Grisham, Lazar standout performers among notable Brewers prospects in 2019
The Milwaukee Brewers have positioned themselves as a playoff contender, but the team still has a number of promising prospects.
Every Thursday, FOX Sports Wisconsin took a closer look at some specific young players in Milwaukee’s farm system — as well as noting others who might be stepping up — measuring, highlighting and evaluating their progress.
For our 19th and final edition of this year’s Young Brewers Tracker, we offer our MVPs for Milwaukee’s 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 Trent Grisham (1st round, 2015), Biloxi/San Antonio
Skinny: Playing for the Brewers since Aug. 1, Grisham logged enough minor-league time (97 games) to be tabbed for this honor. After years of struggling, the former top pick changed his grip on the bat and found success, especially once promoted to Triple-A. Grisham began the year at Double-A Biloxi and hit .254/.371/504 with 13 home runs in 63 games. Moved up to San Antonio, he had an incredible slash line of .381/.471/.776 and again hit 13 home runs, although in just 34 games. That was enough for Grisham to be bumped up to Milwaukee, a thought that was probably on no one’s mind entering the 2019 season. In his 97 combined games, Grisham hit .300/.407/603 with 26 home runs, 71 runs, 71 RBI and 12 steals. Grisham’s on-base percentage and slugging percentage were second-best in the Brewers’ system (behind David Freitas’ .459 and Keston Hiura’s .673) and he was just one of five Milwaukee farmhands to bat over .300.
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Max Lazar (11th round, 2017), Wisconsin
Skinny: After a couple of so-so years in Rookie Ball, Lazar, who just turned 20 on June 3, blossomed in his third season. An injury slowed Lazar up in early May and he had to pitch a few games in Arizona before moving back Single-A Wisconsin on July 1. But when he was on the mound, he was lights out. In 19 games, with 10 starts, Lazar posted a 2.39 ERA, .226 opponent batting average and 1.04 WHIP. He fanned 109 batters in 79 innings with just 15 walks. Add in his six innings in Arizona, and he finished with a 2.33 ERA, .224 OBA, 1.01 WHIP, 12.6 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 95 innings, ranking him near the top of every category among Brewers’ minor-leaguers.
Clayton Andrews (17th round, 2018), RHP, Carolina/Biloxi
We’re not going to lie – we have a soft spot for Andrews. First, because he’s just 5-foot-6, so he seems like someone to root for. Second, he both pitched and played center field this year, and we love that. Andrews started the season in Single-A and was promoted to Double-A on July 2. He actually pitched better with Biloxi than in Carolina. Overall, he pitched 59 1/3 innings, notching 11 saves (all with the Mudcats) with a 3.19 ERA, .204 OBA, 1.15 WHIP and 77 strikeouts. He also went 21-for-63 at the plate (.333) and had nearly as many walks (6) as strikeouts (7).
Alec Bettinger (10th round, 2017), RHP, Biloxi
In his first year at the Double-A level, Bettinger set highs in ERA (3.44), OBA (.223), WHIP (1.07), BB/9 (2.2) and K/9 (9.7). The former University of Virginia pitcher made 26 starts and toiled 146 1/3 innings, which was the third-most in the Brewers’ system, with 157 strikeouts.
Arbert Cipion (9th round, 2018), OF, AZL Brewers Blue/Rocky Mountain
Drafted last year out of high school, Cipion struggled in his first taste as a pro (.118). He returned to the Arizona League in 2019 flashed some power – and a lot of speed. Cipion stole 22 bases in just 47 games (finishing fourth in the league) and also hit six triples. Bumped up to Rocky Mountain, he went 8-for-20 with a triple and two homers. Overall in 55 games, Cipion batted .259/.369/.467 with six homers.
Cam Devanney (15th round, 2019), SS, AZL Brewers Blue/Rocky Mountain
The former Elon star made a quick impression after being drafted in June. Devanney hit .330/.424/.472 in 28 games with AZL Brewers Blue before being promoted to Rocky Mountian. With the Vibes, he hit five hoers in 33 games with a slash line of .246/.348/.456. Overall, Devanney hit .286/.385/.464 with seven home runs and 17 steals.
Mario Feliciano, (CBB round, 2016), C, Carolina
Feliciano, who doesn’t turn 21 until November, had a breakout season offensively with the Single-A Mudcats. In 119 games, he batted .270/.323/.473 with 25 doubles, 15 home runs, 64 runs and 81 RBI. It was enough for him to be named the Carolina League MVP and also earn a late call-up to Double-A Biloxi.
Ethan Small, (1st round, 2019), LHP, AZ Brewers Gold/Wisconsin
Milwaukee’s top pick in 2019 wasn’t unhittable in his first foray into pro ball – but he was close. After pitching for Mississippi State, Small didn’t make his debut until July 19 in the Arizona League, and the Brewers held back his pitch count until his final few appearances with Wisconsin, where he was sent after two games with AZ Brewers Gold. In his seven overall appearances, Small didn’t allow a hit in four and held the other team scoreless in five. In 21 combined innings, he had a 0.86 ERA, 1.51 OBA, 0.71 WHIP and 36 strikeouts with just four walks.
Trey Supak, LHP, Biloxi/San Antonio
Supak, acquired in December 2015 from Pittsburgh in the Jason Rogers trade, was up for consideration for our Pitcher of the Year. After all, he was named the Southern League’s Most Outstanding Pitcher after going 11-4 with a 2.20 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and .192 OBA in 20 starts with Biloxi. However, his time at San Antonio was noteworthy as well, on the opposite spectrum, has he posted a 9.30 ERA in seven starts, which lasted just 30 innings.
Brice Turang, (1st round, 2018), SS, Wisconsin/Carolina
Last year’s top pick began the season in Low-A and ended it in High-A – and he’s still only 19 years old (turning 20 in November). Turang hit well with Wisconsin and not as well with Carolina, but has shown a propensity to get on base no matter where he plays. His 83 walks led all Brewers minor-leaguers. His combined slash line in 129 games was .256/.367/.340 with 30 steals, which was second among all Milwaukee farmhands.
Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow (a Larry Ritter Book Award nominee), Facing Ted Williams – Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns