As we wind down towards the end of our look at the Brewers organizational depth at each position, today we examine the right-handed pitchers in the system who could soon be on the rise.
The Brewers have been very right-handed dominant in their starting rotation in recent years and that doesn’t appear to be changing as we head into 2017. With arms like Junior Guerra, Jimmy Nelson, Zach Davies and Wily Peralta all competing for spots in the rotation, Milwaukee has their fare share of righties who can take the ball every fifth day.
While the Brewers don’t have an ace at the top of their rotation, and there’s no sure-fire number one on the horizon either, the team does have plenty of right-handed options who should prove to be more than serviceable at the big league level.
The Brewers acquired a pair of quality righties at the trade deadline last season, getting Luis Ortiz from Texas and Phil Bickford from San Francisco to go along with a stable of solid young arms already in their system, like Brandon Woodruff, Jorge Lopez, Marcos Diplan and Cody Ponce.
Ortiz, 21, came to the Brewers via the Rangers last August 1st and made six starts for Double-A Biloxi, going 2-2 with a 1.93 earned run average. In his first three seasons, Ortiz has posted an ERA of just 2.52 and made several top 100 lists heading into 2017.
Bickford, 21, was acquired as part of the Will Smith trade from the Giants last July. The 6’4″righty pitched in the Futures Game and was ranked as San Francisco’s top prospect at the time of the deal.
Woodruff, 24, was Milwaukee’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2016 after turning in his best season as a pro. An 11th round pick out of Mississippi in 2014, Woodruff went 14-9 with a 2.68 ERA last season while leading all of Minor League Baseball in strikeouts.
Lopez, 24, won Pitcher of the Year honors a year earlier and appeared on the cusp of landing a spot in the Brewers rotation, but he struggled mightily at Triple-A Colorado Springs before bouncing back with a strong winter showing in Puerto Rico.
Diplan, 20, joined Milwaukee in 2015 as part of the Yovani Gallardo trade with Texas. He turned in a stellar 2016 campaign, going 6-2 with a 1.80 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .191 average in 17 outings for Wisconsin before receiving a promotion to Brevard County late in the year.
Ponce, 22, was a second round pick by the Brewers in 2015 and hopes were high for him entering last season. He was held back in extended spring training due to injury and when he finally took the field with Brevard, posted uneven results, but displayed flashes of brilliance that give hope for his future.
One player flying way under the radar is 6’5″ 23-year-old Jon Perrin, who opened some eyes with his 2016 season.
A 27th round pick by the Brewers in 2015 out of Oklahoma State, Perrin saw action at three different levels in Milwaukee’s organization in his first full season of pro ball.
He dominated in six starts for Class-A Wisconsin, where he opened the season, going 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA before quickly earning a promotion to Brevard. In 19 appearances with the Manatees, 16 of which were starts, Perrin posted a similar 2.60 ERA, which earned him one more bump to Double-A Biloxi to finish out the year.
OTHERS TO WATCH
The pitching depth in Milwaukee’s system has certainly improved in recent years and there are plenty of other young arms worth monitoring as well, including Devin Williams, Taylor Williams, Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes.
Devin Williams, 22, was a second round pick in 2013, while Peralta, 20, joined the Brewers from Seattle as part of the December 2015 trade of Adam Lind. Both players split time between Wisconsin and Brevard and could be in for big jumps in 2017, though there is concern for Williams who left a spring start early with a potentially significant injury.
Taylor Williams, 25, missed two full seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he returned to the mound in the fall and the Brewers saw enough from the former third round pick that they added him to their 40-man roster in the offseason.
Finally, Burnes, 22, was taken by the Brewers in last years draft in a class that also brought in the likes of Braden Webb and Zack Brown. In 12 games last season, Burnes finished 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA, striking out 41 in 35.2 innings and holding hitters to a .185 average.