Brewers' best first-half prospects at each level

June 25th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Adam McCalvy’s Brewers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers liked , or they wouldn’t have drafted him 54th overall last year out of the University of Nebraska Omaha.

Once they got to know him at the club’s complex in Arizona, they liked him even more.

“He started impacting baseballs from the get-go,” said Brenton Del Chiaro, one of the Brewers’ Minor League hitting coordinators. “There was some chatter, like, ‘We may have missed this.’ We knew what we were getting from a contact perspective, but he had this other thing in his toolbag.”

Nothing has changed on that front this season, as the 22-year-old left-handed-hitting Boeve (the Brewers' No. 13 prospect per MLB Pipeline) has already been promoted to Double-A Biloxi with the best wRC+ in Milwaukee’s Minor League system (151) among hitters with at least 100 plate appearances so far.

He got off to such a remarkable start at High-A Wisconsin -- .553/.642/.632 in 13 games -- that he was quickly advanced to Biloxi on April 20, where he has been playing first and third base.

“This is a great topic to talk about because of who we thought we were getting coming out of the Draft,” said Del Chiaro. “A lot of the comps were that this was a Tyler Black-type of player before Tyler started tapping into his power. It was a high-contact, elite bat-to-ball and strike-zone-awareness hitter who hits the ball on the ground a lot.

“I love sharing this story, because we drafted Mike and he came to Arizona for the minicamp last July, and one thing [fellow hitting coordinator] Eric Theisen and I do when we meet new hitters is we find out who they think they are as hitters and what they do for their routines. So we [were] in the batting cage and I just asked [Boeve], ‘What do you think you do well? And what do you think you need to do better as a hitter?’”

Del Chiaro was floored by the sophistication and confidence of the response. Boeve knew he had an advanced feel for the zone and an ability to barrel a baseball. He also knew he had to hit it in the air more.

“To have that awareness made our jobs so much easier,” Del Chiaro said. “That’s the industry, right? How hard can you hit the ball in the air?”

Del Chiaro also loved that Boeve played 51 straight games before finally getting a day off last week. Boeve has been sidelined since then with a sore shoulder, but it’s benign enough that it is not expected to require a stint on the injured list.

If Boeve is our pick for the Brewers’ top-performing prospect in the first half, here are more selections from the team’s three other full-season affiliates:

Triple-A Nashville: 1B

While he is still trying to find a foothold in the Majors, the 23-year-old Toronto native has checked every box at Triple-A. Black (No. 3 prospect) has slashed .275/.374/.483 for Nashville this season, good for an .857 OPS that ranks third among Milwaukee Minor Leaguers with at least 150 plate appearances.

“We’ve talked with Tyler about how his elite strike-zone discipline has allowed him to be super successful in the Minor Leagues,” Del Chiaro said. “The thing Tyler is learning at the Major League level is that what he may think is a ball is something you’ll have to earn at the Major League level.

“Umpires are going to test you a little bit. … There may be times that he has to expand with two strikes to put the ball in play and avoid the strikeout with a man on third. But for a guy that loves to grind and work, that’s what you love in a player, right?”

High-A Wisconsin: 1B/3B

The Brewers challenged Adams (No. 15 prospect) by starting him in the cold weather of Appleton, Wis., as a 19-year-old. He’s responded by posting the first-half division champion Timber Rattlers’ top OPS (.812), with a big jump in production since the calendar flipped to June -- when he's posted a .955 OPS in 19 games.

“He started the season as a teenager and has held his own, and he’s starting to understand how to implement the game plan,” Del Chiaro said. “We’re entering that mental aspect of baseball. He continues to have elite swing decisions, excellent zone awareness. It’s just the consistency on the mental side of it.”

Single-A Carolina: SS

Playoff-bound for the second straight season by winning the first-half division title, the Mudcats are led by Pratt, a steal as a sixth-round pick last season. The 19-year-old Pratt (No. 8) was Milwaukee’s Minor League Player of the Month for May, and then he kept on hitting. After going 1-for-4 on Sunday, Pratt has a .384/.423/.466 slash line in June. Going back even farther, he’s hitting .336 with a .432 on-base percentage over 41 games since May 2.

“Coop is your typical teenager,” Del Chiaro said with a chuckle. “He’s going to want to do some funny things that leave you scratching your head, but the thing we’ve been really excited about is his transition from the Complex League to a full-season affiliate.

“We’ve seen improvement in the contact percentage and his ability to make decisions within the strike zone. He’s a cage rat, and I mean that as a complement. It’s baseball 24/7. And he’s one of our more explosive athletes. So I’m really excited to see, when the body starts to physically mature, some of the damage components that are going to come into play.”