MINOR LEAGUE MAILBOX: MARCH 2017

Spring training is underway and several players have made quite an impression through the first few weeks. In our March edition of the Minor League Mailbox we’ll answer some questions about a handful of those top Cactus League performers as well as take a look at a couple of prospects who may be a bit further away.

How long do you think it will be until we see (Josh) Hader and (Lewis) Brinson in Milwaukee? – Luke

I think a lot of that depends on how they perform at Triple-A and if/when the Brewers have a need for them at the big league level, but I would expect them both to see Miller Park at some point this season. Both guys have looked impressive this spring but there’s no sense in starting their clocks early given the fact that 2017 looks to be another rebuilding year in Milwaukee. That being said, if they go out and tear it up at triple-A and the Brewers find themselves in need of a starting pitcher and/or outfielder, I’m guessing those two guys have to be near the top of the list.

Did anyone expect Lucas Erceg to be this good this fast? I figured he’d start the year in Carolina but now I’m thinking for Biloxi for him. Where do you guys see him at this year? – Mike

Erceg was thought of as a first round talent when he was at Cal so the Brewers did well to get him in the second round last year. I’ve certainly been a bit surprised by how quickly he’s taken to the pro game but when you watch him play, it’s easy to see he has all the tools to be one of the most talented prospects in the Brewers system. I’m still betting he gets at least some time at Carolina to open up the year but after his spring showing thus far, I guess it wouldn’t shock me to see him get pushed to Biloxi either. My best guess is Carolina to start the year with a fast bump to Biloxi if he handles the Carolina League like he’s handled the Pioneer,Midwest and Cactus.

Paolo Espino was impressive every time out this spring and I was surprised to see him get cut so early. Didn’t he deserve a longer look? – Jordan

I believe part of the reason Espino was sent to minor league camp was to give him that longer look and stretch him out as a starter. Look for him to be in the mix for a rotation spot with the Sky Sox this season and after what he showed in limited spring action, he should provide the Brewers with some quality depth at Colorado Springs.

Ronnie Gideon’s numbers last season were insane. How come he doesn’t get more prospect love? – Devin

We’ve seen a lot of college guys come in and tear through the Pioneer League but it’s what Gideon does after that which will determine how much of a prospect he turns into. Generally speaking, the pitching in the Pioneer League isn’t quite as advanced and many of the pitchers Gideon faced in the SEC were probably further along in their development than those he saw last year at Helena. That being said, Gideon put up some monster offensive numbers last season that are tough to ignore and 2017 will be a big test for the slugger. If he can continue to hit and hit for power as the pitching gets tougher and tougher, he could fly up prospect lists, but that’s a big if.

One name I didn’t see on your recent article on the Brewers catching depth is Carlos Leal. Is there hope for him still as a catching prospect? – John

I’m honestly not real sure what Leal’s status is at this point. He’s kind of become a forgotten man but he’s one of those guys I’m excited to see when I get out to Maryvale next week. Last season was a tough one for Leal who had to undergo shoulder surgery that forced him out of action for the entire year. He’s a converted pitcher and he turns 26 in July so time is working against him as well, but he was impressive at the plate in 2015 with Wisconsin and, if fully healthy, it would be great to see him get back on track this season.

Thanks, as always, for all the great emails. If you have questions about any of the Brewers prospects, feel free to email us at millerparkprospects@gmail.com or tweet us @BrewersMPP and we will pick a few of your questions to use in next month’s edition.