Brewers Offseason Outlook: Top 10 Prospects


The MLB offseason brings all kinds of speculation for Brewers fans. Who will be signed? Will any significant trades be made? How is the minor-league pipeline looking, and can any prospects fill holes on the roster? In this three-piece “Brewers Offseason Outlook” series, I will examine each of those three areas and try to provide answers and context.

First off, we will focus on the prospects. I am offering my personal organizational top-10, and will highlight the chances each has at contributing to the big-league club in 2019. Here we go:

  1. Marcos Diplan, RHP

A 22-year-old right hander from the Dominican Republic, Diplan has the potential to be a mid-rotation arm. His fastball and slider both flash plus potential, but “flash” is the key word there. He has battled inconsistency throughout the past two years, as his below average control had led him astray at times. He walked nearly six batters per nine innings in 2018, but was able to maintain a solid ERA of 4.03 while spending time in both Class A-Advanced and Double A. Diplan still has some ways to go before being major-league ready, but he has the chance to be a valuable piece to either the Brewers’ rotation or bullpen in the future. If we see him in 2019, it will almost certainly be in the bullpen.

2019 Contribution Potential: Low

  1. Jacob Nottingham, C

Nottingham came to the Brewers in David Stearns’ first offseason as the key prospect in the return for Khris Davis. Nottingham has evolved quite a bit as a prospect since then. His power bat was originally supposed to be his calling card to a big-league future, but he has now transformed into an all-around catcher that is more solid defensively than offensively. He has an above average arm that should help him adequately control potential base-stealers. At the plate, his power has yet to fully materialize, but he should be able to sustain a reasonable slash line for a catcher. With Erik Kratz hitting free agency, Nottingham could have an opportunity to step into a large role in 2019 should the Brewers not seek any outside catching help.

2019 Contribution Potential: High

  1. Joe Gray, OF

Gray was the Brewers’ second-round draft pick this past June. He carries a lot of similar traits to former Brewers prospect Monte Harrison, in that both were extremely raw skill-wise and athletically gifted upon being drafted. Gray had a tough time adjusting in rookie-ball after signing, hitting .182/.347/.325 in 24 games for the Arizona League Brewers. However, he possesses all the tools necessary to become a dynamic player at the big-league level. Gray’s development will certainly take time, but if all goes right he could be an athletic, middle-of-the-order outfielder.

2019 Contribution Potential: None

  1. Mauricio Dubon, SS/2B

Dubon was primed for a call-up in May of this year to help fix the Brewers’ middle infield struggles after he started the season hot in Triple A, hitting .343/.348/.574 through his first 27 games. Fate would have it differently, however, as Dubon suffered a season ending ACL tear that removed him from the Brewers’ immediate plans. Dubon offers versatility as a player that has the defensive skills to succeed at either second base or shortstop, while also providing a solid bat and above-average speed. Barring another injury, Dubon should be in Milwaukee at some point in 2019 as either a platoon infielder or bench piece, and could potentially make the Opening Day roster if he stands out in Spring Training.

2019 Contribution Potential: High

  1. Lucas Erceg, 3B

As the Brewers’ second-round draft pick in 2016, Erceg immediately impressed with his abilities at the plate, hitting .327/.376/.518 in his first professional season. His performance has been less impressive since, as he most recently produced a slash line of .248/.306/.382 with the Double A Biloxi Shuckers. Erceg offers potential above average power, and has an absolute cannon for an arm at third base. He also is fairly good at managing the strike zone, as he achieved a solid strikeout rate of 16%. Erceg will likely not be a significant contributor in 2019 due to Travis Shaw’s presence at third base, but could be added as a bench bat down the stretch if he heats up in the minors, or if an injury bug hits the Brewers’ infielder core.

2019 Contribution Potential: Medium

  1. Tristen Lutz, OF

After being a supplemental first-round pick for the Brewers in 2017, Lutz impressed in his first full season in 2018. After a slow start, Lutz went on to hit .263/.346/.456 in the second half, performing especially well in the month of July when he posted a .967 OPS. Lutz profiles as a prototypical power-hitting right fielder, where he can utilize his plus arm strength in the field and slot in as a middle-of-the-order bat. Lutz is a prospect that could potentially take off in 2019 if everything comes together, and he possesses one of the highest ceilings in the system. Lutz doesn’t look to have a chance to factor in for the Crew in 2019 given the amount of development still needed, with the most likely way he contributes being as a trade chip.

2019 Contribution Potential: None

  1. Zack Brown, RHP

After quietly putting up two nice campaigns following being drafted as a fifth-rounder in 2016, Brown burst onto the scene in 2018 with his elite performance, pitching to a 2.44 ERA and a 9-1 record in 21 games started. Brown relies on an above-average fastball/curveball combo, with his changeup acting a reliable third offering. Brown has at times been marked down for having inconsistent command, but that did not appear to be too large of an issue in 2018 as he posted a 2.58 BB/9 ratio. Brown strikes out hitters enough to be an effective starter at the next level (8.31 K/9), and profiles as a mid-rotation workhorse at the next level. Brown could potentially contribute in the rotation in 2019 if his performance or an injury to a starter warrants it, but he is more likely to play a role as a high leverage middle reliever like Corbin Burnes did this year. If he performs well in Triple-A, expect him to be available for a call-up sometime in June.

2019 Contribution Potential: High

  1. Brice Turang, SS

After being lauded as the potential first overall pick in the 2018 draft for multiple years, scouts cooled off somewhat on Turang as a high school senior, causing him to fall to the Brewers’ first round selection at number 21. Turang grades out as at least above-average across the board in every category except for his power, which is currently below-average but could improve as he fills out his frame. Turang is extremely fluid in the field, making the likelihood he sticks at shortstop long-term very high. He certainly could also play second base if needed, and could even make a shift to centerfield given his arm strength and speed. Turang displayed an advanced hitting approach in his first taste of professional baseball, walking 16% of the time and keeping his strikeout rate below 20%. While his slash line of .283/.396/.352 shows the lack of power currently present, it should be viewed with optimism that he possesses such solid on-base skills, with increases in the power department serving merely as complements to this already considerable strength of his. Turang will not contribute in 2019, but could be a special player for the Crew in the future.

2019 Contribution Potential: None

  1. Corey Ray, OF

Ray came to Milwaukee with sky-high expectations as the fifth overall selection in the 2016 draft. As an athletic outfielder with great physical tools, Ray was expected to be a potential franchise cornerstone that could move quickly through the minor leagues. Two uninspiring seasons in the minors put some of that hype to rest, but a resurgent 2018 campaign added some fuel back to the fire. Ray greatly increased his power output, hitting 27 home runs and posting a .477 slugging percentage. He also proved his value as a threat on the bases, stealing 37 of them. However, he did display some swing and miss concerns, striking out nearly 30% of the time and hitting for an overall average of .239. Those numbers will need to improve for Ray to reach his ceiling, but he is an exciting prospect that could definitely provide value as a fourth outfielder or bench bat in 2019.

2019 Contribution Potential: Medium

  1. Keston Hiura, 2B

Regarded by all as the jewel of the Brewers system, Hiura offers an offensive ceiling that is among the best in all of baseball. It is topped amongst prospects perhaps only by Vlad Guerrero Jr., who has been dubbed as a generational hitting talent. Hiura put his offensive chops on full display in 2017 following his selection as the Brewers’ first round pick, hitting .371/.422/.611 across two levels of the minor leagues. He followed that up with a strong 2018 campaign in which he hit .293/.357/.464, and augmented this success by winning the MVP in the Arizona Fall League with a .323/.371/.563 slash that included 5 home runs and 33 RBI in just 23 games. This is a huge accomplishment, as most teams send their top prospects to the Arizona Fall League. While Hiura is considered elite at the plate, he still has some work to do on his second base defense, but this was to be expected considering the arm issues he had experienced in the past. With a second base hole looming on the major-league roster right now, many Brewers fan will be clamoring for Hiura to start the season in the lineup. Due to the Brewers wanting to delay the start of his major-league service time clock, and not to mention wanting to give him extra seasoning before facing major league pitching, Hiura will likely start the season in the minor leagues, but it would not be a surprise if he takes over the second base job at some point during the 2019 campaign.

2019 Contribution Potential: High


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