Top pitching prospect #1: Ethan Small, LHP
The 23-year-old pitching prospect Ethan Small was drafted by the Brewers in the 1st round of the 2019 draft out of Mississippi State. Though the young pitcher underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017 and lost a year of collegiate experience, he came back strong in 2018. In 2019, he earned Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year after finished first in the NCAA Division I field with 176 strikeouts. Small has pitched 21 professional innings, in which he has earned a 0.86 ERA.
Small’s go to pitch is his fastball, which lost some velocity after his Tommy John surgery but is still effective with improved command. He also has a changeup that counters well with his fastball. Occasionally he mixes in a curveball to keep hitters guessing. Keep an eye on Small, as he’s moving along quickly and expected to reach the Majors around 2021, potentially as a #5 starter.
Top pitching prospect #2: Aaron Ashby, LHP
Aaron Ashby is a 22-year-old pitching prospect the Brewers drafted in the 4th round of the 2018 draft out of Crowder Junior College. Ashby was considered one of the top junior college draft prospects in 2018. He led Division I Junior Colleges in 2018 in strikeout rate (18.8) and strikeouts (156). While in Class A Wisconsin in 2019, he earned an All-Star spot in the Midwest League. Later in the year, he was promoted to Class A Advanced Carolina. Combined, his 2019 ERA was 3.50 and he racked up 135 strikeouts.
Ashby’s slider is his most effective pitch and it is rated a 65. Additionally, he has a four-pitch arsenal (slider, fastball, curveball, changeup) that makes him a headache for hitters. His ability to command the speed of all four pitches, along with a unique delivery, make him incredibly impressive. Ashby is on track to move up to the Majors around 2021, most likely in a bullpen role.
Top pitching prospect #3: Antoine Kelly, LHP
Pitching prospect Antoine Kelly was drafted by the Brewers in the 2nd round of the 2019 draft and is currently 20-years-old. Kelly is a product of a Wabash Valley Community College in Illinois, where he led all Junior College pitchers in strikeout rate with 19.1 in 2019. After being drafted, he pitched in Rookie-level Arizona League and amassed 41 strikeouts in 21.2 innings pitched.
Kelly’s strongest and most used pitch is his fastball. He manages to have fantastic control of that pitch while keeping the velocity in the 94-97 mph range. His breaking ball and changeup are still works in progress. However, the Brewers believe he could be a middle rotation starter if he continue to improve them. Look for Kelly to break into the Majors around 2022.
Top pitching prospect #4: Drew Rasmussen, RHP
Drew Rasmussen is a 24-year-old prospect drafted by the Rays in the 2017 draft out of Oregon State. However, after apparent discrepancies between his pre- and post-draft MRIs, he was not signed. In 2018, he had his second Tommy John surgery (first was while at Oregon State in 2016). The Brewers believed he could recover fully and make an impact so they drafted Rasmussen in the 6th round of the 2018 draft. He showed promise in 2019, although on a managed workload to help his full recovery. His pitching was impressive enough that he worked his way up to AA in his first year with the Brewers.
Rasmussen’s most effective pitch is his fastball, which is consistently in the mid-90s mph. His slider is in the upper 80s mph and breaks hard, which he pairs with his fastball to keep hitters on their toes. His changeup needs the most work but he and the Brewers are working to develop it. The plan is to keep him on an accelerated track to the Majors. So, look out for Rasmussen as soon as this year.
Top pitching prospect #5: Devin Williams, RHP
The Brewers drafted Devin Williams in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft out of Hazelwood West High School. The prospect was originally being developed as a starter but had his progress slowed by Tommy John Surgery in 2017. The procedure sidelined Williams for 22 months. In 2019, the Brewers transitioned him to a bullpen role, in which he has excelled.
Devin Williams is probably the most familiar name on this list for Brewers fans. He was with the Brewers in August and September of 2019. He also earned an All-Star Futures Game selection in 2019.
Williams’ strongest pitch is by far his fastball, which averaged 26.4 mph in 2019. His use of his changeup, which averages 12-13 mph slower than his fastball, is an effective change of pace pitch. His slider has never been spectacular, but that could be a non-issue now that he is thriving in his bullpen role.
Be sure to check out:
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Robin Adams’ article Top Brewers’ Prospects: Position Pitchers.
All of the fantastic Brewers articles here on OTH Wisconsin, such as coverage on when and how baseball will be resuming and other fan favorites.
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