Daily Dish: June 30
See also: Thursday's Daily Dish
See also: Today's Baseball America Prospect Report
Brewers third baseman Ryan Braun is heading to the Futures Game this year, but after a solid stint in the high Class A Florida State League, Milwaukee’s first-round pick out of Miami last year is scuffling during his first taste at the Double-A level.
Braun batted .274/.346/.438 with seven homers and 37 RBIs at high Class A Brevard County before the Brewers challenged him with a promotion to Huntsville, where he has just five hits--three for extra bases--and has whiffed 15 times in 29 at-bats.
“He presses at times because he wants to be in the big leagues right now,” Brewers farm director Reid Nichols said. “We’ve been working on toning that down, but he’s a very driven person. We just want him to relax and let him do what he does.”
Being driven is nothing new for Braun, who was BA’s Freshman of the Year in 2003, helping the Hurricanes to a pair of College World Series berths in three seasons. He had an All-American season before the Brewers selected him fifth overall in the 2005 draft.
A five-tool player, Braun reminds some scouts of another former Miami third baseman, Pat Burrell. Just as he needs to tone down his overall game, Stars hitting coach Sandy Guerrero is working on getting Braun to have less movement in his hands during his approach at the plate.
“He really just needs to be ready early,” Nichols said. “That and being more quiet. There isn’t much mechanically that needs adjusting other than him staying within himself and sticking to a particular plan.”
There have been some questions about whether or not Braun will be able to stay at third base for the long term. He has average arm strength for the position, but some scouts question his foot quickness and his range on the corner. Braun committed 15 errors in 59 games at Brevard County, and already had three more in his first eight games in Double-A.
“He’ll be fine,” Nichols said. “He has good hands and more than enough arm over there. He has everything he needs in terms of tools.
“He’s making progress and he did a good job in the Florida State League. Ryan’s going to be OK. It’s just one of those things where he’s making adjustments at the next level. It’s still very early and he hasn’t been there that long.”
Climbing The Ladder
Mariners lefthander Justin Thomas just gets better as he climbs the organizational ladder. A fourth-round pick in last year’s draft out of Youngstown State, the 22-year-old Thomas went 3-3, 3.81 with 48 strikeouts and 20 walks in 59 innings in his professional debut last summer at short-season Everett. He started this season at low Class A Wisconsin, and as good as he was in the Midwest League for the first two months of the season, he’s been even better in his first four starts since getting a promotion to the hitter-friendly California League.
Thomas earned a promotion to high Class A Inland Empire after going 5-5, 3.10 with 51 strikeouts and 17 walks in 61 innings for the Timber Rattlers.
He has already won his first three decisions for the 66ers, and after striking out 11 in five innings Thursday against Rancho Cucamonga, Thomas has an impressive 32-8 strikeout-walk ratio in 22 Cal League innings. He is 3-0, 3.27 in four starts.
• It didn’t take long for Evan Longoria to play his way out of the short-season New York-Penn League. The No. 3 overall pick in the draft hit .424/.487/.879 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 33 at-bats over eight games for Hudson Valley, so the Devil Rays jumped him up to high Class A Visalia on Thursday. Longoria will make his California League debut this weekend . . . In his second start at Triple-A Oklahoma, lefthander John Danks outpitched Brandon Backe for his first win at the level. Danks allowed just two runs on three hits over seven innings. After a slow start at Double-A, Danks finished strong, forcing the Rangers hand at a promotion. "John’s commanding his three pitches well now, carrying a lot of the positives we saw this spring into his starts now,” Rangers GM Jon Daniels told the Dallas Morning News after the promotion. "He’s been very impressive the last two months." . . . After annihilating the Midwest League for the first two months of the season, the Devil Rays’ Wade Davis is struggling for the first time in his pro career. The righthander lasted just four innings last night as he allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits while walking four and striking out none for low Class A Southwest Michigan. He took the loss and has now lost five straight decisions. In June, he is now 1-5, 5.59 in 29 innings with a 30-16 strikeout-walk ratio. Through May he was 3-1, 1.00 with a 71-25 strikeout-walk ratio in 54 innings . . . Mark Hamilton is having a ball in the short-season New York-Penn League. The supplemental second-rounder out of Tulane went 2-for-5 last night with his fourth and fifth home runs of the season in leading State College to a 7-4 victory over Batavia. In 34 at-bats the first baseman from Tulane is hitting .382/.462/.853. He was not the only Cardinals draft pick to have a good night, as first-rounder Adam Ottavino threw 4 1/3 scoreless inning though he took a no-decision. He is yet to allow a run in his first seven pro innings . . . Most draft picks cut their teeth in short-season ball, but the Twins sent third baseman Whit Robbins straight to low Class A Beloit and he went off last night. The fourth-rounder out of Georgia Tech went 4-for-4 with his first professional home run and is now 5-for-7 in two games as a pro . . . Two first-round arms made their debut on Thursday, both on limited pitch counts that kept their inning total at one. In the Rookie-level Arizona League, the Brewers first-rounder Jeremy Jeffress made his debut, allowing two hits and one walk in an inning of work. While one earned run likely spoiled his debut, Jeffress showed signs of life with two strikeouts. In the Rookie-level Pioneer League, White Sox top pick Kyle McCulloch’s debut went far more flawlessly. In an inning of relief, McCulloch retired all three batters he faced. Other Thursday debuts included Hector Ambriz, a fifth-rounder in the Arizona organization, and the Royals’ sixth round pick, Harold Mozingo.
Contributing: Matt Meyers, Bryan Smith.