The Milwaukee Brewers are in rebuild mode. This became official as soon as they dealt Carlos Gomez for Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips at the trade deadline last season. This year, the Brew Crew have many new faces and could spend a lot of the year searching for an identity to move forward with. The cool thing about it is that they appear to have many options to choose from as they have stocked their farm system fairly well. Also, Milwaukee still has a couple of big name players in Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy, who they can deal at some point this season to fully commit to the rebuild. It will be fun to watch what they can get in return for such high caliber players.
Jonathan Villar, Aaron Hill, Chris Carter, Colin Walsh, Josmil Pinto, Keon Broxton, Sean Nolin, Garin Cecchini, Javier Betancourt, Ramon Flores, Tom Gorzelanny, Will Middlebrooks, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Zach Jones, Manny Mina, Rene Garcia, Andy Wilkins, Jake Elmore, Alex Presley, Eric Young Jr., Pat Misch, Trey Supak, Daniel Missaki, Freddy Peralta, Carlos Herrera, Junior Guerra, Daniel Tillman, Mitch Lambson
Adam Lind, Jean Segura, Francisco Rodriguez, Luis Sardinas, Kyle Lohse, Jason Rogers, Logan Schafer, Cy Sneed, Daniel Fields, Mike Strong, Nevin Ashley, Juan Centeno, Matt Clark, Elian Herrera, Johnny Hellweg, Cesar Jiminez
Biggest Strength - Youth
When you look at this roster, it's easy to see the core of the team starting to take shape. The team should look a little more polished at this time next year once the coaching staff fully decides which direction to go at a few positions. There appears to be an all out battle for all three outfield spots, assuming Braun doesn't last the full year with the team. It appears that Domingo Santana will get the first shot to nail down an outfield spot everyday right from the get-go, and Rymer Liriano might get the same chance as he has the athleticism to play center field.
Other young outfielders that should get a shot include but aren't limited to Brett Phillips, Ramon Flores and Keon Broxton. The infield is in a similar situation. The first base position doesn't look like it has a long term option and will probably be a mix of Will Middlebrooks and Chris Carter. Shortstop will be a combination of Jonathan Villar, and the Brewers number 1 prospect Orlando Arcia who should get the call fairly early in the year. Some think Arcia is the guy the Brewers will build around. Then we have second and third base and an interesting plan to man those positions. The Brewers gave up Jean Segura to open up a spot for Arcia to play while adding depth at second and third with Aaron Hill. It appears Hill will get a lot of reps at third, while Scooter Gennett will see a large chunk of work at second. Brewers rule 5 draft pick Colin Walsh looks like he could end up being the primary infield back up for the team and get many at bats in the process.
Biggest Weakness - Starting Pitching
The team appears to have a glaring weakness in the pitching department. Milwaukee actually really needs to improve what they have pitching wise in their system as well. It looks like they will not have a top 50 pitcher on the team and that makes them one of just three of four MLB teams who can say that. Perhaps when they move Braun and/or Lucroy they will be able to pick up some young pitching talent. Jimmy Nelson is fine as a number 4 or 5 starter, not as a number 1. You can't compete with the Cubs and Cardinals like that. This will need to change.
Something To Keep An Eye On - Colin Walsh
As a rule-5 pick, Colin Walsh will automatically stay in the big leagues all season if he makes the team, and it looks like he has a good chance. Walsh in an interesting case, as he walked 20% of the time last season in AA. He also struck out 21% of the time, which means he only put the ball in play less than 60% of the time. With this said, Walsh managed an on base percentage near .450, which is an elite number. He did this while putting up 13 homers and 17 steals, so there might actually be some power/speed upside to go along with this elite on base percentage. Scooter Gennett is still a little younger than Walsh, but if Walsh can prove that he can put up this production in the MLB, he might have a legitimate chance to be a long term plan at second base, or maybe even 3rd base if needed.
Projected Lineup… Lefties*… Switch Hitters^
- Jonathan Villar^ - SS
- Jonathan Lucroy - C
- Ryan Braun - LF
- Chris Carter - 1B
- Domingo Santana - RF
- Rymer Liriano - CF
- Aaron Hill - 3B
- Scooter Gennett - 2B
Martin Maldonado, Colin Walsh^, Will Middlebrooks, Kirk Nieuwenhuis*, Ramon Flores*
Projected Rotation… Lefties*
- Jimmy Nelson
- Wily Peralta
- Matt Garza
- Taylor Jungmann
- Chase Anderson
Jeremy Jeffress - Closer, Will Smith*, Corey Knebel, Michael Blazek, Tyler Thornburg, Sean Nolin*, Tyler Cravy
Injured To Start Season
Yhonathan Barrios, Zack Jones
Fantasy Bargain - Colin Walsh
See above paragraph on Walsh. Significantly more valuable in OBP or OPS leagues. This is still a super deep option, but he could be very valuable and it feels like very few people know he even exists.
Overrated Fantasy Option - Jonathan Lucroy
This lineup isn't very good this season, so guys like Braun and Lucroy might not get many pitches to hit and production would go down if that happens. Lucroy, along with many catchers, has their value inflated when people draft for positional need. Might be smarter to go with a higher risk higher reward guy like Yasmani Grandal or Welington Castillo later in the draft than pay a high pick for Lucroy.
The Brewers are a few years away from being good, and it feels like the fans know it. This is a season where they will get a feel for all the new faces on the team and throughout the organization. There is a good chance that one or more of the young guys who are getting a shot at the MLB this season will show that they can be legitimate forces at the highest level. With that said, it doesn't look like any of those guys will be pitchers, and it should be expected that the Brewers try to acquire minor league pitching prospects throughout the year. For 2016, the Brewers will compete for last in the division with the Reds and will probably win around 63 games.