MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers sent two Minor League affiliates to the postseason (the rookie-level Arizona Complex League club and Single-A Carolina), had three league pitchers of the year (Gerson Calzadilla in the ACL, Carlos Rodríguez in the Southern League and Robert Gasser in the International League) and moved up to No. 3 in MLB Pipeline’s farm system rankings, with top prospect Jackson Chourio ranked second in the Top 100.
In other words, it was a good year down on the farm.
Here are six players who stood out.
3 players who forced their way onto the radar this year
3B Luke Adams: The 2022 Draft netted six of MLB Pipeline’s current Top 30 Brewers prospects: First-round pick Eric Brown Jr. (No. 10), second-rounders Jacob Misiorowski (No. 3) and Robert Moore (No. 15), third-rounder Dylan O’Rae (No. 19), fourth-rounder Matthew Wood (No. 23) and 12th-round pick Adams (No. 22), who signed for $282,500 out of Hinsdale Central High School in suburban Chicago. Adams broke out in ‘23 after an aggressive assignment to Single-A Carolina, where he reached base at a .400 clip while hitting 11 home runs and stealing 30 bases in 99 games. He also impressed at third base.
“For a high school draft pick to do what he did at a full-season club was impressive,” Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan said.
RHP Logan Henderson: Five years after the Brewers drafted Corbin Burnes in the fourth round out of St. Mary’s College in California, they drafted Henderson in the fourth round in 2021 out of McLennan Community College in Waco, Tex. Henderson (Brewers No. 18) was a breakout candidate going into ‘22, but an elbow injury that required surgery -- though not Tommy John surgery -- delayed his ascent until 2023, when he spent the full season at Carolina, posted a league-leading 2.75 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings. Henderson’s 35.2 percent strikeout rate was fourth-highest across Minor League Baseball for pitchers who logged at least 70 innings (Misiorowski was fifth at 35 percent).
“He’s set up in a really good spot heading into 2024,” Flanagan said in September. “Do you start him at Appleton, maybe [Double-A] Biloxi? Who knows. We’ll see in Spring Training. But he’s in a really good spot the way he’s throwing the ball -- and he’s 100 percent healthy.”
CF Luis Lara: The Brewers’ handling of Chourio shows they aren’t afraid to challenge a top prospect if the player shows he can handle it. That’s been the case with Lara (Brewers No. 8), who signed for $1.1 million in 2002 from Venezuela and made it all the way to High-A Wisconsin as an 18-year-old in 2023. Lara rose to the challenge by posting similar numbers at the higher level, and he finished the year with a .286 average, a .373 on-base percentage and 30 stolen bases in 87 games. He won’t turn 19 until next month.
2 possible breakout players to watch in 2022
CF Yophery Rodríguez: Hailing from the Dominican Republic and regarded for an advanced hitting approach, Rodríguez (Brewers No. 13) earned a $1.5 million bonus last January -- the largest for any player in Milwaukee’s 2023 international signing class. The 17-year-old flashed all the tools in the Dominican Summer League, with an .842 OPS and 12 steals in 52 games. The Brewers plan to bring Rodríguez stateside in 2024 and could push him to Carolina at some point.
INF Juan Baez: “High energy, exciting player that can play some defense and has some pop in the bat,” is how Flanagan described Baez (Brewers No. 24), who reached Carolina as an 18-year-old at the end of this season. Baez has played second base, third and shortstop and it appears he fits best on the middle of the infield.
1 big question for next season
When will Chourio make it to Milwaukee?
It does seem like a matter of “when” instead of “if” at this point, after Chourio followed his breakthrough age-18 season in 2022 with an impressive showing as a 19-year-old at Double-A Biloxi in ‘23, with a late-season cameo at Triple-A Nashville. The benefit of that final week at Milwaukee’s top affiliate was to allow Chourio to learn his way around in advance of a season-opening assignment there in 2024, but he made it worth the time by going 7-for-21 with a trio of hard-hit doubles.
Chourio will need to log at-bats in Nashville next year, and then it will require an opportunity. The Brewers have a crowded outfield picture with Christian Yelich in left on most days -- the Brewers like to spread around DH at-bats among multiple players -- and former top prospects Sal Frelick, Garrett Mitchell and Joey Wiemer now squarely in the Major League mix with Blake Perkins and Tyrone Taylor.