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Milwaukee Brewers

Prospects Overview

Top 30 Prospects

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Top 30 Prospects Archive

Player Reports

  1. 1. Brad Nelson | 1B
    Brad Nelson
    Born: Dec 23, 1982
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 255
    Minors: .265/.322/.358 | 2 HR | 4 SB | 310 AB

    Nelson was considered one of the top high school power hitters in 2001, and he put on an impressive batting-practice display during a predraft workout for the Brewers. He also showed a low-90s fastball from the mound, but he nevertheless lasted until the fourth round of the draft. He failed to homer in 105 at-bats in Rookie ball that summer. Well, his adjustment to wood bats is over. A strong Iowa farmboy, Nelson was Milwaukee's 2002 minor league player of the year after leading the minors with 49 doubles and 116 RBIs. He did seem to run out of gas a little after he was promoted to high Class A High Desert at age 19. Nelson is the best all-around hitter in the system. He has good actions at the plate and has earned comparisons to Sean Casey. Managers rated Nelson, and not Marlins slugger Jason Stokes, as the top power hitter in the low Class A Midwest League last year. While scouts disagreed, they did concede that Nelson had better pop to the opposite field. Few players can drive the ball as far the other way as Nelson can. His willingness to use the entire field enabled him to put up a strong first full season despite his youth and experience against inferior high school competition. Nelson's arm remains strong and he has good hands, though each is less of an asset at first base than it was when he played third base as an amateur. Class A Beloit manager Don Money considered Nelson a favorite because of his attitude and work ethic. Pitchers are going to be loathe to challenge Nelson, so Money encouraged him to work the strike zone and take more walks. That lesson hasn't taken yet, at least not to the extent needed. Nelson lacks speed and range, which prompted his move from the hot corner and makes him no more than an ordinary defender. He has a thick body and will have to work to stay in shape, though no one questions his willingness to do so. Nelson probably will return to the California League at the start of 2003 and could reach Miller Park as early as 2005. The big question is where he'll fit into Milwaukee's lineup. A move to left field could be in Nelson's future.

  2. 2. Mike Jones | RHP
    Mike Jones
    Born: Apr 23, 1983
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 220
    Minors: 7-2 | 2.40 ERA | 63 SO | 47 BB | 97.7 IP

    Of all the stats Jones compiled in his first full pro season, one stands out: 27. That's the number of starts he made at Beloit. Nagging shoulder problems and a reduction in velocity caused some clubs to shy away from Jones early in the 2001 draft, but the Brewers rolled the dice and could be rewarded with a top-of-the-rotation starter. Though he probably could have blown Midwest League hitters away with a low-90s fastball that touches 96 mph, Jones followed orders and worked hard to improve his curveball, which he releases from a three-quarters arm angle. Besides velocity, his fastball also has life to both sides of the plate. Scouts love his stuff, fluid delivery and athletic ability, but Milwaukee may be most pleased by his makeup. He competes intensely, shows good poise on the mound and works hard between starts. After the season, Jones went to instructional league to work on his changeup. If it improves as much as his curve, he'll move up the system quickly. He's still refining his command as well. Jones will spend this year in high Class A. The Brewers hope he'll eventually help form an impressive front three in their big league rotation with Ben Sheets and Nick Neugebauer.

  3. 3. Prince Fielder | DH
    Prince Fielder
    Born: May 9, 1984
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'11" Wt.: 275
    Minors: .313/.409/.526 | 27 HR | 2 SB | 502 AB

    Though they already have a potential logjam of first basemen starting with Richie Sexson, the Brewers surprised a lot of people by selecting another with the seventh overall pick last June. Fielder, however, isn't just another first baseman. The son of former American League home run king Cecil Fielder, Prince has power so rare that scouting director Jack Zduriencik said it was impossible to pass up. Not only was Fielder once of the best power bats available in the 2002 draft, but he also has a sweet lefthanded swing, an advanced hitting approach and solid plate discipline. The Brewers weren't afraid to promote him to low Class A two months after he left high school. They knew he wouldn't be overwhelmed because he grew up around big league parks. The question that has dogged Fielder thus far is his weight. After ballooning to more than 300 pounds in high school, he worked with a personal trainer and slimmed down to about 265. He has some agility but doesn't project to be more than an average first baseman. The Brewers toyed with the idea of trying Fielder in left field during instructional league, but a groin injury kept him off the field. He should be fine for spring training and will open the year back in Beloit.

  4. 4. Ben Hendrickson | RHP
    Ben Hendrickson
    Born: Feb 4, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 205
    Minors: 7-6 | 3.45 ERA | 56 SO | 28 BB | 78.3 IP

    Hendrickson pitched so well in low Class A in 2001 that the Brewers considered jumping him all the way to Double-A Huntsville last year. He started in the hitter-friendly California League instead, pitched well, and didn't skip a beat after a midseason promotion. Of the Brewers' top eight prospects, he's the only one who wasn't drafted by scouting director Jack Zduriencik. Hendrickson has one of the best curveballs in the minors, a spike curve with a 12-to-6 drop. It reminds many scouts of the late Darryl Kile's bender. He also throws an 89-92 mph fastball with running action. He has a clean delivery and nice arm action. Hendrickson's changeup still needs work. His control also needs tweaking. He has a skinny frame, though he has been durable in the minors and pitched a career-high 151 innings last year without missing a start. With a new regime in place, it's not certain whether Hendrickson will open 2003 in Huntsville or Triple-A Indianapolis. Either way, his future as a middle-of-the-rotation starter looks bright. He could be ready for a callup in September.

  5. 5. Corey Hart | OF
    Corey Hart
    Born: Mar 24, 1982
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'6" Wt.: 240
    Minors: .302/.340/.467 | 13 HR | 25 SB | 493 AB

    Hart had a breakthrough season in 2002, earning a trip to the Futures Game at Miller Park. He may be a year or two removed from Milwaukee, but he already has a big league nickname. His High Desert teammates last year started calling the laid-back Kentucky native "Hee Haw." There's nothing laid back about Hart's approach at the plate. Already 6-foot-5 and still growing, he's drawing comparisons to Richie Sexson. Though his arms are long, Hart has a quick, compact stroke and is developing the ability to pull his hands in and hit inside pitches with authority, a la Sexson. Power is Hart's calling card. If Hart continues to improve his pitch selection and recognition, he could be a .300 hitter. The Brewers' wealth of first-base prospects grew once they drafted Prince Fielder, so they decided to see if Hart could handle a move to third base. The jury is still out, because his size, somewhat clunky footwork and lack of experience work against him. A move to the outfield is a possibility for Hart, whose best position may still be first base. Look for him to begin 2003 in Double-A, where he'll join J.J. Hardy and David Krynzel to form the nucleus of what could be a championship-caliber team.

  6. 6. J.J. Hardy | SS
    J.J. Hardy
    Born: Aug 19, 1982
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 200
    Minors: .279/.368/.428 | 12 HR | 6 SB | 416 AB

    Forced into a big league exhibition game when the Brewers were shorthanded last spring, the 19-year-old Hardy collected three hits and played flawless defense against the Athletics. That moment in the sun set the tone for a positive year. Despite his youth, Hardy skipped a level to turn in a solid first half in high Class A, then held his own in Double-A and the Arizona Fall League. At this point in his career, Hardy's defensive ability is running considerably ahead of his offense. Though he's not exceptionally quick, his keen instincts allow him to get good jumps on balls. He covers ground with long strides, has soft hands and delivers the ball across the diamond with authority. Offensively, he's a gap-to-gap hitter and the Brewers are confident his power will increase as he matures. His work ethic and personality are outstanding. With his first full pro season complete, Hardy embarked on a weightlifting program designed to increase strength. Learning to draw walks also would help boost his offensive productivity. He also could add some loft to his swing. The Brewers consider Hardy their shortstop of the future, and the future is approaching rapidly. Though he may return to Double-A to start the year, a September callup isn't out of the question.

  7. 7. Dave Krynzel | OF
    Dave Krynzel
    Born: Nov 7, 1981
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 185
    Minors: .267/.357/.357 | 2 HR | 43 SB | 457 AB

    After watching Krynzel for 21⁄2 seasons, the Brewers aren't sure whether they are looking at the next Steve Finley or Kenny Lofton. Either way, they like what they see. Returning to high Class A in 2002, he continued to improve in just about all facets of his game. Though he's being groomed for leadoff duty, Krynzel likes to flex his power muscles regularly and the Brewers haven't discouraged him. He realizes, however, that skills working counts, drawing walks and bunting will expedite his trip to the big leagues. He has plus tools as a center fielder (both his range and arm strength) and basestealer. For all his physical gifts, Krynzel's instincts on the bases and in the outfield are below-average. Like many first-round picks, he seems to put extra pressure on himself at times and tries to force things, rather than letting the game come to him. His mental toughness isn't in question, though. Krynzel just needs to increase his grasp of the game's subtleties. Slated to play in Double-A this year, he's on track to take over Milwaukee's center-field job in 2005, if not sooner.

  8. 8. Manny Parra | LHP
    Manny Parra
    Born: Oct 30, 1982
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 215
    Minors: 11-2 | 2.73 ERA | 117 SO | 24 BB | 138.7 IP

    The idea of the budget-conscious Brewers signing a 26th-round pick for $1.55 million may seem far-fetched. Parra, however, represented an exceptional case. In his second junior college season, he blossomed into the premium draft-and-follow prospect from the 2001 draft and might have been a first-rounder had he gone back into the draft pool. By working diligently with weights, Parra boosted his fastball from the upper 80s in 2001 to a high of 95 mph last year. He throws three different varieties of the pitch: a twoseamer, a four-seamer and a cutter that often is mistaken for a slider. He has plus command of his five-pitch repertoire and a competitive streak that impressed Rookie-level Ogden manager Tim Blackwell. Milwaukee officials praise Parra's lanky body, smooth delivery and unflappable mound demeanor. The Brewers want Parra to work the inner half of the plate more often, and his reluctance to do so will likely disappear as he gets used to facing hitters with wood bats. His secondary pitches, a curveball and changeup, need refinement. Once Parra makes the necessary adjustments, he should move quickly through the system. He'll probably start 2003 in low Class A.

  9. 9. Ben Diggins | RHP
    Ben Diggins
    Born: Jun 13, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'7" Wt.: 230

    Acquiring Diggins and Shane Nance from the Dodgers for Tyler Houston and Brian Mallette last July may go down as one of the highlights of Dean Taylor's three-year tenure as general manager. Diggins was a supplemental first-round pick of the Cardinals in 1998, but spent two years at Arizona before signing for a then-Dodgers-record $2.2 million as the 17th overall pick in 2000. Diggins has an electric arm, consistently throwing in the mid-90s and peaking at 98 mph at Arizona, but his velocity and control have fluctuated as a pro. He has thrown more in the low to mid-90s since signing. Some scouts think he'd have more success and regain his old velocity if he moved to the bullpen. Getting hammered during a September callup taught Diggins he can't rely on just his fastball and a mediocre curveball. He has been slow to pick up a changeup or to master his command. The Brewers think if he can refine a slider, that pitch could put him over the top. Diggins will have a chance to crack the Brewers rotation in spring training but may be better served by some time in Triple-A. Some Milwaukee officials think his future is as a closer, though there are no immediate plans to change his role.

  10. 10. Matt Ford | LHP
    Matt Ford
    Born: Apr 8, 1981
    Bats: B Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 170

    The Brewers selected two players in the major league Rule 5 draft, and both Ford and infielder Enrique Cruz have strong chances of sticking with Milwaukee this year. Ford didn't begin his 2002 season until May 7 because of a spring-training illness, but he showed what he could do when healthy by leading the high Class A Florida State League in ERA. Ford's best attributes are an 89-92 mph fastball and the wherewithal to use it. He stopped nibbling last year and attacked hitters with his heater, throwing it to both sides of the plate. He also can throw his curveball and changeup for strikes. Ford has gotten stronger over the last couple of years, allowing him to keep his velocity deeper into games. Though he commands them well, Ford still needs to improve his secondary pitches. His curveball gets slurvy at times. His durability is still in question after last year's illness and previous shoulder problems. Ford was the top lefty in the Blue Jays system, so they'd undoubtedly want him back if he can't stay on the Brewers' roster. He projects as an end-of-the-rotation starter but probably will spend this year as a middle reliever in Milwaukee.

  11. 11. Enrique Cruz | 3B
    Enrique Cruz
    Born: Nov 21, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 205

    Cruz was the first pick in the major league Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings. Though he needs at-bats at this stage of his career and probably won't get many if he sticks with Milwaukee this year, he could factor into the Brewers' second-base mix after they dumped Ron Belliard and don't have an obvious frontrunner for the job. Primarily a third baseman and shortstop in the Mets organization, Cruz had his best full season last year in high Class A. He's on the verge of becoming a real threat with the bat as he continues to grow into his body, though he has yet to show much power or aptitude for drawing walks. He's an above-average athlete with good range to his left and a plus arm. He made 33 errors in 2002, many because of poor footwork that resulted in errant throws. Following his strong performance in instructional league, the Mets planned on using Cruz as an everyday shortstop in Double-A. Milwaukee seems determined to retain him by keeping him on its roster all season, and New York likely will snatch him back if that doesn't happen.

  12. 12. Pedro Liriano | RHP
    Pedro Liriano
    Born: Oct 23, 1980
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 170
    Minors: 9-13 | 3.79 ERA | 116 SO | 62 BB | 142.7 IP

    Introduced to scouts by his cousin, Angels starter Ramon Ortiz, and often confused with a Cubs second-base prospect of the same name, Liriano is trying to carve his own identity with the Brewers, who picked him up last July in the Alex Ochoa trade. After starring for three years in Rookie ball, including being named Pioneer League pitcher of the year in 2001, he jumped to high Class A last year and continued to thrive. His best pitch is a deceptive slider, though some scouts wonder if more advanced hitters will chase it. If they don't, Liriano could be in trouble because he rarely breaks 90 mph with his fastball and still needs to improve his changeup and command. As with many Latin players, there are rumblings that Liriano is older than his listed age of 22. If he continues to get hitters out, that won't be an issue with the Brewers. He'll start 2003 in Double-A.

  13. 13. Keith Ginter | 2B
    Keith Ginter
    Born: May 5, 1976
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'10" Wt.: 195

    Acquired along with lefty Wayne Franklin in a deal that sent Mark Loretta to Houston, Ginter impressed the Brewers during the final weeks of the season with a compact, powerful hitting stroke and a knack for getting on base. Though he once resisted a move to third base in the Astros system, he seemed comfortable there in September and made some nice plays. On most teams he'd be vying for a backup spot, but he'll get a chance to start at the hot corner in Milwaukee. Ginter had trouble following up on his breakthrough 2000 season, when he was the batting champion and MVP in the Double-A Texas League. He's purely an offensive player, using a short stroke to hit line drives and generate occasional pop, as well as showing consistent on-base ability. He's no more than an adequate defender, considered too stiff to play second base and not looking particularly comfortable in the outfield. He'll have to hit to win and then keep the third-base job, and may be better suited for a bench role.

  14. 14. Ozzie Chavez | SS
    Ozzie Chavez
    Born: Jul 13, 1983
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'1" Wt.: 175
    Minors: .224/.283/.309 | 3 HR | 5 SB | 272 AB

    For a skinny 19-year-old in low Class A, Chavez fared about as well as could be expected in 2002. Signed out of the Dominican by longtime scout Eppy Guerrero and named Ozzie Smith Chavez in honor of the Hall of Fame shortstop, Chavez showed flashes of potential but will need to improve his offense to move up the ladder. His .323 on-base percentage wasn't impressive, but he worked to improve his strike-zone judgment and his 46 walks led Beloit. Though he made 29 errors, scouts were impressed by his smooth motions and soft hands at shortstop. With experience and better infields, he'll likely play tighter defense. Chavez is still learning how to bunt and to use his speed on the bases. The basic tools are there. With time, the Brewers hope Chavez will physically mature and refine his game. He hasn't set the world on fire yet, but his potential bears watching. He'll probably move up to high Class A this year.

  15. 15. Shane Nance | LHP
    Shane Nance
    Born: Sep 7, 1977
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 5'8" Wt.: 180

    Nance's first trip to the big leagues had an unhappy ending in an unusual place: the batter's box. Picked up along with Ben Diggins in a deal that sent Tyler Houston and Brian Mallette to Los Angeles, Nance threw 17 shutout innings in Triple-A after switching organizations to earn his first callup. In his fourth game with Milwaukee, he tore his right (non-pitching) biceps tendon while swinging a bat and needed surgery to have it reattached. He's expected to be fine by the time camp opens and will compete for a job in the Brewers bullpen. If they're judging by heart, Nance has a good chance. After setting Houston career records for wins (32) and strikeouts (388), he was passed over by many clubs who were put off by his size. He's listed at 5-foot-8 and might be shorter. He has pitched well at virtually every level, including a stint with Team USA during the 2001 World Cup, and was the winning pitcher in last year's Triple-A all-star game. While Nance doesn't have an overpowering pitch, his fastball jumped into the low 90s in 2002 and he has always gotten outs with his plus changeup. He also mixes in a curveball. Though he'll probably never be an all-star, Nance definitely has a chance to stick in the majors for a few years.

  16. 16. Steve Moss | OF
    Steve Moss
    Born: Jan 12, 1984
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 205
    Minors: .290/.398/.382 | 1 HR | 7 SB | 186 AB

    The Brewers broke even after going head-to-head with UCLA for two players in the 2002 draft. Fifth-round shortstop Jarrad Page, a physical player who resembles Torii Hunter, didn't sign and had two interceptions last fall as a safety on the Bruins' football team. But Milwaukee did sign Moss, another talented athlete who lasted until the 29th round because of an ankle injury and his commitment to UCLA. Though he played in just 35 games, Moss made a huge impression with his kamikaze play in center field. More than one scout was wowed when he dived for balls on the warning track and made plays all over the field. He runs with a long stride and has a build like Steve Finley. As a bonus, he also has a strong arm. Offensively, Moss had a solid debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League and showed that he has a decent idea at the plate. He still has a long way to go, but Moss looks like a sleeper.

  17. 17. Jayson Durocher | RHP
    Jayson Durocher
    Born: Aug 18, 1974
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 195

    The name on the back of his jersey was instantly recognizable, but Durocher was virtually unknown to Brewers fans when he was called up to the majors June 9. Durocher, whose grandfather was a cousin of Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher, pitched nine seasons in the minors before being called up to replace injured Chad Fox. Making his big league debut at Oakland, the burly righthander pitched the Brewers out of a bases-loaded jam. The following day, he relieved Ben Sheets and gave up a homer to Eric Chavez on the first pitch he threw. That blast led some to believe Durocher's first outing was a fluke, but a stiff back was really the culprit. Durocher, who had felt tight warming up, was throwing on back-to-back days for the first time and impressed his teammates and coaches by remaining in the game and retiring the next three men in order and three of four he faced the following inning. His heavy 94-95 mph fastball gives hitters trouble, and he augments it with a hard slider and inconsistent splitter. The Brewers resisted the urge to overuse and overwhelm him, allowing him to pitch in low-stress stints. Based on his performance, Durocher will be considered a favorite to win a setup job in front of closer Mike DeJean. He'll likely see more pressurepacked situations than in the past.

  18. 18. Bill Hall | 2B
    Bill Hall
    Born: Dec 28, 1979
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 210
    Minors: .282/.335/.407 | 5 HR | 10 SB | 354 AB

    After being named the Brewers' minor league player of the year in 2001, Hall took a step backward last season despite being selected to play in the Futures Game at Miller Park. It really wasn't all his fault. The losing at the big league level induced former general manager Dean Taylor to fast-track players to Milwaukee, and Hall was hurt by the approach. Despite not hitting well in Double-A the previous year, he was moved to Triple-A in 2002 and struggled in almost every facet of the game. The negative atmosphere that permeated the Indianapolis clubhouse also didn't help. Hall has strong raw tools, including range, speed and solid pop for a middle infielder. But he still has a lot of learning to do. He doesn't control the strike zone, hasn't adjusted to advanced pitching and makes too many careless errors. Former Brewers manager Jerry Royster was surprised at how raw Hall was during his September callup, working with him to correct a fundamental throwing flaw and wondering why he hadn't been told to work on his bunting. J.J. Hardy has supplanted him as Milwaukee's shortstop of the future, and Hall needs to make some improvements quickly.

  19. 19. Eric Thomas | RHP
    Eric Thomas
    Born: Mar 21, 1981
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'9" Wt.: 230

    Not to be confused with fellow 2002 Brewers draftee Eric A. Thomas, a 28th-rounder, Eric M. Thomas may prove to be a steal as a third-rounder. He spent his first two college seasons at NCAA Division II New Haven (Conn.), where he worked three innings, and Briarcliffe (N.Y.) Junior College, where he was drafted in the 11th round by the Tigers after reaching 93 mph. With an imposing 6-foot-9 frame, Thomas touched 96 mph during the spring and was projected to be a first-rounder until shoulder tendinitis shelved him for two months. He was given a clean bill of health by Dr. James Andrews, who found no structural damage. But Thomas hasn't thrown as well since returning, and while he's intriguing some scouts question his secondary stuff and his ability to move quickly through the minors. He showed a sharp curve at times in college but still needs to develop a changeup and throw more strikes. He might develop more quickly as a closer.

  20. 20. Mike Adams | RHP
    Mike Adams
    Born: Jul 29, 1978
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 210
    Minors: 3-7 | 3.15 ERA | 83 SO | 33 BB | 74.3 IP

    Adams reached Double-A in his first full season after signing as a fifth-year college senior out of Texas A&M-Kingsville. He went to college as a two-sport athlete, but his basketball career was derailed by a broken ankle. Since turning pro, he has pitched well at each of four levels. Hitters haven't been able to make consistent contract against his 92-94 mph fastball and slider. Already 24, Adams has been older than his competition and still has to prove himself. His command slipped once he reached Huntsville, and his changeup is nothing more than a show-me pitch. But if he continues his success in Triple-A this year, he'll carve out a place for himself in the Milwaukee bullpen.

  21. 21. Johnny Raburn | 2B
    Johnny Raburn
    Born: Feb 16, 1979
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 165
    Minors: .288/.368/.342 | 0 HR | 26 SB | 448 AB

    The Angels sent Raburn to the Brewers in the Alex Ochoa trade because, well, they already had a David Eckstein. Raburn is taller than the Anaheim sparkplug but is a scrappy overachiever out of the same mold. His brother Ryan is a promising third baseman in the Tigers system. Though Johnny has virtually no power, he takes his walks, gets on base and is a threat to steal. His defense is ordinary. His quickness gives him good range, and he has an average if erratic arm. His arm has average strength, but is a bit erratic. Raburn played second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield in 2002. That versatility helps him project as a utilityman.

  22. 22. Luis Martinez | LHP
    Luis Martinez
    Born: Jan 20, 1980
    Bats: L Throws: L
    Ht.: 6'6" Wt.: 225

    It's not unusual for minor league players to endure ups and downs, but Martinez' six-year roller-coaster ride through the system has Brewers officials scratching their heads. Is he a starter or a situational reliever? Hard worker or pretender? Prospect or suspect? Martinez has an excellent body, fluid throwing motion and good command. His arsenal includes a 92-93 mph fastball, an above-average changeup and a curveball that needs work. Milwaukee officials compare him to Valerio de los Santos, but Martinez could be better because of his changeup. Then again, he has yet to post an ERA lower than 5.19 since leaving low Class A. Martinez lacks confidence and consistency, and he doesn't throw nearly enough strikes. Just when the Brewers think he has turned a corner, he'll turn in a string of rocky outings. He was more effective in relief last year, but he moved back to starting in the final two months.

  23. 23. Matt Childers | RHP
    Matt Childers
    Born: Dec 3, 1978
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 190
    Minors: 4-0 | 2.43 ERA | 63 SO | 30 BB | 92.7 IP

    Though his older brother Jason continues to outpitch him in the Brewers system, Matt continues to be regarded as the better prospect because he has more pure stuff. After a rough start in Double-A last year, Milwaukee moved him to the bullpen in hopes he would make better use of his fastball in a shorter role. His velocity jumped 2-3 mph to 94-95 when he worked in relief. As in the past, Childers struggled with his curveball and changeup, though his secondary pitches were less vital in his new role. Just as he was getting comfortable as a closer, Childers was promoted to the majors to work in long relief. He was overmatched against big league hitters but didn't seem to lose confidence. It's not certain where he'll start 2003 or what his role will be, but he made enough of an impression as a closer to earn a second chance at finishing games. If he continues to refine the splitter he has dabbled with, his chances of bullpen success will increase.

  24. 24. J.M. Gold | RHP
    J.M. Gold
    Throws: R

    If the Brewers hadn't taken Gold 13th overall and handed him a $1.6 million bonus in 1998, he might have been filtered out of the organization by now. They are intent on getting a return for their investment, however. Remember, they drafted him ahead of Nick Neugebauer. Gold, who has pitched just 68 innings since having Tommy John surgery in 2000, has inspiring stuff when he's 100 percent. He has a mid-90s fastball and a sharp curveball. His delivery is so fluid and easy that it's hard to figure out how he has been hurt so much, though the same was true of another injury-prone Brewers first-rounder, Jeff D'Amico. Gold needs to stay healthy so he can work on his changeup and command. He's expected to be good to go at the start of spring training, but it's doubtful he'll advance past high Class A in 2003.

  25. 25. Dave Pember | RHP
    Dave Pember
    Born: May 24, 1978
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 225

    Milwaukee officials often talk about Pember's mental toughness, but what the young righthander went through in the final two months of his 2002 season would shake even a grizzled veteran. Nearing the end of a satisfying Double-A season, Pember was promoted to Milwaukee and thrust into a starting assignment at Wrigley Field. He gave up four hits and five walks, allowing three earned runs in 32⁄3 innings while taking a 10-1 loss. Pember pitched better in a mop-up role, then headed to the Arizona Fall League. It was clear that his careerhigh 165 innings and whirlwind tour of the majors had taken their toll, as he got creamed on a regular basis. The Brewers are confident that his confidence won't be rattled, but they don't belief in his stuff as much as his makeup. With an 88-89 mph fastball, Pember doesn't have much margin for error. His secondary pitches, a curveball and change, are average, so he needs fine command to succeed. He's a diabetic but has dealt with the condition since he was 17 and it hasn't held him back. He'll get some time in Triple-A to open 2003.

  26. 26. Chris Morris | OF

    Another late-season pickup, Morris came from the Cardinals in the Jamey Wright deal. He's a more talented version of Chad Green, another speedster who was a bust as Milwaukee's 1996 first-round pick. Unlike Green, Morris knows he's not a power hitter, has developed into a decent bunter and appreciates the value of a walk. Though he still whiffs far too often, Morris capitalizes on his blazing speed, which rates a 75 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. He led NCAA Division I with 84 steals in 94 attempts in 2000, and he topped all minor leaguers with 111 swipes in 135 tries in 2001. Despite his wheels, Morris' outfield defense isn't a significant asset. He lacks strength and got the bat knocked out of his hands too often in 2002. He's going to have to adjust and become an on-base machine to warrant big league playing time.

  27. 27. Cristian Guerrero | OF
    Cristian Guerrero
    Born: Jul 12, 1980
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'7" Wt.: 175
    Minors: .256/.300/.387 | 9 HR | 15 SB | 434 AB

    Guerrero has great bloodlines as the cousin of Vladimir and Wilton Guerrero, and youth is still on his side--though his age was revised upward nine months last year. But the Brewers are tiring of waiting for him to live up to his promise. With a 6-foot-5 frame, a strong arm and a powerful swing, he has the tools scouts covet but hasn't been able to put everything together. He's fun to watch in batting practice, when his moonshots draw oohs from the crowd, but not as enjoyable when the games begin. Guerrero's swing is long and he lacks plate discipline, a deadly combination. Too often, he gets tied up with inside pitches and chases breaking balls in the dirt. Though his defense has improved, he still has work to do in that area. In one memorable sequence during a big league spring-training game in 2002, he muffed a routine liner, then caught a fly on the next play and threw the runner out at the plate. That's the way things have gone for Guerrero, who needs to show consistency before he can be considered a true prospect. He'll repeat Double-A this season.

  28. 28. Khalid Ballouli | RHP
    Khalid Ballouli
    Throws: R

    Ballouli missed all of 2001 at Texas A&M after elbow surgery, but bounced back strong to go in the sixth round last year. While his injury history undoubtedly caused many teams to look elsewhere, the Brewers were impressed by Ballouli's 91-94 mph fastball, his tight slider and deceptive changeup. Though his delivery is far from smooth, he works both sides of the plate pretty well. Ballouli had no problem throwing strikes in his pro debut but was hittable, so he'll need to locate his pitches better within the zone. The grandson of former big leaguer Dick Fowler, Ballouli probably will start 2003 in low Class A.

  29. 29. Jason Belcher | C

    The Brewers haven't had a lot of luck developing catchers since B.J. Surhoff and David Nilsson. Belcher once seemed like a good bet to stop the drought, but his stock is plummeting. Though he has a solid bat, Belcher hasn't shown that he can handle everyday catching duties. Much like Kade Johnson, a second-round pick a year ahead of him, Belcher isn't nearly as valuable when he plays another position. He spent almost as much time in the outfield last year as he did catching. He threw out just four of 53 (8 percent) basestealers, the worst rate in the Midwest League. Belcher also is limited in the outfield. He does have some pop and plate discipline, and Milwaukee hasn't given up on him behind the plate. He'll move to high Class A this year.

  30. 30. Josh Murray | SS
    Josh Murray
    Throws: R

    The Brewers' selection of Murray in the second round of the 2002 draft was a swing for the fences. He is a polished defender who handles the bat well for his age and shows good poise on the field. After missing the entire 2001 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Murray dropped on most teams' draft boards and some people were shocked when Milwaukee scouting director Jack Zduriencik announced the pick. Though the Brewers are confident Murray will blossom into a first-rate player, the early returns weren't overwhelming. He hit .255 in Rookie ball, struck out 48 times in 157 at-bats and committed 22 errors in 48 games. At a price of $825,000, Murray could turn out to be a shrewd pick or an expensive mistake.

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