Ray, Brown standout performers among notable Brewers prospects in 2018
FOX Sports Wisconsin
The Milwaukee Brewers' retooling happened quicker than expected, but the team still has a number of promising prospects.
Every Thursday, FOX Sports Wisconsin took a closer look at some specific young players -- as well as noting others who were stepping up -- measuring, highlighting and evaluating their progress.
For our 20th and final edition of this year's Young Brewers Tracker, we offer our MVPs for the Brewers' minor-league teams as well as some notable players. For our purposes, we'll limit our picks to players who might still be considered a prospect.
Player of the Year: OF Corey Ray (1st round, 2016)
Skinny: Milwaukee's top pick just a few years ago, Ray had a breakout season in 2018, displaying a power and speed combination that is enticing. Ray led the Southern League in home runs (by five) with 27, stolen bases (37) and total bases (254). He also tied for first in double (32), was second in runs (86), fourth in RBI (74) and sixth in OPS (.801). Ray was the only player in minor-league baseball with 30+ steals and 20+ home runs. A late-season slump saw his batting average plummet (he was at .258 on Aug. 2) as Ray finished with a slash line of .239/.323/.477.
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Zack Brown (5th round, 2016), Biloxi
Skinny: In his second season of pro ball and first at the Double-A level, Brown was as steady as they come. Despite an injury slowing him down late in the year, he finished the season with a 9-1 record, 2.44 ERA, 207 opponent batting average and 1.04 WHIP in 22 games with the Shuckers. Brown led the Southern League in ERA -- the runner-up was well behind at 2.75 -- and was second in WHIP. He also had the start of the year in Milwaukee's system, taking a no-hitter into the ninth inning before finishing with a one-hit shutout -- with no walks and eight strikeouts -- against Mississippi on June 15.
Starting off in Helena, Andrews didn't get off to the best start, allowing four runs on nine hits in six innings. But he struck out 12 and after five games was promoted to Single-A. And Andrews starred for the Timber Rattlers. In 27 innings he allowed just 14 hits (.156 OBA) and six runs (four earned; 1.33 ERA) while striking out 42 and walking just five (0.70 WHIP). Not bad for someone who is just 5-foot-6, 160 pounds. He'll be someone to keep an eye on in 2019.
David Fry (7th round, 2018), C, Helena
Coming out of Northwestern State, Fry, who turns 23 in November, might have been a little old for the Rookie League, but the good news is he mashed the ball. Fry hit .312/.400/.550 with 12 home runs, 44 runs and 57 RBI in 63 games. He finished third in the Pioneer League in homers and RBI and fifth in OPS (.950). Fry got into a couple of games late in the year with Single-A Wisconsin, going 2 for 9.
Milwaukee's top pick last season keeps moving up the chain. After hitting .320/.382/.529 in 50 games with the Mudcats in Single-A, Hiura was promoted to Double-A. He had some struggles at the higher level, batting just .207 in August, but still finished at .272/.339/.416 in 73 games. Hiura served as a designated hitter for the majority of 2017 but was able to play second base this season and finished with a .971 fielding percentage in 79 games in the field.
Jacob Nottingham, C, Colorado Springs
Nottingham's biggest problem in 2018 was staying healthy, as he played in only 50 minor-leagues (plus nine, so far, with the Brewers). But in those games he hit .281/.347/.527 with 10 home runs, 33 runs and 33 RBI. While playing in Colorado helped, Nottingham still slugged .440 on the road.
USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
Jon Olczak (21st round, 2015), RHP, Biloxi
Olczak allowed three earned runs in April -- then six the rest of the season. He finished with a 1.44 ERA, .184 OBA and 0.96 WHIP while striking out 60 in 56 1/3 innings for Biloxi and also threw two shutout innings, with three whiffs, for Carolina.
Tyrone Taylor (2nd round, 2012), OF, Colorado Springs
Taylor's inclusion comes with an asterisk. The former second-round pick finally displayed his power after slugging under .400 in each of the previous four seasons. Taylor, who turns 25 in January, had a slash line of .278/.321/.504 with 20 home runs, 73 runs and 80 RBI. The caveat here is Taylor excelled in home games at Colorado Springs, batting .335/.383/.633 with 12 homers, while hitting just .222/.257/.378 on the road.
After posting ERAs hovering around 4 the past two seasons, Torres-Costa got on the radar in 2018. He began the year at Double-A, where he had a 1.16 ERA and allowed just 217 hits in 31 innings with 44 strikeouts. Moving up to Triple-A didn't slow Torres-Costa down as he had a 1.50 ERA while allowing just 10 hits in 24 innings.
Trey Supak, RHP, Carolina/Biloxi
Supak was under consideration for Most Valuable Pitcher. Acquired from Pittsburgh with Keon Broxton for Jason Rogers, Supak, who turned 22 in May, had a 1.76 ERA, .208 OBA and 1.04 WHIP in nine starts in Single-A before being promoted. In Double-A, he made 16 starts and recorded a 2.91 ERA, .232 OBA and 1.18 WHIP.
Milwaukee's top pick didn't display much power -- then again he doesn't turn 19 until November -- but he did show a knack for getting on base. Turang reached via a hit and/or walk in 39 of his first 42 professional games. After hitting .319/.421/.362 in 13 games for the AZL Brewers, Turang was moved up to Helena, where he batted .268/.385/.358 in 29 games. Turang only had eight extra-base hits among the two levels (six doubles, a triple and a home run) but he stole 14 bases in 42 games and walked nearly as much as he struck out (31 BB, 34 K).
Je'Von Ward (12th round, 2018), OF, Helena
Like Turang, Ward is fresh out of high school (he turns 19 in October) but acquitted himself well, batting .302/.391/.403 with 13 stolen bases in 64 games. An even more encouraging sign is that Ward picked it up in the second half of the season, batting .345/.452/.448 in his final 23 games.