Brewers chat wtih Tom Haudricourt

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Tim: I was really surprised when the Brewers passed up on Homer Bailey in favor of Mark Rogers in the first round of the 2004 draft. Baseball America ranked Baileys fastball, curveball, and command top among prep pitchers. Rogers has a cross-body delivery, while Baileys mechanics are picturesque. Bailey was an easy sign for the Reds as well, stating he wasnt concerned about money and just wanted fairness out of the organization. On top of this, Bailey was absolutely dominating in a much tougher and competitive high school circuit in Texas than where Rogers pitched in the Northeast. What was it about Mark Rogers that made the Brewers draft him over Homer Bailey, and do you think they will regret it in the short-term or long-term?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Mike, We initially had those same questions when the Brewers drafted Rogers over Bailey. The Brewers seemed to think he had a huge upside because he hadn't pitched as much, and that he was such a great athlete and kid he was too good to pass over. I think the Brewers considered him easier to sign than Bailey, also. We'll see if they made a mistake. The fact that Rogers throws across his body somewhat is a bit alarming.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
what direction will the brewers go with the 5th pick in the 2005 draft?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers have tended to draft high school players, with the exception of Rickie Weeks, who was an easy No. 2 choice. They have tried to stock up on pitching, but have a real need at third base. There are some decent college third basemen out there this year, so they could be tempted by that.

 Q:  Browning Nagle from Louisville, KY asks:
Rickie Weeks has such a rare combination of skills for 2B. Who does he remind you of? What do you think his power output will be in his prime? Thanks!
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: A lot of scouts have compared Weeks to Joe Morgan at the same stage. That's quite a compliment. If he turns out to be anything like Morgan, the Brewers will be thrilled. They project him as a 15-20 homer guy in the majors.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Given the Brewers inability to develop prospects from Latin America before Doug Melvin and Gord Ash, who did a good job cultivating talent from Latin America with the Rangers and Blue Jays respectively, are there signs of improvement on that front with the emergence of Hernan The Hurrican Iribarren and the development of other talented prospects such as Alcides Escobar, Freddy Parejo and Fredy de la Cruz?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: As you noted, the Brewers have been woeful in signing and developing Latin players. Maybe they are turning the corner with Iribarren, Escobar, etc. One change in philosophy has been the decision to get younger Latin players to the States quicker instead of letting them languish in the Latin summer leagues.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
what should the A West Virginia starting rotation look like?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Wow, that's pretty tough to project at this stage. Pitchers who performed well in rookie ball, such as Yovanni Gallardo, Rafael Lluveres, Brandon Parillo, Josh Wahpepah and Robert Wooley would seem to be candidates.

 Q:  Joshua Heines from Trenton, NJ asks:
Looks like the Brew Crew again has the best minor league system in baseball, or at the very least, the most number of major league impact players. Does any team have a better top 10 list?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers' top 10 list is a good one, especially considering Weeks, Fielder, Hart, Nelson and perhaps Krynzel and Capellan all project to play together in Triple-A -- one step away from the majors.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Since the Brewers scouting department held their annual meetings to kick of the draft season a couple of weeks ago, are there any early signs as to the players andor positions they may be targetting with the fifth overall selection in this June's draft?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: They will keep an eye on the top prep players, especially the pitchers. As I mentioned, they might be tempted to go after a top college third baseman, the one position in the minors in which they have no top prospects.

 Q:  Chris from San Carlos, CA asks:
Are the Giants going to regret trading Glenn Woolard or Carlos Villanueva for the human gas can Wayne Franklin? They both seemed to have good years, but good enough for the Brewers Top 30? How about Josh Habel? Why do the Giants insist on acquiring lousy pitchers from Milwaulkee? Thanks, these chats are the best part of BA.
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Woolard and Villaneuva have both held their own in the Brewers' system, particularly Woolard, who clicked off a long string of scoreless innings last year. They are not Top 30 prospects yet but have decent arms and certainly were a good return for Franklin, who had no place on the Brewers' staff.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
what is the potential of alexandre periard?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Hard to say at this point, but the Brewers really like his potential. If you noticed, the Brewers were the most aggressive in drafting Canadian players in the early rounds. Melvin and Ash are Canadians, so that was hardly a shock. The limit on visas made it impossible to get those players into the pro ranks last year but the Brewers have high hopes for Periard.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Outside of the top 10, or even the top 30 that will be released in the upcoming Prospect Handbook, who are some prospects that the Brewers are looking to step forward in 2005?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: That last question might be a tip. Periard and some of the other Canadians should be watched. Some of the players who just missed the list, such as Callix Crabbe, Tommy Hawk and Adam Heether, could make leaps forward.

 Q:  John N from Greenville asks:
What do you think of Sam Narron, the LHP the Brewers picked up on waivers from the Rangers?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Narron certainly breezed through the Rangers' system last year. But, for a big guy, he's a soft tosser, meaning he has to be perfect with his pitches. Those guys often have trouble making that last leap to the majors. But, when he's locating his pitches, Narron is an intriguing guy. The Brewers thought he was worth a waiver claim, and Melvin has done well with Texas rejects in the past.

 Q:  A.J. Simon from San Diego, CA asks:
Tom, Prince Fielder looks like a younger Ryan Howard of the Phils..do they compare favorably? Will Fielder be able to handle 1st base or is DH in his future?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Well, there is no DH in the NL, so he has no future there with the Brewers. Fielder must prove he can play first base in the majors. Everybody thinks he'll hit at that level. He's a bit short for a first baseman, which concerns me a bit. If he swings the bat like they think he will, Fielder will be allowed to sink or swim at first base.

 Q:  Patrick from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Assuming Iribarren's bat allows him to be placed on the fast-track, have the Brewers thought about where he and Weeks fit in defensively should they both make it to the big-leagues?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Iribarren is far enough away that the Brewers don't have to think about that yet. Weeks is definitely their second baseman of the future. If Weeks turns out to be what the Brewers think he'll be, at some point they'll probably move Iribarren to another position, or use him as trade bait to get something else they need.

 Q:  steve from jericho ny asks:
Is there any 'under the radar' OF in the brewer system who you could see as a potential all-star major leaguer down the road?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Right now, that would probably be Nelson Cruz, mainly because he hasn't played for the Brewers yet. Cruz came from Oakland in the Keith Ginter trade and put up huge numbers in the A's system last year. The Brewers also like a young outfielder in their system named Drew Anderson, who came out of Nebraska with limited baseball experience. He batted .307 with 22 doubles, 5 homers, 59 RBI and 12 stolen bases at Class A Beloit last year.

 Q:  dave from maryland asks:
is yovani gallardo potentials as a no. 1 or no. 2 starter?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Yes. The Brewers think he has a big-time arm and he did quite well in rookie ball last year (0.47 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 19 13 IP in 6 games).

 Q:  Joshua Heines from Trenton, NJ asks:
Rickie Weeks over Prince Fielder? Weeks was supposed to be a polished college hitter and didn't look it. Meanwhile Prince at a younger age more than held his own at the same level as Weeks.
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: It's a tough call, and one we've debated over and over. But we just think Weeks has a higher ceiling, with more tools than Fielder. We could be proved wrong. Weeks tore up the Arizona Fall League, though, and some scouts think he'll come fast now.

 Q:  Steve from Milwaukee asks:
How close was catcher Lou Palmisano to cracking the top 10? What are the knocks on his abilities?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Palmisano was 15th, I believe. There aren't many knocks on his ability. He hasn't shown a lot of power yet, but that could come. He had his mechanics fouled up last year and it affected his throwing, but he came to Milwaukee for special tutoring and looked much better afterward.

 Q:  Joshua Heines from Trenton, NJ asks:
Who does J.J. Hardy, if healthy, profile like? Someone like Orlando Cabera, maybe?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: This is setting the bar awfully high, but some scouts think he looks like Robin Yount at the same stage (though Yount came to the majors as a teenager). The similarities are body type, competitiveness and taking the right approach to the game. The reason the Brewers are gambling on Hardy at short this spring is the way he competes. He is a mentally tough kid.

 Q:  Robert from Wauwatosa asks:
The Brewers Top 10 Prospect list consists of first round picks, players who have success at upper levels, and Hernan Iribarren. What can you tell someone who's relatively unfamiliar with Iribarren about why he belongs in the Top 10?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: It seemed like Iribarren came out of nowhere last year because he had been playing in the Dominican Summer League for a few seasons. He totally dominated the rookie Arizona League, batting .439, then moved up to Class A Beloit and didn't miss a beat, batting .373. He can really swing the bat and therefore projects to move up rapidly.

 Q:  Chris Stone from Boca Raton, FL asks:
What happened to Tony Gwynn this year? Did he just get rushed, and is he positioned to eventually become the center fielder (i.e., is his ceiling better than Krynzel's)?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Gwynn's bat has always been suspect. He is a superior defensive CF but scouts worry about how much he'll hit. He seems to wear down as the year goes on, and really looked bad in the Arizona Fall League. He'll have to prove he can hit to be considered a top major league prospect.

 Q:  Jonathan Quail Higgins from Honolulu, HI asks:
Mark Rogers looks like a great prospect, does he project as a #1? Also, with the recent string of Brewer pitcher injuries (Jones, Gold, etc.), do the Brewers plan on watching Rogers closely with pitch counts and innings and such?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Rogers does project as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. As you mentioned, the Brewers have had little luck with high school pitchers, which makes it interesting that they went with Rogers. He throws across his body a bit and that must be corrected. They were extremely careful with how much he pitched in rookie ball and the Brewers will continue to monitor him closely.

 Q:  Mike Alford from Norcross, GA asks:
What is the update on J.J. Hardy's health? Is he fully recovered, and will the labrum surgery have any long-term effects?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: By all accounts, Hardy's shoulder is 100% and the Brewers will give him a shot to win the shortstop job in spring camp. They wanted him to play a month or so in Mexico but he was dropped from the team after one week when he didn't hit. After sitting out six months, that was to be expected. The Brewers want him to handle the job defensively this spring and will be patient with his hitting.

 Q:  Robert from Wauwatosa asks:
Is Krynzel done with the minors or are the Brewers looking to make a trade for a backup centerfielder to give Krynzel a little more seasoning?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Krynzel will have to win the job from Brady Clark this spring to be in the lineup. Whether the Brewers would keep him as an extra outfielder remains to be seen. They might prefer to send him to Triple-A to play every day. They know he can handle the work defensively. He just has to show he can be consistent at the plate, which has eluded him in the past.

 Q:  thebig747 from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Any word on Ben Diggins? Does he have any chance at making the majors? A once promising arm. Thanks.
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Diggins is supposedly healthy and will be in the Brewers' minor league camp. Obviously, he has a lot of catching up to do. Before he had Tommy John surgery, the Brewers liked him a lot.

 Q:  Brian P from Redding, California asks:
Where in the organization would you rank Yovani Gallardo? What can we expect from him this year, and what kind of a ceiling do you see for him.
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers like Gallardo a lot and thought he was a good pickup in the second round. He'll probably go to Class A West Virginia this year. The Brewers think he has a very high ceiling.

 Q:  Chris Dittoe from Bloomington, IN asks:
What is the status of Mike Jones? Even when he was healthy, he seemed to be projected as a #3 or so...do you think that projection will still hold true?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Jones, who had labrum surgery, won't pitch this year, probably. He has been beset with injuries, both to his elbow and shoulder. What toll they will take remains to be seen. Right now, he has the potential to follow in the ill-fated footsteps of Nick Neugebauer and J.M. Gold. He must show he can stay healthy and pitch through a full season. Obviously, his star has fallen considerably.

 Q:  from asks:
With Angel Solome being from the northeast and a high school pick, how unusual is it that he is so advanced defensively? What's his likely assignment for 2005 and how's his ability with the bat?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: The Brewers were astonished at how good Salome looked in instructional ball. They really like the way he throws and handles himself behind the plate. And he swung the bat better than projected. He didn't get to play much in rookie ball and the Brewers might send him back there to start the 2005 season, but it wouldn't surpise me one bit if they sent him to Class A West Virginia.

 Q:  Geronimo Berroa from Oakland, CA asks:
If we're talking in September, is apellan in the Brewers starting rotation or the bullpen?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Capellan has a special arm, and the Brewers will give him every opportunity to be a starting pitcher. But they also believe he could be a top-notch closer if he isn't consistent enough as a starter. That's what the Brewers really liked about him -- the fact they have two shots at making him an impact player.

 Q:  mark h from altoona asks:
dear tom can nelson cruz play everyday cf
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Probably not. He is projected as a corner outfielder right now. But, as with everything in life, that could change.

 Q:  Robert from Wauwatosa asks:
Lou Palmisano had an o.k. year at Beloit and was involved in an off-field incident. Is the Brewers organization still high on him?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Yes. Palmisano was disciplined for that incident and the Brewers believe he learned a valuable lesson. They consider him a solid individual and a good leader, and believe that incident was a one-time thing.

 Q:  Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks:
Tim: How does Rickie Weeks, the Brewers' top prospect, stack up against Chris Burke, the Astros' top prospect?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: They both are very highly considered. Weeks is given a slight edge in across-the-board skills, but Burke is no slouch.

 Q:  Joshua Heines from Trenton, NJ asks:
I know it's difficult to profile prep pitchers, but what pitcher does Rogers ceiling compare to?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: It is difficult to say at this early stage. He can throw his fastball in the mid to high 90s and has a very good curveball. That combination has been good for many of the game's top pitchers, including the Brewers' Ben Sheets.

 Q:  Toby from Geneva, IL asks:
Didn't last year prove that pinning the entire hope of an organization on a group of minor league players is a huge mistake and a disservice to the prospects?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Not really. The Brewers had some tough luck with injuries to their top pitchers. Others, such as Weeks and Fielder, were pushed to tougher levels and had to make adjustments. That doesn't mean the Brewers think any less of them. In fact, pushing them instead of coddling them could produce better, quicker results in the majors.

 Q:  Chip from Superior. WI asks:
How tough of a call was it between Fielder and Weeks for the top spot?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: As mentioned earlier, it was tough. They are very close.

 Q:  mark h from altoona asks:
deat tom is luis pena a top 30 prospect,if so where does he rate
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Pena is indeed a Top 30 prospect. I think you'll find him about No. 16 or 17 (we made some last-minute adjustments). He really stepped up at Beloit last year and the Brewers added him to their 40-man roster. He is one to watch.

 Q:  mark from phoenix asks:
Was Nelson Cruz eligible for the Top 10 list? If not, where would he have placed if eligible?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Cruz was acquired after I submitted my Top 10 and 30 lists to BA. I believe he was inserted somewhere in the second 10. He is definitely a major league prospect and a player the Brewers like a lot. He probably would not have been in the original Top 10, but close.

 Q:  Kit Kiefer from Stevens Point, WI asks:
Whatever happened to that 6-10 (or thereabouts) pitcher out of Yale the Brewers took in the second or third round a couple of years ago? He was supposed to be a steal at that position ... at least, BA said he was a steal. Did he ever amount to anything?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Jon Steitz, taken in the third roun in 2001, quickly flamed out and was released. I don't recall if he had arm problems, but I do know that he never pitched as he did with Yale. One of those top picks that just didn't pan out, and one of the few that scouting director Jack Zduriencik has missed on.

 Q:  Raymond from New York asks:
Hi Tom, With Capellan not having solid secondary pitches, are the Brewers viewing him as a closer as opposed to a starter ? Is his prior surgery a possible problem down the road ? thanks
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Capellan is completely recovered from Tommy John surgery three years ago, as evidenced by his radar gun readings. If he doesn't develop a good third pitch, closing might be in his future.

 Q:  Bill from Miami asks:
It appears Jack Z put together another strong crop of prospects in the most recent draft. He seems well respected in the industry and I was curious if his name has been mentioned for GM openings recently. Thanks
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Haven't heard any GM rumors. But it's noteworthy that he was the only department head retained when Doug Melvin replaced Dean Taylor as GM.

 Q:  Browning Nagle from Tampa, FL asks:
Last year it was "We're so great" out of you Mr. Brewer's beat reporter. Now can you overcome your home town bias and report objectively this year or not?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: I believe the Brewers' farm system was ranked No. 1 by BA last year. That wasn't my doing, but I agreed that the farm system was stocked with big-league prospects. And I still do. I certainly never said the Brewers were great. So, if you think I overhyped the farm system, time will tell. And, if you think I have a home town bias, you might want to talk to the folks who run the club. With 12 consecutive losing seasons, I believe my articles have been appropriately tough on thyem. I'm sorry you don't consider me objective. No one else accuses me of that.

 Q:  EWR from Texas asks:
What's the latest on Tom Wilhelmsen? I believe last year's prospect handbook said he had potentially the best arm in the system and then was suspended for disciplinary reasons. Has he pitched since? Is he on the radar at all?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Wihlemsen was punted because of substance abuse and there have been no indications that he will return. Sadly, it appears a promising career was tossed aside.

 Q:  Ryan Church from Reno, NV asks:
I thought Jose Capellan would have been a top guy in the Braves system--like 1 or 2--but he only ranks four in this system? Is the upside with JJ Hardy really that much better than a guy with power stuff, even if he's a bullpen guy down the road?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Weeks, Fielder and Hardy all project as every-day, impact players in the majors. We aren't sure where Capellan projects yet, but he certainly has vast potential. He was not considered the Braves' No. 1 prospect. He was considered their No. 1 pitching prospect. Nothing's wrong with No. 4, believe me.

 Q:  Jeb from Helena, MT asks:
What is your feeling about Josh Wahpepah and Robert Wooley, a couple of righthanders who pitched well in the Pioneer League last year? Did they make the top 30?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Wahpepah did. Wooley did not. But he was close and the Brewers think he can be a good pitcher. Let's see what he does this year.

 Q:  mark h from altoona asks:
dear tom if you just rated projected AAA teams would the brewers have the most talent.
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: I'd have to take some time and look at all the Triple-A rosters after they were completed. But, let's put it this way. Few teams, if any, have more legitimate big-league prospects than the Brewers will place in Nashville this year.

 Q:  Dave Roloff from Milwaukee asks:
Does Dave Krynzel have a realistic chance at winning the starting centerfielder job? If not, isn't this like Mike Sherman playing journeyman Michael Hawthorne in front of Ahmad Carroll - a player that could help in the future? Lastly if Krynzel doesn't win the job, wouldn't it make more sense for him to roam center in between Hart and Nelson full time in Nashville in stead of spotty playing time in Milwaukee?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Krynzel could win the CF job in spring if he shows he can handle the work offensively. He has not been consistent in that area as yet. If he doesn't win a starting job, the Brewers will have to decide if it's better for them and Krynzel to be an extra player or go to Triple-A and play every day. I suspect they would chose the latter.

 Q:  Jim Goulart from Assonet, MA asks:
Is there any indication that the Brewers will move Hernan Iribarren to third base? Doesn't it make sense with Rickie Weeks set to man second base for the remainder of the decade and with no top prospects in the chain at third? Speaking of blocked second baseman, where did Callix Crabbe (who will be a young 22 at AA in 2005) fit in the Top 30?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: As I mentioned, the Brewers will keep Iribarren at 2B for now and see how he does. Crabbe barely missed the Top 30 and there was much discussion about including him. He has a lot of ability.

 Q:  Tom from NY asks:
I was able to see Angel Salome when he was at George Washington High (Manny Ramirez's alma mater). I liked what I saw. What's your view on him?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: As mentioned earlier, he made a big impression in instructional camp. He's a bit squatty in build, but that's not a huge hindrance for a catcher.

 Q:  Robert from Wauwatosa asks:
There's a long history of injuries to Brewer pitching prospects, with Jones and Saenz being the latest examples. Bad luck, bad coaching, bad choices or something else?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: All of the above. There has definitely been some bad luck. Ironically, one of the main things the Brewers liked about Jones in high school was his "flawless" delivery. Somewhere along the line, he lost that. They have made some bad choices as well. J.M. Gold had injury problems in high school and other teams avoided him.

 Q:  thebig747 from Milwaukee, WI asks:
Who do you like the best out of Dana Eveland, Glen Woolard, and Ryan Miller? Thanks.
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Without question, Eveland. For starters, he's a lefty, and that always helps. The guy also knows how to pitch. He competes and has good stuff. The Brewers expect him to pitch in the big leagues.

 Q:  Mike from Fort Worth, TX asks:
What are the early opinions of last year's second-round pick, Yovanni Gallardo? He seemed to handle rookie league competition fine, but things were pretty shaky at Beloit. Did he simply run out of gas at the end of the year. There were concerns that he had been overused between his high school season and an few forays into semi-pro games locally.
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: Don't hold two tough starts in Beloit against him. That was a big jump for a kid just out of high school. He probably was a bit tired. He threw a lot of pitches in HS. The Brewers like him a lot.

 Q:  Joe from Cincinnati asks:
Where do you see 2B Steve Sollmann, the MVP of Helena Brewers, in three years?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: I'll be honest with you and say I'm not sure. He did come out of college, however, so it's not a shock that he did well in rookie ball. As we all know, the Brewers are very deep at that position.

 Q:  Jim Goulart from www.brewerfan.net asks:
Will LHP Manny Parra be ready to answer the opening bell in spring training?
 A: 

Tom Haudricourt: The word is that Parra is healthy. This is a big year for him, though. He must prove he can stay healthy and make all of his starts. If so, the Brewers believe he has a high ceiling. Again, it doesn't hurt that he's a lefty.

Tom Haudricourt: Well, folks. The questions are getting repetitive and we've been going at it for more than an hour, so I'm going to stop here. I'll make a deal with you, though. If you don't think I at least touched on your question, send it to me at thaudricourt@journalsentinel.com and I'll try to answer it for you. I hope I was helpful to you. Thanks a lot.

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