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?
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?
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?
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
Kathy (Chicago): How far did Salome fall since last year's list, and how would you evaluate him now?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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!!!
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?
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?
An inability to throw strikes.
Ike (VA): Who is the biggest sleeper in the system, in your opinion?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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
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?
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
Terry (WI): If Jeffress stays off the drugs from here on, could he be a Top 10 prospect at this time next year?
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?
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,
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?
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?
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?
Not far at all. No. 11.
Phil (KC): Does Lawrie have the skillset to become the next Chase Utley?
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.
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
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?
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?!
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
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
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!!!!
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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'
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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,
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
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.
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
And, with that, this is definitely the end of the chat. Thanks again.