The Milwaukee Brewers have decided to call up their top prospect in second baseman Keston Hiura. Second base has been clearly a position of need this season as they have experimented with Travis Shaw and Mike Moustakas both seeing time at second, but that position should now be solidified for years to come.
Hiura has the best hit tool stll in the minors (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Nick Senzel could both be argued has as good if not better hit tools, but both have already made their debuts). The one concern with Hiura was, and still is to an extent, is his defense as he has seen a lot of at DH after undergoing Tommy John surgery while still at UC Irvine and his recovery was slow.
The upside for Hiura is a perennial .300+ hitter who can run into 20+ home runs a season while playing a solid second base and regularly being the starting second baseman for the NL All-Star team in the future.
(Day job has my writing time extremely limited so there will be more frequent and in depth articles to come after next week.)
Before I even got this posted Alex Reyes exhausted his rookie eligibility (needed a single out to do so and pitched an inning on Friday) so I updated my top 150 before it went live. Reyes was at 22 but is now removed making room for Ryan Weathers, giving the Padres two more than any other team with 12 players making the top 150. 15 players on the list open the season in the big leagues, with 14 of those in the top 80 and the Padres and Mariners both starting with two players in the big leagues.
Quick Report: A pure second baseman is not often a number on prospect for a team, but Hiura is special. I mentioned in my post yesterday that Senzel may have the best hit tool outside of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., he has competition with Hiura. He was limited to DH duties in his final year at UC Irvine thanks to an elbow injury most thought would require Tommy John surgery but he is healthy now and a solid second baseman. To go along with the incredible hit tool, Hiura has plus power potential and could be an absolute superstar at the plate. In his first full pro season he made it to AA and went to the AFL where he took home MVP honors. I fully expect him to become a staple in the Brewers lineup this season.
Quick Report: A guy who might be six-foot-tall, Ray is a rare player who is a no doubt middle of the infield defender who is all power and little contact. He has near top of the scale speed that makes up for his lack of great reads in center, but the athleticism should keep him there. The bat is powerful, but it is long to the zone and will lead to a lot of strikeouts. Overall, he is a tough one because he had a great season last year after a poor season the year before and there really wasn’t any difference in approach or mechanics. He is going to be one of those who is streaky, but when he is on a hot streak, there will be few who can impact a game as much as him.
Quick Report: A surprising fall in the draft last June, Turang was once a candidate to go number one overall, but he struggled at the plate his senior year in high school. The Brewers were thrilled to get him at number 21 overall, and he will likely outperform his draft position. He has a very advanced approach at the plate that allows him to work deep into counts and fight off tough pitches. He is a guy who should hit at the top of a lineup, although he will never his for much in terms of power. In the field, he is a smooth fielding shortstop that can make some really acrobatic plays and could prove to be a plus defender.
Quick Report: If you are curious what a right fielder should look like, use Tristen Lutz as a perfect example as he is all power. The arm is plus and the raw power is plus-plus, although it will likely just be plus in game situations. He is actually a solid athlete in the outfield and has good reads, so he could hold down center in a pinch, but will play as an above average defender in right. The bat is quick and provides natural loft, so he just may be able to hit for a solid average, although chances are he is going to be more of a guy that puts up a .260 average and 30 or so home runs.
Quick Report: The delivery screams reliever, and that may be his ultimate role, but the stuff and consistency just might be enough to keep him as a starter. The arm slot is very high and there is a ton of head whip that seems to lead the arm through its slot, but he fills the zone and has been quite durable thus far. His fastball can sit into the mid-90s with a plus curve and a change that has developed into an average offering. If he is sent to the bullpen, he is a guy who could handle longer stints when necessary, but also be successful in high leverage situation thanks to the fastball-curve mix, although I still hold belief he will be able to crack a rotation and become a solid number four starter.
Quick Report: When I put together this list I was quite surprised how low I wound up placing Dubon as I really like him as a player and have had only positive interactions with him as a person. The problem with Dubon is the fact I just don’t see the ceiling of an everyday ballplayer some see. He has a strong arm and good actions in the field that will allow him to see time at three infield positions and be at least average at all three. There is almost no over the fence power in his swing, but he gets the bat to the ball well and has plenty of speed to allow him to put up plenty of doubles. Ultimately I see Dubon as an elite utilityman, which is no slight to him, but the upside of the five ahead of him on this list is just enough to out rank him despite him having the highest floor of any outside Hiura.
Quick Report: A cannon of an arm that will wow you with its power but also wow you with its lack of accuracy, Gray could certainly fit right field well, but he just may be able to stick in center. He has good athleticism and quality reads that could allow him to stay as one of the bigger bodies in center and as much power as any at the position. The bat is lightning quick, but he gets in front of the ball too often and is susceptible to swinging over quality off-speed stuff. When he makes contact, he has plus raw power that should translate to game action as he fills out, while the body doesn’t appear it will lose much athleticism when he does.
Quick Report: I will confess I am probably too high on Stokes, but I like his game. He is a very small player with big power. He is quite athletic but won’t stick up the middle. Let’s start with the position issues where he has the reads and range to be a center fielder but has one of the worst arms in the minors and is really a left field only option, where he could be plus defender. At the plate he looks like a guy who should be a slap hitter thanks to his above average speed and standing just 5’8”, but his contact rates are terrible. Instead, when he does make contact, the ball travels a long way and leads to real power. In reality he will likely have to be on the short side of a platoon, but even in limited ABs, he could find a way to put up 15-18 home runs a year and steal a big bag as a pinch runner when needed.
Quick Report: Feliciano is a guy who will be carried by the bat, although he can hold his own behind the dish. The arm strength is very good and he has quick feet to assist his pop times to be good enough to be at least average when it comes to controlling the running game. His receiving needs work as the hands can be a bit busy, but there is enough there that he can stick behind the plate and not be a liability. The bat is quick to the zone and he makes solid contact while the ball can jump. He ultimately will have an average hit and power tool, but if he can keep those while getting close to average as a defender, that could turn him into an above average catcher.
Quick Report: This is a make or break season for Erceg, as he needs to step it up at the plate, but there is still plenty of power in the bat. His hands are busy and can get below the ball far too often, preventing him from getting the most out of his above average raw power and making softer contact than he should. If he can quiet the hands some and get a more direct path to the ball, the power will shine through while his absolute cannon of an arm at third base make up for not having the greatest feet at the position. If all comes together, he still has a shot to be a quality everyday third baseman, but if the bat doesn’t make great improvements this year there are rumblings a move to the mound where he was a power pitcher in college may be in order.