Coulter needs way more recognition than he has gotten after his play last year. It vaulted him to this ranking, and it might not even be doing him justice. The former first rounder has quietly being tearing up the minors for three years, giving him an excellent chance to eventually make an impact for the Brewers.
Coulter’s bat, without question, is his bread and butter. His 165 wRC+ was nothing short of impressive, and his .233 ISO, .520 SLG, and .420 wOBA were flat-out outstanding. He lost the SLG crown to Brett Phillips of the Astros organization by 1 point, but all of those other marks led the Midwest League by a large margin, along with a first place tie with 22 homeruns. Coulter’s offense isn’t entirely power-driven though. He showed a solid eye, walking 13.8% of the time, driving his .410 OBP. He also stole 6 bases, although this likely won’t be a part of his game going forward, and he did get caught 6 times as well. Carson Cistulli recently determined who the minor league WAR leaders would have been in 2014 if there was such a stat. Coulter came in sixth in all of the minors, with a mostly bat driven 6.5 WAR (prorated to 600 plate appearances, it would have been 7 WAR). But of course, with the good comes the bad. Like most power hitters, Coulter has a bit of a strikeout issue. He’s ranged from anywhere between 17.3% to 23% at any one stop he has made. His BABIP has also tended to be a little high, but not outrageous, with a .326 mark last year. Some of these issues may be correctable, at least in part, but they need to be watched as Coulter progresses.
Defense is where Coulter’s main issues show up. He is currently a catcher, but reports on his ability to remain at the position range all over the map. Some say he is working hard, and making the appropriate steps to be a big league catcher, but most seem to feel that a position change is imminent. This happens so often, especially with bat first catchers, so it’s hard to truly fault him for it, but it is a serious weakness in his game. This, on top of the fact that Jonathan Lucroy is going to have a serious stranglehold on the Brewers catching spot for the foreseeable future, will almost certainly lead to a move. Right field seems like it could be a possibility with the fact that Coulter has a catcher’s arm, or possibly first base, but I doubt there would be other options.
Coulter spent the entire ’14 season at Single A Wisconsin. I see absolutely no reason for him to be held back there, and I would anticipate that he opens 2015 at High-A Brevard County. His path to the big leagues will be dictated by his continued offensive development, as well as his likely positional adjustment when the Brewers decide to make it.