Ben Badler of Baseball America just released his list of the Brewers’ top prospects going into 2022. Here is what you need to know:
He mentions how the Brewers have turned into a premier system when it comes to developing pitching. However, the list only includes two pitchers in the top ten. He is high on Aaron Ashby, who he says has the best slider in the Brewers’ farm system.
Ashby is a 23 year old southpaw who the Brewers drafted in the fourth round in 2018. He showed plenty of promise in the 13 games he spent with the major league club, producing a 4.55 ERA through 31.2 innings. That ERA is ballooned by incredibly rough outings in his first and last games. In the 11 games in between his first and final regular season outings, he was incredible. During that time, he produced an ERA of 1.78 and 38 strikeouts through 30.1 innings pitched. In that 11 game stretch, he produced a Fielding Independent Pitching score of 2.64. That would be the third best on the Brewers behind only Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader. It would also put him 19th best in the majors (min. 30 IP) just ahead of Carlos Rodon.
Plenty of Outfielders
Badler also seems to be high on the Brewers outfield prospects, since they make up half his top ten. He has Sal Frelick, the Brewers first pick in the 2021 draft, as the highest rated outfielder. Badler tabbed him the best overall athlete in the entire system. He also has Frelick as being the best hitter for average, which he displayed with the Carolina Mudcats in Low-A ball where he hit .437 in 16 games.
Just behind Frelick is Garret Mitchell, the Brewers 2020 first round pick out of UCLA, who he says is the fastest baserunner and best defensive outfielder in the system. He showed plenty of speed in his first year in the minors, stealing 17 bases while only getting caught twice. He also managed an OPS of .800 thanks to an impressive OBP of .388 despite only hitting .258.
Outfielder Joey Wiemer also cracks the top ten, where Badler says he both shows the most power at the plate and arm strength from the outfield of anyone in the Brewers system. Wiemer is the Brewers fourth round pick from the 2020 draft and holy smokes the dude can hit a baseball. In his first full season in the Brewers’ farm system he hit and impressive 27 home runs. That was split between the High-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Low-A Carolina Mudcats. His 13 homers in Low-A were a team high for the Mudcats, while his 14 homers in High-A were only two off the team lead.
Another outfielder Badler is high on is teenage-phenom Hedbert Perez. Perez got his first taste of real minor league games in 2021 where he slashed .333/.394/.575 with six homers in 32 games in rookie-ball. Perez was signed in the 2019 international signing period. He immediately impressed at the alternate-training site, hitting Prince Fielder-esque home runs. While he might be a couple years from major league ball, I would say Perez is my number one DO-NOT-TRADE prospect in the minors.
Badler also names outfielder Jackson Chourio as a player to watch. Chourio is a 2021 international signee who has yet to play any time in the minors, but had some success in the Dominican Fall League in 2021 where he slashed .296/.386/.447 in 45 games.
The only two infielders named were both primarily middle infielders, second baseman Tyler Black and shortstop Brice Turang. Black was drafted 33rd overall in 2021 and while he struggled to make hard contact in Low-A, he still produced an impressive OBP of .388.
Brice Turang was the Brewers first round pick in 2018. The Brewers managed to lure him away from LSU, where he was committed to play after high school. Badler has Turang as the player with the best feel for the strikezone in the Brewers’ system, which helped him produce an OBP of .388 in AAA Nashville in 2021. While his 218/174 SO/BB ratio is impressive, he has only slugged .351 with 10 homers in three minor league seasons.
Jeferson Quero is listed as the best defensive catcher in the system, despite being only 18 years old. Quero, like Perez, was signed in the 2019 international signing period. He got his first taste of minor league action with the Brewers in 2021. While Badler mentions him for his defensive prowess, he did manage to slash .309/.434/.500 in 23 games with the Brewers’ rookie ball team.
Southpaw Ethan Small was mentioned for having the best changeup in the farm. Small was a first round pick in 2019 out of Mississippi State, Brandon Woodruff’s alma mater. Badler also projects him to be in the Brewers’ starting rotation in the next four years. Small has been nothing short of dominant in every stop through the Brewers minor league system. He posted an ERA of 0.86 in 2019 and 1.98 in 2021. He finished the year at AAA Nashville where he posted an ERA of 2.06 in nine starts.
The most notable players not mentioned by Baseball America are outfielders Joe Gray Jr. and Tristan Lutz, pitcher Antoine Kelly, and catcher Mario Feliciano. Gray, a second round pick from 2018, struggled for most of 2018 and 2019. However he found plenty of success in Low-A in 2021 where he produced an OPS of 1.039 in 51 games. Kelly is a power pitcher, drafted shortly after Small in 2019. He has struggled so far in the minors and missed time in 2021 due time recovering from surgery.
Lutz was selected 34th overall in 2017, although it feels like he’s been in the system for an eternity. Even though Lutz appears on most Brewers top prospects lists, he’s struggled to find his footing above rookie ball.
Catcher Mario Feliciano might be the biggest snub. They not only choose Quero over him as the best defensive catcher but also predicted it’d be Quero starting for the Brewers four years from now. Feliciano had a cup of coffee with the Brewers in 2021, where he drew a walk and scored a run in his only plate appearance. It’s a bit ironic that’s how his first plate appearance went since it’s his ability to draw walks that’s holding him back, producing a respectable batting average of .253 in the minors but only a .312 OBP with a horrific 328/90 K/BB ratio.
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