Milwaukee Brewers’ Minor League Depth the Best in MLB

Milwaukee Brewers' minor league pitcher, Josh Hader, has impressed experts with his development. Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Milwaukee Brewers' minor league pitcher, Josh Hader, has impressed experts with his development. Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Brewers have focused on collecting an abundance of above-average prospects with high ceilings, improving the odds for long-term success.

If you look at some of the more respected prospect rankings, the Milwaukee Brewers don’t have a top-10 player in any of them.

In fact, they often lack a guy in the first 20 prospects of MLB. Yet, the organization is ranked among the best 10 in every publication, with some bumping them into the top-5.

Where the Brewers lack in a Kris Bryant or Bryce Harper type of “can’t miss” stud, they make up for with incredible potential at every level of the minor leagues.

Many so-called “sure things” never make it in baseball. Hence, GM David Stearns has emphasized widening the pool from which great players can emerge.

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Just peek at any given list of 100 prospects and you’ll find at least five Brewers. Some include a sixth or seventh guy as well.

In baseball, more than any other sport, the 100th-rated player is within a fraction of the top-10, really.

So while some teams have a one or two prospects closer to number one, they are relying heavily on those men to reach full potential. If they don’t, other clubs lack the depth to make up for that miss.

And think about the impressiveness statistically. There’s roughly 3,000 minor leaguers on a roster at any given time from single-A through triple-A.

To have five or six of the best 100, means you have – potentially – that many players in the top 3-4% of all prospects at those levels.

Thus, Milwaukee can miss on a few guys and still have serious talent coming through. The Crew doesn’t have to live and die with the few top-rated players in the rankings.

They are banking on the fact that a handful of prospects will outperform their already high projections. In most cases, these players are expected to be regular contributors with some reaching All-Star status.

Here’s one way to look at it. Some top farm systems have 1 or 2 prospects you might grade at or near 5 stars. Then they have just a few players in the 4-star range, with a handful at 3 stars.

However, when looking at the Milwaukee Brewers, they probably don’t have any 5-star players at the moment. However, it’s fair to say they have 8-10 prospects as 4-star talents and then upwards of 20-25 rated in the 3-star range.

That is some serious potential for any number of players to rise up the charts as they age.

As for the detail on the Brewers, the relative consensus is that five players are definitely top-100 prospects:

OF, Lewis Brinson

LHP, Josh Hader

OF, Corey Ray

RHP, Luis Ortiz

SS/2B, Isan Diaz

Some places also sneak a few more into their first 100:

OF, Brett Phillips

P, Brandon Woodruff

OF, Trent Clark

Keith Law of ESPN actually had all eight of the above-named Brewers in his top-100. His order was a bit different, though.

John Sickels of Minor League Ball actually puts out a top-200 list of prospects. He only put four Brewers within the 100 mark (Brinson, Hader, Ray and Diaz), but he has a full 10 Milwaukee youngsters among his best 200.

118 – SS, Mauricio Dubon

120 – RHP, Ortiz

121 – RHP, Woodruff

124 – RHP, Phil Bickford

181 – RHP, Marcos Diplan

200 – 3B, Lucas Erceg

Of course, it’s important to remember that each person ranks players on a different set of qualifications. Some value current performance higher than projection.

Others try to look at the players as they will be after this year or in three seasons. When you see a few guys consistently residing in everyone’s rankings, that is a terrific sign.

Clearly, the experts agree that Milwaukee is on the right path.

Further evidence of the Milwaukee Brewers’ extensive talent depth is in comparing their lower-rated guys to that of other organizations’ best 10 prospects.

On the Baseball America podcast, they argued that the Brewers’ prospects in the 31-40 range could be comparable to the top-10 of three teams: Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Think about that for a second. Prospects in the 31-40 range are spare parts, organizational depth, and fringe Major Leaguers (in most cases). The Brewers may actually have other diamonds to pick out in the future.

Even among their own top prospects, the improvement in the last few years is staggering. Players in the Brewers’ system that were among the best in 2014-2015 have dipped into the 20’s and 30’s.

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Sure, some fell because their stock dropped; however, it’s mostly due to the talent brought into the organization.

It has happened quickly and boldly.

While a majority of clubs will be hoping their best 3-5 prospects all pan out, Milwaukee has better odds at landing multiple stars. Plus, they have more quality players with a chance to contribute at the highest level.

Keep in mind, many of these prospects are still on the younger side for their levels. With a bunch of 20, 21 and 22-year-olds, there is tons of room for development.

The greatest challenge for Stearns will be picking the right guys to keep. Others in the minors may be dealt for MLB talent in areas of need. His timing on such deals will be fascinating theater.

It’s an exciting time to be a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers. There’s something about watching a crop of youngsters building into something (hopefully) special.

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Likely, it will be a few years yet until the Milwaukee Brewers are pushing toward postseason berths. However, the potential and depth from top to bottom is increasing the chances of sustained quality baseball to enormous levels.