In part five of our annual look at the Brewers organizational depth today we get to the outfield, where the Brewers are pretty well loaded from top-to-bottom throughout the organization with talented players for all three slots.
At the major league level, the Brewers are, of course, led by veteran Ryan Braun, who has been a fixture in the outfield at Miller Park since his debut in 2007. He’s joined by a pair of exciting youngsters acquired in trades over the past few seasons in Keon Broxton who came over in a 2015 deal with Pittsburgh and Domingo Santana, who joined the club in a 2014 trade deadline deal with the Houston Astros.
Beyond that group, Milwaukee has managed to sprinkle in some role players such as Kirk Nieuwenhuis and utility men like Hernan Perez and Scooter Gennett could see time in the outfield as well, but the Brewers also have a mix of talent down on the farm, just waiting for their crack at a big league opportunity with the Brew Crew.
Milwaukee has a quintent of top outfield prospects in Lewis Brinson, Corey Ray, Trent Clark, Brett Phillips and Monte Harrison who all profile as centerfielders though most have the versatility to play other positions as well.
Brinson, 22, came over to the Brewers last August in a trade with the Texas Rangers and rocketed to the top of Milwaukee’s prospect rankings. In 23 games after joining the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Brinson hit .382 with four home runs, showcasing his all around game as a true five-tool talent.
Ray, 22, was taken by Milwaukee with the fifth overall pick in the first round of last year’s draft out of Louisville and held his own at High-A Brevard County after an aggressive placement there to start his pro career. In 57 games with the Manatees, Ray hit .247 with five home runs.
Clark, 20, was drafted out of high school by the Brewers in the first round in 2015 and put together a solid debut season, hitting a combined .309/.424/.440 in 55 games between Maryvale and Helena. Plagued by hamstring injuries last season, he was limited to just 59 games at Low-A Wisconsin, but when healthy he provides a spark at the top of the lineup.
Phillips, 22, joined the Brewers in 2015 in a trade deadline deal with the Houston Astros. Houston’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2014, he showed progress at each stop up the ladder until taking a step back last season at Double-A Biloxi, but still has plenty of tools and could land a job in Milwaukee soon with a bounce-back 2017.
Harrison, 21, is an incredibly gifted athlete, but also incredibly raw. Injuries have stunted his developmental growth, costing him playing time over the past two seasons, but when healthy he has some of the best all-around tools in the Brewers system.
It might be a bit of a stretch to call 20-year-old outfielder Demi Orimoloye a sleeper, as most who follow the Brewers know the name of their 2015 fourth round pick by now, but given their depth in the outfield, the Nigerian-born Orimoloye has managed to fly somewhat under the radar by comparison.
After signing with the Brewers out of high school and passing up an offer to Oregon, Orimoloye impressed in his pro debut in Maryvale in 2015, hitting six home runs and posting an OPS of .838 while also stealing 19 bases in 33 games. He spent last season at Helena in the Pioneer League and had a bit tougher time against slightly more advanced pitching, but he has all of the raw tools that make him an intriguing boom-or-bust prospect.
OTHERS TO WATCH
Milwaukee has plenty of other outfield options in their organization, including players at the upper levels of their system such as Ryan Cordell, Tyrone Taylor, Michael Reed, Clint Coulter and Victor Roache, as well as younger prospects like Zach Clark, Troy Stokes and Joantgel Segovia
Cordell came over as the player to be named later in last season’s deadline deal with the Texas Rangers after clubbing 19 home runs in 107 games for Double-A Frisco. Taylor, Coulter and Roache were all members of the Brewers 2012 draft class who saw time at Double-A Biloxi last year, while Reed spent his season at Triple-A Colorado Springs before getting a call to Milwaukee late in September.
Segovia hits for high average but needs plenty of work on the rest of his game and saw his 2016 season cut short by injury, while Clark was a surprising sign by the Brewers after being selected in the 19th round last season, but Milwaukee was glad to get the athletic youngster who went on to hit .252 in 30 games for Maryvale after signing last season. The 21-year-old Stokes is often overlooked but the former fourth round pick out of Maryland has been a model of consistency, posting a career .267 over three seasons in the Brewers system.