Milwaukee Brewers: Top 10 Prospects Chat With Tom Haudricourt

Milwaukee Brewers: Chat




Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2008.

 Q:  teri from hb asks:
how good can wes etheridge from irvine be ,he made witchita st look so bad—thanks
 A: 

Moderator: Don't know much about Etheridge except for the fact his first taste of pro ball at Helena didn't go well (15.43 ERA in five relieve outings). I'll need more information to come up with a better forecast for you.

 Q:  Brian Daniels from Kennesaw Mountain Landis, Georgia asks:
Hi Tom, looks like the brew crew has reloaded with prospects again. I have two questions. who do you see playing in AA Huntsvegas this year? and Brent Brewer (we all know he is Bernie's kid) will he have any impact on the MLB team? thanks!
 A: 

Moderator: The Brewers really love Brent Brewer's skill set and leadership skills. He's raw — still hasn't played a lot of baseball yet — but has a very high ceiling (He's ranked in our Top 10). As for who might be in Huntsville next year, I'd look for outfielders Cole Gillespie and Lorenzo Cain, first baseman Chris Errecart, third baseman Mat Gamel (look out behind first base), catcher Angel Salome (at some point), lefties Derek Miller and David Welch and perhaps the No. 1 pick from 2007, left fielder Matt LaPorta. Should be a good group.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Given the number of bats listed early on the top 10 list combined with the high number of extra, early draft picks the Brewers already will have in next year's draft, is it safe to guess that the team will target pitching early and often using the theory that if you draft enough of them at least one will stick?
 A: 

Moderator: I think pitching always is a priority, and with six early picks, the Brewers can be bold with some college picks and perhaps someone coming off injury that slid down the board. Given Jack Zduriencik's drafting history, I expect the Brewers to make a nice haul in 2008.

 Q:  Casey from Corvallis, OR asks:
Where does Cole Gillespie fit in, seeing as he is not in the projected 2011 lineup? Is Cole possible trade bait?
 A: 

Moderator: It's difficult to put all of the outfielders the Brewers currently have in their system into the projected lineup for 2011. But I know they like Gillespie and expect him to do very well at Class AA Huntsville next year after playing in pitcher-friendly Brevard County. The Brewers really like the guy's plate discipline.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Age and relative polish lead many to believe that LaPorta will open 2008 at AA. Outside of LaPorta, do you have any insight as to who might receive a surprisingaggressive promotion to begin the 2008 season?
 A: 

Moderator: LaPorta is the only real fast-track prospect I can target but look for reliever Luis Pena to make a move next year. He could even make the Brewers' bullpen with a strong spring. Pitchers such as Andre Periard and R.J. Seidel, and Zach Braddock, if he stays healthy, should be strong movers as well.

 Q:  17 from Polk County asks:
Ryan Braun in Center Field, you really think he can handle that? Sounds like that outfield will hit, and sounds like it will need to....
 A: 

Moderator: Braun's really fast and is a good athlete, so he probably could play anywhere. Because he has a strong arm, though, it might make more sense to project him in right and Corey Hart in center. Hart played center at times this year and handled himself well.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
From Fielder, Weeks and Braun to LaPorta, Gamel and Salome, is the organization concerned at all by having so many hitters that are considered to be defensive liabilities? I like the bat-first approach, but pitching and defense wins championships (or so they say).
 A: 

Moderator: The Brewers do seem to have a lot of hit-first, field-second types, which is a bit bothersome to me. You can't switch everybody to the outfield. That's what makes shortstop Alcides Escobar stand out. He can really play short. That's why it's possible he could eventually move Hardy to third, which would move Braun to the outfield.

 Q:  Todd from Wauwatosa asks:
Where would Will Inman have ranked had he still been in the system? Some people said he hit a wall a little when he reached Double A but he was still very young. Did the Crew get ripped off for half a mediocre season from Scott Linebrink?
 A: 

Moderator: Inman might have slid back from No. 3 a year ago, depending on what he did the rest of the year had he stayed at Huntsville. He was off to a rough start there. Did the Brewers give up a lot to take their shot on Linebrink? Yes, they did. But they gambled that he'd strengthen a weakened bullpen and push the team over the top in the NL Central. They lost that gamble but will get two high draft picks for losing Linebrink to free agency.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Last week it was mentioned that Doug Melvin may be toying with the idea of acquiring a proven third baseman which would allow Braun to move to LF. If that is even remotely true, what does that mean for the future of players such as LaPorta, Gillespie and even Gamel?
 A: 

Moderator: It's not a problem to worry about until a proven third baseman drops in Melvin's lap, which I'm not expecting to happen. But both Gamel and Braun can't play third, and you're only allowed one LF. So there has to be some shuffling (or trading) at some point.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Do you get the sense that Melvin may be thinking about putting together a prospect package to make a big trade this offseason dealing some of the players that may be perceived as blocked?
 A: 

Moderator: I'm not sure how many prospects Melvin wants to deal but he'd be willing to include some if he got a closer-type for the bullpen or a leftfielder with a proven offensive track record. I think it's more likely he'll trade from the starting pitching surplus he has.

 Q:  thebig747 from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Ryan Braun, CF??? That's the first I've heard of that. Please explain.
 A: 

Moderator: It's just a projection. As I wrote earlier in this chat, he could just as well end up in RF if moved off 3B because he has a strong arm and Corey Hart can handle the work in CF.

 Q:  thebig747 from Milwaukee, WI asks:
What is the latest on Mark Rogers? Thanks.
 A: 

Moderator: Rogers is expected to be ready to pitch at the start of 2008 after recovering from shoulder surgery. Not sure where they'd send him to start the year. Likely somewhere low in the system. Or he might be kept in extended spring training for awhile to take advantage of the warm weather. No matter where he goes, it'll be a big year for Rogers to re-establish himself.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Jack Z's luck taking prep pitchers in the first round isn't that great given the misfortunes of Mike Jones, Mark Rogers and Jeremy Jeffress. Last year the Brewers seem to put more of an emphasis drafting more polished college players early, doing so with their first three selections, and their first prep pick, Gindl, wasn't exactly an overly toolsy player but a shorter, stocky high school player praised for his polished bat. Do you think that was a one-year fluke, or a path the organization will continue to take?
 A: 

Moderator: I think Jack Z. almost always takes the best player left on his board. Sometimes a player's position or need factors into the equation but he really likes going for the best player remaining on his board. Having six early picks next year might allow him to do some different things, though.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Any projections for a couple of break-out players from the 2007 season, Taylor Green and Zach Braddock?
 A: 

Moderator: If Braddock stays healthy, he's a special player. Don't be surprised if Alexandre Periard — I think I called him Andre by mistake earlier — or R.J. Seidel break through as well. The Brewers really like their arms.

 Q:  Travis from TX asks:
What is the word on Rolando Pascual? Did the Brewers throw away money with this international signing? Thanks for the chat.
 A: 

Moderator: Pacual ended up having Tommy John surgery and losing a year but he's back throwing again. He's still young so it's too early to say the Brewers threw away money. Let's see if he makes any progress in '08, and then we can re-evaluate the signing.

 Q:  Travis from TX asks:
Is Brad Nelson still considered a prospect and where does he fit in the Brewers' plans? Thanks for the chat.
 A: 

Moderator: Brad bounced back last year after spinning his wheels for a few seasons and the Brewers decide to put him on their 40-man roster. That's a good sign for Brad, who might at least make it to the majors at some point as a left-handed bat off the bench. It's too his credit that he didn't give up after a couple of tough years.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
While they're several years away, the Helena pitching staff offered quite a few promising names including RJ Seidel, Chad Robinson, Rob Bryson, Nick Tyson, Roque Mercedes, Evan Anundsen and Jose Garcia. Do the Brewers point to this group of young arms as the next young wave of talent?
 A: 

Moderator: The Brewers have high hopes for that group of arms. Bryson and Tyson, both of whom were signed as draft-and-follows (a process that has been discontinued), were particularly impressive. It'll take awhile before we see these guys in Milwaukee but with such a good group, you'd expect some of them have to make it.

 Q:  John from NYC asks:
Taylor Green seemingly came out of nowhere to win the organizational player of the year but still didn't make the top ten prospects. How close was he to the top 10? He is a legit prospect or just a kid who had a good year?
 A: 

Moderator: Taylor's skills don't grade out great individually, which is why he wasn't in the Top 10 on a list that really emphasizes ceiling and possible impact in the majors. Having said that, the Brewers really like the way Taylor plays the game. He's one of those guys who just knows how to play and has good instincts. There's always a place for players like that.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Did the Brewers bullpen woes at the big-league level effect their player development at all, and how much do you sense that they're trying to mold players such as Kevin Roberts, Robert Hinton, Dave Johnson, Omar Aguilar, Tim Dillard, Luis Pena and Mitch Stetter into legitimate, internal options so they don't have to overpay for relievers on the free agent market, particularly after losing both Cordero and Linebrink to big-money deals?
 A: 

Moderator: It's always better to develop players from within. Relievers seem to come and go, and their roles tend to shift over time. It's just the nature of the beast. Pena, Stetter, Dillard, Roberts, Hinton and the others all project to pitch in the Brewers' pen at some point. Some — such as Pena and Stetter — earlier than others.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
ROLANDO PASCUAL...Prospect or Suspect?
 A: 

Moderator: Whenever a pitching prospect has major surgery and is set back, the needle moves away from prospect to suspect. That's a fact of baseball life. If Pascual bounces back and shows something in '08, the needle moves back toward prospect.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Last year we heard that Mat Gamel, Brent Brewer and Cole Gillespie were particularly impressive in the team's instructional camp during the fall of 2006. Were there any prospects in particular that stood out from the crowd in this year's camp?
 A: 

Moderator: I spent a little time in instructional camp and know the Brewers liked what they saw of Brent Brewer, Eric Farris and R.J. Seidel, among others. Caleb Gindl was banged up but the Brewers really like his bat. There was even a third baseman there by the name of Zelous Wheeler who was showing a lot of life and having a good camp.

 Q:  Gilligan from La La Land asks:
Matt LaPorta reminds me of Pat Burrell. I can't see him ever hitting for a high average in the majors. If Manny Parra was not blocked by Sheets and Gallardo, he's a potential 1-2 southpaw with 3 plus pitches and terrific command. Parra also already proved he can handle major league hitters. Who would you rather have on your roster?
 A: 

Moderator: I can't have both? Parra can be special, and he's about ready. I don't see why you think LaPorta won't hit for a high average. He didn't in the Arizona Fall League but that was the toughest pitching he had faced in his first pro year. LaPorta showed good discipline in college and had a very high on-base percentage and slugging percentage, both of which are more important than batting average.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
What can you tell me about Allixon Cequea? His AZL numbers looked pretty good and he appears to be one of the youngest players in the Brewers System.
 A: 

Moderator: I will be honest and tell you I don't know anything about Cequea. I wouldn't call a .284 OBP very good but as you noted, he's young. He didn't turn 17 until June. Anything can happen with a player that young. It's to the Brewers' credit that they decided to start bringing their young Latin players directly to the States rather than burying them in academies in those countries. They want them under their direct supervision.

 Q:  Erick from Columbus, OH asks:
Good afternoon, With the losses of Cordero and Linebrink through free agency, do the Brewers have arms in in the minors that can step into their bullpen next season?
 A: 

Moderator: Perhaps Luis Pena and Tim Dillard, and lefty Mitch Stetter had an excellent Arizona Fall League. Those guys are at the top of the pecking order right now.

 Q:  Todd from Wauwatosa asks:
What are your thoughts on Tim Dillard? He had a ho-hum year at Triple A but it seems the Brewers have a high opinion of him. Where does he stack in the rankings?
 A: 

Moderator: I believe Dillard was in my bottom third of the Top 30, mainly because he's projecting as a middle reliever right now. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

 Q:  D. Cornell from Madison, WI asks:
Does Edgar Trejo have the skills to play 3B in the Majors?
 A: 

Moderator: Probably, though he's just starting his career. Scouts seemed to think he was the best player on that AZL team, so he's one to keep an eye on.

 Q:  John from Harrisonburg, VA asks:
Omar Aguilar had a decent season both in the South Atlantic and Hawaiian Leagues. His strikeout rate is high, but so is his walk rate. Did he get any consideration for the top half of the organization?
 A: 

Moderator: I didn't rank Aguilar in my Top 30 but I was advised that he is one to watch for next year. The Brewers like him and if he improves his command, he apparently has the stuff to move up.

 Q:  John from Harrisonburg, VA asks:
Does Brendan Katin have a shot at playing in the major leagues?
 A: 

Moderator: Anybody with power like Katin has, not to mention his strong OF arm, has a good shot to make the majors. He needs to reduce his Ks and improve his plate discipline, however. Right now, he's a bit too all-or-nothing, and the Brewers already have too many of those types.

 Q:  Adam M from VA asks:
Now that Jeffress has failed four drug tests, what does his role in baseball look like? could these failed tests derail his career?
 A: 

Moderator: Jeffress has a decision to make: either stop smoking pot or forget about a major league career. It would seem to be an easy decision for most, but the guy obviously has a problem that he has been unable to get past. It's very unfortunate because he has a special arm.

 Q:  Lefty from So.Cal asks:
I was following Andy Bouchie progress after a good career at ORU a strong half season with the Brewers last year. He stuggled in his first full season never really getting on track. Do the Brewers still have a plan for him behind the plate or is he on the back burner after a poor season.
 A: 

Moderator: Catching is by far the weakest position in the Brewers' system. Thus, one bad year doesn't kill you. Bouchie certainly didn't do much offensive at West Virginia, which is a good place to hit. But he was in instructional league, working on his catching, and if he bounces back there's not a lot of competition at that position in the system.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
As a LaPorta fan, I am quite pleased you gave him such an honor. Does he have a chance to be as comparable with his glove in the OF as he is with his bat, or is he physically destined to be in the same mold as Prince Fielder?
 A: 

Moderator: All the Brewers want from LaPorta defensively is to be an average LF. That's not shooting for the moon. With his offensive potential, as long as LaPorta isn't a mess in the OF, he'll move to the majors quickly. He was working hard at it in the Arizona Fall League and the Brewers like his approach to the game.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
In BA's recent Draft Report Card chat, I asked who was considered the best sleeper in the entire N.L. drafted this year, and Jim Callis answered Cody Scarpetta. I'd like to get your evaluation of him as a prospect (when healthy), and did his injury keep him from the Top 10?
 A: 

Moderator: Scarpetta's injury knocked him down to the bottom of the Top 30 (I'm not sure if he actually made it. Jim Callis was making some adjustments at the bottom of that list). But Jim C. was definitely on target labeling Scarpetta as a sleeper. If he gets past what is an unusual finger injury that required two surgeries, the Brewers think they got a steal in Scarpetta. He's one to watch in 2008.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Has the clock run out on Mark Rogers, or is he still in the prospect running?
 A: 

Moderator: 2008 will be a very big year in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Had Inman not been traded, where would he have ranked? Also, what is your opinion on that trade? Who got the most from it?
 A: 

Moderator: Some scouts think the Padres will get more out of Thatcher and Garrison in the long run, mainly because their lefties. The Brewers definitely gave up a lot for Linebrink. They rolled the dice which was a bit refreshing. And let's not forget, a prospect is only a prospect until he gets to the majors and does something.

 Q:  J.P. from Springfield asks:
Your thoughts on Katin? Is he on your radar as a possible Top 10'er next year?
 A: 

Moderator: As mentioned earlier, he has to stop striking out so much to even approach the Top 10.

 Q:  J.P. from Springfield asks:
He was once compared to Doc Gooden, and now he seems to be living up to that comp in more ways than one. While Jeffress is certainly in the doghouse, is it safe to assume you ranked him where you did because you still believe in his talent and do you think he'll clean up his act?
 A: 

Moderator: I definitely believe in his talent. Now, it's up to him to stop the nonsense and concentrate on his career. I'm told he is a good kid who happens to have a pot habit. I have to assume he realizes what's at stake and will move past that.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
Did Haydel rank in the 11-20 range, and besides his speed, what would you say is his best asset?
 A: 

Moderator: Haydel was not in my Top 30 this year because he wasn't that impressive at Helena. The Brewers think he's a player though, so let's check back in 2008. I think his speed is far and away his best skill, so I'm not sure what to rank No. 2. Perhaps it'll become evident next season.

 Q:  J.P. from Springfield asks:
Is Errecart still on your Top 30, and what kind of future do you see for him, post-injury?
 A: 

Moderator: Errecart indeed is in the Top 30 (not sure what his final ranking was; we were still tinkering around with that). It's too bad he broke his hand in Hawaii; the Brewers wanted to see how he did there. The move to 1B was a good one for him but with Prince Fielder in Milwaukee, you have to wonder about his future in the organization.

 Q:  Doug Melvin from Milwaukee,WI asks:
When will I get some pitching up here? Jack Z has shown he can draft high round position players,but where is my much needed pitching?
 A: 

Moderator: You didn't like Gallardo, Villanueva or Parra, huh? Amazing.

 Q:  LeBron James from Cleveland asks:
We think Manny Parra will sit as a #3 behind Gallardo and Sheets. What is his ceiling IF he stays healthy? Could he eventually take over as a #2 if Sheets goes the way of the buffalo?
 A: 

Moderator: Manny Parra definitely has the talent to be a top-of-the rotation pitcher. Once he recovered from shoulder surgery last year, he reminded folks what all the fuss was about. I wouldn't rank him as my No. 2 prospect if I thought he couldn't make a major impact at some point.

 Q:  bob from alantic city NJ asks:
Laporta sounds like he might be injury prone, and if not, what's his overall ceiling?
 A: 

Moderator: He's not injury prone that I know of. He had an oblique strain in 2006, which can happen. The reason he had a quad injury when the Brewers drafted him was because he was allowed to keep playing at Florida and it worsened. He certainly showed no lingering effects once he started his pro career.

 Q:  James from Rome,WI asks:
Tom-At this point who projects to be a better player 3B Tyler Green or Mat Gamel, C's Angel Salome or Jonathan LeCroy?
 A: 

Moderator: Gamel has more talent but Taylor is a far better third baseman. Salome has more talent but Lucroy might be slightly more polished (he went to college; Salome came out of high school). We have Gamel and Salome rated quite a bit ahead of Green and Lucroy, and the emphasis is always on projected impact in the majors.

 Q:  Homer from Texas asks:
Hey what are your thoughts on Lou Palmisano? I watched him several times during the AFL and really thought he had a problem throwing runners out. Also he started out hitting pretty well but really hit the skids at the end does he have to long of a swing...
 A: 

Moderator: Palmisano had a better year at Huntsville and a strong start in the AFL before fading. He shows just enough to stay in the picture — the Brewers added him to their 40-man roster after the season — and he plays the one position at which the Brewers can't afford to give up on a player. Whether he projects to more than a backup in the majors — or even that — remains to be seen. He needs to keep improving.

 Q:  James from Rome,WI asks:
Tom-Which of the big time minor league prospects will be traded for 3B, OF, or bullpen help? Jeremy Jeffress because of his drug problems?
 A: 

Moderator: Jeffress' arm is too special to give up on at this point, I would think. I'm not sure the Brewers will trade away any big-time prospects this winter. They'd have to be bowled over by a trade proposal to do that. They traded three pitching prospects for Scott Linebrink last season and that didn't work out so well. They do have a glut of minor league OFs, however, and they can't all make it, so that might provide some trade material.

 Q:  Tom from Buffalo, NY asks:
A rather uninspiring system, wouldn't you say?
 A: 

Moderator: No, I wouldn't.

 Q:  Dan from Cincy asks:
Can you tell me where Darren Ford fits in the Brewers plans? Is he seen as a legit starter in the bigs or more of a 4th OF-type? Thanks
 A: 

Moderator: Ford struggled when promoted from West Virginia to Brevard County but is still a young player who can really fly. If he continues to work on his bunting, getting on base and putting together a solid OBP, he could be a starter in the majors because he can really go get it in the outfield.

 Q:  Dan from Cincy asks:
It seems that the Brewers have had a lot of success developing professional hitters. Is there anything in their recent track record that says they can bring out the best in a tools hound like Billy Brewer? Thanks
 A: 

Moderator: I assume you mean Brent Brewer. The Brewers think his skill set and mentality make him a special player. He just needs to play and get more experience, which presumably will cut down on his errors and strikeouts. He is considered perhaps the top athlete in the system.

 Q:  John from NYC asks:
Robert Hinton was a top 30 prospect and was voted as having the best slider in the org last year. This year his slider was again tops in the org but after a strong start his numbers weren't that impressive. Is he a guy that will help the big league club this year or does he still have to prove himself?
 A: 

Moderator: Hinton still has to prove himself. You need more than a slider. He didn't perform as well in AA as he did in A. That doesn't mean he won't make it, however.

 Q:  Derrik from Green Bay asks:
Tom, Thanks for doing the chat. With Brewers extra picks this year, could they regain their status as the top farm system? Also, where are they right now?
 A: 

Moderator: I think BA has the Brewers around sixth. Those extra picks certainly will help, assuming Jack Z. and his staff works its usual magic.

 Q:  MJ from Valpo asks:
Hi. Just wondering the scoop on Michael Brantley? He made it to AA as a 20-year old, and held his own—pretty impressive! So, why no love for him? He seems like at least a top 20 guy for the Brewers. He's got great speed, a keen eye, developing gap-pop, and solid OF defense, yet I never see him on anyone's radar really...and what's his status for '08? Thanks.
 A: 

Moderator: I believe Brantley will be in the top 20 when the final 30 comes out, or at least close. The Brewers like him and believe dabbling at 1B will only help him move up. He has advanced very well for a young player and has a bunch of tools. Farm director Reid Nichols told me Brantley definitely will play in the majors.

 Q:  Angel Salome from Palm Beach, FL asks:
Two questions: 1) Was my suspension for my ADD medication as some people theorized... or for the juice? 2) At best, what is my ceiling? AVGHR?
 A: 

Moderator: I've heard conflicting reports on what you tested positive for. They keep that stuff pretty secret so I can't be certain. As for your ceiling, you have a lot of talent and you're playing the right position in this organization. Now, it's up to you. Good luck.

 Q:  Joe from Milwaukee asks:
Farris and Lucroy both had nice debuts. How close were they to making the top 10 list, and how fast do you see them moving through the organization?
 A: 

Moderator: Lucroy, I believe, was in the second 10 and Farris in the third 10. The Brewers really liked both of them. Lucroy did well in Hawaii this winter and I saw Farris in instructional league and he's an impressive second baseman. I think we'll be hearing plenty more about both players.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:
Escobar stole 18 bases in 63 games in A ball but only 4 bags in 62 games in AA. Which is more indicative of his speed? Will he be a big stolen base guy in the bigs?
 A: 

Moderator: Not sure why Escobar didn't run more at AA. He'll probably be a decent stolen base guy in the majors, not huge. He runs well but might need work on his jumps, etc., because he has been thrown out too much. Well, folks, that's all the time I have for today's chat. Some of the remaining questions have already been addressed and I'm sorry about missing the others. I hope you've enjoyed the chat. Happy holidays to everyone!