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, 2007.
|1.||Yovani Gallardo, rhp|
|2.||Ryan Braun, 3b|
|3.||Will Inman, rhp|
|4.||Jeremy Jeffress, rhp|
|5.||Mark Rogers, rhp|
|6.||Lorenzo Cain, of|
|7.||Steve Hammond, lhp|
|8.||Cole Gillespie, of|
|9.||Alcides Escobar, ss|
|10.||Mat Gamel, 3b|
|Best Hitter for Average||Hernan Iribarren|
|Best Power Hitter||Ryan Braun|
|Best Strike-Zone Discipline||Cole Gillespie|
|Fastest Baserunner||Darren Ford|
|Best Athlete||Brent Brewer|
|Best Fastball||Jeremy Jeffress|
|Best Curveball||Yovani Gallardo|
|Best Slider||Robert Hinton|
|Best Changeup||R.J. Seidel|
|Best Control||Will Inman|
|Best Defensive Catcher||Lou Palmisano|
|Best Defensive Infielder||Alcides Escobar|
|Best Infield Arm||Ryan Braun|
|Best Defensive Outfielder||Tony Gwynn Jr.|
|Best Outfield Arm||Lorenzo Cain|
|First Base||Prince Fielder|
|Second Base||Rickie Weeks|
|Third Base||Ryan Braun|
|Left Field||Bill Hall|
|Center Field||Lorenzo Cain|
|Right Field||Corey Hart|
|No. 1 Starter||Ben Sheets|
|No. 2 Starter||Yovani Gallardo|
|No. 3 Starter||Dave Bush|
|No. 4 Starter||Will Inman|
|No. 5 Starter||Chris Capuano|
OF THE DECADE
|1997||Todd Dunn, of||Out of baseball|
|1998||Valerio de los Santos, lhp||White Sox|
|1999||Ron Belliard, 2b||Cardinals|
|2000||Nick Neugebauer, rhp||Out of baseball|
|2001||Ben Sheets, rhp||Brewers|
|2002||Nick Neugebauer, rhp||Out of baseball|
|2003||Brad Nelson, 1b||Brewers|
|2004||Rickie Weeks, 2b||Brewers|
|2005||Rickie Weeks, 2b||Brewers|
|2006||Prince Fielder, 1b||Brewers|
|TOP DRAFT PICKS|
OF THE DECADE
|1997||Kyle Peterson, rhp||Out of baseball|
|1998||J.M. Gold, rhp||Out of baseball|
|1999||Ben Sheets, rhp||Brewers|
|2000||Dave Krynzel, of||Brewers|
|2001||Mike Jones, rhp||Brewers|
|2002||Prince Fielder, 1b||Brewers|
|2003||Rickie Weeks, 2b||Brewers|
|2004||Mark Rogers, rhp||Brewers|
|2005||Ryan Braun, 3b||Brewers|
|2006||Jeremy Jeffress, rhp||Brewers|
IN CLUB HISTORY
|Rickie Weeks, 2003||$3,600,000|
|Ben Sheets, 1999||$2,450,000|
|Ryan Braun, 2005||$2,450,000|
|Prince Fielder, 2002||$2,400,000|
|Mark Rogers, 2004||$2,200,000|
he Brewers were so upbeat about building around young infielders Prince Fielder, Bill Hall, J.J. Hardy and Rickie Weeks that they put them on the cover of their 2006 media guide. That promising foursome was supposed to help the club reach the next level after snapping a 12-year losing streak with an 81-81 record in 2005.
Instead, Milwaukee took a step back and won only 75 games in a year where 84 would have meant a National League Central title. But that doesn't mean the club's optimism was misplaced. Instead, the 2006 Brewers succumbed to a series of damaging injuries as well as down years from some veterans.
The slope became slippery in May, when starting pitchers Ben Sheets and Tomo Ohka got hurt with injuries. Milwaukee tried a variety of minor leaguers in their place, including Ben Hendrickson and Dana Eveland, who flopped badly. The Brewers went 6-17 in those two spots in the rotation until Sheets and Ohka returned in the second half.
Then the infielders began to go down. Hardy was lost in mid-May with an ankle injury that later required surgery. Just when Weeks began to take off as a leadoff hitter, he hurt his wrist in late July and also needed an operation. Veteran third baseman Corey Koskie missed the entire second half with post-concussion syndrome, leaving Fielder as the last man standing from the Opening Day infield.
The lone positive aspect of all the infield injuries was the emergence of Hall, who became the everyday shortstop when Hardy went out. Hall had a breakout season, leading Milwaukee with 35 homers and 85 RBIs and guaranteeing himself a regular job in 2007, possibly in the outfield.
The outfield picture became clouded when impending free agent Carlos Lee was traded in late July after turning down a $48 million contract extension, and Geoff Jenkins declined so precipitously that he was benched for a time in August. Corey Hart finally got a chance to play in the everyday lineup and performed well enough to put himself squarely in the club's plans.
A more surprising development was the emergence of Carlos Villanueva, who began the year in Double-A and found himself in the big league rotation for the final weeks. Showing poise and command not normally associated with a 22-year-old rookie, not to mention a devastating changeup, Villanueva gave the Brewers the confidence to trade Doug Davis to the Diamondbacks in an offseason move that filled their catching void with Johnny Estrada.
Having advanced several solid everyday players to the majors in recent years, Milwaukee is developing some impressive arms to join them. Yovani Gallardo pitched himself into blue-chip prospect status in 2006, and Steve Hammond and Tim Dillard should be on the verge of the majors this season. Another wave loaded with dazzling potential is still a couple of years off, featuring high school draftees Will Inman, Jeremy Jeffress and Mark Rogers.
If they can stay relatively healthy, the Brewers should contend in a weakened NL Central in 2007. With the division's best combination of young talent and payroll flexibility, they should challenge for the postseason for the immediate future.