Peralta leads Brewers' talented pipeline
Milwaukee's top four prospects all right-handed pitchers
The future success of every Major League team lies largely in its Minor League pipeline. With that in mind, MLB.com is looking at each team's farm system, from the Top 20 Prospects to under-the-radar types.
It's been a few years since Milwaukee's farm system has received high marks from national scouting services, perhaps because the Brewers usually don't seem to have the one or two standout prospects.
Indeed, only one Brewers prospect -- right-hander Wily Peralta, at No. 64 -- cracked MLB.com's Top 100 Prospect list. But that doesn't mean the Brewers aren't excited about the potential in their Minor League system.
"Of course, like everyone, we'd always like to add some more talent to it," Brewers director of player development Reid Nichols said. "But I'm happy with what we have."
What Milwaukee has atop its prospect board is a lot of pitching. The top four prospects in the Brewers' system, as ranked by MLB.com, are all right-handers: Peralta, Tyler Thornburg, Taylor Jungmann and Johnny Hellweg. Lefty Jed Bradley, the club's 2011 first-round pick, is also highly thought of despite some command issues last season. He ranks sixth.
Peralta, who projects as a No. 2 or very good No. 3 starter, showed flashes in the Majors late last season, going 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in five September starts, including holding the Mets to two hits in eight scoreless innings.
Thornburg also gained big league experience last season as a starter and reliever, but his four-pitch repertoire -- fastball, curve, changeup and cutter -- makes him ideal for the rotation.
Jungmann and Hellweg, who was acquired in the Zack Greinke deal, also have upside. Jungmann topped 150 innings in his first full season and while Hellweg only threw 20 frames after the trade because of workload concerns, his fastball can reach 97 mph and his breaking ball possesses late bite.
Although those arms might not be as highly touted as others by scouting services, it doesn't mean they won't develop into quality Major Leaguers. Peralta already showed his ability last September, and the Brewers also received great contributions from Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers, the latter of whom was homegrown.
"It's everybody's best guess [evaluating prospects], and we really don't promote, or rather oversell, our players," Nichols said. "But we've done good with what we've had, and I think we've developed some pretty good talent."
Nichols and the Brewers are confident that will continue.
Top 20 prospects
The most highly touted infielder is first baseman Hunter Morris, who ranked as MLB.com's No. 3 first-base prospect. Morris, 24, flourished in his second full season of pro ball, leading the Brewers organization in hits (158), homers (28), RBIs (113) and slugging percentage (.563), while also finishing second in batting average (.303) en route to earning Southern League MVP honors for Double-A Huntsville.
Another young infielder to watch is Scooter Gennett, MLB.com's 10th-ranked second-base prospect. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Gennett isn't a power threat, but is a career .300 Minor League hitter who posted a .293/.330/.385 line for Huntsville last season. Drafted as a shortstop, he's still learning to play second, but has great baseball instincts.
Although Gennett lacks power, the Brewers have three who can provide it in outfielders Victor Roache (No. 8) and Mitch Haniger (No. 11), and catcher Clint Coulter (No. 10).
Others also possess it on the mound, highlighted by right-hander Damien Magnifico (No. 20), whose fastball consistently reaches triple digits.
brewers' top prospects
Under the radar
Outfielder Caleb Gindl (No. 17) and shortstop Orlando Arcia (No. 18) couldn't crack MLB.com's top prospect list, but the Brewers are very high on both. Gindl, 24, was the club's fifth-round pick in 2007 and already has two full seasons at Triple-A Nashville. He has a career .293/.368/.458 line in six Minor League seasons and has reached double-digit home runs four times. He's also a solid defender who can play all three outfield positions.
A broken ankle forced Arcia to miss the entire 2012 season, but, at only 18, he still has plenty of time to develop. Nichols described Arcia as a "baseball rat," who "plays way above his age." He posted a .294/.386/.459 line with six homers and 13 stolen bases in 64 games as a 16-year-old in the Dominican Summer League in 2011.
Hitter of the Year
Morris won this award last season and is a good bet to repeat, as he should spend the entire season in the Minors. Gennett and Gindl, now in his third season at Triple-A Nashville, are others who could challenge the first baseman.
Pitcher of the Year
Assuming Peralta spends most of the season with Milwaukee, Jungmann seems primed to build upon last season's performance at Class A Advanced Brevard County, where he was 11-6 with a 3.53 ERA in 153 innings.