be his plate approach and discipline. With his toolsy backdrop, the gains that Orimoloye must make as a youngster are the gains that can propel a prospect upwards.
C Jose Sibrian || 2016 age: 17 || 2015 International Signing (Venezuela)
While BaseballAmerica praised the national bloodlines for Venezuelan catchers, the Brewers doubly benefitted from one of their scouting strongholds. Sibrian himself was one of four Venezuelan prospects the Brewers signed in July 2015, and the youngster is one of two catchers from that new Milwaukee international class. There is no question that Venezuela has served as a familiar and successful source of talent for the Brewers organization. According to MLB.com, the 6’0″, 175 pound Sibrian reported to the club’s Dominican Academy (although Brewers Player Development also said Sibrian was signed for 2016, so he did not play), and the Brewers also invited the youngster to their fall instructional league. Sibrian was easily the youngest Brewers prospect in their instructional camp, and the catcher was the only 2016 signee that appeared in the camp (although three other Dominican Academy players made the team).
Brewers Instructional League program begins today. It will run through October 16 with 53 participants pic.twitter.com/KrLwXK8hDI
— Brewers Player Dev (@BrewersPD) September 21, 2015
While Sibrian’s $550,000 bonus will not raise the headlines that Gilbert Lara’s multi-million dollar haul did in 2014, the catcher raises an intriguing profile by reaching the states for instructional league training. This is where Lara earned great praise in 2014, so it will be interesting to see if Sibrian ends up receiving similar marks from the scouting community after this year’s instructional leagues. Given the club’s suddenly aggressive promotions of International prospects, including most notably Lara, Mallen, and Marcos Diplan, a strong instructional performance is nothing to dismiss: Sibrian could have a realistic chance at reaching the states in 2016, if he matches those personal and performance markers that convinced the Brewers to push other international prospects.
BaseballAmerica calls Sibrian’s glove his strongest aspect, even though the youngster moved from 3B to catcher (one can read that background and speculate about the potential for the Brewers to move Sibrian around the diamond, although it is imperative that the club first sees his work as a catcher). Scouts disagree about the hit tool for the young Venezuelan, but the catcher has shown power against live pitching. Reading between the lines, one might expect the biggest question marks for Sibrian to be whether his hitting approach can advance, and whether he will continue to improve on his already sturdy catching base.
Catcher is an intriguing area for the Brewers, as they have several young prospects that could stick at the position. However, Sibrian may emerge as the best catching prospect — even at his young age — given his power potential and receiving profile. 2016 will be a big test of this potential.
Others of Note:
OF Trent Clark
SS Gilbert Lara
OF Monte Harrison
SS Jake Gatewood
1B Tyrone Perry
OF Joantgel Segovia
OF Troy Stokes
1B David Denson
SS Angel Ortega
C Carlos Leal
Even More Depth!:
OF Yerald Martinez
IF Blake Allemand
IF Jose Cuas
IF George Iskenderian
1B Nicol Valderray
IF Igancio Otano
OF Nicolas Pierre
2015 Injury / 2016 Question Marks: C Yohel Atencio