As the dust settles and the trade deadline passes, there’s still over a month of baseball to be played. As the 2016 season gets further and further along, it is becoming more and more clear that the Milwaukee Brewers are ahead of the game when it comes to rebuilding.
On Wednesday, MLB.com’s Jim Callis ranked the Brewers’ farm system #1 in the league, an impressive turnaround from 9th to start the season and toward the bottom a year ago.
When Carlos Gomez was traded last season, the thought was that: 1. The Brewers were entering a full rebuild and 2. The Brewers were going to be really bad for a long time. But only the first part of that is turning out to be true.
General manager David Stearns and company are indeed in full rebuild mode, as they proved by moving Jonathan Lucroy, Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith at the deadline, but the Brewers are far from being really bad and don’t look to be even below average for long.
The Brewers are currently mastering the art of the fast, complete rebuild; doing so by hitting on what many would consider “stop-gap” players and by bringing both young minor league prospects and advanced minor league talent.
To start, they have the “stop-gap” players. Jonathan Villar, Chris Carter and Hernan Perez all were brought onto the Milwaukee Brewers this past offseason and most saw them as place holders for prospects who were still developing. Fast forward to today and all three have become everyday starters with impact hitting.
Villar is on pace to lead the league in stolen bases (currently has 39) and has also hit for a clean .299/.359/.482 line while also leading the team in walks, doubles, hits and runs.
Carter is still hitting dingers and leads the team with 25 home runs and 61 RBIs, while Perez has hit his way into the everyday lineup, hitting seven home runs and collecting 23 RBIs in the last 15 games.
All three of these players were brought in to simply fill a spot but have become key players this year and have potentially played their way into the Brewers future.
Next they have the farm. Currently, post-trade deadline, the Brewers now have eight of the top 100 prospects in baseball. shortstop Orlando Arcia (#13), outfielder Lewis Brinson (#21), outfielder Corey Ray (#35), LHP Josh Hader (#43), RHP Luis Ortiz (#63), RHP Phil Bickford (#65), outfielder Trent Clark (#74) and outfielder Brett Phillips (#76) all are expected to make their big league debuts in 2018 or earlier.
Arcia made his major league debut last night, going 0-for-4, but playing a solid defensive game. In 100 Triple-A games this season, he hit .267 with 8 home runs and 53 RBI, while also stealing 15 bases.
But the Brewers also have some possible hidden gems lower in their farm system as well. Second baseman Isan Diaz (brought over in the Jean Segura trade) has been shredding Single-A pitchers as of late, raising his hitting line to .271/.351/.478, while also showing his power with 16 home runs.
Starting the year at Single-A, RHP Marcos Diplan absolutely dominated hitters. Posting a 6-2 record, 1.80 ERA and getting 89 strikeouts over 70 innings pitched, Diplan pitched his way to High-A.
Other lower-level prospects to keep tabs on are RHP Freddy Peralta (brought over in the Adam Lind trade) who has a combined 2.91 ERA and 90 strikeouts in the minors this year, and Lucas Erceg who was just drafted this season and has started hot, posting a combined .386/.431/.556 line between Rookie Ball and Single-A.
They might be rebuilding, but the Brewers are far from bad and contention is not as far off as some may think it is.
Image courtesy of milb.com.