7/27/2014 9:00 P.M. ET
Nelson, Taylor still top Brewers' Top 20 list
Right-hander, outfielder remain top prospects in Milwaukee's talented Minors system
By Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.
To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Players are graded on a 20-80 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.
Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.
1. Jimmy Nelson, RHP
Preseason rank: 1
MLB Top 100 rank: 53 (Preseason: 83)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55
Initially considered more of a workhorse than an impact starter coming out of Alabama in 2010, Nelson has forced scouts to re-evaluate their projections. He has surpassed Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley -- the pair of college pitchers the Brewers selected in the first round in '11 -- and he reached the big leagues in '13.
Nelson generates lots of ground balls with his heavy fastball that sits in the low 90s, and it can reach 96 mph. Nelson's power slider is his best secondary offering, and his changeup has shown steady improvement since he was drafted.
Nelson was perhaps the best pitcher in the upper levels of the Minor Leagues in the first half of 2014, posting a 1.46 ERA at Triple-A Nashville. That dominating performance has left little doubt that his future is as a starter and not a reliever, as many initially saw him.
2. Tyrone Taylor, OF
Preseason rank: 2
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
A two-sport star in high school, Taylor's raw tools and athleticism led Milwaukee to select him in the second round in 2012. Able to focus solely on baseball for the first time, the former prep running back took off in '13, his first full professional season.
Taylor is an elite athlete, and he takes advantage of his above-average speed in all phases of the game. His speed is more of a weapon than his power, but he generates enough bat speed to drive balls into the gaps. As Taylor gets more experience, his speed is good enough to make him a good defensive center fielder.
Taylor still has a ways to go, but the early returns have been encouraging for Milwaukee.
3. Orlando Arcia, SS
Preseason rank: 4
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 30 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
The younger brother of Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, Orlando is a slick-fielding shortstop. He missed the 2012 season due to a broken ankle, but he returned healthy in '13 and made his U.S. debut in the Midwest League as an 18-year-old.
Unlike his brother, Arcia isn't a power hitter. Instead, he uses his good bat control to barrel up balls and make consistent contact. Arcia has a good approach at the plate, effectively using the whole field to hit. His defense, however, is his calling card. Arcia's range, soft hands and good infield actions give him a chance to be an above-average defender.
Arcia's defense means he won't have to hit much to be an everyday player, but he's made encouraging progress at the plate this season.
4. Kodi Medeiros, LHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
Medeiros initially impressed scouts on the showcase circuit as a left-hander with impressive movement on three potential above-average pitches. He continued to pitch well this spring, and he ultimately became the highest drafted high school player from Hawaii when the Brewers selected him 12th overall in June.
Medeiros' fastball has hit 95 mph, but he more typically throws it around 90-91. He doesn't need big velocity to miss bats, however, as his low arm slot produces tremendous run and sink on his heater.
Medeiros' upper-70s slider has so much lateral break that at times he struggles to keep it in the strike zone, and his changeup dives at the plate. Medeiros' small stature and unconventional delivery lead to concerns about his long-term viability in the rotation, though his athleticism gives him a real chance to make it as a starter.
5. Jake Gatewood, SS
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 60 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50
Gatewood made a name for himself on the national stage last summer, winning the junior portion of the All-Star Game Home Run Derby by bashing 13 homers with a metal bat at Citi Field. A month later, he won the Derby at the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field.
Gatewood has tremendous power and bat speed, not to mention quality athleticism and arm strength. Whether he realizes that upside depends on how much he develops at the plate and how much weight he'll eventually pack on his lean 6-foot-5 frame. Scouts weren't sold on Gatewood's pure hitting ability, and his busy setup at the plate can affect his timing.
Gatewood definitely has the arm for shortstop, but his speed and defense may not be more than average, which could eventually lead to a move to third base.
6. Monte Harrison, OF
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Arm: 70 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
Harrison was perhaps the best athlete in the 2014 Draft class. He was a three-sport star in high school, and he was committed to Nebraska to play football and baseball before signing with the Crew.
If Harrison's bat develops as hoped, he could have solid or better tools across the board. His most impressive attribute is his arm, as he was clocked at 97 mph making a throw from the outfield during the Perfect Game National in June.
Harrison is an above-average runner who could become a quality center fielder in time. If not, he has the bat and arm to profile well in right field. Harrison has the strength and bat speed for above-average power. He will need some time to develop at the plate, and his progress could be expedited now that he can focus on baseball full time.
7. Devin Williams, RHP
Preseason rank: 3
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
Signing Kyle Lohse cost the Brewers their first-round pick in 2013, making Williams their top selection in the second round. Williams is a bit raw, but Milwaukee believes his upside will help him develop into a first-round kind of talent.
Williams saw his velocity tick up as a senior in high school, and he throws his fastball in the low 90s. His loose delivery and projectable frame lead scouts to believe there's room for added velocity as he gets stronger. Williams has a feel for both his slider and changeup, but both are still works in progress, as is his command.
Williams may have the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the Brewers' Minor League system. But it will take time for him to reach his potential.
8. Mitch Haniger, OF
Preseason rank: 5
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Scouts thought Haniger could be a quick-moving college bat when he was coming out of Cal Poly in 2012, and so far, he's proved them right. Haniger reached Double-A Huntsville in '14, though his progress was slowed when he hyperextended his elbow in June.
Haniger's quick bat produces plenty of raw power. There will always be some swing-and-miss in his game, but his approach at the plate has improved, and he squares up balls well.
Haniger was a center fielder in college, and he has spent some time there as a professional. As an everyday player, however, he profiles best in right field, where his arm is an asset.
9. Clint Coulter, C
Preseason rank: 12
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 60 | Field: 40 | Overall: 45
Milwaukee used the first of its two first-round picks in the 2012 Draft to select Coulter. After an injury-plagued first full professional season, he has bounced back in '14.
Coulter's offensive upside is considerable. He has a quick swing, and he has used a more disciplined approach this season, helping him cut down on his strikeouts and increase his walks. Coulter has good raw power, and he has shown he can tap into it as a professional.
Coulter is a work in progress behind the plate. He earns praise for his work ethic, giving him a chance to improve his defensive skills with more repetitions. Coulter still has a long way to go defensively, and his bat may eventually force a change of position to speed up his timeline.
10. Jorge Lopez, RHP
Preseason rank: 20
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Lopez became the second-highest-drafted pitcher from Puerto Rico when the Brewers made him the 70th overall selection in 2011. He was raw when he was drafted, and he started his professional career slowly. But Lopez has turned a corner in '14, and he earned a spot on the World roster at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game as a 21-year-old.
Listed at 6-foot-4, 165 pounds, Lopez is still projectable, and he has a chance to add velocity as he physically matures. For now, his fastball sits in the low 90s, and he pairs it with a good curveball. Lopez has made strides with his changeup this season, giving him a solid three-pitch arsenal.
Lopez repeats his delivery well, and he isn't afraid to come right after hitters. Lopez isn't overly flashy, but he has all the tools to become a Major League starter.
11. Victor Roache, OF
Preseason rank: 8
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Roache's professional debut was delayed until 2013 because of a broken wrist that kept him out almost all of '12 and required surgery to repair. Once he got back on the field, he showed the same kind of power that the Brewers expected.
Roache has an incredible amount of raw power, but how much of it he's able to utilize remains to be seen. There's a lot of swing-and-miss in his game, and he'll need to improve his pitch-recognition skills to make more contact.
Roache is a capable left fielder, but his defense doesn't add much to his value. It'll be up to his powerful bat to carry him to the Major Leagues.
12. Taylor Jungmann, RHP
Preseason rank: 9
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Jungmann was the first of two advanced college pitchers the Crew took in the first round of the 2011 Draft. Neither he nor left-hander Bradley has moved as quickly as scouts thought they might, but Jungmann is steadily moving toward Milwaukee.
Jungmann has lost some velocity from his days as the University of Texas' ace, and he now relies heavily on his low-90s sinker. Thanks to its movement and the good downhill plane he throws it from, he creates a ton of ground balls. Jungmann's slider and changeup give him two more solid offerings.
Jungmann's command took a step back in 2013, and he'll have to find a way to throw more strikes to reach his potential as a big league starter.
13. Johnny Hellweg, RHP
Preseason rank: 7
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 40 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 35 | Overall: 45
Originally drafted in the 16th round by the Angels, Hellweg was a part of the package the Brewers received in the Zack Greinke trade in 2012. Hellweg was named the '13 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year.
Hellweg stands out for his fastball, which routinely reaches 98 mph. That kind of velocity, combined with the good downhill plane his 6-foot-9 frame generates, makes it very difficult to square up. Hellweg's changeup is an average offering, while his slider lags behind. His command is well below average, and he will have to learn how to harness his stuff to find success in the big leagues.
Hellweg underwent Tommy John surgery in April, ending his season. That, combined with his command issues, may be enough to make him a reliever again.
14. Michael Reed, OF
Preseason rank: 15
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
The son of former NFL player Benton Reed, Michael caught scouts' attention with his strength and athleticism as a high school player in Texas. He began to turn that into performance at Class A Wisconsin in 2013, and he's built on that this season in Class A Advanced Brevard County.
Reed's contact-oriented approach and solid speed make him a natural fit at the top of the order. He hasn't shown much power yet, but some scouts believe it will eventually come. Reed has played all three outfield positions, and he is a solid defender.
Reed probably isn't an everyday center fielder, but his strong arm and good routes make a good fit in right field. That puts more pressure on his bat to make him a big league regular.
15. Taylor Williams, RHP
Preseason rank: 16
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Williams began his college career at Washington State, but he played sparingly as a freshman in 2011, before transferring to Mount Hood Community College in Oregon and then Kent State. There, Williams grabbed attention in February '13, when he struck out Kris Bryant, the eventual No. 2 overall pick, three times.
Williams mixes his low-to-mid-90s fastball effectively with a slider and a changeup. His delivery has some effort to it, though he is athletic enough to largely compensate for it.
Some scouts think Williams' delivery and short stature will ultimately push him to the bullpen. Though Milwaukee has used him as a reliever some this season, the club believes Williams has the stuff to be a starter, and it will continue to develop him as one.
16. Tyler Wagner, RHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Wagner was a closer at the University of Utah, and he moved to the rotation as a professional. He has pitched surprisingly well as a starter, finishing eighth in the Midwest League in ERA in 2013 and again ranking among the leaders in the Florida State League the next year.
Wagner throws his fastball in the low 90s, with heavy sinking action. He isn't afraid to attack hitters, allowing his sinker to produce weak contact, and he mixes in a solid slider and a changeup. Wagner's command has improved as he's gotten more innings under his belt as a professional.
When Wagner was coming out of college, scouts were divided about whether he would be better suited by a return to the bullpen, where his velocity is a tick higher. The Brewers believed Wagner could be a starter, and he has done nothing to change their minds.
17. Nick Delmonico, 3B
Preseason rank: 6
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Originally drafted in the sixth round by the Orioles in 2011, Delmonico was acquired by Milwaukee for Francisco Rodriguez in July '13. Delmonico comes from a baseball family, and he has a good baseball IQ as a result.
Delmonico has an advanced feel for hitting, and he makes consistent hard contact. He already has solid power, and he should add more as he gets stronger. As a professional, Delmonico has played three infield positions. He's best suited for a corner, and he has a chance to be an average defender at third base.
Injuries have limited Delmonico throughout his career, but if he can stay healthy, he could develop into an everyday big leaguer.
18. David Goforth, RHP
Preseason rank: 14
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Cutter: 50 | Curveball: 45 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Goforth has been used as a starter and reliever throughout his career, but it looks like he may now have found a home at the back of the bullpen.
As a power reliever, Goforth throws his fastball in the mid 90s, occasionally touching 98 mph. Because of his time as a starter, he has a full arsenal of secondary offerings. Goforth's cutter is the best of the bunch, though his curveball and changeup have made some strides.
Goforth has often been used as a closer, and his power arsenal makes him a natural fit for that role. But he will need to refine his command to continue closing in the big leagues.
19. Hunter Morris, 1B
Preseason rank: 10
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 45 | Field: 40 | Overall: 45
Morris had a breakout season in 2012, and he was named the Southern League Player of the Year. He struggled to follow it up in '13 at Triple-A Nashville, and he returned to the Sounds this season. Morris was playing better in his second year in Triple-A until he suffered a broken arm in early July, forcing him onto the disabled list for several weeks.
Morris has big power, and he averaged 24 home runs in his three full Minor League seasons. But he has too many holes in his swing to put the bat on the ball consistently and utilize that pop. Morris is a well-below-average runner and an adequate defender at first base.
It'll be up to Morris' bat to get him to the big leagues. But he'll have to find a way to become more than an all-or-nothing hitter.
20. Tucker Neuhaus, 3B
Preseason rank: 13
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
In taking Neuhaus with the 72nd overall pick of the 2013 Draft, the Crew grabbed another high-upside high school player. It has been a rocky transition to professional baseball, but he was one of the youngest players in his Draft class, and he didn't turn 19 until this summer.
Neuhaus has a good feel for hitting, and he produces solid pop from the left side. He was a shortstop in high school, but Milwaukee quickly moved him to third base. Neuhaus' athleticism, hands and strong arm give him a chance to become a good defender there once he adjusts to the new position.
Neuhaus earns praise for his makeup and work ethic, which will serve him well as he progresses through the Minor Leagues.