This offseason, seven Milwaukee Brewers prospects entered the Arizona Fall League in hopes of getting some additional experience and refining their respective skill sets.
All seven helped to combine to make up a portion of the Salt River Rafters roster also shared by prospects from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers. So far, about half way through the short season (runs from Oct. 8 to Nov. 19), the team is leading the Arizona Fall League East division with a 9-6-1 record.
Here’s a look at how each Brewers prospect has played so far.
Isan Diaz SS (No. 8 Prospect)
After arriving from the Diamondbacks in the Jean Segura trade (and largely noted as the trade’s centerpiece), Diaz has easily been one of the most exciting prospects in the Brewers system. The 20-year-old middle infielder even won the Brewers’ Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .264/.358/.469 with 20 home runs, 75 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases with Single-A Wisconsin this year.
He’s continuing this trend in the AFL, batting .229/.341/.400 with a home run, four RBI and a stolen base in only nine games with the Salt River Rafters. He spent the entire year in Single-A but with an echoed performance of his fantastic regular season in the Fall League, Diaz will look to join the ranks of the Brewers’ new Advanced-A affiliate, the Carolina Mudcats next season.
Jacob Nottingham C (No. 14 Prospect)
The only catcher in the Brewers top 30 prospects, Nottingham has shown equal parts raw talent and rough around the edges.
He had a down year with Double-A Biloxi in 2016, batting .234/.295/.347 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI and nine stolen bases in 112 games after showing excellent potential the year prior – Nottingham’s poor numbers could possibly be attributed to Biloxi’s overall poor production, as they ranked last in the league in many offensive categories. By contrast, in 2015, he established a .316/.372/.505 batting line with 17 home runs, 82 RBI and two stolen bases in 119 games.
His talent is largely rooted in his offensive abilities, as he still has quite a bit of refinement behind the plate in terms of blocking and receiving skills, according to MLB Pipeline, but given that he is only in Double-A, still has time for improvement. If nothing else, he could see a move to first base, another position the team is short on in terms of high-potential young players.
So far in the AFL, he is showing improvement in terms of production but still has a modest line, batting .256/.268/.385 with one home run and five RBI. He’s taken only one walk to nine strikeouts.
Brett Phillips OF (No. 7 Prospect)
Phillips also seemed to suffer from (or contributed to) the overall lack of production in Biloxi, as he batted only .229/.332/.397 with 16 home runs, 62 RBI and 12 stolen bases after a 2015 campaign that showcased his excellent potential (.309/.374/.527, 16 HR, 77 RBI, 17 SB).
According to MLB Pipeline, Phillips’ calling card has always been his defense, as he possesses an exceptionally powerful arm, along with excellent speed and awareness that combine to make him an above-average defender. He will likely end up in right field or center at the major league level.
If he is able to re-harness his potential at the plate, he could be an extremely well-rounded addition to the club. So far in the AFL, however, he has continued to struggle, batting .179/.385/.286 with no home runs, four RBI and a stolen base.
Tayler Scott RHP
Since joining the Brewers organization in the last year, Scott has also struggled with Double-A Biloxi, posting a 4.39 earned run average with 21 strikeouts and 14 walks in 24 relief appearances.
In five appearances in the AFL, he’s found quite a bit more success, pitching to a 1.08 ERA and 0.84 walks plus hits per inning (WHIP) with six strikeouts and two walks.
Scott has pitched inconsistently in his five-year minor league career before being released to independent ball earlier this year but did show flashes of potential once arriving there. Over 17 independent league games, he pitched to a nearly lights-out 1.88 ERA and 1.012 WHIP with 32 strikeouts and six walks in 28 2/3 innings.
Tyler Spurlin RHP
Spurlin has experienced a few up and down years since joining Milwaukee’s rookie ball ranks in 2013 but has largely settled down over the past few.
He started the year with Advanced-A Brevard County, pitching to a 1.69 ERA and 0.844 WHIP with nine strikeouts and one walk over nine innings of work before being moved to Double-A Biloxi. His success continued there, if only modestly, as he collected a 3.48 ERA and 1.452 WHIP with 36 strikeouts and 24 walks in 41 1/3 innings (41 games).
Spurlin has consistently shown an aptitude for run-prevention but has just as consistently struggled with a high walk rate, something that could hinder his potential upon reaching higher ranks.
In five AFL appearances, his issues seem few and far between, as he’s pitched to an excellent 1.23 ERA and 0.68 WHIP with five strikeouts and one walk in 7 1/3 innings.
Josh Uhen RHP
Uhen is about as homegrown as a prospect can get, originally hailing from Oshkosh, Wi. and being drafted out of the University of Milwaukee in 2013. Unfortunately, he’s yet to find his stride, pitching to an ERA over 4.00 every year since joining the organization outside of this year, when he averaged a 3.77 ERA between 32 games with Advanced-A Brevard County (4.35) and four games with Double-A Biloxi (0.00).
In five relief appearances with the Salt River Rafters, he’s continuing to have issues, pitching to a 6.00 ERA and 1.50 WHIP with four strikeouts and three walks.
Javi Salas RHP
Salas was drafted by the Brewers in 2014 but like Uhen, has failed to find any real consistency on the mound. Over three minor league seasons from rookie ball to Double-A, he has averaged a 5.06 ERA and 1.518 WHIP and accumulated a 6.75 ERA between three levels this year alone.
He has shown the most difficulties of any pitcher on the Salt River Rafters with a 9.45 ERA and 2.25 WHIP in three starts (only 6 2/3 innings total). The damage amounts to a team-leading seven earned runs, 10 hits, five walks and only five strikeouts.