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February 28, 2012

Future Shock

Milwaukee Brewers Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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Previous Rankings: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System In 20 Words Or Less: Improved thanks to the 2011 draft, but there was nowhere to go but up.

Four-Star Prospects
1. Wily Peralta, RHP
Three-Star Prospects
2. Jed Bradley, LHP
3. Taylor Jungmann, RHP
4. Tyler Thornburg, RHP
5. Taylor Green, UT
6. Scooter Gennett, 2B
7. Jimmy Nelson, RHP
8. Jorge Lopez, RHP
9. Cody Scarpetta, RHP
10. Michael Fiers, RHP
Two-Star Prospects
11. Santo Manzanillo, RHP
Nine More:
12. Logan Schafer, OF: Could be a fourth outfielder as early as this year, but that's also his ceiling.
13. Caleb Gindl, OF: There is hitting ability, but his other tools are flat.
14. Orlando Arcia, SS: Athletic shortstop with big upside; could be a more well-known name in time.
15. Drew Gagnon, RHP: Third-round pick has size and velocity but needs to refine his other pitches.
16. David Goforth, RHP: Has some of the best velocity it the system, but he’s raw.
17. D’Vontrey Richardson, OF: Crazy athlete still has a long way to go.
18. Mark Rogers, RHP: Has always had stuff, but he’s always hurt.
19. Hunter Morris, 1B: First-base prospects can't have glaring holes in their offensive game, and Morris's approach is a mess.
20. Khris Davis, OF: Would rank higher if his end-of-year showing at Double-A didn't create a lot of concerns.

1. Wily Peralta, RHP
DOB
: 5/8/89
Height/Weight: 6’2/240
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2005
2011 Stats: 3.46 ERA (119.2-106-48-117) at AA (21 G), 2.03 ERA (31.0-21-11-40) at AAA (5 G)
Tools Profile: Classic power righty.

Year in Review: Long a source of frustration for scouts, Peralta finally harnessed his stuff in 2011 and finished the year with a flourish at Triple-A.
The Good: Peralta has everything it takes to be a success starting pitcher in the big leagues. He throws two fastballs, and while both are effective, scouts generally prefer his low-90s sinker over his straight four-seamer than can touch 96. He has an above-average slider with good tilt, and he has refined his changeup to be at least average. He has a big body, a clean delivery, and has remained healthy throughout his career.
The Bad: While a lower walk rate has led to Peralta's success, command and control will never be his strong suit. His changeup is still inconsistent, and he has a tendency to overthrow it at times.
Ephemera: Peralta allowed eight of the 21 first-inning batters he faced for Triple-A Nashville to reach base, but after that, he fired 26 innings while allowing just 18 hits, walking six and striking out 35.
Perfect World Projection: Number-three starter.
Fantasy Impact: He has the potential to be a solid contributor across the board.
Path to the Big Leagues: Peralta will like make his big league debut in 2012, but a clear opportunity is unlikely to present itself until the following year.
ETA: Late 2012.

2. Jed Bradley, LHP
DOB
: 6/12/90
Height/Weight: 6’4/224
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011, Georgia Tech
2011 Stats: N/A
Tools Profile: Power pitcher from the left side.

Year in Review: Had an up-and-down spring, but his overall package still earned him a $2 million bonus.
The Good: On the right day, Bradley looks like a future star. He's a big, physical southpaw who throws strikes with a low-90s fastball that can pop 95 mph and sets up his second plus pitch in an above-average slider with late action. He has a changeup that is at least average, and he maintains his stuff deep into games.
The Bad: Bradley frustrated scouts with his inconsistencies and was often out-pitched on weekends by Mark Pope, a fifth-round pick by the Padres in June. His velocity and command can both vary wildly, and he can lose confidence in his secondary offerings.
Ephemera: Bradley's full name is Jedidiah Custer Bradley.
Perfect World Projection: Bradley's projections have a wide range. He has the upside of a number-two starter, but scouts diverge when asked his chances of reaching that.
Fantasy Impact: Could be substantial, but there is risk.
Path to the Big Leagues: Bradley will make his pro debut at High-A Brevard County, and his ability to harness his stuff will dictate his timetable from there.
ETA: 2014

3. Taylor Jungmann, RHP
DOB
: 12/18/89
Height/Weight: 6’6/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011, Texas
2011 Stats: N/A
Tools Profile: Right-hander who still has some projection for a college-sourced player.

Year in Review: Was among college baseball's best statistical performers, ultimately being selected with the 12th overall pick.
The Good: Jungmann is a strike-throwing machine who pounds the zone with a 92-94 mph fastball with plenty of movement. He works quickly and efficiently, rarely getting behind in the count. His best secondary pitch is a slider that has improved to average and flashes plus at times, and his changeup is solid. He's broad-shouldered but skinny and could get more velocity as he fills out.
The Bad: Jungmann needs to refine his secondary offerings to find another dependable go-to pitch. While he generates a lot of weak contact, there are questions about his ability to consistently miss bats at the big league level.
Ephemera: The Brewers have had the 12th pick in the draft four times, and none of the previous picks—Jay Roberts (1981), Kenny Felder (1992), and Mike Jones (2001) —reached the big leagues.
Perfect World Projection: Number-three starter, but his floor is higher than Bradley's.
Fantasy Impact: A good starter, but not the first one you select.
Path to the Big Leagues: Jungmann will join Bradley at High-A to begin 2012 and is the more likely of the two first-round picks to reach Milwaukee first.
ETA: 2014

4. Tyler Thornburg, RHP
DOB
: 9/29/88
Height/Weight: 5’11/185
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Third round, 2010, Charleston Southern
2011 Stats: 1.57 ERA (68.2-49-25-76) at A (12 G), 3.57 ERA (68.0-45-33-84) at High A (12 G)
Tools Profile: Short righty with plus stuff.

Year in Review: Third round pick had a breakout year, earning Midwest League All-Star honors and pitching in the Futures Game.
The Good: Thornburg gained believers in the scouting community as the year progressed, combining stuff with deception. Using a deliver that comes mostly from his upper body, Thornburg rears back to deliver a low-90s fastball that touches 94 and is difficult to pick up due to the way he leans his body in his delivery. He has a merely average curveball but an advanced changeup with late, heavy break.
The Bad: Thornburg is smallish for a pitcher, and he doesn't make it look easy, so many are unconvinced he can handle a 200-inning workload in the big leagues. His curveball can get a bit flat and slurvy, and he can have trouble using it as anything other than a chase pitch.
Ephemera: Thornburg did not allow an earned run in half of his 12 starts for Low-A Wisconsin in 2011, and he allowed more than two runs just once.
Perfect World Projection: Number-three or number-four starter. Barring that, a late-inning, non-closer bullpen arm.
Fantasy Impact: He certainly looks like a big leaguer, but there's not a lot of star potential here.
Path to the Big Leagues: Thornburg will move up to Double-A in 2012 and will likely spend most, if not all, of the season there.
ETA: Late 2013.

5. Taylor Green, UT
DOB
: 11/2/86
Height/Weight: 5’11/200
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: 25th round, 2005, Cypress Junior College
2011 Stats: .364/.385/.455 at AA (3 G), .336/.413/.583 at AAA (120 G), .270/.270/.351 at MLB (20 G)
Tools Profile: He can hit.

Year in Review: Minor League Player of the Year put up huge numbers and made his big league debut.
The Good: After dealing with wrist problems for years, Green finally got healthy, and his offensive game exploded in 2011. He understands the strike zone well and has a quick bat with an excellent feel for contact. His power grades peak at average. He's long been lauded for his makeup and work ethic.
The Bad: Green's total value is very dependent upon his bat. He can play second or third base; he’s worse than average at both positions but can at least hold his own. He's gotten thicker over the last three years and does not run well.
Ephemera: In 94 plate appearances as a second baseman for Triple-A Nashville in 2011, Green hit a robust .461/.527/.908.
Perfect World Projection: Second-division starter at third or second base, but there are scouts who think he could exceed that.
Fantasy Impact: Average and a bit of power, but nothing special.
Path to the Big Leagues: With Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez around, Green will have to battle for a utility role this spring and could be a decently-valued trade chip come July.
ETA: 2012

6. Scooter Gennett, 2B
DOB
: 5/1/90
Height/Weight: 5’9/164
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: 16th round, 2009, Sarasota HS (FL)
2011 Stats: .300/.334/.406 at High A (134 G)
Tools Profile: Who doesn't love a little second baseman who can hit?

Year in Review: Sixteenth-round pick put up his second-straight .300-plus season.
The Good: Gennett is the best pure hitter in the system. He combines outstanding bat speed with excellent hand-eye coordination, which has allowed him to develop impressive power for his size; he hit seven of his nine home runs after the All-Star break. He's fun to watch, playing the game with a lot of energy. He's a tick above-average as a runner.
The Bad: Gennett's approach is a concern to scouts; he looks to attack early and rarely works the count in his favor. He's a sloppy second baseman who needs to improve his footwork and throwing.
Ephemera: There have been some rare successes with the 496th overall pick in the draft. The Cubs found Eric Hinsk in 1998, and the Rangers struck gold in the 17th round of the 2003 draft by selecting Ian Kinsler.
Perfect World Projection: Offense-first second baseman.
Fantasy Impact: He should have value for his batting average alone, but he's not a total zero in the power and speed departments.
Path to the Big Leagues: Double-A will present Gennett with the best challenge to his approach, and a third-straight .300 season would bump his prospect status significantly.
ETA: Late 2013.

7. Jimmy Nelson, RHP
DOB
: 6/5/89
Height/Weight: 6’6/245
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2010, Alabama
2011 Stats: 4.38 ERA (146.0-146-65-120) at A (26 G)
Tools Profile: Huge right-hander with two plus fastballs.

Year in Review: Second-round pick came on strong with a big second half.
The Good: Nelson improved throughout the year and had scouts upping their projections for him as the season wore on. He's a groundball machine with a heavy, low-90s sinker, and he found some success missing bats with a four-seam heater that gets into the mid-90s. His slider and changeup are just average pitches, but he has confidence in them and will throw them at any point in the count.
The Bad: Nelson's body is big, bordering on soft, and conditioning could become an issue. He lands heavily in his unbalanced delivery, which creates some control issues. Both of his secondary pitches could use improvement.
Ephemera: Nelson struck out five or more batters in just three of his first 13 appearances of the 2011 season but hit the mark all but twice during his final 13 outings.
Perfect World Projection: Number-three innings eater.
Fantasy Impact: There's safety in his combination of size and skills, but there’s also some upside for deep leagues.
Path to the Big Leagues: Nelson will be part of a very interesting rotation at High-A Brevard County.
ETA: 2014

8. Jorge Lopez, RHP
DOB
: 2/10/93
Height/Weight: 6’4/165
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2011, Caguas Military Academy (PR)
2011 Stats: 2.25 ERA (12.0-13-3-10) at Rookie (4 G)
Tools Profile: The definition of a projectable pitcher.

Year in Review: The best pitcher in Puerto Rico signed for just under $700,000 as a second-round pick.
The Good: Lopez is an excellent athlete with low-90s heat and the ability to touch 94 mph. He's the picture of projection; he's extremely skinny but figures to fill out based on his frame. He gets good shape on a curveball that projects as a future plus pitch.
The Bad: Lopez is, without question, a bit of a project. He had no need for a changeup in Puerto Rico and will need to develop that pitch as a professional. His delivery could use considerable refinement, if not an out-and-out re-working.
Ephemera: With his three wins in 2011, Aaron Cook is now the all-time leader in wins among 70th overall picks in the draft with 72.
Perfect World Projection: Lopez has as much upside as any pitcher in the system; he's just very far from it.
Fantasy Impact: He could be a star, but it could take a decade to see it.
Path to the Big Leagues: Lopez would be best served by constant instruction to begin the year, and it is unlikely his name will show up in a box score until the short-season leagues begin.
ETA: 2016

9. Cody Scarpetta, RHP
DOB
: 8/25/88
Height/Weight: 6’3/244
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 11th round, 2007, Guilford HS (IL)
2011 Stats: 3.85 ERA (117.0-100-61-98) at AA (23 G)
Tools Profile: Best curveball in the system.

Year in Review: Pitched well at Double-A, but the anticipated breakout still has not happened.
The Good: Scarpetta has the best curveball in the system. It's a plus power breaking ball that he'll throw at any point, and he's effective at throwing it for strikes or burying it in the dirt. He sets up the pitch with a low-90s fastball with a bit of wiggle, and he has a frame and delivery designed for stamina.
The Bad: Scarpetta's changeup remains inconsistent. There are a lot of moving parts to his delivery, which produces below average command and control. There is some frustration in that he hasn’t improved much from the pitcher he was two years ago.
Ephemera: Scarpetta had a disturbing showing in the Arizona Fall League, retiring just 20 of the 48 batters he faced and finishing with a 19.64 ERA over 7.1 innings that required 223 pitches to complete. 
Perfect World Projection: Back-end starter.
Fantasy Impact: More strikeouts than your average No. 4 or 5 starter, but walks are likely to always hurt him.
Path to the Big Leagues: Scarpetta will spend 2012 at Triple-A and could earn a role in the big leagues the following year with more consistency.
ETA: 2013

10. Michael Fiers, RHP
DOB
: 6/15/85
Height/Weight: 6’3/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 22nd round, 2009, Nova Southeastern University
2011 Stats: 2.64 ERA (61.1-42-14-63) at AA (22 G), 1.11 ERA (64.2-41-22-69) at AAA (12 G), 0.00 ERA (2.0-2-3-2) at MLB (2 G)
Tools Profile: Doesn't impress on any scouting level, but he gets the job done.

Year in Review: Relative unknown dominated at two levels and made his big league debut.
The Good: There is nothing impressive about Fiers’s stuff, but he has plus command and control. He also has a changeup that ranks among the best in the system, which he uses to keep hitters off balance. He works quickly and aggressively and has some deception that allows his stuff to play up.
The Bad: Fiers's potential will always be limited by his lack of velocity; his fastball sits in the 87-90 mph range, and his slider is merely average. At 26 years old, he is what he is with little room for improvement.
Ephemera: Taken within two rounds of each other in the 2009 draft, Fiers and Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez are the only two players ever drafted out of Division-II Nova Southeastern to reach the majors.
Perfect World Projection: Number-five starter
Fantasy Impact: Limited.
Path to the Big Leagues: Fiers will begin the year back at Triple-A and will likely serve as Milwaukee’s sixth starter who earns a call should the need arise.
ETA: 2012.

11. Santo Manzanillo, RHP
DOB
: 12/20/88
Height/Weight: 6’0/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2005
2011 Stats: 1.52 ERA (41.1-31-14-43) at High A (28 G), 2.21 ERA (20.1-13-12-19) at AA (20 G)
Tools Profile: He throws hard. Very hard.

Year in Review: Missed a lot of bats, but he also missed the strike zone quite a bit.
The Good: Manzanillo is on the small side, but he has the best arm in the system. His fastball sits at 95-98 mph, and he touched triple-digits on several occasions in 2011. He compliments the pitch with an average slider that flashes plus, and he made great strides in improving his control.
The Bad: Manaznillo still walks too many players and can be guilty of worrying more about the radar gun than the strike zone. Has fastball is a bit straight, and he tends to work up in the zone.
Ephemera: While Hall Of Fame third baseman Ron Santo is the only player in big league history with that last name, late 1970s Reds and Expos pitcher Santo Alcala is the only player in major league history with that first name.
Perfect World Projection: Late-inning reliever with an outside shot at turning into a closer.
Fantasy Impact: It all depends on his opportunities for saves.
Path to the Big Leagues: Manzanillo will get a long look this spring and could earn a major league look at some point during the season if he continues to improve.
ETA: Late 2012.

The Sleeper: While he's a career .227/.262/.335 hitter, 19-year-old shortstop Yadiel Rivera is a legitimate defender with an athletic frame, leading to multiple scouts identifying him for this spot on the list.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/86 or later)
1. Wily Peralta, RHP
2. Jed Bradley, LHP
3. Taylor Jungmann, RHP
4. Jonathan Lucroy, C
5. Zach Braddock, LHP
6. Tyler Thornburg, RHP
7. Taylor Green, UT
8. Scooter Gennett, 2B
9. Jimmy Nelson, RHP
10. Jorge Lopez, RHP

The Brewers have graduated from a young team to one with several players in their prime, giving them a solid window of contention. Lucroy is a solid every day catcher, but the industry isn't convinced he has much room for growth. Braddock missed bats with a plus fastball/slider combination from the left side, but he has control issues.

Summary: The Brewers went all-in for the 2011 season, and the result was their first league championship series appearance since 1982. On an organizational level, the price was steep, and while there is movement in the right direction, there is still much work to be done.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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