In the first two articles I took a more in-depth look at the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds Farm System, which have been ranked as #23 and #24 respectively; the first potentially on its way back up toward the top and the latter on a free fall that may not stop until they are at the bottom of Major League Baseball. Speaking of the bottom of the MLB Pipeline Rankings, let’s talk about the Milwaukee Brewers 30th ranked Farm System.
Currently the Brew Crew does not have one single solitary player on the MLB Pipeline Top 100 after the graduation of 2nd Baseman Keston Hiura during the 2019 season and Short Stop/2nd Baseman Brice Turang dropping from #98 in 2019 to Not Ranked this season. Not only did the Brewers minor leagues take a hit, but their big league club’s talent level took a hit due to free agency (Catcher Yasmani Grandal and 3rd Baseman Mike Moustakas), trades (Pitchers Zach Davies and Chase Chase Anderson), not picking up the option on 1st Baseman Eric Thames and deciding to non-tender 3rd Basemen Travis Shaw. They did make some attempts to fill these holes through the additions of Pitchers Eric Lauer, Brett Anderson and Josh Lindblom, Catcher Omar Narvez, Infielders Eric Sogard, Jedd Gyorko and Luis Urais and 1st Baseman Justin Smoak. However, the did not add any depth to an already depleted farm system, so they have to hope that most if not all of these moves are successful.
Just as it was with the first two systems, the Milwaukee Brewers minor leagues is not completely devoid of talent. The Brewers #9 Prospect, RHP-Drew Rasmussen is poised to join the starting rotation in the upcoming years in spite of the setbacks he experienced while at Oregon State; Tommy John surgery in both 2016 and 2018. Rasmussen climbed three levels during the 2019 due to his fastball (70 grade) that has life and movement in the zone, a slider (55 grade) that drops of the table and a changeup (50 grade) that keeps hitters on their heels. The Pirates and their fans could be seeing a lot of him in the future as he gives our batters fits at Miller and PNC Parks. As I did with the first two systems, I will only be focusing on the Top 5 prospects to avoid from writing a novel or at least less of one than I usually write.
1) Brice Turang-SS/2B
Turang was drafted in the 1st Round (21st Overall) of the 2018 MLB June Amateur Draft from Santiago High School in Corona, California; signing him away from his LSU to the tune of $3.41 million. He played well enough during his first two years to earn promotions through 4 levels, although most may only see it as two, from the Arizona League Brewers to the High A/Advanced Carolina Mudcats. His strengths thus far have been his defense, a consistently high walk rate of 15.55%, an average OBP of .382 and 44 total stolen bases. The only downside of his game is a lack of power that has only resulted in 4 homers in his professional career. Currently Turang is projected to land in Milwaukee in 2022 at the earliest.
2) Ethan Small-LHP
Drafted by the Brewers in the 1st Round (28th Overall) in the 2019 MLB June Amateur Draft from Mississippi State University after an amazing senior season where he he struck out 176 batters in 107 innings, Small saw limited action in his first taste of professional baseball. Pitching only 21 innings in 7 starts he justified the Brew Crew’s 1st round choice as he struck out 36 hitters, walked only 4, posted a .86 ERA and .714 WHIP. Currently slated to move to the High A/Advanced Carolina Mudcats to continue his rise through the system, Small has an ETA in the majors of 2021.
3) Marcio Feliciano-C
Feliciano was selected in the 2nd Round of the 2016 June MLB June Amateur Draft from Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, he struggled to find his offensive footing in his first three years in the minors because of nagging injuries and ultimately arthroscopic shoulder surgery; hitting only 4 homer runs and batting a lowly .243.Then last season, in his second go around with the High A/Advanced Carolina Mudcats he finally broke out. In 116 games and 440 at bats he crushed 19 homers and 49 extra base hits, while batting .273. Defensively, he as the athleticism to stick behind the plate, but often loses concentration in game. If he can gain this focus, the arm and blocking ability will play.
4) Tristen Lutz-OF
Drafted in the 1st Round (34th Overall) in the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft from James W. Martin High School in Arlington, Texas, Lutz excelled in both Rookie Levels in his first season; batting .331, with a .559 Slugging Percentage and 9 homers. This past two years his power continued to increase, while sacrificing his average and increasing his swing and miss. Both years his batting average was almost identical at .245 and .255 and his strikeout rate increased to 27.6% and 28.7%. However he hit 13 home runs in back to back years and continued to have an above average wRC+ at 110 and 120. Profiling as a right fielder due his strong arm and average to above average speed and fielding ability, Lutz could be on the big league roster as early as 2022.
5) Aaron Ashby-LHP
Ashby was drafted in the 4th Round of the 2018 MLB June Amateur from Crowder College in Missouri after dominating the JUCO circuit to the tune of a strike rate of 18.8 per 9 innings. In the first two years of his professional career he did show some moments of brilliance by posting above 11 K/9 at times during both seasons, but his walk rate ballooned to over 4 per 9 innings. He has 4 pitches that are all average to below average, highlighted by an absolute wipeout slider. As long as he is able to polish up his delivery a little bit and make some adjustments to his complicated delivery he has the potential to be a dominant pitcher for the Brewers in a couple of years.
If I am being completely honest, I have no idea exactly what Daniel Stearns has up his sleeve for the future. He did lock up Christian Yelich through 2028 over the winter and has one of the best closers in the game to shut down opposing batters to secure the win, but the majority of the roster is slightly underwhelming. That coupled with the lowest ranked Farm System according to MLB Pipeline could potentially spell disaster for the upcoming seasons.