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First-Class Tandem

MILWAUKEE–Often in the minor leagues, one player’s injury leads to another’s opportunity. That probably won’t be the case with first basemen Brad Nelson and Prince Fielder.

Nelson, the Brewers’ top prospect who was hitting .382-0-2 in 34 at-bats at Class A High Desert, will be sidelined four to six weeks with a broken hamate bone in his right wrist.

Scott Candelaria and Froilan Villanueva played first in Nelson’s absence. Fielder, who got off to a torrid start with low Class A Beloit, was not considered for promotion.

"I just think we’re better off leaving Prince where he is," general manager Doug Melvin said, adding that Fielder might stay in Beloit even if Nelson works his way to Double-A Huntsville this year.

Fielder, 19, is in his first full year of professional ball after hitting .390-10-40 at Rookie-level Ogden last summer.

Playing in the hitter-friendly California League can inflate a player’s numbers. Fielder doesn’t need any help in that regard. The 2002 first-round pick was batting .373-5-16 so far, with a .466 on-base percentage.

"(Farm director) Reid Nichols saw him play the other day, and he said he hit three of the hardest balls he’s ever seen hit," Melvin said.

The organization has the luxury of having a pair of bright young prospects sharing a position and is content to bring them along incrementally.

"We’ll see how quickly (Nelson) comes back," Melvin said. "We were wondering if we’d be able to get him to Huntsville this year. It’s not out of the question."

Micro Brews

• Brewers officials were thrilled with the early performance of Beloit righthander Tom Wilhelmsen, who looked sharp and was 2-0 in his first four starts. Wilhelmsen, a seventh-round pick in 2002 who signed in late August, had a 1.93 ERA with 23 strikeouts, six walks and 19 hits in his first 23 innings.

&149; Veteran first baseman Lee Stevens, who spent 10 seasons in the majors, retired. "I got to do it the way I wanted to, and picked the day," said Stevens, 35. "I’m walking away from the game and not getting pushed out. I’m ready to go on with the next phase of my life." Stevens’ departure means Scott Seabol will see more time at first base at Triple-A Indianapolis.

• Righthander David Pember, released by the organization in a procedural move before arm surgery, re-signed.

• Previous organization report: Matt Ford

 
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