Milwaukee Brewers: Top 10 Prospects

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
Catcher Angel Salome
First Base Prince Fielder
Second Base Rickie Weeks
Third Base Ryan Braun
Shortstop J.J. Hardy
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
Closer Jeremy Jeffress
Year Player, Position 2006
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
Year Player, Position 2006
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
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
Brewers’ Team Page
Brewers Top 10 Scouting Reports Premium
Last Year’s Brewers Top 10 Prospects
2006 Draft: Brewers (Basic Database)
2006 Draft: Brewers Premium (Advanced Database)
2006 Draft Report Cards: NL Central Premium
Complete Index of Top 10 Prospects
Pre-Order the 2007 Prospect Handbook

Milwaukee Brewers

The 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.