Last year's Brewers list

The Top Ten

  1. SS Orlando Arcia
  2. OF Tyrone Taylor
  3. RHP Devin Williams
  4. RHP Taylor Williams
  5. OF Monte Harrison
  6. 3B Gilbert Lara
  7. RHP Jorge Lopez
  8. RHP Tyler Wagner
  9. LHP Kodi Medeiros
  10. RHP Miguel Diaz

1. Orlando Arcia
Position: SS
DOB: 08/04/1994
Height/Weight: 6’0 165 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2010, Venezuela
Previous Ranking: #4 (Org)
2014 Stats: .289/.346/.392 at High-A Brevard County (127 games)
The Tools: 6 arm; 6 glove; 5+ potential hit; 5 run

What Happened in 2014: Arcia played most of the year as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League where he stood out for his slick actions at the six-spot and more than held his own at the plate.

Strengths: Instinctual actions in the field; solid range to both sides; good hands and body control allow him to finish at the margins; smooth lower half and plus arm complete plus-defensive profile; comfortable throwing across his zone and doesn't sacrifice carry while delivering on the run; good bat-to-ball ability; on-base reads help average speed play up; will be asset on the base paths.

Weaknesses: Below-average power; needs to continue to add strength; glove-first profile; might be limited to down-the-order bat without improved ability to produce more consistent hard contact; can get overly aggressive at the plate; regularly led to soft contact by advanced sequencing and spin.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; high-floor glove but questions linger with bat.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The Brewers system may be improved, but Arcia is one of the weakest number one prospects in this series from a fantasy perspective. Sure, a .270 hitting shortstop capable of stealing 20 bases is usable in fantasy, but when it’s accompanied by single-digit homers, it’s just not an attractive investment—especially in shallower leagues.

The Year Ahead: Over the past two seasons, Arcia has done well to establish a profile with a firm foundational value thanks to a major-league quality glove at a high-value position and an advanced feel for the game both on the dirt and on the bases. The approach at the plate is improving, but there is still much work to be done in order for Arcia to begin to realize his full potential. Continued added strength should help his frequent contact become more productive, but it’s reining in his approach that could help Arcia truly push his offensive game from interesting to impactful. In the field, the Venezuelan product continues to refine and should provide a steady presence at shortstop at the highest level when the time comes. Arcia’s impressive feel helps the whole profile play up, and while the tools don’t scream, “elite talent,” there is a high floor and enough projection in the stick and body for a legit first-division ceiling to be realized.

Major league ETA: 2016

2. Tyrone Taylor
Position: OF
DOB: 01/22/1994
Height/Weight: 6’0 185 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2012 draft, Torrance HS (Torrance, CA)
Previous Ranking: #1 (Org)
2014 Stats: .077/.143/.077 at Double-A Huntsville (5 games), .278/.331/.396 at High-A Brevard County (130 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential hit; 5 potential power; 6+ run; 6 potential glove; 5+ arm

What Happened in 2014: Taylor impressed through 130 High-A games and a brief taste of the Southern League, showing advanced barrel control and contact ability to go with the potential to impact the game with the glove and on the bases.

Strengths: Good athleticism; advanced feel for contact and nose for the ball despite limited number of years focused on baseball; athleticism and foot speed play well on defense, where the glove projects to plus with continued route refinement and reps; good jumps on the bases and reads the ball well in front of him; solid natural strength leaves the door open for average power at maturity; capable of racking up doubles.

Weaknesses: Defensive game still refining; lower half doesn’t do as much work as it should in swing, limiting ability to leverage natural strength; in-game, over-the-fence pop may top out below average; struggles with same-side stuff, particularly offspeed and spin; production tailed off towards end of season; AFL reports point to fatigue; aggressive approach limits ability to draw walks and may restrict potential as true top-of-the-order threat at the highest level.

Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division player

Realistic Role: 5; average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; yet to achieve Double-A success

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: If it works, Taylor’s skill set will make him a valuable fantasy commodity, as he has the raw tools to hit 15 homers and steal up to 25 bags without hurting your batting average. He becomes a less attractive proposition in OBP or points leagues, as plate discipline stats may not be his best friend.

The Year Ahead: Taylor surprised many in 2013 by taking to the pro game so quickly in spite of operating as an amateur with a bifurcated athletic focus. With his attention turned solely to baseball, the SoCal prep product has quickly built up a sturdy framework across his game, showing steady progress on both sides of the ball. Because Taylor has proven adept at slowing the pro game down, his natural talents have been allowed to flash with regularity, making it easy for evaluators to project impact potential in the profile. The quick developmental progress, however, has also worked against Taylor’s stock, with the rapid improvements in the field and natural bat-to-ball ability leaving scouts wanting more when considering the minimal positive growth in the power department. While Taylor remains an interesting talent with the chance to grow into a five-tool major leaguer, he will need to start driving the ball more regularly while continuing to sharpen the finer points of his game. This season should find him making his first true go at the Southern League, with steady progress pointing him to solid-average, major-league production in the near future. A developmental jump with the stick could see his profile blossom, and would move him squarely into the upper tier of outfield prospects.

Major league ETA: 2016

3. Devin Williams
Position: RHP
DOB: 09/21/1994
Height/Weight: 6’3” 165 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2013 draft, Hazelwood West HS (Hazelwood, MO)
Previous Ranking: #7 (Org)
2014 Stats: 4.48 ERA (66.1 IP, 74 H, 66 K, 20 BB) at rookie level Helena
The Tools: 6+ potential FB; 6 potential CH; 5+ potential SL

What Happened in 2014: Williams showed growth both on and off the field, with the former including a slow start and strong finish for short-season Helena and a positive showing during fall instructs, leaving the projectable righty poised for a full-season debut in 2015.

Strengths: Loose and easy arm; fastball projects to plus or better at maturity, with two- and four-seam variations; fastball regularly draws empty swings; athletic actions; improved consistency in mechanics; potential to grow into solid command profile; body projects well, particularly in lower half; should fill out to strong, durable build; changeup flashes plus at present, mirroring two-seam action; slider will flash with two-plane break; improved approach to conditioning and game prep.

Weaknesses: Still working to make repeatable mechanics a fixture; can lose release; slider and changeup can each come and go; seldom has all three offerings working on same day; profile reliant on projection, both body and stuff.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; no. 2/3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; no. 4 starter

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; short-season resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The list of arms who haven’t reached full-season ball and rank ahead of Williams for fantasy purposes has gotten pretty small. With the chance for two secondary pitches that can miss bats, his strikeout potential is the calling card here, and could lead to 180-plus in his prime. Of course, the risk inherent in his profile goes without saying.

The Year Ahead: It was a positive year for the former second rounder; one that saw him make developmental strides both on the field and off with his approach and preparation. Williams joined the organization as a developmental project with the potential to grow into a front-end starter, and that upside is still very much intact. He will need to work at maintaining his mechanics and timing in order to make his execution more uniform across his arsenal. With his body in flux and his impressive frame en route to maturing, the righty will need to rely on his athleticism and focus on instruction in order to continue progressing at a steady rate. With a full-season assignment looming in 2015, Williams will look to continue to log innings, build up his arm strength, and work to find more consistency with his secondaries. He is still on the outside looking in, as far as the premium, young prospect starters are concerned. But twelve more months of progress similar to the previous twelve could accelerate his development and elevate his profile in a hurry.

Major league ETA: 2018

4. Taylor Williams
Position: RHP
DOB: 07/21/1991
Height/Weight: 5’11” 165 lbs
Bats/Throws: S/R
Drafted/Acquired: 4th round, 2013 draft, Kent State University (Kent, OH)
Previous Ranking: NR
2014 Stats: 4.26 ERA (25.1 IP, 29 H, 25 K, 5 BB) at High-A Brevard County, 2.36 ERA (107 IP, 78 H, 112 K, 23 BB) at Low-A Wisconsin
The Tools: 6+ potential FB; 5+ SL

What Happened in 2014: Showed above-average command of a plus fastball and above-average slider while carving through the Midwest League before fading some upon a late-season promotion to High-A Brevard County.

Strengths: Fastball plays comfortably in the 90-94 mph range and can reach the upper 90s in relief; commands to both sides of the plate and can elevate to miss bats; impact-potential heater that could play a half to full grade higher if limited to short bursts from the pen; slider is second above-average offering; matches arm slot with breaker, adding deception; shows feel for a changeup that can tease with some late dip; good athleticism on the mound; potential plus-command profile; attacks strike zone; continually challenges hitters; logged over 130 innings through regular season and continued strong showings in fall instructs.

Weaknesses: Some durability concerns tied to size; power stuff comes with effort in mechanics; offspeed lags well behind fastball and slider; struggles to soften action on changeup; may struggle to turn over more advanced lineups without reliable third offering; some trouble working downhill with fastball; can be hittable up in the zone where fastball gets flat.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: 5; late-inning reliever

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; solid floor as potential late-inning arm; single-A resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The bullpen risk with Williams is high, which makes owning him in dynasty leagues a tricky proposition. Throw in the fact that he will likely be a fly-ball pitcher in a home run-friendly park, and it’s even trickier. At best, Williams is likely a league-average ERA pitcher with a good WHIP and fewer strikeouts than his raw velocity would portend.

The Year Ahead: Williams enjoyed a highly productive 2014, taking significant steps forward in better executing and commanding his fastball and slider. Midwest-League bats were regularly overmatched, with Williams impressing evaluators with the consistency of his outings whether starting or entering from the pen (Wisconsin would generally fit ten to 13 days between starts, with multi-inning relief appearances in between). The biggest question facing Williams is whether or not he can bring the changeup to a level where it can be a serviceable weapon against more advanced hitters. Without it, he will likely struggle to turn over high-end lineups with regularity, which in turn could push him to the pen. In a relief role, Williams has the mentality, the command, and the power pairing to handle high-leverage situations, and could be fast tracked if at any point Milwaukee elects that developmental path. For now, the Brewers will continue to run Williams out as a starter until he gives them reason to believe he cannot succeed in that role. He’ll likely start 2015 back in Brevard County with an eye towards Double-A if he can continue to build upon this past season’s successes.

Major league ETA: 2016

5. Monte Harrison
Position: OF
DOB: 08/10/1995
Height/Weight: 6’3” 200 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2014 draft, Lee’s Summit West HS (Lee’s Summit, MO)
Previous Ranking: NA
2014 Stats: .261/.402/.339 at complex level AZL (50 games)
The Tools: 5+ potential power; 7 arm; 5+ run; 5+ potential glove;

What Happened in 2014: Largely viewed by Midwest area scouts as a highly athletic but raw talent, Harrison drew rave reviews in his pro debut at the complexes after slipping to the Brewers in the second round where he signed for first-round money.

Strengths: Three-sport standout in high school displays top-tier athleticism; showed more advanced feel than expected upon entry into pro game; speed plays up due to big acceleration; plus makeup; quick-twitch muscles with projectable and physical frame; should grow into impact strength; efficient weight transfer and forceful barrel delivery; power should play; raw tools to fit in center field long term, drawing one Adam Jones comp for body and future defensive package; double-plus arm could play as weapon in right if body ultimately forces shift from center; good jumps and reads on the bases; very high grades for work ethic and ability to absorb instruction.

Weaknesses: Overall game needs refinement; lacks reps against advanced competition; underdeveloped pitch identification; can get too aggressive and expand zone; reads and routes in center still a work in progress; overall feel for contact at the plate lags; hit utility could ultimately limit ability of power to play to full potential; plus speed underway plays down out of the box; body could go a lot of different ways, including enough added bulk to force a move from center field.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; first-division regular/all-star

Realistic Role: 5; average major leaguer

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; complex-level resume and limited exposure to advanced competition.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Thirty-two steals in a 50 game debut will whet any roto owner’s appetite, but as you can tell above, Harrison isn’t a burner and his skill set is far more complex. The upside is there for a 20/20 outfielder, but he has forever to go before we can say that with any modicum of confidence. Harrison has the explosiveness to go within the first 30 picks in dynasty drafts this year, despite the second-round tag.

The Year Ahead: Harrison stood out in the Arizona complexes for his loud physical tools, but it was the eagerness with which he took to his initial round of pro instruction that has evaluators excited to see what the future has in store for the former two-sport Nebraska commit. It’s a big and physical frame sure to be donned with significant added strength in the coming years, allowing the raw power to project to plus or better given the barrel acceleration already in place. While there is risk that Harrison could eventually out grow center, his plus-plus arm strength and the current ease with which he glides through the grass leave little question that he could slide over to right without missing a beat, and would project as an above-average defender in that role. Harrison has shown enough maturity and present comfort in his brief pro career for the Brewers to entertain jumping him straight to full-season ball in 2015. He is currently staring down a long developmental road, but elite raw materials and a willingness to put them to work have a way of easing the load along the way, if not shortening the trek altogether.

Major league ETA: 2019

6. Gilbert Lara
Position: 3B
DOB: 10/30/1997
Height/Weight: 6’3” 205 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2014, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NA
2014 Stats: Did Not Play
The Tools: 6+ potential power; 5 potential hit; 5+ arm

What Happened in 2014: After being awarded the highest bonus in franchise history for an international signee ($3.1 million), Lara put on a show during fall instructs centered on jaw-dropping power displays.

Strengths: Incredibly loud raw power; some project in-game pop as high as double plus; easy extension with natural loft and carry; lots of leverage and violence in swing; showed solid pitch identification for age during instructs, allowing for more projection in hit tool than previously expected; solid hands and left-side arm give profile chance to stick on the dirt; arm would play in right field if forced to the grass; projectable frame should hold strapping build at maturity; swagger to hold up to normal course of developmental setbacks.

Weaknesses: Louder swing doesn’t lend itself to high contact rates; feel for barrel will need to prove effective through the ranks for raw power to play to potential; still very raw and offensive success hinges on lengthy developmental road; lower half limits range in the infield; while currently working at short, certain to move off the position; may lack footwork to handle third base long term; run is well below average and could drop more as body matures.

Overall Future Potential: High 6; first-division player/all-star

Realistic Role: 5; major-league regular

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; stateside exposure limited to fall instructs.

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: There are draft classes in which to take chances somewhat early on current-year J2 signings, and then there’s the 2014 draft class—which was as deep as any since dynasty leagues spiked in popularity. Lara’s power potential is intense, and it’s very easy to get excited about, but he’s barely 17 years old.

The Year Ahead: Lara was so impressive this fall that the Brewers could challenge him with a stateside assignment in 2015 despite the fact he will not turn 18 years old until next October. The bat could be a game changer, with the raw pop to eventually develop into a regular 30-plus home-run threat and middle-of-the-order force. There is enough fuzziness in the profile to project the hit tool anywhere from below to above average, though supporters point to Lara’s ability to track and his impact power as a strong foundation for a solid on-base profile regardless of the existence of some swing and miss. Lara has received positive reports for his hands in the field, as well as his fluid transition from receipt to release, but a slow lower half and likely-to-thicken trunk could end up pushing him to right field and maybe even first base as he works his way towards Milwaukee. Assuming Lara does log time in the rookie-level Arizona League next summer, he could rack up homers, as well as strikeouts, in short order. This may be one of the most exciting young bats in baseball’s lower levels, capable of emerging as an elite prospect in the near future in spite of a profile skewed almost exclusively to power.

Major league ETA: 2019

7. Jorge Lopez
Position: RHP
DOB: 02/10/1993
Height/Weight: 6’4” 165 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 2nd round, 2011 draft, Caguas Military Academy (Caguas, PR)
Previous Ranking: On The Rise
2014 Stats: 4.58 ERA (137.2 IP, 144 H, 119 K, 46 BB) at High-A Brevard County
The Tools: 5+ potential FB; 5 potential CH; 5 potential CB

What Happened in 2014: Despite a trying year off the field, Lopez logged 25 starts for High-A Brevard County, averaging over five innings per start while showing feel for a solid three-pitch mix.

Strengths: Fastball sits comfortably in the low 90s with arm-side life; curve took a step forward, showing more consistent shape and solid depth; changeup can get firm, but at best serves as third average or better weapon; projectable build and room in frame to add strength; maintains stuff through starts; should show solid command profile at maturity thanks to improving consistency in mechanics; capable of driving his fastball downhill; impressive mound presence and resiliency; strong makeup.

Weaknesses: Arsenal lacks impact; has yet to realize previously projected velocity jump; changeup still in developmental stages; present command is loose in the zone; tendency to catch the fat of the plate; lacks pure swing-and-miss stuff; despite progress, can struggle to maintain timing, leading to inconsistent release and execution.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3/4 starter

Realistic Role: High 4; no. 5 starter or swingman

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; yet to reach Double-A

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Lopez doesn’t have the upside to warrant shallow-mixed investing, but in deep-mixed and NL-only formats, he should still be on radars. The Brewers have had some success as an organization in developing pitchers with less than frightening repertoires, but expectations should be low.

The Year Ahead: Lopez somehow achieved another solid developmental year while simultaneously dealing with the serious illness of his son, Maikel, who has struggled with a number of ailments since birth. On the diamond, Lopez saw peaks and valleys and everything in between. The struggles most often came when he failed to maintain consistent timing, leading to walks, soft secondaries, and too many hittable balls over the fat of the plate. While the arsenal hasn’t taken the significant step forward that the Brewers hoped to see when selecting the projectable Puerto Rican in the second round of a talent-rich 2011 draft, the body and stuff continue to show room for growth, and steady progress is being made. He’ll tackle Double-A in 2015, with his future in the Brewers rotation tied directly to his ability to close the loop on his mechanical inconsistencies.

Major league ETA: 2016

8. Tyler Wagner
Position: RHP
DOB: 01/24/1991
Height/Weight: 6’3” 195 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: 4th round, 2012 draft, University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
Previous Ranking: NR
2014 Stats: 1.86 ERA (150 IP, 118 H, 118 K, 48 BB) at High-A Brevard County
The Tools: 6 potential FB; 5 potential SL

What Happened in 2014: Wagner logged 150 innings averaging six innings per start for High-A Brevard County while posting a groundout/flyout rate over two and showing incremental progress towards an above-average command profile.

Strengths: Big, heavy fastball that can reach the mid-90s and works comfortably in the 90 to 93 mph range; low- to mid-90s slider can miss barrels with average bite; mechanics facilitate solid command; can work fastball and slider to both sides of the plate; followed 148.2 inning 2013 with 150 innings in 2014; proven durability.

Weaknesses: Changeup primarily a “show me” offering that could lack utility at upper levels; success as starter reliant upon ability to draw soft contact with sinker-slider combo; thin margin for error in execution; unlikely to miss bats consistently at upper levels.

Overall Future Potential: High 5; no. 3/4 starter

Realistic Role: High 4; groundball specialist in pen

Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; yet to reach Double-A; profile likely to offer sinker/slider-reliever floor

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The belly of the system, Wagner shouldn’t be on fantasy radars, outside of obnoxiously deep leagues. When a pitcher has this many signs pointing at a bullpen future, the ceiling needs to be worth the investment, and it is not in Wagner’s profile.

The Year Ahead: Wagner’s ability to draw groundball contact should benefit him regardless of whether he ultimately reaches Milwaukee as a starter or as part of the relief corps. As with Taylor Williams, Wagner is a legitimate third offering away from projecting comfortably into a major-league rotation, though the former Ute is generally considered a safer bet to hold up to a starter’s workload (albeit with less electric stuff). Wagner should join Lopez in Double-A next year where more advanced lineups could provide a stiff challenge. An average offspeed would give Wagner more sequencing options—a necessity if he is to turn over major-league lineups in time. Conversely, Wagner’s sinker could play up enough in one-inning runs to make him a late-inning option in the mold of a Zach Britton.

Major league ETA: 2016

9. Kodi Medeiros
Position: LHP
DOB: 05/25/1996
Height/Weight: 6’2” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2014 draft, Waiakea HS (Waiakea, HI)
Previous Ranking: NA
2014 Stats: 7.13 ERA (17.2 IP, 24 H, 26 K, 13 BB) at complex level AZL
The Tools: 6+ potential FB; 6+ potential SL; 5+ potential CH

What Happened in 2014: Medeiros put together some of the most dominant innings of the entire high school showcase circuit, ultimately earning a seven-figure bonus after being popped by Milwaukee with the 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Strengths: Full arsenal comes with lots of dance; at best, fastball shows big arm-side life and can sit low to mid-90s in the early innings; heater can play above plus grade thanks to life and tough angle; slider has flashed double plus with video-game bite and depth; true wipeout breaker; changeup will flash disappearing action with some deception; when everything is clicking, there’s so much life across the arsenal it’s tough to find someone who can catch the ball, let alone square it up; solid build; carries air of confidence to the mound.

Weaknesses: Though well put together, not overly physical; stuff can quickly fall off across the board as he works deeper into games; velocity down in short pro stint; can get under ball, causing arsenal to flatten; inconsistent arm slot holds present control and command below average; execution is inconsistent; arm slot and angle can limit ability to work both sides of the plate effectively.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: High 4; middle relief

Risk Factor/Injury History: High risk; complex-level resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: Unlike Wagner, Medeiros has the ceiling to warrant fantasy investment, although he’s very likely to be over-drafted this winter due to his lofty draft spot—he should fall out of the top 30 picks, but that’s mostly risk-related and not stuff-related.

The Year Ahead: Much will depend on what Medeiros looks like next spring after resting up and undergoing his first offseason pro training regimen. If the Hawaiian slinger shows up with the explosive stuff that pushed him into the top half of the first round, he could prove too advanced for short-season bats. It will be a delicate developmental line to walk for the Brewers, who will need to challenge Medeiros with innings if they are to determine whether or not he will be able to handle the rigors of starting. In order to log those innings, however, Medeiros has to establish a firm baseline that allows him to throw strikes with consistency. This is likely to be a slow burn, but the profile comes with mid-rotation upside and the chance to fast track the arm in relief provided the drop in velocity over the past four months does not prove to be the new normal. A Helena assignment seems most likely, with a 2016 full-season debut the target. If Medeiros’s stint out west proves as productive as Devin Williams’, he should climb these rankings next fall.

Major league ETA: 2019

10. Miguel Diaz
Position: RHP
DOB: 11/28/1994
Height/Weight: 6’1” 180 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Acquired: International Free Agent, 2011, Dominican Republic
Previous Ranking: NR
2014 Stats: 4.21 ERA (47 IP, 42 H, 53 K, 20 BB) at complex level AZL
The Tools: 6 potential FB; 6 potential SL; 5 potential CH

What Happened in 2014: In his stateside debut Diaz showed a big fastball and interesting slider before taking a step forward during fall instructs and firmly establishing himself as a potential impact arm.

Strengths: Fastball sits comfortably in 92-94 mph velocity band and can reach 96 with regularity; quick arm with good extension; ball jumps on hitters; slider took step forward in fall, working in the low 80s with bite; shows a “short slider” with cutter action in the 86-87 mph range; changeup has shown progress; improved lower-half/core strength bodes well for future ability to maintain stuff deeper into starts; half-grade bump in fastball projection could come with switch to bullpen.

Weaknesses: Still building arm strength and endurance; slider showed inconsistent through summer; can lose arm slot; inconsistent release results in flat, soft breaking ball and lapses in control; changeup still work in progress, with tendency to flutter up in zone at present.

Overall Future Potential: 6; no. 3 starter

Realistic Role: High 4; middle reliever

Risk Factor/Injury History: High; complex-level resume

Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The combination of an extended ETA and lack of dynamic potential leaves Diaz (and many like him) in a veritable no-man’s land in dynasty leagues. There’s too much potential to completely ignore, yet too many developmental hurdles remaining to own.

The Year Ahead: After tantalizing evaluators throughout the summer, Diaz stood out during fall instructs thanks in large part to a more consistent breaking ball, including a short slider/cutter variation that added another look and could provide a solid weapon for missing left-handed barrels if the changeup does not fully materialize. Because he gets such good extension on his offerings, the ball gets in on hitters quickly, allowing the pitch to play above its plus velocity grade. That has the duel benefit of helping the fastball to jump and making identification of the cutter more problematic. As with Medeiros, there’s so much distance between present profile and the ultimate skill set required to hold down a spot in a major-league rotation that the Brewers will likely take things slowly with Diaz in 2015, with a focus on continuing to build up arm strength and durability while refining the secondaries. A Helena assignment seems most likely, and would put him in line for a full-season debut in 2016 at the age of 21.

Major league ETA: 2019

Prospects on the Rise:

1. OF Clint Coulter: After dropping off the Top 10 rankings last year due to significant struggles at the plate and behind it, Coulter put together a loud 2014 in his second spin through the Midwest League that included a .287/.410/.520 slash line and 22 big flies. During fall instructs Coulter made the full time switch to right field, which should be his home for the immediate future. The Washington native is never going to look smooth and sexy on the field—his game is all about brute force and this summer he wielded that force admirably. Evaluators point to below-average athleticism, average bat speed, and a hitch-and-jerk swing as reasons to be cautious, and the transition to right field is still very much a high-risk proposition. Still, it’s not often you see a 21-year-old put up the numbers that Coulter did in the tough Midwest League environs. He’ll enter 2015 with an inside track on next year’s Top 10 list and could climb to a prominent position with a strong showing in a Florida State League, whose vast outfields will challenge both his power and his glove.

2. RHP Brandon Woodruff: The Mississippi State reliever had an impressive run through instructs, showcasing a fastball with good downhill plane and heavy action that works comfortably in the 93-95 mph range, topping out at 98. He’ll also mix in an average slider that is capable of missing barrels. It’s a pure relief profile, but the arm is live enough for there to be impact if everything comes together. As an amateur, Woodruff constantly battled his mechanics, with almost non-existent control. He looked cleaner during his pro debut, and particularly this fall, but in order to establish himself as a worthy late-inning option he will have to prove this progress represents a legitimate developmental step forward.

3. LHP Wei-Chung Wang: The Brewers nabbed Wang in last offseason’s Rule 5 draft and, despite the pressures of a playoff push, showed the fortitude to take the 25-man roster hit for the requisite time to ensure the young lefty remained a Brewer past 2014. Wang was clearly not ready to contribute at the major-league level, with a majority of his in-season work in Milwaukee accomplished through side sessions. August did afford the organization the ability to send Wang to the minors for a rehab assignment that spanned three levels, 7 appearances, and 27 innings, where he very much looked the part of a future major-league starter thanks to a fastball and curve that each project to above-average offerings and a quality offspeed with splitter action. He needs to add strength, first and foremost, to aid him in repeating his mechanics deep into starts, and there is some clean up to be done on the arm action, which at present includes a hook and inconsistent path. AFL reports were largely positive, with the consensus generally that his stuff could play at Double-A next summer provided he’s able to handle the innings. More likely he is eased into the lower levels to help control innings early on, and could move as quickly as his stuff permits.

Factors on the Farm (Prospects likely to contribute at the ML level in 2015)

1. RHP Taylor Jungmann: Jungmann split his 2014 between Huntsville and Nashville, showing well at each stop, leaving the former Longhorn ace ready for his first taste of major-league action. It’s an average four-pitch mix, with the fastball and slider each capable of playing a half grade above, but the command isn’t quite sharp enough for Jungmann to fully leverage the varied collection of offerings. There’s a fit in the back end of the rotation, where he’ll provide solid value taking the ball every five days and eating innings. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, Jungmann should log his first major-league start in 2015.

2. RHP Ariel Pena: Pena’s best offering is a low- to mid-90s fastball that evaluators feel could be a consistent plus or better weapon out of the pen, where he could air it out and let his natural arm-side run do its thing. The heater brings a usable slider and splitter in tow, but a stiff landing and high slot often prevent Pena from driving down in the zone and make uniformity in his release an issue. Though he amassed 24 starts for Triple-A Nashville in 2014 and was very difficult for hitters to square up, the walks and pitch counts ate into his overall effectiveness and cast big questions as to whether he has a real chance to succeed as a starter at the major-league level. 2015 could see a transition to the pen for the big righty, and the fastball alone could miss big-league bats from day one. There’s risk tied to below-average command and control, but also late-inning upside.

3. RHP David Goforth: With a big fastball and workable slider/cutter combo, Goforth projects well to the back of a major-league bullpen, but needs first to find a little more precision and a lesser proclivity for blow ups when his feel escapes him. This summer saw his command come and go, with dozens of dominant outings checkered by some truly uncomfortable meltdowns. On the whole, he took care of business in the late innings over 54 Southern League appearances, and is not far off from being able to provide some value in the Milwaukee pen. Whether he will earn enough trust to handle the high-leverage situations in the bigs will depend entirely upon his ability to limit free passes and secondary “misfires” out and over the plate, which have had a tendency to get hit often and hard. He should start his season in Colorado Springs with a 2015 Milwaukee debut likely.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/89 or later)

  1. Wily Peralta
  2. Jimmy Nelson
  3. Jean Segura
  4. Orlando Arcia
  5. Tyrone Taylor
  6. Scooter Gennett
  7. Devin Williams
  8. Taylor Williams
  9. Monte Harrison
  10. Gilbert Lara

The Brewers hung around in the National League Central race for quite a while in 2014 and while very few of the major contributors to the club’s roster are seen on this list, several are young enough that the team could conceivably continue improving over the next couple years. Over that span, players like Wily Peralta, Jean Segura, and Scooter Gennett could all begin contributing in more significant ways.

The two arms atop the list have their similarities. Peralta’s contribution in 2014, including logging nearly 200 innings with an ERA in the mid-threes, represents the type of pitcher that kept him hanging around prospect lists despite a rocky minor-league career. His potential as an inning-eating, mid-rotation starter with a year of strong big-league performance under his belt pushes him out ahead of even the best prospects in this system. Those who are high on right-hander Jimmy Nelson still see a pitcher capable of matching or exceeding what Peralta brings to the table, but it’s hard to ignore the reality of what Peralta has already accomplished and what he can still accomplish going forward. While Nelson has upper-level experience, his game still needs polish and that holds him back for now.

In last year’s edition of this list, Segura was pushed to the top spot in spite of a rough second half in 2013. His struggles continued in 2014, though a wave of adversity, ranging from the tragic loss of his young son to an unfortunate dugout mishap that saw him struck in the head by a bat, could be pointed to as at least a contributing factor. Segura's ceiling as a solid, everyday shortstop is still something that can be envisioned, but he needs to demonstrate that he can make the necessary adjustments to hit consistently at the MLB level. If he can do that, his ceiling can once again approach the top spot on this list.

Gennett’s performance in 2014 remains in line with a strong minor-league career that saw him hit at every level, but that offensive showing leaves me wanting more than an above-average to plus hit tool and nominal secondary skills. He’ll stick around at the major-league level for quite a while, but this isn’t the profile of an impact player, which pushes him below a true shortstop like Arcia.

If the Brewers are to contend in 2015, they will lean heavily on players like Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun, but they will also need continued performance from Wily Peralta and steps forward from the likes of Jean Segura and Jimmy Nelson to truly hang with teams like St. Louis and Pittsburgh. –Mark Anderson

A Parting Thought: This past year the Brewers added some impact potential to a system lacking in that department, giving a more well-rounded feel to the Top 10 list than has recently been the case. Though likely not a top-half system yet, things seem to be progressing and further development among those low-minors standouts could see the organization place multiple players in next year’s Top 101 rankings.

Nick J. Faleris is a practicing structured finance attorney and Sports Industry team member in the Milwaukee office of Foley & Lardner LLP. The views he expresses at Baseball Prospectus are his own, and not necessarily

those of the law firm.

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David Denson get any consideration for end of list? Or one tricky pony?
No real consideration; great raw power but still figuring things out and a lot of risk he never gets to that power consistently in game action. Limited defensive/baserunning value, as well. Org guy right now but plenty of time for him to make developmental progress over the next three to four years.
Peralta and Nelson are talents ranked above Segura? I understand he had a down year, but that was playing through a sick, then deceased child. Of those 3 which will lead in career WAR in the end? I'll put $20 on Segura
I had various iterations of the U25 list that had all three players in different spots.

I've always been the high man on Peralta and think he's going to be a quality, innning-chewing starter that could have peak seasons resembling a #3 starter. I believe he's going to be around for a while and will be quite good for that duration.

With Nelson and Segura, I struggled with the decision. I have not been impressed with Segura's ability to make real-time adjustments to MLB pitchers and I think that could hold him back from reaching his ultimate ceiling. I think he will still be a solid player, but felt Nelson -- warts and all -- was a better bet to be impactful, whether in the rotation or the bullpen.
Any thoughts that Victor Roache's power tool will carry him to a 4th OF MLB slot or are his swing and miss tendencies to much to overcome?
With that kind of raw power there is always a chance for enough value to carve a spot out somewhere on a 25-man, but the swing-and-miss is a real problem. Further, he's not particularly comfortable in the box and the game doesn't come naturally to him. If there was another aspect to the skill set that could be a solid positive contributing force to a big league club I think it would be easier to accept the shortcomings. But at this point, it's mostly shortcomings with impressive raw power and one of the best bodies you'll see.
How is Roache's defense? Adequate? Or too poor to compensate for the bad approach at the plate?
He's not a good outfielder, even by left field standards. Passable, but not giving you positive value so the glove isn't making-up for any other shortcomings in the profile.
I had a lot of reservations about how Roache would age, too. He's got big, wide hips and a thick lower half. Thick up and down, but concentrated in his butt and lower half. Just a body type that really has to stay on top of his fitness because it can go soft quickly as he ages. Thought it quite possible he loses a step in his mid to later 20s.
Where does former projected top 5 pick Jacob Gatewood fall in this system?
Gatewood's struggles during his pro debut and during fall instructs would have been easier to overlook had we not seen this same struggles dating back to summer 2013. It's impact potential, maybe as a middle-of-the-order third baseman or right fielder, but his swing has regressed from his junior year of high school ball and there hasn't been enough progress since then to warrant a high ranking. Even evaluators who thought he was a good pick where he went were in wait-and-see mode. Lot's of clean-up; if he starts to address the swing issues we'll hopefully see him On the Rise next year or even in the top 10 discussion. As of today he's maybe a 16-20 type guy in the system.
Thanks! I saw him play that the NHSI last year and he wasn't super impressive then but you could at least see the projectability. Surprising how far he's fallen. Hopefully he can turn it around.
Just to point out Arcia has racked up 17 XHBs (8 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR) in 134 Venezuelan Winter League plate appearances.
"He should start his season in Nashville..."
Um, no. Nashville is not a AAA affiliate for the Brewers any longer. Unless you know of a trade with Oakland, that should be Colorado Springs.
Is former Brewers player Alcides Escobar a close comp for Orlando Arcia?
It works. Glove first with feel for contact. Arcia has a little more projection in his offensive game but both at same stage faced similar issues relating to focusing approach to be more selectively aggressive to 1) help on-base ability and 2) increase frequency of hard contact.
Stunned that coulter isn't in the top 10. His skill set looks like major league regular to me. Is it because he doesn't play catcher anymore?
He's not an aesthetically pleasing player, so it's tough to find ardent support from the pro scouting ranks. Since his game is strength-based and he lacks in athleticism and fluidity, he'll need to prove capable as he rises through the ranks before solidifying his prospect value. Production is production, so the hope is that Coulter is firmly back on track and can let his production speak for itself moving forward.
That is a motley crew.
My jaw dropped when I saw Lara at #6 on the list. He's the only future All-Star here, and a case could be made for his ranking #1 among this rather soft group. He's going to spend 2015 embarrassing older pitchers in stateside ball as a 17-year-old.
The upside is huge, no doubt. His game is still raw, however, and the Brewers will likely (and appropriately) allow him to progress slowly at first until he proves he is without question ready to be challenged. There is plenty of time for him to build the skill set before being tossed into the fire.
I'm guessing Tyler Wagner's slider is mid-80s, not mid-90s? A mid 90's slider would be nice indeed!