Milwaukee Brewers – 2014 UTR Organizational All-Stars

C – Clint Coulter  – LoA Wisconsin –  20 yo;  –  (2012 – 1st round) –
  • .287 – 22HR – 89RBi – 84R –  .410/.520/.930 slash   – PAG: 3.77
  • Baseball America/#3  –  MLB Pipeline/#7(2014)   –  Baseball Prospectus/”On The Rise” 
  • With 2014 All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy signed through the 2017 season, the Brewers have time to sort out their minor league catching situation. You might be wondering why I’m taking an apprehensive tone.  Coulter’s offensive production is what fantasy catching dreams are made of.  He’s a beast. In fact, no other catcher in the system was even close to Coulter’s overall production. But as heavy a hitter the 6’3 – 220 lb. Union HS (WA) draftee is, he’s most likely seen his final days behind the plate.  Coulter’s defense leaves a lot to be desired and this prompted the Brewers to move the right handed slugger to right field (starting with instructional league this off-season.) Regardless, he’s a bat-first player. He led all Brewer minor league regulars in home runs, RBi’s and OPS.  I’m hoping/praying Coulter’s transition to the outfield is smooth as it would be a shame for such a potent bat to suffer as a result of continuing struggles defensively. Coulter should see a full season with HiA Brevard County in 2015.
1B – David Denson  – AZL Brewers/LoA Wisconsin – 19 yo;  – (2013 – 15th round)
  • .244 – 4HR –  32RBi  – 39R –  .371/.351/.722 slash  –  csPAG: 2.81
  • BA-NR   –   MLB Pipeline-NR   –   BP-NR
  • Since 5-time All-Star Prince Fielder left Milwaukee via free agency after the 2011 season, The Brewers first base situation has been a plain and simple mess; and the minors aren’t any different.  The Brewers recent signing of long time Blue Jay Adam Lind (through 2016) is a sign that Milwaukee needs time to allow what’s going on down in the minors to take shape. A part of that formation could be South Hills HS (CA) draftee Denson. He came to the organization in 2013 boasting enormous power, above average defense and debuted with the AZL Brewers posting a 3.18 PAG batting .244 with 6 doubles, 6 home runs and a .987 fielding percentage.  The 6’3 – 250 lb. lefty began 2014 back in the AZL and after a week received a promotion to LoA Wisconsin. He logged a 6 game PAG of 2.83 in the AZL then a near identical 2.81 in 68 games for the Timber Rattlers.  It will be interesting to see how Denson develops. He pretty much has a clear path and as a 19 year old has plenty of time to develop.    
2B – Chris McFarland  – LoA Wisconsin – 21 yo;  – (2011 – 18th round)
  • .284 – 6HR – 39RBi – 55R – 30SB –  .331/.388/.719  slash  –  PAG: 3.01
  • BA-NR  –  MLB Pipeline-NR   –  BP-Prospect-NR 
  • After the 2012 season, I tabbed the Lufkin HS (TX) draftee my 2012 Breakout selection over at MLBDepthCharts. You can read the bio here. Upon reading the bio, it’s apparent I was a little overaggressive in my assessment of McFarland.  After posting a 3.47 debut PAG for Rookie Helena in 2012, the 6’0 – 190 lb. righty struggled in 2013 logging a 2.48 PAG in 87 games for LoA Wisconsin. This season in repeating LoA he bumped up his PAG to 3.01.  What stands out when analyzing McFarland’s stats is he seems trapped inside the “good” player mode. You just want him to break out and show he can be the all-around great player that was lured away from a scholarship to Rice University. I think he receives a 2015 assignment to HiA Brevard County and Brewers fans hope he can display the skills that Milwaukee knows he has.  
3B – Taylor Smith-Brennan – LoA Wisconsin  – 22 yo;  –  (2012 – 37th round)
  • .241 – 16HR – 76RBi – 68R –   .366/.411/.778 slash   – PAG: 3.24
  • BA-NR  –   MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR
  • Smith-Brennan offers kind of the same situation that Chris McFarland above does. With all due respect to my 2014 Milwaukee Breakout Prospect of the Year, the Edmonds Community College draftee has always been “good” but not great in the way the perfect UTR candidate “should” be.  I know, I’m being a bit self indulgent, but when looking at the the 6’0 – 210 lb. righty, he seems to be missing that one ‘great’ season under his belt to give Brewer fans hope past fellow organizational mate Nick Delmonico and highly publicised international free agent signee Gilbert Lara. This is an All-Star list.  Smith-Brennan’s 2014 PAG easily trumped Delmonico’s 37 game score of 2.49 and 6’3 – 205 lb. Lara didn’t play in 2014. However, if Smith-Brennan doesn’t up his game for HiA Brevard County this coming season and soon-to-be 18 year old Lara transitions his eye-popping power from instructs to actual games, Smith-Brennan could settle into organizational filler obscurity. 
SS – Orlando Arcia  – HiA Brevard County –  19 yo;  –  (2010 – International FA signee-VE)

  • .289  – 29 2B  – 4HR – 50RBi – 65R – 31SB –  .346/.392/.738 slash  –  – PAG: 3.02
  • BA/#2   –   MLB Pipeline/#2(2014)  –  BP/#1 (all 2015 ranks) 
  • Without question, one of, if not, the premiere prospects in the Brewers system. As a teenager, defensively, he could possibly outplay a handful of current major leaguers. The 6’0 – 165 lb. righty will always be a glove-first player, however once his fast growing bat skills catch up to his overall defensive profile, Milwaukee could/should have a (potential) perennial All-Star on their hands.  
LF – Victor Roache – HiA Brevard County  –  22 yo;  –  (2012 – 1st round)  –
  •  .226 – 18HR – 54RBi – 46R – 11SB –  .298/.400/.697    – PAG: 2.63
  • BA/#5(2014)  –   MLB Pipeline/#10(2014)   –  BP-NR(2015)
  • The 6’1 – 225 lb. Georgia Southern University draftee entered the system boasting huge raw power. After not playing in 2012 due to a wrist injury and rehab, he began his pro career in 2013 for LoA Wisconsin. He posted a solid 3.28 PAG batting .248 with 22 home runs, 74 RBi’s with 46 walks to a massive 137 strikeouts. The Brewers tabbed Roache the top power prospect in the system, but that seems to be all he brought to the field in 2014. Take my opinion with a grain of salt, but I think Milwaukee was extremely aggressive with his debut assignment. Roache may be pressing and it wouldn’t be a shock to see Roache repeat HiA Bravard County with hopes of increasing his overall game, his prospect stock and most importantly his confidence. He’s still a must-watch. 
CF – Tyrone Taylor  – HiA Brevard County/AA Huntsville  –  22 yo;  –  (2012 – 2nd round)
  • .278 – 36 2B – 6HR – 68RBi – 69R – 22SB  –  .331/.396/.727 slash   – PAG: 3.07
  • BA/#1  –   MLB Pipeline/#1(2014)  –   BP/#2   
  • In my opinion, Taylor is the crown jewel of the Brewers system. The 6’0 – 185 lb. uber athlete’s 36 doubles ranked first in the Florida State League while he also fell within the leagues top ten in hits (141 – 2nd; behind system mate Orlando Arcia’s 144), RBi’s (68), stolen bases (22) and total bases (201.)  Taylor brings a premium bat, major league ready defense, speed and the will to never quit [every day]; which this sets him up to become a fantasy star. He should spend a whole season for Double A Huntsville polishing his already exciting game. 
RF – Michael Ratterree  – LoA Wisconsin/AA Huntsville –  23 yo;  –  (2013 – 10th round)
  • .228  – 34 2B  –  19HR  –  76RBi  –  93R  – .344/.442/.786 slash   – csPAG: 3.50
  • BA-NR   –  MLB Pipeline-NR  –  BP-NR  (all ranks are 2015) 
  • After posting a few prospects above considered tops in the system, I’ll crash back down to earth with a nice under-the-radar kid to round out my Brewers O.A.S. list. Ratterree was drafted for his pure bat, usable power and above average defense; and received an assigned to Pioneer League Helena for his first taste of pro ball. The Rice University alum must have been starving because he feasted upon league pitching. The 6’1 – 190 lb. Houston native ranked in the Pioneer League top 10 in runs (2nd), hits (4th), doubles (2nd), triples (3rd), home runs (2nd), RBi’s (1st). slugging (5th) and OPS (1st.) Add up all of that and you get a Pioneer League MVP which Ratterree earned.  2014 seemed to be a different story and when looking at his numbers as it seemed that the right handed slugger sold out for power. His extra base percentage increased from 49% to 53% (still pretty damn good), but Ratterree saw his batting average plummet from .318 in 2013 to .228 this season. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Ratterree has plus makeup, good plate discipline, yet is obviously over aggressive. If he can polish his bat skills and take his above average defense to a full season in Double A, he could morph into a super sleeper in the Milwaukee system.  

 

Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
 1. RHP Tyler Wagner(14) SP/TPS .096
  • 23 years old – (HiA Brevard County)
  • 4th round – 2012
  • Ranked #15 by MLBPipeline
  • Just like the Reds, the Brewers also placed 4 pitchers from the same affiliate into the Top 5, with Taylor Williams at #5 finding his way to HiA Brevard County via a late season promotion. The Brewers system also has a top prospect flying under the radar (like the Reds Nick Travieso) in Tyler Wagner. This could change in 2015 if the right-hander can back-up his impressive stint with Brevard County. He posted a ridiculous 1.86 ERA over 25 starts. This coming from a closer in college, but he’s gotten better each year in the starter role. He’s not the strikeout type with his mid-90’s fastball with heavy sink. Look for him to eat innings at Double-A Biloxi.
 2. LHP Hobbs Johnson(12) cSR/TPS .114
  • 23 years old – (HiA Brevard County)
  • 14th round – 2013
  • 3-Time UTR Mention (April 8th, June 17th, July 12th)
  • We got a small sample from Hobbs Johnson (great baseball name) in 2013 after being drafted out of N. Carolina University. He worked from the bullpen over two levels making 11 appearances. He was a starter with the Tar Heels and took a huge leap in his development as a 14th round pick pitching 147.1 innings (24 starts) with a 2.93 ERA. He throws a 4-seam in the low to mid 90’s and 2-seamer in the high 80’s. His secondaries are rated as average, but he throw’s everything with deception. He should join Wagner at Double-A if there isn’t a log-jam of arms at Biloxi.
3. RHP Damien Magnifico(11) SP/TPS .136
  • 23 years old – (HiA Brevard County)
  • 5th round – 2012
  • UTR Mention (July 13th)
  • Magnifico is a hard thrower that throws a plus/plus high 90’s fastball and has touched 100 mph coming out of the 2012 draft. You can expect control issues with these types of pitchers, especially in the starting role. After a promotion to HiA in 2013, the organization placed the reins on the righty by only allowing him to pitch 3 innings (per) each time out. I would have thought we’d see him in the bullpen in 2014, but he made 22 starts and didn’t improve statistically. His TPS is trending north, maybe he’ll see the bullpen in 2015 with the Manatees.
4. RHP Jorge Lopez (10) SP/TPS .105
  • 21 years old – (HiA Brevard County)
  • 2nd round – 2011
  • Ranked #24 by Baseball America / #8 MLBPipeline / “On the Rise” Baseball Prospectus
  • Lopez hasn’t earned his worth as a 2nd round pick. Over his 4 season in the Brewers system, he hasn’t had a good year statistically, sans is debut year, but that was a small sample of 13.1 innings of work. He’s still only 21 years old, and having already reached HiA, maybe its been too fast in his development. He started to turn the corner this past year, but fell apart in the final two months. He throws a low 90’s fastball with inconsistent secondary pitches, but no mistake that the talent is there with some maturity. As I stated with those above with their progression, another year with the Manatees will do Lopez wonders.
5. RHP Taylor Williams(9) cSR/TPS .084
  • 22 years old – (LoA Wisconsin / HiA Brevard County)
  • 4th round – 2013
  • Ranked #19 by Baseball America / #14 MLBPipeline
  • At 5′ 11″ 165 lbs, Williams stood tall on the mound over two levels in 2014. He dominated Lo-A going 8-1 with 2.36 ERA in 22 appearances including 12 starts. He averaged almost a K:BB ratio of 5:1 and only allowed 78 hits in 107 innings. He throws a solid 3-pitch blend that includes a mid 90’s plus fastball.
 
Top 3 Relief Pitchers – (Mention Points) / TPS
 
1. LHP Trevor Seidenberger(10) RP/TPS .084
  • 22 years old – (LoA Wisconsin / HiA Brevard County / LoA Wisconsin)
  • 12th round – 2013
  • The left-hander dominated LoA going 6-1 and a 1.59 ERA in 20 appearances and was promoted to HiA Brevard County. That didn’t go well in giving up 14 earned runs over 14.1 innings and a trip back to the Manatees. He throws with a deceptive delivery of a big 80’s/low 90’s fastball with good movement and a solid curveball and changeup.
2. RHP Martin Viramontes(6) RP/TPS .076
  • 24 years old – (HiA Brevard County)
  • 28th round – 2012
  • Viramontes command improved in 2014, but there’s more improvement needed. He has a mid 90’s fastball that can touch into the upper 90’s along with a power curveball.
3. LHP Tyler Linehan – (3) cSR/TPS .088
  • 22 years old – (LoA Wisconsin / Pioneer League Helena)
  • 9th round – 2013
  • Relief pitching in the system tails off considerably. Most who could have qualified for the final spot were left off due to the age/level criteria. Clint Terry did registered at #5 on my Brewers relief spreadsheet but since he split time between the bullpen (17 appearances) and nine starts, I kept him off being unsure where he will land.  The Brewers assigned Linehan to LoA Wisconsin to give him some work before the Rookie level season began, but found himself overmatched after 5 appearances with a 10.35 ERA. The club held him back for a month while waiting for the Helena Brewers to begin their season in early July.
 
 
Top 5 TPS – Starting Pitchers
 
1. LHP Joan De La CruzSP/TPS .079
  • 19 years old – (DSL Brewers)
  • Undrafted – 2012
  • UTR Mention (July 31st)
  • De La Cruz had a turnaround year in his 3rd DSL season. He could become a high-ceiling young arm for the Brewers. In a slight increase of innings pitched, his peripherals remained steady and the groundball rate increased to 53% compared to 31% in 2013.
 2. RHP Taylor Williams – (9) cSR/TPS .084

  • 22 years old – (LoA Wisconsin / HiA Brevard County)
  • 4th round – 2013
  • Ranked #19 by Baseball America / #14 MLBPipeline
  • At 5′ 11″ 165 lbs, Williams stood tall on the mound over two levels in 2014. He dominate at Lo-A going 8-1 with 2.36 ERA in 22 appearances including 12 starts. He averaged almost a K:BB ratio of 5:1 and only allowed 78 hits in 107 innings. He throws a solid 3-pitch blend that includes a mid 90’s plus fastball.
3.  RHP Tyler Wagner – (14) SP/TPS .096

  • 23 years old – (HiA Brevard County)
  • 4th round – 2012
  • Ranked #15 by MLBPipeline
  • Just like the Reds, the Brewers also placed 4 pitchers from the same affiliate into the Top 5, with Taylor Williams at #5 finding his way to HiA Brevard County via late season promotion. The Brewers system also has a top prospect flying under the radar like the Reds Nick Travieso in Tyler Wagner. This could change in 2015 if the right-hander can back-up up impressive stint with Brevard County. He posted a ridiculous 1.86 ERA over 25 starts. The coming from a closer in college, but has gotten better each year in the starter role. He’s not the strikeout type with his mid-90’s fastball with heavy sink. Look for him to eat innings at Double-A Biloxi.
 4. RHP Preston GaineySP/TPS .102
  • 23 years old – (LoA Wisconsin)
  • 11th round – 2012
  • Gainey added some velocity to his fastball which could have been responsible for his success in 2014. In repeating at Lo-A Wisconsin, the right-hander struck out 133 batters over 125 innings.
5.  RHP Jorge Lopez – (10) SP/TPS .105

  • 21 years old – (HiA Brevard County)
  • 2nd round – 2011
  • Ranked #24 by Baseball America / #8 MLBPipeline / “On the Rise” Baseball Prospectus
  • Lopez hasn’t earned his worth as a 2nd round pick. Over his 4 season in the Brewers system, he hasn’t had a good year statistically, sans is debut year, but that was a small sample of 13.1 innings of work. He’s still only 21 years old and having already reached HiA, so maybe its been too fast in his development. He started to turn the corner is past year but fell apart in the final two months. He throws a low 90’s fastball with inconsistent secondary pitches, but no mistake that the talent is there with some maturity. As I stated with those above with their progression, another year with the Manatees will do Lopez wonders.
Top 3 TPS – Relief Pitchers
 
1. RHP Brock HudgensRP/TPS .065
  • 22 years old – (AZL Brewers)
  • 31st round – 2014
  • Debuted in the AZL and went 3-1 with a 1.17 ERA and struck out 18 hitters in 15.1 innings. Throws a mid 90’s fastball and plus slider.
2. RHP Kaleb EarlsRP/TPS .071
  • 21 years old –  (AZL Brewers / Pioneer League Helena)
  • 13th round – 2014
  • Earls advanced through two Rookie Leagues making 11 appearances and striking out 26 over 22.1 innings.
3. RHP Martin Viramontes – RP/TPS .076

  • 24 years old – (HiA Brevard County)
  • 28th round – 2012
  • Viramontes command improved is 2014, but there’s more improvement needed. He has a mid 90’s fastball that can touch into the upper 90’s along with a power curveball.
 
2014 Breakout Grades
 
The following pitchers were chosen in early March. Their selection was based solely on their previous season’s TPS rating and using the UTRMinors.com criteria for those under the radar.
 
SP Gian Rizzo – Rizzo split time in 2013 between the DSL and AZL. He put up impressive numbers with the AZL Brewers as a swing-man. I took a chance that Rizzo could possibly breakout in the Pioneer League as a starter. Instead, he repeated the AZL strictly from the bullpen, where he agin put-up decent stats. In 28.2 innings, Rizzo struck out 32 and only 3 walks. Grade B-
 
RP Tyler Alexander – Alexander fit the same description as Clint Terry when I mentioned him above with the top relief pitchers. Like Terry, Alexander was excluded from the list because he made 11 starts vs. his 15 relief appearances. His K/9 rate (10.5) looks good but he walked too many (41) for 80.1 innings of work. Grade C
 

 

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