The Brewers voided their original, signing deadline-spurred pact with their 11th-round righthander because of a pre-existing finger injury. So when Scarpetta signed a second minor league contract that September (this time for 2008), he no longer carried exemption status from the Rule 5 draft.
Milwaukee remedied the situation by adding Scarpetta to the 40-man roster following the 2008 season. (At the time, he had logged just 36 pro innings, all at the Rookie level.) This unusual step has forced the Brewers to option him to the minors in both '09 and '10.
Scarpetta, 22, hopes to make his situation a non-issue by quickly advancing to the big leagues. This spring, in his third big league camp, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound righthander was soaking up as much advice as possible.
"I want to continue to work hard and keep developing," said Scarpetta, a Rockford, Ill., prep product. "You always want to keep working on your game. I try to listen and talk to as many guys as possible, then bring that advice into my game. I've already learned a lot."
Scarpetta ran up a 5.03 ERA in the first half last year as he struggled with his command at high Class A Brevard County. Manatees pitching coach Fred Dabney and minor league pitching coordinator Lee Tunnell helped Scarpetta turn his season around by showing him that he wasn't fully incorporating his lower half in his delivery.
He ironed out his mechanics during bullpen sessions, began throwing harder and proceeded to go 5-5, 3.03 in 15 second-half starts. He finished with 142 strikeouts in 128 innings.
"At the beginning of last season, I was struggling because I wasn't throwing enough strikes," Scarpetta said. "That got me in trouble."
Through 274 pro innings, Scarpetta boasts a strong ratio of 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings, all while allowing just 234 hits.
The Brewers may be granted a fourth option year for Scarpetta in 2012, but they won't know for sure until they apply for it following this season. Thus it would behoove the organization to get him as close to the majors as possible.
"That's my goal, too," he said. "I'm going to work hard to get there."
• Catcher Shawn Riggans, signed to a minor league deal, will miss an undetermined portion of spring training as he battles pneumonia.
• Third baseman Mat Gamel will work in the outfield and at first base this spring because his natural position belongs to Casey McGehee.