What was expected to be another rebuilding year for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017 proved anything but that.• Brewers Top 30 Prospects list After a fourth-place finish in the National League Central with a 73-89 record in 2016, the upstart Brewers added 13 wins last season (86-76) and nearly reached
What was expected to be another rebuilding year for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017 proved anything but that.
• Brewers Top 30 Prospects list
After a fourth-place finish in the National League Central with a 73-89 record in 2016, the upstart Brewers added 13 wins last season (86-76) and nearly reached the playoffs, ultimately finishing one game back of the Colorado Rockies for the second Wild Card spot.
:: Team Top 30 Prospects lists ::
With few big names on the Brewers' roster, the club relied heavily on contributions from a host of young and unheralded players, many of whom ascended from the Minors over the course of the season.
Josh Hader, Milwaukee's No. 3 prospect at this time last year, arrived in June and quickly emerged as a shutdown reliever out of the bullpen. Logging 47 2/3 innings across 35 appearances, the dynamic left-hander struck out 36.2 percent of the batters he faced while also holding them to a .154 average. Outfielder Brett Phillips also performed well and saw regular playing time in September -- the same month that right-handers Brandon Woodruff and Taylor Williams also made their big league debuts.
The Brewers appear poised for even more success following the offseason additions of Christian Yelich, whom they acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Marlins, and Lorenzo Cain, a free agent. And although the Yelich trade cost Milwaukee a pair of Top 100 outfielders in Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison, and power-hitting second baseman Isan Diaz, their farm system remains strong heading into 2018.
Headlined by three Top 100 prospects in second baseman Keston Hiura, the Brewers' first-rounder in 2017, and right-handers Corbin Burnes and Woodruff, Milwaukee's system is a product of smart drafting and savvy trades by general manager David Stearns. In total, 27 of the Brewers' Top 30 prospects for 2018 entered the system via the Draft (19 players) or trades (eight).
Many of them could soon be in the big leagues, too, as the Brewers have 20 prospects slated to arrive in the next two years, including nine with a 2018 ETA.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2017 preseason list to the 2018 preseason list.
Jump: Corbin Burnes, RHP (2017: 21 | 2018: 2); Adrian Houser, RHP (2017: NR | 2018: 13)
Fall: Phil Bickford, RHP (2017: 12 | 2018: NR)
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 65 - Keston Hiura
Power: 55 - Lucas Erceg (Tristen Lutz, Jake Gatewood, Larry Ernesto)
Run: 60 - Corey Ray (Mauricio Dubon, Carlos Rodriguez, Je'Von Ward)
Arm: 70 - Lucas Erceg
Defense: 60 - Carlos Rodriguez
Fastball: 60 - Taylor Williams (Brandon Woodruff, Luis Ortiz, Freddy Peralta, Marcos Diplan, Adrian Houser, Caden Lemons, Jorge Lopez)
Curveball: 60 - Adrian Houser (Zack Brown)
Slider: 60 - Kodi Medeiros (Luis Ortiz, Marcos Diplan, Taylor Williams)
Changeup: 55 - Freddy Peralta (Brendan Murphy)
Control: 60 - Corbin Burnes
How they were built
Free agent: 0
Rule 5: 0
Breakdown by ETA
Breakdown by position
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.