The Milwaukee Brewers sure have a knack for developing under-noticed talent in the minor leagues. Four players were mentioned in the first installment of this series, and there are far more than four underrated prospects in the team’s farm system. How the Brewers continue to find these kinds of players baffles many, but, nevertheless, their methods work at an insane rate.
That being said, here are another four Brewers’ prospects that are making giant leaps in the minor leagues, yet are going nearly unnoticed.
(Spoiler alert: these guys all play for Low Class-A Carolina. That level of the farm system is loaded with talent. Please start paying more attention to them.)
INF Felix Valerio
2021 Stats (80 Games at Low Class-A Carolina): 288 AB (350 PA), 86 H, .299/.414/.444 (AVG/OBP/SLG), 5 HR, 58 RBI, 21 2B, 3 3B, .949 FLD%
Where does Felix Valerio sit in the Brewers’ Top 30 prospects on MLB.com?
Trick question: he’s not even on there. That’s bound to change after this season.
Originally acquired as a young throw-in prospect from the Mets in exchange for OF Keon Broxton, Valerio has been nothing shy of outstanding with the bat in the minor leagues. While Valerio is an average player defensively, he makes up for it with his sheer dominance at the plate. He currently sits amongst the top 10 players of multiple offensive categories in the Low-A East (LAE) league. This includes batting average (9th), hits (3rd), doubles (T-3rd), and RBI (2nd).
Have a night, Felix!
Valerio has brought home five of our six runs following this three-run triple in the seventh to give Carolina a 6-0 lead. pic.twitter.com/J1hIJMYbcA
— Carolina Mudcats (@CarolinaMudcats) August 1, 2021
The best part of his success? He’s only 20 years old. Being that young, with his hitting abilities and ability to play every infield position, Valerio may turn into a future All-Star. With infield spots on the major league roster opening in the near future, the case can be made for Valerio to become a regular starter soon.
1B/3B Ashton McGee
2021 Stats (61 Games at Low Class-A Carolina): 204 AB (250 PA), 63 H, .309/.436/.505, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 17 2B, 1 3B, .982 FLD%
22-year-old corner infielder Ashton McGee has made his presence known with the Carolina Mudcats. His statistics may show one side of the story, but, like most other players, live film shows what a player truly provides to a team. Not only are statistics important, but mechanics and fundamentals can make or break a prospect.
Boy, does McGee’s film look outstanding.
— Brewers Player Development (@BrewersPD) July 25, 2021
Talk about a sweet swing. The early load, hard plant with the front foot, and a beautiful, Ken Griffey Jr-esque bat path; McGee is a true professional hitter playing in Low-A! Not only can he take the cover off the ball, McGee also gets on base at an extremely high rate. He posts the highest on-base percentage and ninth most walks in the LAE this season.
WHAT A PLAY, ASHTON McGEE! pic.twitter.com/hKBow6qeap
— Carolina Mudcats (@CarolinaMudcats) July 24, 2021
His glove is outstanding, as well. It’s plays like this amazing diving stop that produce a .982 fielding percentage.
This level of all-around ability has seemingly developed overnight with McGee, though. In 2019, McGee hit a combined .254 between his time at the University of North Carolina and the AZL Brewers (rookie-level), and has never hit more than 10 home runs in a season, both professionally and collegiately. Thus, the jury is still out on McGee’s long-term success. But, judging by his film, it is safe to assume that McGee’s success will translate to the next level.
1B Ernesto Martinez
2021 Stats (62 Games at Low Class-A Carolina): 207 AB (244 PA), 56 H, .271/.373/.507, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 12 2B, 5 3B, .984 FLD%
Ernesto Martinez is beginning to unleash the power he has in his 6’6″, 229 pound build. This season, Martinez has hit career highs in home runs and triples, and is on pace for a career-high slugging percentage. He has also reached a career high in total bases (105), RBI, and is also on pace for a career-high on-base percentage and batting average.
And my goodness, can Martinez fly around the basepaths. His 27 stolen bases are good for seventh in the LAE, and has only gotten caught stealing twice this year. When Martinez gets on base, it’s nearly a given that he gets himself in a position to cross home plate.
— Brewers Player Development (@BrewersPD) July 19, 2021
The first baseman was signed by the Brewers out of Cuba in 2017, and has yet to break out until this season. That being said, Martinez has plenty of time to further improve his game before he gets the call to the big leagues.
RHP Abner Uribe
2021 Stats (17 Games at Low Class-A Carolina): 33.2 IP, 1-0 W-L, 4.01 ERA, 24 H, 19 R (15 ER), 25 BB, 52 K, 1.46 WHIP, 3 SV
🔥🔥 from Abner Uribe tonight pic.twitter.com/L5UHW3WeEo
— Nolan Bratt (@BrewersFarm) May 5, 2021
There is not much in terms of film or photos of Uribe pitching in the Brewers’ system, but the few that are out there show that Uribe has legitimate closer potential in the future for Milwaukee. He has terrific arm-side tail on his fastball, and with a deceptive delivery and release point, opposing batters can’t tell his curveball or slider from his fastball. Uribe’s ERA is a little above league average, but his strikeout totals are ridiculous. 52 of his 80 career strikeouts have come this season in under 35 innings pitched. That’s good for a 13.9 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings) ratio.
The potential for big league success is there for Uribe. Only time will tell if his success at Carolina will carry over as he faces better and better competition as the years go by.
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