Future Crew: Who is on the way from the minors?

After taking a look at where the major-league roster stands, we take a look at what minor-league prospects could be lending a hand to the Brewers in the near future.


The skinny: The cupboard is pretty bare here. Juan Centeno got the call to the majors from Triple-A Colorado Springs when Jonathan Lucroy was hurt, but saw limited action, appearing in 10 games with 23 plate appearances. He was previously in the bigs with the New York Mets the last two years for a combined 14 games. But he appears to be just a backup as Nevin Ashley has gotten a bulk of the time at Triple-A, hitting .311 with eight homers and 60 RBIs in 90 games, while also throwing out 38 percent of runners attempting to steal (40 percent is considered good at any level). At Double-A Biloxi, Adam Weisenberger is the primary catcher and is hitting a mere .236 with two homers and 22 RBIs in 84 games. But he does well throwing out baserunners, having nabbed 44 percent of base thieves. Backup Parker Berberet also struggles offensively, hitting .215 with two homers and 20 RBIs in 51 games. He throws out 34 percent of runners.

When will help arrive? Ashley would seem to be the top candidate, but he also just turned 31 so he is more of a minor-league journeyman. Weisenberger has been in spring training, primarily as an extra catcher but if he is overmatched offensively at Double-A at age 26, the bat is not likely to come around to be anything more than a backup. Any help for this spot will need to come from outside the organization.


The skinny: Matt Clark has moved past prospect status and is more of a typical Triple-A first baseman. He is hitting .281 with 18 homers and 70 RBIs at Colorado Springs and showed well after making his major-league debut last season with the Brewers. At Biloxi, Nick Ramirez, a left-handed hitter like Clark, has 14 homers and 62 RBIs, but also has .241 average and 110 strikeouts in 124 games. Garrett Cooper hit .294 with eight homers and 54 RBIs before earning a recent promotion to Biloxi.

When will help arrive? Cooper is the best prospect here, although if Ramirez can increase his average and maintain the power numbers, he is a step closer to the bigs. Clark could provide immediate short-term help if needed. David Denson, the first openly gay player in affiliated baseball who just got promoted from rookie-level Helena to low Class A Wisconsin, could be an option but is probably three years away.


The skinny: These two positions are being combined due to the Brewers’ shortstop depth. Orlando Arcia, 20, is the burgeoning star shortstop, hitting .305 with eight homers, 64 RBIs and 23 steals at Biloxi. Yadiel Rivera is at Triple-A and hitting .238 with one homer and 28 RBIs, while Luis Sardinas has split time at second and short, hitting .283 with one homer and 32 RBIs. Nick Shaw has been the primary second baseman at Biloxi, but is hitting .201 with no homers and 20 RBIs.

When will help arrive? Arcia is ready defensively to play in the majors and this season may have answered questions about his offense. With Jean Segura and Scooter Gennett the starters in the majors yet losing some of their luster, the Brewers could get aggressive and elevate Arcia to the majors and use Segura to platoon at short and second. Rivera could be stuck at Triple-A for another year, while Sardinas could be used in a utility role in the majors. The Brewers could also use their depth here for trades.


The skinny: Much like catcher, there’s not a lot here. Matt Dominguez is a former major-leaguer whom the Brewers picked up off the minor-league scrap pile after being put on waivers by the Houston Astros and is at Triple-A. Taylor Green is at Double-A who is still trying to live up to his top prospect promise (he was in the Arizona Fall League in 2008 and ’09). Brandon Macias is also at Biloxi, but is hitting .245 with two homers and 17 RBIs.

When will help arrive? Never is too drastic of a word, but that’s kind of where the Brewers are with prospects at the hot corner. Gilbert Lara, a top Dominican signing last summer, is currently a shortstop but has the big body and power that profiles ideally at third base, a move the will likely be made as soon as Lara runs into some of the minor-league shortstop depth. Lara was in the Arizona League this summer and was just bumped up to Helena.


The skinny: Outfield has the same type of impact players as shortstop, only a bit more dynamic. Center fielder Brett Phillips, acquired in the Carlos Gomez-Mike Fiers trade, leads this pack. Phillips hits for average and added power and is the Brewers’ No. 2 prospect. At three stops this year including Biloxi (the other two with the Astros), Phillips, a top-of-the-order hitter, is hitting .309 with 16 homers, 77 RBIs, 17 steals and 104 runs scored. Domingo Santana, who was also acquired in the same trade, has already been called up to the majors. Phillips’ acquisition moved promising center fielder Tyrone Taylor to right field at Biloxi. Taylor is intriguing as he was a high school football star before signing with the Brewers. The other key prospects are primarily corner outfielders: Kyle Wren, Michael Reed and Ben Guez at Colorado Springs, Victor Roache and Josh Fellhauer at Biloxi, and Clint Coulter, Omar Garcia and Michael Ratterree at high Class A Brevard County. A few others to watch who are more long-term projects are Trent Clark, Monte Harrison and Troy Stokes at Helena, and Demi Orimoloye and Joantgel Segovia at the Arizona League Brewers. Injuries have sidelined a few of these players this year, slowing there progress.

When will help arrive? Santana aside, as soon as Opening Day next year. Considering the Brewers’ outfield hole is in center, Phillips could have a chance to break with the big club, depending on what offseason moves are made. Phillips could benefit from a little more seasoning, while Taylor likely needs another year in the minors. Roache and especially Coulter, a converted catcher, are intriguing power prospects. Coulter will be a Biloxi next season in a crucial development year. Clark, the Brewers’ top pick this year, and Harrison, who broke an ankle rounding third base in late July, are a few years back. Regardless, there is quality depth here, at worst giving the Brewers chips to use in potential trades.


The skinny: The trade deadline did a lot to raise the level of pitching prospects. Zach Davies was picked up from the Baltimore Orioles for Gerardo Parra, while lefty Josh Hader and righty Adrian Houser came with Phillips and Santana from the Astros. Davies is set to be called up in the next week. Hader and Houser are likely to be invited to spring training and get at least a look at making the roster, although the minors are more likely to begin 2016. Also in the wings is Jorge Lopez, who is dominating at Biloxi, Johnny Hellweg and lefty Hobbs Johnson. A little bit further off is lefty Wei-Chung Wang (the former Rule 5 pick who spent 2014 in the majors with the Brewers) and Jorge Ortega at Brevard County, and lefty Kodi Meideiros, Cy Sneed and Devin Williams at Wisconsin. Lefty Nathan Kirby, a supplemental first-round pick this year who will likely be having Tommy John surgery, and Cody Ponce, this year’s third-round pick, are college pitchers who could progress quickly. Of course, Kirby’s progress won’t likely begin until 2017 if he has the TJ surgery.

When will help arrive? Davies will be given a good look in September in hopes he can earn a major-league rotation spot in spring training. Hader, Houser and Lopez could all be options for the rotation or long relief in 2016, but will benefit from any extra minor-league experience. Regardless of what happens at the major-league level in the offseason, there are quality arms ready to deliver next season should they get called to The Show.


The skinny: Triple-A is filled with two types of players: older players who for one reason or another can’t crack a major-league roster and prospects who need seasoning. This article is focused on prospects. Ariel Pena came with Segura and Hellweg from the Los Angeles Angels in the Zack Greinke trade and is at Triple-A. He was in a relief role until recently making a handful of starts. He has a 4.11 in 76.2 innings with 78 strikeouts and 30 walks. Jaye Chapman is the closer at Colorado Springs, with a 2.79 ERA and 1.16 WHIP while 42 strikes and 11 walks in 38.2 innings. He has also only yielded one homer. At Biloxi, closer Damien Magnifico, lefty Michael Strong, Austin Ross and swingman Brent Suter all look like they could push for bullpen spots in the near future.

When will help arrive? As mentioned in the major-league article of this two-part series, not much help is needed in the bigs. But should a couple trades whittle into that depth, there are older players who could contribute immediately, as well as anyone on this list. With the volatility of bullpen spots, having a half-dozen or so arms you wouldn’t be afraid of calling up is a solid position. Of course, starters could always be used in long-relief roles, which is sometimes used to ease young starters into the bigs.

Don’t expect much from Brewers’ September call-ups

As the calendar counts down to September, there are two things Milwaukee Brewers fans are looking forward to: the end of this disastrous season and September call-ups.

While many fans are already constructing offseason trades and signings to get the Crew back on track for 2016, the core of the future lies in the farm system. But how much of that future will the Brewers be able to bring to The Show in September?

Not much.

For those looking for a month with shortstop Orlando Arcia, center fielder Brett Phillips and pitcher Jorge Lopez, you will be disappointed. First, the regular season for minor-league teams doesn’t happen until Sept. 7. Second, the Biloxi Shuckers, the Brewers’ shiny new Double-A affiliate where Arcia, Phillips and Lopez are, won a first-half division title in the Southern League and will be involved in the playoffs, likely adding one, if not two weeks to their minor-league assignment. After all, why blow up the Biloxi roster when the Brewers have created so much good there in the first season on the Gulf Coast.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few prospects the Brewers won’t take a look at in September. Just look to Colorado Springs, the Triple-A affiliate who has the second-worst record in the Pacific Coast League.

The two most intriguing names are outfielder Domingo Santana and right-hander Zach Davies. Call-ups must be put on the 40-man roster and the Brewers have three openings there following their deadline dealings. Santana, however, is already on the 40-man. Davies would need to be added, a move lame-duck general manager Doug Melvin has already indicated would happen.

Santana has already appeared in the majors this season, when injuries prompted the Houston Astros to bring him up. In 14 games, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound right-handed hitter hit .256 with two home runs and eight RBIs. He also had a cameo in 2014, going 0-for-18. But in Triple-A with the Astros and Brewers this season, Santana — already the Crew’s No. 4 prospect — is mashing. He is batting .326 with 17 homers and 71 RBIs in 88 games.

Santana, who just turned 23, is a corner outfielder and figures to see more time in left as he pushes enigmatic Khris Davis and an occasional start in right for All-Star Ryan Braun. He is a middle-of-the-order bat who has generally hit for a good average. Santana, who has a strong arm and also strikes out quite a bit, will go to spring training next year with a shot to be the starter in left.

While Santana appears to be an imposing force, Davies — acquired from the Baltimore Orioles — is the complete opposite.

At 6-foot and 160 pounds, Davies looks more like a batboy than a major-league pitcher — but that look will give him an edge as he breaks into The Show. With his slight build, Davies, 22, is as expected a control pitcher and his change-up is one of the best in the minors, helping him strike out 91 in 111.1 innings between Triple-A Norfolk and Colorado Springs. He has a 3.07 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.

Davies, the Brewers’ No. 11 prospect, figures to slot into the back end of a rotation, but could move up if he develops Greg Maddux-like control.

Another intriguing player likely to be promoted is third baseman Matt Dominguez, who has appeared in the majors in each of the last four seasons with the Marlins and Astros. Dominguez was once a highly touted prospect, taken 12th overall int he 2007 draft by the Marlins, but he couldn’t stay in the majors once he got there due to his low batting average.

Dominguez, 25, is on the 40-man roster and brings power and defense, hitting .254 with six homers and 45 RBIs between Triple-A Fresno and Colorado Springs. The Brewers claimed Dominguez off waivers from the Astros on June 16.

Any other call-ups that happen immediately will be simple roster bolstering. Those will likely include reliever Brandon Kintzler and possibly former Brewers closer Jim Henderson, as well as infielder Luis Sardinas, catcher Juan Centeno and first baseman Matt Clark. Henderson is the only one who would have to be added to the 40-man roster.

If Davies and Henderson are added to the 40-man, that leaves one more spot on the 40-man for a September call-up. If Biloxi gets eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, Arcia — perhaps the Brewers’ starting shortstop next year — is the most likely candidate to come up as a reward for his stellar season.

So as you can see, Santana and Davies are the headliners for call-ups, but even among the other names mentioned, only Arcia is likely to make Brewers fans salivate. Not all of these players will necessarily be called up as carrying upwards of 35 players is cumbersome.

Brewers go prospecting

Living in San Francisco, I get an overload on the Giants. They are hard to hate.

Not only have they won three World Series in five years, but they might be the model franchise in all of sports. The built their picturesque ballpark with their own money and have sold it out all of their home games for more than four calendar years. They are heavily involved in city happenings and becoming a heavy hitter politically.

Now, I don’t expect that same thing out of the Milwaukee Brewers. Well, at least not the political aspect, anyway. They already have a very nice ballpark (built with taxpayer money) that more than suits their needs and keeps fans coming to the stadium.

All they need is that World Series — and I’m not talking about just appearing in one. That happened in 1982 for the only time in franchise history and fans still cling to those memories like they were yesterday.

To say this year’s Brewers have been disappointing may be disrespecting the word disappointing. At times, their play has been embarrassing. This poor play goes back almost a year, when the Brewers were in first place in August, yet finished eight games out of a playoff spot. An offseason of basically standing pat didn’t cure what ailed them and a managerial change a month into the season has only slightly steadied the ship.

But general manager Doug Melvin’s move at the trading deadline has given the Brewers a fighting chance to get back into the postseason soon. Melvin dealt away five major-leaguers (Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez, Gerardo Parra, Mike Fiers and Jonathan Broxton) and received seven prospects, all but one who were at the Double-A or Triple-A level.

This bodes well as the Brewers start thinking about 2016, even with two months left in the 2015 season. While their farm system entered the season 19th, according to Baseball America’s system rankings (it was 29th to begin 2014), it has a good nucleus of solid talent. Since that ranking, the Brewers drafted three players that immediately slid into their top 20 prospects and acquired four more in trades that are in that same class, giving them a chance to move well into the top 15.

Outfielder Brett Phillips is the prize of the trade-deadline haul. The left-handed hitter is a probable leadoff hitter who combines average with speed and improved power. He will come into spring training with a chance to win the center field job now that Gomez is in Houston. Domingo Santana is a corner outfielder with power. He got a taste of the bigs with the Astros this season, hitting a pair of homers in 39 at-bats before returning to Triple-A. He could supplant Khris Davis in left, but at worst should be a platoon option next season.

The two pitchers the Brewers got from the Astros — left-hander Josh Hader and right-hander Adrian Houser — are strikeout pitchers. Hader has been compared to Chicago White Sox All-Star Chris Sale due to his three-quarters, funky delivery. The book on Houser is a bit more mixed, with some rating him as a top-75 prospect in all of Major League Baseball, while MLB Pipeline ranked him the Crew’s 27th-best farmhand.

The other impact prospect is Zach Davies, a right-handed pitcher picked up from the Baltimore Orioles for Parra. Davies will make you look twice as he strolls out to the mound as he has the appearance of a batboy at 6-foot and 150 pounds. But analysts already say he has perhaps the best change-up in the minors.

All three of those pitchers figure to enter spring training with a shot at a rotation spot, especially with at least one spot likely to open up with Kyle Lohse set to become a free agent.

Yhonathan Barrios, acquired from Pittsburgh for Ramirez, is a converted infielder who is learning how to be a reliever. He comes with a fastball that reaches triple digits. Malik Collymore, picked up from St. Louis in the Broxton trade, has still finding his way at the lower levels of organized ball. He has struggled offensively, which was one reason he was moved off second base and to left field as his hitting could have been affecting his defense. Both of these players are fliers.

Regardless, the deadline deals infused the Brewers organization with top-end talent. Put that together with a star shortstop on the horizon in Orlando Arcia, plus a cast of other talented teammates at Double-A Biloxi, and the Crew could be ready next year to jump back into playoff contention, but only with a couple of shrewd offseason moves, too. After all, the NL Central is stacked with three of the top teams in the league (St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs), all set to contend for years. And all are hoping to be like the Giants.