The Rookie level Helena Brewers of the Pioneer League are set to open their season Monday. While the Opening Day roster doesn't have any of baseball's top prospects, there are multiple names worth keeping an eye on.
The biggest name on Helena's roster is Devin Williams, the Brewers second round pick in 2013. Williams is a very raw talent with a large amount of potential but needed to add some refinement to parts of his game.
The plus parts of his game begin with his fastball. The pitch was sitting at 92-94 MPH in the Arizona Rookie League and jumped to 95-96 at times during starts. Williams loves to use the pitch too, he attacks hitters with it and makes them beat his best pitch.
His body is his next biggest asset. Listed at 6'3" 165 lbs. upon signing with the Brewers, Williams had a lot of room to fill out and I expect that the process is already started. He is long and lanky in his arms and legs while remaining very athletic. The athleticism will help him to master his delivery and remain in good position as he fills out more. This could also lead to an even higher jump on the radar gun.
Being a young pitcher, Williams has a whole lot of his game to work on. In Rookie ball last year Williams struggled with his control at times walking 5.71 batters per nine innings which is a rate that will need to come down considerably. His off-speed pitches also will need to take a jump forward this year. His best off-speed offering is a changeup that lives at 83-85 with slight arm side movement. His breaking balls are a complete work in progress and will be interesting to see how they have advanced in the off-season.
Williams is the one prospect on the Helena roster that has a chance to jump in with the top prospects in all of baseball. He is just 19-years old and even the slight presence of some refinement in his game to go with the mid-90's fastball could be huge.
Tucker Neuhaus is the second hot name on the Helena roster. Another second round pick of the Brewers in 2013, Neuhaus is an interesting infield prospect. He shows a big arm in the field and the potential for some power in his swing. Most have Neuhuas pegged as a third basemen, but I expect him to see time at shortstop and third in Helena this summer.
It is still so early on the development trail that it's hard to peg Neuhaus' ability at the plate. Realistically, as with any prospect, this is what is really going to tell the story of Neuhaus' career and how far along he makes it.
Cy Sneed (third round) and Dustin DeMuth (fifth round) are the highest picks from the 2014 draft on the Helena roster. Sneed a 6'4" right handed pitcher drafted as a junior out of Dallas Baptist. He sits in the 90-92 range while topping out at 95 MPH. The continued development of his off-speed repertoire is going to be critical to determining Sneed's long term role.
Demuth is an interesting prospect to me as I see him filling a utility role in the future. At Indiana University, Demuth showed himself capable of handling shortstop and third base. He was also very capable with the stick. A utility role could allow Demuth to run through the system faster than most of his fellow 2014 draftees.
My sleeper for the Helena roster is Elvis Rubio. Rubio signed in 2011 as a 16-year old out of the Dominican Republic. After playing in the Dominican Summer League for two seasons, he moved to the states for the Arizona Rookie League in 2013. He has shown improvement each year including a .314/.386/.482 slash line in Arizona a season ago.
Touted as possibly the best power potential in the Dominican for his signing class in 2011, Rubio could really break onto the scene with a nice showing in Helena before moving on to full-season ball next year.