2012 Milwaukee Brewers Top 10 Prospects Chat With Tom Haudricourt

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, 2011.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Austin Ross seemed to have it together during his time in Wisconsin, then struggled at Brevard County. What does he need to work on, and did he crack the top 30?

Tom Haudricourt: Hey, folks, on short notice I attended the Dale Sveum press conference in Chicago this morning, so I'm going to start the chat a bit early before they kick us out of here. Ross was so impressive at Wisconsin, then struggled when he went to Brevard. He might have thought he had to do too much because his command wasn't as good. Maybe he just wore down a bit also. The Brewers still like him. I didn't put him in my Top 30 but he was on the list of those considered who didn't make it. Getting off to a good start next year will be big for him.

    Ben (Leland Grove): How far did Heckathorn fall this year? What's the word on him?

Tom Haudricourt: Heckathorn dropped all the way to No. 26. He was a big disappointment after moving up to AA Huntsville. His WHIP was terrible (1.71) and he just couldn't put away hitters. Some scouts have thought all along that he is more suited to relief work in shorter stints and that probably will have to be considered now because he just doesn't maintain his stuff over several innings. Considering the bust that Eric Arnett appears to be, it won't be good for that draft if Heckathorn also goes south.

    Dick (Milwaukee): Would you still consider Kentrail and Khris Davis viable prospects? Which one came closer to making your top 10?

Tom Haudricourt: I do consider both Davises prospects but with caveats. It's hard to tell where Kentrail will play because he doesn't really show the instincts of a CF yet hasn't displayed enough pop for a corner OF spot. Having said that, he has really swung the bat well in the Arizona Fall League and has shown more discipline at the plate, which the Brewers really wanted him to work on. I dropped him down to No. 16 this year. Khris Davis is No. 29. Not sure if he's more than an extra OF in the majors, either. His offense will have to carry him for sure, and the Brewers think it will get him to the majors.

    Harry (Chicago): Is RHP Drew Gagnon someone to watch? Got a scouting report on him?

Tom Haudricourt: Gagnon is the No. 23 prospect in my Top 10 and the Brewers liked the way he handled is first pro year. Here is my scouting report on him: He has good life on a fastball in the 90-93 mph range that reaches 94-95 mph at times. He throws both a curveball at 79-82 mph and a slider at 82-85 mph, though neither is above-average at this stage and he needs to work on separation of velocity on those pitches. Gagnon also mixes in an average changeup but is still learning how to put away hitters with his secondary pitches.

    Ben (Leland Grove): If you stacked this year's top 10 against last year's, which would you prefer and why?

Tom Haudricourt: Well, last year's Top 10 kept changing because Brett Lawrie, Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress were traded as we were putting it together. So, the top of of prospect list really thinned out, which is why you see 2011 draft picks Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley at No. 2 and 3. And check out how many pitchers are in the top 10 — seven. That's a real departure from the past for the Brewers. It shows you that some pitching is coming. Speaking of Jungmann, I might have had the wrong signing scout in my BA list. Jeremy Booth signed him and was very instrumental in his courtship.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Could we get your mpressions of RHP David Goforth? Could he be a fast riser?

Tom Haudricourt: Yes, Goforth could be a fast riser, particularly because he throws hard. He is No. 17 in our top 30 and was very impressive as a rookie in the stuff he displayed. He sometimes works too high in the strike zone and pays for it, and he needs to develop a better secondary pitch. Because he can be overpowering at time, he projects to at least a set-up role in the majors, and sometimes those guys can move up fast.

    Grant (NYC): Is Hunter Morris on your top 30 radar?

Tom Haudricourt: Morris was heavily considered at the bottom of the Top 10 and we finally placed him at No. 14. The Brewers like him a lot. Depending on who succeeds Prince Fielder, who I think will leave as a FA this winter, and what the commitment is to him, Morris could be the Brewers' first baseman in a few years. Much like Fielder, he has pop but is not a great defender.

    Harry (Brew Town): Gut feeling - is Prince going anywhere?

Tom Haudricourt: As I just noted, I don't expect Fielder back in 2012. Where he goes is another matter. The market won't be nearly as vast as one would think because Pujols also is out there and many of the big spenders aren't looking for a first baseman this winter. Having said that, it only takes one team to get what Scott Boras is seeking.

    Kyle (Chitown): How many of the top 10 would you nominate for BA's top overall 100?

Tom Haudricourt: I don't think I'll step on any toes at BA when I say they don't consider many of the Brewers' prospects in the Top 100 level at this time. I don't know if you can rate Jungmann or Bradley yet since they haven't started their pro careers but Wily Peralta was very strong in 2011 and Tyler Thornburg is a big upside. And, for a little 2B who doesn't get a lot of outside respect, Scooter Gennett sure did take apart Arizona Fall League pitching.

    Tommy (St Louis): Biggest sleeper in this system in your opinion is?

Tom Haudricourt: A player ranked No. 11 usually isn't considered a sleeper but keep an eye on reliever Santo Manzanillo. He finally harnessed his command last year and stopped walking so many people. He has a blazing fastball that approached 100 mph and can simply fire the ball past hitters. Might be in the majors very soon. Another candidate is RHP Nick Bucci (No. 20).

    @Jaypers413 (IL): I have read reports that suggest LHP Jed Bradley could become a reliever in the future. Do you see or have you heard of any evidence that suggest this could be the case?

Tom Haudricourt: I've heard that, too, but the Brewers think he can be a starting pitcher and really would like a LH starting prospect because they are few and far between in the system. His fastball picked up a few ticks in instructional ball and he has a decent slider and usable changeup, so you'll see the Brewers give him every chance to be a starter. You don't draft a lefty at No. 15 in the first round because you think he'll be a reliever.

    Ty (Midwest): Which prospect in the latter half of your top 30 do you see making the biggest leap forward next year?

Tom Haudricourt: Maybe Goforth or Bucci, who I have mentioned. Let's keep an eye on shortstop Orlando Arcia (No. 22) as well. He's just a keep but has a lot of talent coming out of the Dominican Republic and the Brewers think he can be special.

    Dara (Tampa, FL): What's the skinny on Max Walla? Top 30 guy to you?

Tom Haudricourt: Didn't even consider Max Walla for the Top 30. Just not hearing enough good stuff on him yet. Considering how high he was drafted, you'd have to call him a disappointment to this point. But you never know when it might click for those young power guys. Still waiting on him.

    Laura (Milwaukee): Sad enough to see Sveum leave, but the Sun Times suggests that Yount could follow him to the Cubs! How likely is this to happen?

Tom Haudricourt: Just filed a story and blog in which Sveum says that isn't likely. He realizes a Brewers icon like Yount can't put on a Cubs jersey without it becoming very polarizing.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Summarize the ups and downs of Mark Rogers. Will he ever be 'up' again?

Tom Haudricourt: Mark Rogers is the quinessential "What next?" guy. First, two shoulder surgeries and missing two years of ball. Now, carpal tunnel syndrome, of all thing, and more surgery. You just don't know if he'll ever be able to hold it together physicaly to become a big-leaguer. We were told recently that he has progressed enough to consider going to the Dominican Republic academy and pitch in some games. The guy has been through so much and he's such a good kid that you can't help feeling sorry for him.

    StP (Sarasota): Taylor Green's statistics last year were awesome. Is there any reason to be skeptical about his accomplishments in 2011?

Tom Haudricourt: I'm not that skeptical because he was the Brewers' minor league player of the year in 2007, then had complicated wrist surgery that set him back a few years. He finally got healthy and regained his stroke and took off again. His individual skills don't wow you but I'd just say he's a ball player. He certainly wasn't intimidated by big-league pitching when he was called up at the end of the year. I think he will have a good shot at making the club in the spring.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): True of false: Zealous Wheeler - a steady guy who will be a utility infielder in the majors in the future. Calib Gindl will be a Brewer at the start of the 2012 season and will have a productive major league career ahead of him.

Tom Haudricourt: I particularly wanted to ask this question because the Brewers just announced the four players they are adding to the 40-man roster to protect them in the Rule 5 draft, and Gindl and Wheeler are two of them. The others are Santo Manzanillo, who I talked about earlier, and also first baseman Brock Kjeldgaard, who has such good power the Brewers decided to protect him. Wheeler even played some first base in the Arizona Fall League and did well. He has a live bat, a good attitude and is versatile, which makes him profile as a big-league utility player. The Brewers are higher on Gindl than folks outside the organization. He did have a nice offensive year at 22 in Triple-A in 2011. It's just hard to project where he'd play in the majors because he's not really a CF or a true power hitter like you want in the corners. He can swing the bat, though. Might have to be an extra OF in the majors.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Of the 2011 top 30 prospect list, who dropped the most slots and who jumped up the most slots in comparison with your 2012 list?

Tom Haudricourt: I'm in Chicago at the Sveum press conference and don't have my 2011 list with me but all kinds of folks dropped all the way out and others fell a bunch. Heckathorn because of his struggles. Rogers (from No. 1 to No. 19) because of the health concerns mentioned. Eric Arnett isn't even in the Top 30 anymore. 2B Eric Farris fell out of the top 10 to No. 27 because he didn't play that well and doesn't project as playing other positions. That was a big drop.

    Ken (Lakewood CA): Hi Tom and thanks for the chat. Where does Gamel fit into the Brewers plans? He can hit but really doesn't field a position all that well. Since Fielder is going to leave, how about 1B?

Tom Haudricourt: In conversations with GM Doug Melvin this week, he prominently mentioned Gamel as the probably successor at first base should Fielder bolt as expected. It's why Gamel was moved from third base to first base in 2011, to give protection there. He had another big year offensively and seemed to improve over time at first, and the Brewers seem ready to commit to him. Brewers fans aren't excited because he never has done much when summoned to the majors but that's because he never played regularly. The Brewers think if they commit to him, he will respond.

    Dan (Lansing): Pretty thin system. Is this the worst system right now?

Tom Haudricourt: I don't think the Brewers' system is ranked very high, in part because they've traded so many top prospects in recent years, and also because they didn't field one playoff team in the minors in 2011. But I don't think it's nearly as thin as some might think. You look at their Top 10 and there's a lot of pitching talent there. After advancing so many everyday players to the majors in the last decade, the Brewers concentrated on drafting pitchers and they've got some pretty good arms right now.

    Exposfan1998 (Hartland Wi): Tom, D'Vontrey Richardson had a much improved year moving up to the FSL- is he in the 11-20 range for Brewers prospects?

Tom Haudricourt: We have Richardson at No. 21. He's one of those guys with great tools who didn't play much baseball before being drafted and just needs to play. Sometimes great athletes don't make it because baseball involves more than that but the Brewers still have high hopes for him. "Tools" guys don't always put it together but they believe he will.

    Allan (Wisconsin): Tom, have the Brewers seen an advantage sending College pitchers to the Midwest League like Thornburg, Nelson, Ross instead of sending them to the bigger parks and better weather of the FSL. Or is it a philosophy thing?

Tom Haudricourt: Well, the weather and the ballparks are better for pitching in the FSL than the MW league, for sure. But the Brewers want pitchers to get their feet on the ground first, so they rarely rush them. What they've done with a lot o those pitchers you mentioned is start them in the MWL, then move them up to the FSL at midseason if they're doing well. You see that a lot with them.

    Ken (Lakewood CA): Is it Taylor Green's glove that has him all the way down to #8 Prospect? His offensive numbers in AAA in 2011 would have me thinking he'd be up higher in your ratings. Thanks.

Tom Haudricourt: Hey, No. 8 ain't so bad for a guy who wasn't even in the Top 30 last year (didn't know what to make of him after a couple of down years). That's a huge leap. He's an OK defender but not Brooks Robinson. He could still end up playing a lot of 3B for the Brewers if Casey McGehee doesn't bounce back.

    Al (Cheese State): In your opinion how much better, if any, is the Brewers system going into 2012 than it was 2011 based on the draft and performances.

Tom Haudricourt: Well, like I mentioned earlier, I think it's not nearly as thin as some people say. But, you will notice there are a lot of 2011 draft picks in the Top 30, including three (Jungmann, Bradley and Jorge Lopez) in the Top 10. That shows you that a lot of the new players are considered more highly than some that already were there. As I said, the Brewers have traded a lot of top prospects in recent years. It takes awhile to fill the gaps back in.

    Exposfan1998 (Hartland): Tom, for now is CF going to be a platoon between Logan Schafer and Carlos Gomez?

Tom Haudricourt: From what the Brewers have said, they seem inclined to go back to the platoon o Nyjer Morgan and Carlos Gomez in 2012. It worked pretty well for them last season. But I do believer Schafer is destined to be the everyday CF sometime in the near future. We have him ranked as the No. 6 prospect. We don't put them that high if you're considered a part-timer. I could be wrong but I just think he's going to be a good one.

    Greg (Fullerton, CA): Bradley and Jungmann project as 2/3 starters? Is this a conservative projection for them or do they just lack ace material?

Tom Haudricourt: Well, there aren't a lot of true "aces", or as I like to call them, No. 1s. There's nothing wrong with projecting to be a No. 2 or 3 pitcher. Really, Yovani Gallardo was the Brewers No. 1 pitcher by season's end in 2011, which put Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum as No. 2 and 3. Pretty good pitchers as No. 2 and 3, I'd say.

    Brewers Girl (Milwaukee): Was Peralta's spectacular season real? What should we expect from him in the future?

Tom Haudricourt: I think Peralta's season was real. He has gotten steadily better since recovering from Tommy John surgery a few years ago and the Brewers always thought he had a chance to be a good one. He's still pretty young, so there's no reason to think he won't continue to improve. He's got the body for it and the stuff.

    @Exposfan1998 (Hartland, WI): Tom, Nick Ramirez make your Top 30?

Tom Haudricourt: Nick Ramirez did make my Top 30 at No. 28. He sure tore up rookie ball, didn't he? Then, he really struggled at Low A ball. Maybe he just ran out of gas by then. Who knows. But the Brewers really like his bat. Supposedly was a really good pitcher at one time, too, but they consider him a hitter.

    @Exposfan1998 (Hartland): Any chance Scooter Gennett is the 2B in 2013 and Rickie Weeks is in CF?

Tom Haudricourt: You know what I think would be more likely. With Weeks' power and thickening body, doesn't he look more like a third baseman to you right now. How about moving Weeks to third in a couple of years and letting his Scootness take over at 2B? Just a thought.

    wily mo (wily motown): michael fiers, rotation anchor. yes

Tom Haudricourt: Fiers is an interesting guy. We considered him in the Top 10 but placed him at No. 12 because he's a little older and his stuff isn't eye-popping. But, as GM Doug Melvin often says, he wins everywhere he goes. And he sure excelled in Triple-A. I once thought he profiled only as a middle reliever but now I wonder if he can't be at least a No. 5 starter. We should know soon. Well, folks, I gotta get out of Wrigley. The Sveum press conference is long over and they'd like us to leave. Time to hit the road back to Cheeseville. Thanks so much for your participation and interest. And Happy Holidays to all.