I understand how getting caught up in farm system rankings and prospects that may not crack a big league roster for several more years may seem silly at face value for a Brewers organization that was one win away from a World Series berth. However, this article will analyze the present through the lens of the future, by highlighting the status of some Brewers prospects who are already household names, namely Keston Hiura, Corey Ray, and others, and when we can expect them to fill a meaningful spot on one of the best rosters in the National League.
When Milwaukee traded three of their top 10 prospects almost exactly a year ago to acquire Christian Yelich, they sacrificed being seen as having one of the best farm systems in baseball for improving the major league roster; something that must be done for teams looking to contend in a competitive, money-driven league. Combined with trades such as the Yelich deal and some other top prospects graduating to significant, high-leverage roles in Milwaukee like Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta, the consensus regarding the Brewers’ farm system that it is pretty much middle-of-the-road. Starting with Keston Hiura, who Baseball America calls: “The best hitter the Brewers have developed since Ryan Braun” let’s look at what we can expect in 2019 from some future Brewers.
- 2B Keston Hiura
With his elbow concerns far in the rearview, and his pure offensive domination in the minors, Keston Hiura seems more ready than ever to take over as Milwaukee’s starting second baseman and an as an important middle of the lineup weapon. That said, that role will not immediately belong to him coming out of spring training, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and he will have to wait for his call-up sometime during the 2019 regular season. In 2018, Hiura hit to the tune of .293/.357/.464 with 13 home runs and 34 doubles. Hiura projects as an elite contact hitter and an average power threat at a position of need for the Brewers.
Projection: All attempts to pry Hiura away from Milwaukee will be unsuccessful and by the end of 2019 he will be starting on a daily basis and garnering some NL Rookie of the Year buzz.
- OF Corey Ray
Seen as a true five-tool threat worthy of the 5th overall selection in the 2016 Draft, Corey Ray has had many eyes on his performance ever since his selection. After a down year offensively in 2017 that sparked some concern, Ray was able to flip the script entirely in 2018 and play so spectacularly that he took home the Southern League MVP award at AA Biloxi.
Unlike Hiura, Ray does not have a clear opening for him on the major league roster, given the strength of the Brewers outfield, so he will likely have to wait for injury or another extenuating circumstance if he hopes to make his debut in 2019.
Projection: Corey Ray’s struggles with plate discipline and the Brewers’ outfield depth will prevent him from taking over a meaningful role in 2019, but he will make his debut at some point and turn some heads with his balanced skill-set.
- 2B/SS Mauricio Dubon
Mauricio Dubon was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Tyler Thornburg deal from 2016, and has yet to crack the big leagues. In 2018 he seemed on the verge of a call-up when he unfortunately suffered a season-ending ACL tear. In 2018, Dubon hit for the superb average of .343 in 108 at-bats and projects as a plus defender with above average speed and range.
Projection: As it stands, there is no clear spot for Dubon on the Brewers, but expect him to get a chance in 2019 at either shortstop if Orlando Arcia struggles or at second base if injury strikes.
RHP Zack Brown
Zack Brown has had an up and down career thus far, however, his recent success in 2018 in Double-A is indicative of future prosperity. Last season, he was able to finish with a 9-1 overall record partnered with a 2.44 ERA. Brown projects as an excellent ground-ball pitcher who pounds the strike zone well.
Projection: Brown’s success will carry over into 2019 and will earn him a chance to debut in the Brewers’ bullpen following in the footsteps of Josh Hader, Corbin Burnes, and others.
While the Brewers farm system may not be as much of a strength as it was a couple years ago, it is safe to say there are some potential difference makers who will be primed for substantial roles in the not too distant future. Organizational depth is a vital key to a successful franchise, and the Brewers’ scouts and decision-makers have done a great job of building for the present without leaving the future in the rearview. Bring on 2019!
Stats Courtesy of Baseball Reference