(Image: Allison Rhoades/MiLB.com)
Even as someone who follows the Brewers pretty closely, I don’t know much about the state of the minor leagues. Other than spring training and September call ups, I only know the names of a few players in Milwaukee’s farm system (I hear this Hunter Morris guy has a lot of upside).
I am aware that the Brewers supposedly depleted their farm system over the years to trade for guys like CC Sabathia, Shaun Marcum, and Zack Greinke. Since trades like those helped the Brewers end their long playoff drought, the idea that the team might pay a price down the road for a weak farm system has not been a major concern for this fan.
As of this writing the Brewers just dropped two of three to the Astros, another last place team. A crazy wild card run like 2012 seems unlikely. It’s easy to start thinking about the future. It turns out that pundits believe the future of the Brewers is not bright.
Following the 2013 draft, Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells ranks the Brewers minor league system dead bloody last out of 30 MLB organizations. The loss of a first round pick due to the Kyle Lohse trade put them in a tough spot, but they were not in a strong position to begin with. Prior to spring training, another Bleacher Report writer, Mike Rosenbaum, ranked the Brewers 27th. In Rosenbaum’s view, “very few of their prospects project favorably in the major leagues, except for possibly Wily Peralta.” That would be the guy with an ERA over 6.00.
These unfavorable rankings were hard for me to take, so I tried to find evidence that they are outliers. Another spring training ranking of the Brewers at Baseball Prospectus also put them at 27th. Oof. In February, SB Nation’s Minor League Ball blog had Milwaukee at 23rd. Well, that’s not…not 27th, that’s for sure.
One year ago, FanGraphs ranked the Brewers at 29th. That’s also not 27th. Sheesh.
At MLB.com, “draft and prospect expert” Jonathan Mayo has ranked the top 100 prospects in the current MLB pipeline. The only Brewer on that list is Tyler Thornburg, at #100.
As someone who has not paid much attention to the minor leagues, the fact that the Brewers are considered solidly in the lowest third – and frequently the bottom three or four – is pretty tough to swallow. What makes it worse is that the Cardinals are regularly ranked in the top three. It could be a long decade. At least some folks think relatively highly of Miller Park.