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, 2009.

    Lorenzo (Milwaukee): What can you tell us about 13th rounder 1B Sean Halton? Is he merely a one-trick pony (power), or could he possibly be a diamond in the rough?

Tom Haudricourt: OK, let's start today's chat. To be honest, I don't know much about Halton. But it certainly doesn't look like he's a one-trick pony in regard to power. He only hit three homers in 161 at-bats with the rookie Helena club but did bat .354 with a .398 OBP. That seems like a pretty good hitter to me. He did come out of college and sometimes those advanced hitters fare very well in rookie ball. Let's see what he does when he moves up.

    Ben (Leland Grove): I reas your complete Top 30 list in your blog this morning, and was amazed how far Cutter Dykstra had fallen (all the way off entirely). Why did you overrank him at # 7 last year?

Tom Haudricourt: Reports on Dykstra coming out of the draft were good and the Brewers were excited about getting him. Then, he didn't seem to adjust well to a move to the OF and was shifted to 2B. So, he was sent back to extended spring training to learn that position and it didn't go smoothly. Plus, he seemed greatly affected by family issues, specifically his father's mounting financial woes. Scouts who saw him said Dykstra looked lost. So, with the on-field and off-field issues, I didn't feel comfortable ranking him anywhere in the Top 30 this time around. That's an extreme case, admittedly, so let's see if he bounces back in 2010 and re-establishes himself as a prospect worthy of ranking.

    Keith (New Jersey): I heard great things about Brett Lawrie.... How good could he be and when does he arrive to the Bigs? Thanks

Tom Haudricourt: Lawrie has tremendous upside as a hitter and looked better at second base than some expected when he shifted there for good at Class A Wisconsin. But, make no mistake about it, he is an offensive player whom the Brewers will find a position to play in the majors. Wouldn't surprise me if he evolved as a first baseman at some point but he is very athletic and might make this 2B thing work.

    Kathy (Chicago): How far did Salome fall since last year's list, and how would you evaluate him now?

Tom Haudricourt: Salome fell out of the Top 10 to No. 15 because I heard some shaky things about him at Class AAA Nashville. He seemed to have trouble staying on the field and maybe let some nagging injuries get to him. He still needs work behind the plate, too, and the Brewers made it clear they felt Jonathan Lucroy had moved past Salome as the organization's top catching prospect. Salome does have an electric bat, though, so let's see how he looks in the spring. Last spring, he barely played in the Brewers' camp because of back issues and that seemed to set the tone for his year.

    Grant (Chatham, IL): What does Wily Peralta best project as - starter or reliever?

Tom Haudricourt: You get divided opinions on that. Because he has shown a much-improved changeup, the Brewers believe he still projects as a starter. But, with his power arm, Peralta could evolve as a late-inning reliever at some point. The Brewers need starting pitchers in their system and thus are inclined to keep him in that role for the time being.

    Wayne (Frankfurt, KY): What led you to rank Anundsen all the way down into the 20's?

Tom Haudricourt: I might have had him a little higher than the final BA ranking. The magazine has final say, and they know a lot more about prospects than I do. But, there's nothing wrong with being in the 20s when he wasn't even ranked last year. He had a breakthrough season and let's see if he prompts us to move him even higher next year.

    Mike R (LA): I was little surpised not to see Cody Scarpetta on the list. How close was he to making it and what is his upside? Thanks!!!!!

Tom Haudricourt: Cody Scarpetta is No. 13 in our Top 30, which is a pretty high ranking for a young pitcher coming off his first full minor-league season. The kid has a great arm and a high ceiling, so don't be surprised if he keeps moving up. Because of a signing technicality, he did go on the 40-man roster prematurely, so that might have a bearing at some point.

    Eric (Denver, CO): I see you still have some confidence in Mark Rogers, as you have him at # 11. Can he still become a legit starter in Milwaukee?

Tom Haudricourt: Yes, if he can stay healthy. That has been a big "if" after Rogers missed two full seasons because of multiple shoulder surgeries. He also was "babied" a bit this year with low doses of innings but that was understandable after all the time lost. He didn't fare well in the Arizona Fall League but he probably was fatigued after finally returning to action. Let's see how big of a leap he makes in 2010. The talent is certainly there.

    Frank (St Louis): Had he remained, where would you have ranked Gillespie and why?

Tom Haudricourt: I'm not familiar with how Gillespie looked this year, so I can't answer that question. I do believe he was sent to the AFL, though, which is a good sign for him.

    Pete v (Ny): Zach Braddock has very good stuff.... Is he on the fast track to being Brewers closer of the future? BTW.... Love the chats!!!

Tom Haudricourt: Closer is asking a lot but he certainly has taken to relieving. I watched him strike out the side in his one inning in the AFL championship game. Wouldn't surprise me to see him in the majors at some point in 2010.

    Reggie (FL): Is RF the most likely destination for Gamel (your 2013 lineup card has him there), or is this mere speculation on your part?

Tom Haudricourt: Well, if Casey McGehee is the real thing at third base and the Brewers manage to sign Prince Fielder long-term — which they want to do — Gamel is going to have to move to the OF to play in Milwaukee. Considering how Corey Hart has spun his wheels of late, RF seemed to make sense to me. He has the arm for it and scouts believe he has decent-enough speed to do it.

    T-Rex (DC): Why did Evan Frederickson fall out of the top 30?

Tom Haudricourt: An inability to throw strikes.

    Ike (VA): Who is the biggest sleeper in the system, in your opinion?

Tom Haudricourt: Perhaps Rob Wooten. He has pitched very well since being drafted. Pounds the strike zone. His stuff isn't electric but he knows how to pitch. And he has the guts to handle the closer's role quite nicely.

    Greg (Bayview, WI): Do you see the Brewers giving Braddock another shot at a starting role, or is he strictly going to come out of the 'pen?

Tom Haudricourt: Looks like the pen but they sure need starters. I guess they've decided they can keep him healthier in prescribed doses. He certainly made the adjustment seamlessly.

    James (Rome,WI): Tom-I find it interesting that some people thought that Jack Z could walk on water because his drafts were so good. Even though he didn't draft pitching well and drafted hitters who couldn't play defense very well. Now Bruce Seid has his 1st draft and he has 3 players in the top 10 from the 2009 draft...interesting. Also it must be noted that a lot of those top picks Jack Z made from 2008 fell, and fell bad in the top 30 or aren't even in the top 30 anymore. Jack Z was overrated to an extent.

Tom Haudricourt: Jack Z's drafts helped the Brewers advance some big bats to the majors that form the core of the current team. He obviously was offensive minded, including selecting Brett Lawrie in 2008. The inability to get pitching prospects to the majors obviously has been a shortcoming of the entire organization. It didn't help that Mike Jones and Mark Rogers were injured and that Jeremy Jeffress couldn't stop smoking marijuana. But I spoke with Jeffress' agent, Josh Kusnick, recently, and he says Jeffress is doing well in overcoming the problem. Jeffress will miss part of 2010, then it will be up to him to prove he's still a prospect.

    Fred (Ohio): When do you see Jonathan Lucroy taking over as the everyday catcher?

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers are talking about bringing him to the majors next year, to at least share the position. Those who saw him in the AFL said he is making tremendous progress.

    Fred (Ohio): Hi! Do you think that the Brewers have made sufficient improvements in Latin America or do you think that they still have a ways to go in this department?

Tom Haudricourt: They are doing better. They've had some heralded signings in recent years and have tried to make more of an impact there. They have some making up to do, though.

    Jim (Milwaukee): Just saw Cain in AZ, if he is in the Top 10, things don't look good down on the farm. And how do you leave Scarpetta off of this list? he may be the best young pitcher we have.

Tom Haudricourt: As noted above, Scarpetta is at No. 13, not far out of the Top 10. Cain has tremendous ability but suffered a bad knee injury at the outset of the 2009 season and hasn't totally recaptured his game. But don't give up on him just yet. He's still young and has the tools.

    Brian Daniels (at my desk.. "working"): Tom, Thanks for the chat today, couple of questions. First off, Scarpetta so low? He has a great arm? Is it the control issues? Also, you see Heckathorn at #4 in the overall scheme things? I was under the impression he was more of Farnsworth type pitcher. He told me a few weeks ago the Brewers only wanted him to throw fastballs. Where do you see him starting off the year? Low A? High A? Thanks

Tom Haudricourt: We've addressed Scarpetta. As for Heckathorn, he barely pitched in Rookie ball so I'm guessing low Class A Wisconsin next year. Because he is mostly a power guy, some have projected Heckathorn as a late-inning reliever at some point. They probably told him to only throw FBs in his short rookie ball stint because of his heavy college workload. No need to stress his arm at that point.

    Terry (WI): If Jeffress stays off the drugs from here on, could he be a Top 10 prospect at this time next year?

Tom Haudricourt: Yes. But he better get his act together and focus on baseball when his suspension ends. He's about out of chances.

    Brian Daniels (Again.. "Working hard in GA"): One last question: Does Gamel move to first affording the Brewers to trade Prince to get a good value for him?

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers have said they'd rather sign Fielder to a long-term deal than trade him. So, let's see how that works out. Gamel does project as a first baseman to many scouts, however.

    Reed (NV): Even though I'm guessing you don't play a part in its' composition, how many of the Top 10 would you nominate for BA's Top 100 Prospects list?

Tom Haudricourt: Escobar, Lawrie and Gamel should be in there, for sure. After that, not sure, I put some 2009 draft picks in the Top 10 and BA probably would like to see them play a bit first.

    matt (philly, pa): Where's Caleb Gindl? Does Davis have that much more of an upside than him to rank him higher than Gindl?

Tom Haudricourt: Gindl is No. 17. He's one of those guys that scouts have trouble projecting to play a certain position but he sure can hit. As for Davis, those who saw him in instructional ball said he looked fantastic. He had sort of a down year at Tennessee but that team wasn't very good and he might have been pressing. The Brewers can't wait to see him start playing in games.

    Mainer (Maine): Mark Rogers is finally healthy. How far out of the top 10 did he fall?

Tom Haudricourt: Not far at all. No. 11.

    Phil (KC): Does Lawrie have the skillset to become the next Chase Utley?

Tom Haudricourt: He will be an offensive second baseman, perhaps like a Jeff Kent. I'll make that comparison because they're both right-handed hitters.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Does Lawrie's poor showing in his short stint in AA raise any red flags about his bat against better pitching? 52 AB with only one extra base hit - no RBI, 14K and no walks. I know it is only a small sample and he's still very young, but that is not a real good AA debut.

Tom Haudricourt: Might have been pressing. He also mostly DHed. Some position players have problems with adjusting to that role. I wouldn't put a lot on that short stint but it is a big jump from low Class A to AA. Remember, he doesn't turn 20 until January and was playing his first pro season.

    Steve (Chicago): Where does Rickie Weeks fit in to the Brewers future. He was off to a fantastic start last season. If he can stay healthy, which is the ultimate question, is he their future 2B?

Tom Haudricourt: He's not their future second baseman. He's their current second baseman.

    Paul (Rockford, IL): Why do some scouts believe Lawrie is destined for the OF?

Tom Haudricourt: Because he needs to work on his infield defense. Ask Ryan Braun how much easier it became after he was switched from third base to left field.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Is Eric Farris considered a legit prospect? He hit for a good average and has big time speed. If Lawrie is the 2B of the future where does Farris fit? Does he? And by the way - how fast is Haydel if Farris isn't even the Brewer's fastest base runner?!

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers really like Farris. Fast and a polished second baseman. But, Farris is a level ahead of Lawrie, so the Brewers can wait on that decision. Let's just say that Lawrie probably won't ever be as smooth at second as Farris is, but they're two different kinds of players. And Haydel is very fast. Had trouble stealing first base this year, though.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Any future for Adam Stern? I know at his age he's really not a prospect any more, but do you think he has any chance to make the majors, if not with the Brewers, than with anyone? Gotta keep rooting for my namesake! Thanks for the chat. Great job as always.

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers are so thin in outfield depth right now that it's not unimaginable for Stern to make the club as an extra player next spring. That's why he was quickly re-signed for 2010.

    Mike (Milwaukee): How in the world does Cody Scarpetta not make the top 10 when the team puts him on the 40 man roster last year and goes out and is the #9 prospect in the Midwest league? Thats horrific!!!!

Tom Haudricourt: I'll answer one more Scarpetta question (it seems like every other one is about him). Being ranked No. 13 is no insult. And, as noted earlier, a signing technicality forced the Brewers to put him on the 40-man roster a few years earlier than otherwise would have happened (his original contract was voided because of a finger injury). Everybody, settle down. Scarpetta's a fine prospect and the Brewers really like him. And, as for why being No. 9 in a low Class A League would put you in the top 10 automatically, I don't understand your thinking. We considered potential impact in the majors in ranking prospects. Again, lucky No. 13 is no insult.

    John (Oak Park, IL): How does Escobar compare with Starlin Castro?

Tom Haudricourt: I have no idea. I've never seen Starlin Castro. But I've seen Escobar, and he can play. If Castro compares to Escobar, he must be pretty darn good.

    Patrick (Milwaukee): I know the team-by-team and league-by-league lists don't always correspond, but considering that Baseball America had Salome rated as the 17th best prospect in the PCL and Gindl was the 16th best prospect in the FSL, don't you think they both should be higher than roughly the same placement on the Brewers' list? I know both are questioned for their stature, but they both continue to hit the ball, and we heard reports of Salome's improved defense this past year.

Tom Haudricourt: When ranking players in the Brewers' system, we compare them to each other, not other players in their league. You're slotted according to the talent in your system, not the talent in your league. For instance, Logan Schafer wasn't even ranked in the Top 20 in the Florida State League but he was the Brewers' minor league player of the year and I have him at No. 12 in the system. Must have been a lot of talent in the FSL this year.

    Patrick (Milwaukee): Which prospects do the Brewers intend to fast-track in 2010? I'm assuming Eric Arnett and Kentrail Davis would seem to be the most likely candidates. Any chance Del Howell might be given an aggressive placement to open 2010, and could Scooter Gennett open the spring with Wisconsin? Will Lawrie be given the chance to stick at AA Huntsville after skipping Brevard County late last year?

Tom Haudricourt: I'd say yes to most of your questions because they are all talented players. But Lawrie might go to Brevard because of his young age. Players can always be elevated in season. One of the reasons the Brewers drafted advanced pitchers in '09 was with the hope of getting them to the majors ASAP. Gennett signed too late to play so he might have some rookie ball in his future.

    Richard (Ft. Lauderdale): I don' t remember D'Vontrey Richardson playing much baseball at FSU. What can you tell me about him as a propspect?

Tom Haudricourt: Richardson didn't play much baseball at FSU because he concentrated on football. He's one of those guys with great tools, speed and projectable power, who is going to have to play and get some experience. Sometimes, those guys don't work out. Brent Brewer has struggled to get going in the Brewers' system. But when scouts see great tools, they write 'em up.

    Patrick (Milwaukee): We saw a pretty dramatic shift in drafting preferences in Bruce Seid's first year running the show since he did something in his first year that Jack Zduriencik never did in nine years: Take a college pitcher in the first round. Is it safe to say that college picks, particularly pitchers, are going to be a much bigger part of the team's drafts, especially in the early rounds, moving forward?

Tom Haudricourt: It had a lot to do with the lack of pitching prospects at the top levels of the farm system. There was some drafting for need but the Brewers liked Arnett in any event, and Heckathorn, too. So, "best player available" and "need" sort of merged in those instances. But they did pick some nice position players up high, too. As previously noted, they are excited about Kentrail Davis' talent.

    Patrick (Milwaukee): Do you think it would be wise for the Brewers to try and work with internal options to round out their bullpen in a more cost efficient manner? Zach Braddock, John Axford and Rob Wooten could be options to open the 2010 season with, and Omar Aguilar may not be that far behind.

Tom Haudricourt: Axford is a definite candidate after making it to the majors this year. And, as noted, Braddock isn't far off. Aguilar needs to get going, though, and Wooten hasn't made it to Triple-A yet. Let's see how he does there first. But, as I said, he is considered a real sleeper.

    skinnyjh (Greenville, SC): Who is the pitching equivalent to Mat Gamel that the Brewers could expect to get and what do you think happens with Gamel this year?

Tom Haudricourt: If you're talking trade, that's difficult to answer. The Brewers wouldn't trade Gamel unless it helped them get an established major-league starting pitcher. If he stays in the organization and McGehee remains at third base, I guess Gamel goes back to the minors. The Brewers have said they don't envision moving him to the outfield, but I think that would be best for him and best for them. They could use another left-handed bat in the lineup.

    Patrick (Milwaukee): Similar to Nick Bucci this past year, Wily Peralta in 2008 and Taylor Green in 2007, who are your candidates among those not ranked among your top 30 prospects to rise up during the 2010 season to firmly place themselves in the top prospect discussion at this time next year?

Tom Haudricourt: Rob Wooten, Scooter Gennett, Damon Krestalude and Michael Fiers are names to keep in mind.

    skinnyjh (Greenville, SC): What are your thoughts on Caleb Gindl and Logan Schafer? Pieces to a trade or pieces to the future Brewers lineup?

Tom Haudricourt: Gindl, a trade. Schafer, though, is the team's minor league player of the year and might be their CF of the future.

    Patrick (Milwaukee): Does Hernan Iribarren still have a future with the Brewers at all? His versatility, LH bat and speed would seem to make him a good candidate to round out the 25-man roster, and for the second year in a row, he's doing a nice job hitting the ball, particularly against RHPs, during winter ball.

Tom Haudricourt: What hurts Iribarren is that he only plays second base (and the OF in a pinch). He just never seems to have found a niche with the Brewers. He can hit a bit, no question.

    skinnyjh (Greenville, SC): Jeremy Jeffress—lost cause or possible Josh Hamilton like turnaround?

Tom Haudricourt: We'll know by this time next year, I would say.

    Patrick R (Oklahoma City): Two 2008 mid-to-late round lefty JUCO's posted some interesting numbers. Any consideration of reliever Brandon Ritchie or starter Daniel Meadows for the top 30?

Tom Haudricourt: I looked at Meadows more than Ritchie. Let's toss his name into that earlier category of players who might make the Top 30 next year.

    Mike (Green Bay): Which GM hangs up first, Edwin Jackson for Lorenzo Cain

Tom Haudricourt: That dial tone you hear is coming from Detroit. No offense to Cain, who I think can still make an impact. But you're not going to get an established starting pitcher for Cain, one for one, at this point in time.

    skinnyjh (Greenville, SC): Hey Tom, love your work at Milwaukee J-S. With the good draft they had this year and the way the system is stacked with position players, aren't 2 starting pitchers a must from this team in free agency?

Tom Haudricourt: Two starting pitchers are a must, either through free agency or a trade. Perhaps they'll do one of each.

    Ian (Pittsburgh): Is it wise for the Brewers to continue stockpiling their system with poor fielders and then moving them around to find a place where the bat can play? Braun, Weeks, Fielder are good hitters, but when you add Gamel, Laporta, and Lawrie it makes you wonder if they will give up too many runs. When is this going to start catching up to them?

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers figure you can always trade bats for pitching at some point, if that proves to be the best thing. But it has been a trend in the organization, for sure. That's why Escobar stands out so much. He can really play defense.

    Allan (Wisconsin): Do you think that Heckathorn and Arnett may end up skipping Low Class A, because of weather, or ability.

Tom Haudricourt: That's always a possibility. Either way, the Brewers hope to move them quickly through the system.

    Dan (Augusta, ME): Is there still hope for Taylor Green?

Tom Haudricourt: Yes. He just never had a chance this year because of wrist surgery too deep into the off-season. You have to have strong wrists to be a successful hitter. I know Green is a hard worker with a "gamer" mentality. I never give up on guys like that. Seemed like he was swinging the bat better at the end of the AFL. Next year will be big for him.

    steve ericksen (naperville il): evan fredrickson had ba tough season but looked to me to have a lot of physical tools, but is not really employing them very well yet. what do you see as his future?

Tom Haudricourt: Frederickson was considered "boom or bust" when drafted because of control issues. He has yet to conquer those control issues. If he does so, he'll be the former. Otherwise, the latter.

    Allan (Wisconsin): Tom, we all know the Brewers need pitching. Does Doug Melvin really think that Doug Davis, Randy Wolf, or Jarrod Washburn are upgrades?...unless he is willing to trade top prospects Gamel or Parra

Tom Haudricourt: Other than Yovani Gallardo, how could you not upgrade the rest of the rotation: Parra, 6.36 ERA Bush, 6.27 ERA Suppan, 5.29 ERA Looper, 5.22 ERA (his option wasn't exercised). And those ERAs were in the National League, don't forget. It won't take much to upgrade a rotation that had a 5.27 ERA in 2009, tied with Baltimore for worst in the majors. And on that uplifting note, we'll call this a chat. Thanks for all of the questions and interest. Here's wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

    kurt (wi): how close was josh prince to making the list.

Tom Haudricourt: Whoops, let's answer this one last question because I feel bad that I didn't mention Josh Prince as a breakthrough player onto next year's list. The Brewers like him a lot and he has great speed and is a nice defender. Thanks for bringing his name up. And, with that, this is definitely the end of the chat. Thanks again.