Now that the Brewers have Taylor Jungmann, Jed Bradley, and Chris McFarland officially in the system following Monday’s signing deadline, it’s only natural to wonder what the farm system will look like at the beginning of next season.
I say next season because it sounds like the Brewers are going to shut down Jungmann and Bradley at least until fall instructionals or the Arizona Fall League, which makes sense. Jungmann has already thrown 141 innings this year, while Bradley turned in 98 innings, according to College Splits. As two pitchers who are likely to be fast-tracked, anyway, there’s no reason to press them into affiliated ball this summer.
When the draft took place in June, a popular opinion was that whoever the Brewers took in the first round would likely become two of the team’s top prospects. The state of the farm system as a whole was grim, and at that time, nobody had really taken the step forward to become the “top prospect in the system.” I’m not so sure that’s the case anymore.
Wily Peralta seems to have taken the leap many were expecting him to make a year ago, finding his strikeout stuff again in Double A before earning a call-up to Triple A Nashville. Peralta had a quality first start for the Sounds, striking out eight and walking just one in 6 innings, allowing three runs. At this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone else being considered the top prospect in the Brewers’ system.
Of course, there’s also Tyler Thornburg, who was the lone Brewers representative at this year’s Futures Game during the All-Star break. After dominating the Midwest League, Thornburg got the bump up to Advanced A Brevard County. Through nine starts, he’s still fared pretty well — a 3.89 ERA and a 10.8 K/9 rate — but control has still been a bit of a problem. Many still see him as a reliever long-term due to those control flare-ups and the combination of his small frame and delivery, but he’s certainly still a Top 5 prospect in the system post-draft signings.
I won’t claim to be an expert in the area of prospects, but if I had to put together a Top 5 right now, it would most likely be 1. Peralta, 2. Jungmann, 3. Bradley, 4. Thornburg, 5. Logan Schafer.
Jungmann and Bradley are both better bets to stick as a starter long-term than Thornburg, but don’t get me wrong — I haven’t joined the “Thornburg as a Reliever” camp just yet. Right now, most of my reasoning in slotting the two new signees ahead of Thornburg is based on those two also being closer to making an impact at the big league level as starters.
As far as Schafer goes, I’ll admit to playing favorites. He’s just been one of my favorite players to follow since he joined the system, and it’s hard to argue too much with him hitting .326/.395/.442 across three levels this season now that he’s finally healthy, or some of the excellent walk rates he’s posted during his minor league career.
As a whole, the system looks to be in much better shape following this draft pick signing period, which is what it needed. An argument could be made that the Brewers passed on high-ceiling talent in order to take more polished “sure things” with lower ceilings, but the system needed talent of any kind. The Brewers found themselves at the bottom of most organizational rankings to start the year, and close to $8 million later, they’re basically assured of at least not being the bottom of the barrel.