18 year old shortstop Orlando Arcia gained a fair amount of hype after posting an .845 OPS as a 16 year old in the Dominican Summer League in 2011. Poised to break out as a 17 year old in the States, Arcia suffered a serious ankle injury, missing all of 2012. While he has struggled to a .633 OPS this year, it’s important to remember that 18 is incredibly young for the league, and the MWL is generally considered a pitcher’s league. In person, Arcia looks much better than his numbers. He stung a few line drives this weekend, and he’s walking (9.1%) more often than he’s striking out (8.3%). He also made one of the better plays at short that I have seen all season – in an exaggerated lefty shift where Arcia was about 5 steps to the left of second base, he ranged to about 5 steps to his right and made a diving stop on a grounder to the left-field side of second, hopped to his feet, and gunned out the runner by two steps. A very impressive play to say the least. His glove and arm are legit.
Center fielder Tyrone Taylor, rated a B- prospect by John Sickels coming into the season, surprised me as well. The 19 year old has posted an excellent .297/.355/.435 triple-slash line this year (good for a 120 wRC+) with a 6.7% walk rate and a great 10% strikeout rate. He roped a couple of line drives this weekend and showed good speed on the base paths. In center he needs some work on his routes, and flashed a strong throwing arm. I’m not crazy about his swing, which includes some bat-wrap at the top that unnecessarily lengthens his swing, but he has a strong lower-half that doesn’t move much before exploding through the pitch, giving him the bat speed to excel. Taylor was the most advanced Brewers prospect I saw this weekend.
The Timber Rattlers threw Tyler Wagner on Sunday, a 22 year old righty who I could not find mentioned on any Brewers prospect list. Wagner has pitched to a 3.32 ERA this season with a fantastic groundout/air out rate, and it is easy to see why – he was pumping 95 mph gas with regularity while mixing in a low-90s two-seam fastball and a power slider that made a few Cougars batters look silly.
Wagner’s delivery features an extremely high leg kick that occasionally causes him to lose balance. His glove hand never gets anchored and just hangs out in the middle of nowhere, which is at least part of the reason he opens up to the plate so early. Despite those shortcomings, Wagner actually repeats his landing spot and arm slot very well, which when coupled with his strong posture after foot-strike, allows him to locate pitches pretty well. While he did make a few mistakes, giving up homers to Golden and Shoulders, I was really impressed with his stuff. His changeup needs work, and he probably ends up in the pen because of it, but he’s certainly a guy for Milwaukee fans to follow.
The Brewers drafted Victor Roache 28th overall in the 2012 draft, betting that his great raw power would make him an intimidating force in the outfield for years to come. Unfortunately, that is extraordinarily unlikely to happen at this point. Victor Roache was absolutely lost at the plate this weekend. He swung at virtually every pitch he was thrown, and made no contact on the offspeed pitches he offered at. Even mediocre changeups and breaking balls had him extremely off-balance. He would need to completely overhaul his approach to find success at any higher levels. Fortunately, the raw bat speed is great enough that there is a small glimmer of hope for the 21 year old left fielder. That glimmer grows fainter by the day as he continues to hit for a .644 OPS and strike out in 27% of his plate appearances.