Timber Rattlers roster includes four top-30 Brewers prospects

Gilbert Lara is one of seven 2017 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers returning to the team for the start of the 2018 season. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers’ Opening Day roster includes four players ranked by Baseball America among the top 30 Milwaukee Brewers prospects.

Those prospects are outfielder Tristan Lutz (ranked No. 11), catchers K.J. Harrison (No. 16) and Payton Henry (No. 28), and RHP Carlos Herrera (No. 26). (Note: These rankings are from the Baseball America 2018 Prospect Handbook, which went to print before Milwaukee’s January trade for Christian Yelich. Three of the players ranked among the top 10 Brewers prospects listed in the book — Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison and Isan Diaz — were sent to the Miami Marlins as part of that trade.)

Lutz, a first-round supplemental pick (No. 34 overall) last year, is a power prospect with speed and a great outfield arm. His bat was impressive in the 40 rookie-level games he played last season, batting .311 with nine homers, four triples, five doubles and 27 runs batted in. He’ll be manning center field for the Timber Rattlers.

Harrison, a third-round draft pick in 2017, can play first base in addition to catcher, a position where Baseball America says “he needs to clean up his mechanics, including his footwork. … Being able to stay behind the plate would enhance Harrison’s offensive profile, but could also slow down his progress in the system.” The Brewers have said they plan to play him at catcher primarily, so that may mean he will stay with the Timber Rattlers all season. That is, unless he completely dominates Midwest League pitching, which is a possibility after he batted .308 with 10 homers, 14 doubles and 33 RBI in 48 Pioneer League games last year.

Lutz and Harrison are two of eight Timber Rattlers who were drafted by the Brewers in 2017. The others are catcher Brent Diaz and pitchers Bowden Francis, Alec Bettinger, Dylan File, Robbie Hitt and Christian Taugner.

According to Baseball America, Henry (a sixth-round draft pick in 2016) has above-average power and good bat speed, and overall is a good defensive catcher with an above-average arm. He batted .242 with seven homers, 17 doubles and 33 RBI in 55 rookie-level games last year. This is the 20-year-old’s first full-season assignment, in his third pro season.

After spending a couple weeks in the Pioneer League to start his 2017 season, Herrera was promoted to the Midwest League and showed he still needs some refinement at that level. He had a 3.79 ERA with 26 strikeouts and 17 walks in 38 innings (nine games/five starts) for the Timber Rattlers; positively, he pitched a shutout and posted a 1.08 WHIP while holding opponents to a .181 batting average. He is only 20, so there’s no need for the Brewers to rush him as he works on improving.

Herrera is one of seven former Timber Rattlers returning for the start of the season. The others are RHP Rodrigo Benoit, infielders Gilbert Lara and Trever Morrison, and outfielders Zach Clark, Demi Orimoloye and Joantgel Segovia.

Here are all the players currently assigned to the Timber Rattlers roster:

Pitchers: Rodrigo Benoit, Alec Bettinger, Joaquin De La Cruz, Dylan File, Bowden Francis, Gabe Friese, Matt Hardy, Nelson Hernandez, Carlos Herrera, Robbie Hitt, Jenri Montas, Braulio Ortiz, Michael Petersen, Christian Taugner

Catchers: Brent Diaz, K.J. Harrison, Payton Henry

Infielders: Gabriel Garcia, Gilbert Lara, Franly Mallen, Pat McInerney, Trever Morrison, Nick Roscetti

Outfielders: Zach Clark, Jay Feliciano, Tristen Lutz, Demi Orimoloye, Joantgel Segovia

Matt Erickson is back for an eighth consecutive season as manager of the Timber Rattlers. You can read about him and his coaching staff here.

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