Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Holding the second pick in the 2003 draft, the Brewers knew they were going to get an offensive prodigy, either prep star Delmon Young or Weeks. When Tampa Bay selected Young No. 1 overall, the Brewers happily took Weeks, Baseball America's College Player of the Year and two-time NCAA batting champion. After two months of negotiations, the Brewers finally signed Weeks to a five-year major league contract--a first in franchise history--that included a $3.6 million bonus and guaranteed at least $4.8 million. The Brewers sent Weeks to low Class A Beloit for the final weeks of the Midwest League season, then summoned him to Milwaukee in mid-September to get a taste of big league life. Keeping Weeks in the fast lane, the Brewers assigned him to the Arizona Fall League. He wowed scouts with his progress at Southern, where he finished with an NCAA-record .473 career batting average. He was a two-time All-American and considered by far the closest to the major leagues among position players available in the draft. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted and barely recruited out of a Florida high school. Weeks has a lightning-quick bat and was the purest hitter in the 2003 draft. His bat is so quick through the zone that he can make good contact even when he's fooled on a pitch. Weeks has surprising pop for his size, as well as tremendous speed and quickness on the basepaths, a combination that has many scouts comparing him to a young Joe Morgan. He also has a good eye at the plate and gets hit by a lot of pitches, which will allow him to post high on-base percentages. Weeks has worked hard to improve his defensive play. He's a superior athlete who takes instruction well and always looks for ways to get better. "He has a special focus," Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik said. There's not much to quibble with about Weeks' package. He does some fundamental things wrong defensively, such as throwing from odd angles at times, but there's nothing that good coaching and experience can't correct. He'll also have to improve his double-play pivot. He makes up for his minor flaws with good hands, quickness and determination. Some have suggested he's better suited for center field, though the Brewers have no plans to move him from second base. Whether he'll hit for as much power as he did in college remains to be seen. For a first-year pro, Weeks got a lot of experience, appearing in the big leagues and then heading to the AFL, where he hit .319-1-15 with nine stolen bases. The Brewers will continue to expedite his development, starting him at Double-A Huntsville in 2004 and getting him to the majors to stay no later than 2005.
The son of former big league slugger Cecil Fielder is a completely different hitter than his dad. He bats lefthanded, hits for average, covers the plate well and goes the other way with pitches. His signature tool, however, is the same as his father's: power. One of the Midwest League's youngest players, he won the league MVP award at age 19. All of the aforementioned offensive skills make Fielder a prodigy at the plate. Few hitters with his youth or power are as accomplished and as knowledgeable. He takes walks when pitchers decide to work around him. His pitch recognition and quick bat make him a tough out at the plate. Fielder admittedly worked little on his fielding in high school, and it shows. He made strides last year under Beloit manager Don Money, who made him work long hours on his moves around the bag. Through discipline and use of a personal trainer, he has his weight under control but must continue to be diligent. Fielder's bat should get him to the big leagues in relatively short order, though the Brewers don't want to rush him. He should be ready for Double-A in 2004, when he'll again be young for his league.
The Brewers haven't been afraid to push Hardy, whom they consider a special player. He spent 2003 in Double-A at age 20, making the Futures Game and Southern League all-star team. He also served as the backup shortstop on the U.S. Olympic qualifying team. Not a bad resume at this point of his career. Hardy has a strong arm and good range at shortstop. Scouts were uncertain about his hitting ability when he was an amateur, but he has surprising pop and rarely strikes out because of his plate discipline. What the Brewers really like about Hardy, however, is his competitive nature. His makeup is off the charts. Hardy sometimes gets long with his swing and goes into funks at the plate. He doesn't run particularly well and isn't exceptionally quick, but he makes up for those shortcomings with keen baseball instincts. His intense nature causes him to wear down at times. It wouldn't be a shock to see Hardy in the Brewers' Opening Day lineup. If not, many in the organization believe he'll arrive in the majors later in 2004. He's expected to be Milwaukee's starting shortstop for a long time.
Parra is a poster boy for the draft-and-follow system. After he went back to junior college for the 2002 season, he improved so much that the Brewers gave him first-round money ($1.55 million). He blossomed in 2003, when he was considered one of the top pitchers in the Midwest League. Parra features a rare combination of stuff and control, especially for a lefthander. He throws his fastball consistently in the 90-93 mph range, and he has a good curveball and an improving changeup. Parra keeps hitters off balance with two-seamers, four-seamers and cutters. He attacks the strike zone, usually working in good pitcher's counts. He's also a competitor who drives himself to be better. Parra needs to improve command of his curve and changeup. He strained a pectoral muscle near the end of the season and must stay on top of his mechanics to avoid future breakdowns. Parra has all the ingredients to move steadily through the system, perhaps skipping a step or two along the way. He likely will open 2004 at high Class A High Desert and could reach Double-A by the end of the year.
Nelson was the Brewers' 2002 minor league player of the year after leading the minors with 49 doubles and 116 RBIs at age 19. He broke the hamate bone in his right wrist early in 2003, however, and never recovered. He went to the Arizona Fall League to try to make up for lost time, but struggled there as well. When healthy, Nelson has a solid approach at the plate. He uses the entire field and can hit with power the other way. Switched to left field in an effort to clear the way at first base for Prince Fielder, Nelson made the adjustment. His arm remains strong, thanks to his amateur days as a pitcher. He has good makeup and work ethic. The broken hamate bone robbed Nelson of his power, and he'll have to work to get his quick power stroke back. Like most young hitters, Nelson needs better plate discipline. Though a better athlete than he's given credit for, he has limited speed and range. The Brewers say Nelson will get back on track in 2004. They moved him to Double-A in the second half despite his injury, and he'll probably return there to open the season.
Jones was pushed to Double-A despite not turning 20 until a month into the season. He was performing up to expectations, making the midseason Southern League all-star team, until a lingering elbow problem prompted the Brewers to shut him down and monitor his health closely. When healthy, Jones throws a fastball in the low to mid-90s. He also has a tough curveball that he delivers from a three-quarters angle. Beyond his fluid delivery and athletic ability, Jones has impressed Brewers officials with his work ethic and poise. Scouts loved the ease with which Jones threw the ball in high school, but he fought his mechanics at times in 2003 as his strikeout-walk ratio declined. His changeup is decent but not completely deceptive. He sometimes gets too cute and gives hitters too much credit instead of just trusting his stuff, which is plenty good. There has been disagreement regarding the severity of Jones' elbow injury, and some feared he was headed for Tommy John surgery. But the Brewers said he would be OK with rest and rehabilitation, and late in the winter doctors diagnosed only a strained elbow ligament. A second opinion by Angels orthopedic specialist Lewis Yocum confirmed the diagnosis. Jones still will be closely watched when he reports to spring training, but the Brewers were hopeful he could open the season at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Just as they did with Brad Nelson, the Brewers moved Hart to a new position in an effort to break up their logjam of first basemen. He had a difficult adjustment to third base, though the switch didn't harm his offensive production. He was named the Southern League MVP at age 21. With a body that draws comparisons to Richie Sexson, Hart would make a nice big league first baseman. Like Sexson, he makes up for his lanky build with a short, compact stroke that generates good power, particularly in the gaps. Hart has a good arm and runs well for a big guy. Scouts say Hart is no third baseman. Though he continues to work hard on his footwork and overall defense, he committed 32 errors in 119 starts, most on throws because of poor fundamentals. The Brewers decided to shift him to the outfield before spring training. Hart also is a free swinger who doesn't take many walks. Once the Brewers get Hart settled into the proper position, probably right field, his future will become better known. The plan is to move him up to Indianapolis in 2004.
Hendrickson has some of the best stuff in the organization and has methodically moved up the ladder. He had elbow problems in 2003, however, and was shut down for a couple of months. Hendrickson pitched well after returning, including a standout stint in the Arizona Fall League, so club officials believe the tender elbow isn't a long-term problem. Hendrickson has a solid 89-93 mph fastball and a cutter, but what sets him apart is his outstanding curveball. He throws it over the top and it has a sharp 12-to-6 break, freezing hitters even when they're expecting it. Hendrickson has nice arm action, good command, poise and knowledge of how to set up hitters. Hendrickson relies on his curveball too much, which may have contributed to his elbow soreness. He took a regular turn throughout 2002 but must prove his durability again after making just 16 starts at Huntsville. He continues to work on his changeup. Because Hendrickson looked so sharp in the AFL, the Brewers won't hesitate to promote him to Triple-A in 2004. With his curveball and history of success, he could join Milwaukee's rotation in the near future.
Much to the Brewers' delight, Krynzel got off to a fast start in Double-A, earning selections to the Southern League midseason all-star team and the Futures Game. He went into a swoon in the second half, batting .137 in August and losing nearly 50 points off his average by season's end. His bat continued to run hot and cold in the AFL. Speed is Krynzel's calling card, and he uses it to create havoc on the bases as well as to chase down balls from gap to gap in center field. Augmenting his range in the outfield, Krynzel has good arm strength. He has prototypical leadoff tools. Despite his slump, he's mentally tough. The Brewers would like to see Krynzel bunt more, take more pitches and continue to slap the ball around. He needs to stop striking out more than 100 times a year, which is unacceptable in the leadoff role. He doesn't possess great instincts on the bases and must improve his ability to read pitchers. Despite the emergence of Scott Podsednik, Krynzel still is seen as Milwaukee's center fielder of the future. He'll start the 2004 season in Triple-A.
This offseason, de la Rosa was the key prospect in separate transactions involving two of the game's elite players. Three days after the Red Sox sent him to the Diamondbacks in a deal for Curt Schilling, Arizona turned around and shipped him to the Brewers in a nine-player trade for Richie Sexson. De la Rosa was Boston's best pitching prospect, and he has accomplished more at a higher level than any of the top arms in the Milwaukee system. When the Red Sox bought him from Mexico's Monterrey Sultans in 2001, then-general manager Dan Duquette dubbed de la Rosa "the Mexican John Rocker" because he projected as a hard-throwing lefty closer. While he still lights up radar guns from 90-95, he has shown potential as a big league starter. Besides his heater, he has a curveball that's a plus pitch at times, as well as a changeup that has made significant improvement. He still needs to refine his command and become more consistent with his secondary pitches, but he's not too far away from the majors. The back of Milwaukee's rotation is unsettled, so he should make his big league debut at some point in 2004.
Palmisano hurt his shoulder in 2002 and required surgery, but bounced back with a solid year in junior college that had some scouts calling him the best catcher in the draft. In desperate need of help behind the plate, the Brewers happily snapped him up in the third round. He earned MVP honors in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, leading the circuit in batting, on-base percentage and slugging. The only negative was that he broke his left ankle trying to bust up a double play. Palmisano is athletic behind the plate, with good quickness, soft hands and a strong arm. He also calls a good game and is a take-charge guy. At the plate, he has a quick bat and power to all fields. He runs well for a catcher. Palmisano arrived at the Brewers' rookie camp with a definite hitch in his swing, and pitchers were able to exploit it. He made adjustments and the glitch wasn't as noticeable. Sometimes he's too aggressive for his own good, chasing high fastballs. Palmisano will be put on a fast track. His aggressive nature and leadership skills should serve him well as he moves toward the big leagues. He should see high Class A at some point in 2004.
No pitcher in the organization boosted his stock more in 2003 than Sarfate, who had a breakthrough season in low Class A. He won his final 11 decisions, including both of his starts in the Midwest League playoffs. "He always had a good arm," scouting director Jack Zduriencik said, "but he really grew up as a pitcher." He responded well to coaching, started to mix his pitches and set hitters up, and developed into a strikeout pitcher. Sarfate has a heavy fastball in the 91-96 mph range, a sharp slider and a deceptive changeup. His confidence soared when he started clicking off victories. He does overthrow at times, and he must develop more consistency with his breaking ball and more belief in his changeup. He also needs to cut down on his walks and keeping his pitches off the fat part of the plate. Sarfate has an aggressive nature that would suit him well as a closer if he can't put together the whole package of three pitches. He probably will begin 2004 in Double-A.
The Brewers didn't know what to expect from Martinez, who spun his wheels and showed a distinct lack of maturity while in Double-A in 2002. Last year, the light bulb suddenly turned on as he made a triumphant return to Huntsville, then pitched even better in Triple-A. His stuff is not particularly awe-inspiring: 90-92 mph fastball, plus changeup, so-so curveball. But the big lefty has a funky delivery with a slight hesitation that adds to his deception. His unusual mechanics also can work against him, leading to command problems at times because he struggles to repeat his arm action. When he stays ahead in the count, he racks up strikeouts, and when he keeps the ball down, he's effective. Martinez didn't do that during a September callup and got hammered by big league hitters. In the Brewers' eyes, that shellacking didn't detract from the progress he made in 2003. They'll give him a shot to make their rotation in spring training.
Wilhelmsen didn't pitch in 2002 after signing late, so the Brewers didn't know what to expect when they sent him to low Class A last year at age 19. To say the least, they were pleasantly surprised. "He might have the best arm in the organization," scouting director Jack Zduriencik said. One National League scout went a step further, saying Wilhelmsen was the best righthander he had ever seen in the Midwest League. He gets his fastball to the plate regularly in the mid-90s, and his lanky body should fill out with time and make him even stronger. His heater does lack movement, however, because he throws straight over the top. He also has a good curveball and a decent changeup, and the NL scout graded both as plus-plus pitches in one outing. Wilhelmsen did experience elbow problems that caused him to be shut down for most of the second half. He also has maturity issues. Some call him a flake, others merely a free spirit. In other words, he's a lefthander trapped in a righthander's body. Once Wilhelmsen grows up, there should be no stopping him because he has the raw stuff to win big. Despite his youth, he could start 2004 in Double-A.
Trading Richie Sexson was an unpopular move, but the Brewers did deepen their stock of lefthanders by picking up Jorge de la Rosa and Capuano in the nine-player deal. Capuano missed most of the 2002 season following Tommy John surgery, but he returned to spring training just nine months later, befitting his tough-as-nails mentality. He made his major league debut with a scoreless 10th inning against the Braves in early May before returning to Triple-A, where he posted the best ERA of any Pacific Coast League lefthander. He topped out at 94 mph before surgery and pitched more in the 87-89 range in 2003, peaking at 91. Power pitching was never his forte, anyway. He succeeds by commanding the strike zone vertically and horizontally with his entire repertoire, led by a slurvy, looping breaking ball. Capuano showed an improved feel for his changeup last year, and uses a cutter the second or third time through an order. His must gain better control of his mechanics, as he tends to drop his arm and sling the ball toward the plate. Capuano profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter and could win that job out of spring training.
A draft-and-follow signed before the 2003 draft, Eveland was made the closer at Rookie-level Helena because the Brewers were worried about how many innings he had logged in junior college. He responded to the new role with 14 saves in 19 appearances and an average of 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings, earning Pioneer League all-star honors. Coming out of the bullpen, he saw his fastball jump to 94-95 mph, and he also has a good curveball. His slider and changeup need work Scouts worry about his maximum-effort delivery and his David Wells build (though he's in better shape than Wells). Because Eveland has a deep repertoire, the Brewers may return him to a starting role, but club officials certainly liked the way he handled the pressure of finishing games. He showed good mound presence and went right after hitters. Eveland will spend 2004 in Class A.
The Brewers did Gwynn a favor by picking him with the second pick of 2003's second round. The Padres were set to grab him with the next choice, which would have created added pressure of following in the footsteps of his father, former San Diego great and future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. Unlike his dad, who coached him at San Diego State, Anthony was known best for his defense in college. He has great instincts in center field and the wheels to chase down drives in either gap. He reads the ball well off the bat and gets good jumps. Gwynn uses his father's approach at the plate, spraying the ball all over the field. He makes good contact and controls the strike zone, and he uses his above-average speed to leg out hits and steal bases. Also like his dad, he has all of the intangibles and knows the game. The more the Brewers watched him, the more they liked him. But Gwynn has little or no power, so scouts wonder how much he'll hit and how effective he'll be at the higher levels. Not only would he benefit from more pop at the plate, but he also needs more strength to make it through the long pro season. He went straight to low Class A and hit .322 in his first month as a pro, but he wore down and batted just .240 the rest of the way. He'll advance to high Class A this year.
The Brewers often compare Liriano to Pedro Martinez, but they're talking about his wiry physique and not his stuff. Liriano throws a sinker in the high 80s to low 90s, and his best pitch is a slider that hitters can't help but chase. He has a deceptive delivery with a quick arm from a low three-quarters slingy slot. The Angels gave him up to get Alex Ochoa from Milwaukee for their stretch run in 2002. Liriano ran hot and cold in his Brewers system debut at Double-A in 2003, though he pitched well in the Southern League playoffs. When he commands his pitches and has an effective changeup, he wins. When he doesn't, he struggles because he can't just overpower hitters. If he doesn't improve at Triple-A this year, he may be destined to become a middle reliever.
It was understandable if Bausher's head was spinning a bit at the end of 2003. The Mariners drafted him in the 27th round in 2001, but he quickly injured his shoulder and had surgery, earning his release the following year. Deciding to give baseball a final shot in 2003, he signed with Pittsfield in the independent Northeast League last May. He pitched in one game and got spotted by the Brewers, who purchased him and sent him to low Class A. He was closing games by the end of the season and earned a trip to the Arizona Fall League, where he continued to open eyes. Bausher, whose older brother Andy pitched at Triple-A in the Padres system last year, has two closer-caliber pitches. His fastball registers in the mid-90s and he complements it with a hard, sharp slider. When he needs a strikeout, he has the stuff to get one. Because he missed nearly two years after his shoulder injury, the Brewers were careful with his workload. He just needs to stay healthy, keep throwing his two power pitches and find the strike zone more consistently. Because Bausher will be 25 in 2004, Milwaukee hopes he can at least reach Double-A by the end of the year.
If it seems like Housman came out of nowhere, it's because he did. A high school teammate of Shane Costa, Housman transferred to Fullerton from College of the Sequoias JC for his junior season. He went 0-4, 4.89. He got roughed up on a regular basis in Rookie ball during his pro debut in 2002, yet he ended his first full season by holding his own in Double-A. Farm director Reid Nichols compares Housman to Doug Davis, who pitched well for the Brewers in the second half last year, using deception and location instead of power. Housman's fastball tops out in the high 80s and his slider is inconsistent, but he fools hitters with his changeup and works both sides of the plate. He shows good poise on the mound, an ability to set up hitters and plenty of savvy. The Brewers will see if he can pass muster in Triple-A this year.
Acquired from the Dodgers in a July 2002 deal for Tyler Houston, Diggins immediately became one of the top pitching prospects in the Brewers system. He was off to a nice start in Double-A last year when his elbow began bothering him. Two months of rehab did nothing to solve the problem, so he had Tommy John surgery. Now if he takes the mound at any point in 2004, it will be a significant accomplishment. A big guy with a power arm, he consistently threw in the low 90s before getting hurt, but hasn't consistently hit the mid 90s since college. Not only will he have to regain his velocity when he returns, but he also has plenty of unfinished business. His command and average curveball were inconsistent, and his changeup was below-average. Diggins may benefit from relearning his mechanics on the comeback trail from elbow surgery. At some point, the Brewers must decide if Diggins has the repertoire to be a starter, or whether he'd be better off in a late-inning role that would allow him to use his fastball more.
One of the youngest players selected in the 2003 draft, Fermaint didn't turn 18 until after the season. His primary asset is his blazing speed. Clocked at 6.5 seconds in the 60-yard dash early last spring, he pulled a hamstring and slid until the fourth round of the draft. Injuries got him again in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he hurt his shoulder diving for a ball in the outfield. He's raw, but his speed gives him the chance to be a top-notch basestealer and center fielder. He must learn plate discipline to take full advantage of his quickness. Fermaint has a short stroke and could develop power as he matures. In the meantime, he's being encouraged to bunt and hit the ball on the ground more often. The Brewers like his athletic skills and believe he'll only improve with experience. Because he's so young and not advanced, he probably won't see full-season ball until 2005.
Acosta has moved slowly, spending two years each in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer and Arizona leagues, but scouts who saw him in 2003 liked his tools. He has good hands and a strong amr at short, though only average range at this point of his young career. Acosta has plus speed--he led the AZL with 30 steals while being caugh just three time-- and he puts the ball in play. He recognizes the importance of drawing walks and getting on base. The switch-hitting Acosta has little or no power, but that's not his game. His slight frame could use some filling out to get him through the daily grind of a full season. He'll move up to low Class A this year.
Bennett gained little recognition as a prospect in his first five seasons in the Pirates system, repeating both the Rookie and high Class A levels. His career took off last season when Pittsburgh switched him from starter to reliever. He pitched well in Double-A, and though he struggled in Triple-A the Brewers still saw enough to take him in the major league Rule 5 draft in December. He has to stick on Milwaukee's 25-man roster all season, or else clear waivers and be offered back to the Pirates for half the $50,000 draft price. Relieving agrees with Bennett because he can throw harder in short bursts instead of worrying about pacing himself. Bennett's fastball jumped from 90 to 95 mph in the bullpen, giving him the out pitch he lacked as starter. He also throws a good slider that prevents hitters from sitting on his fastball, though he didn't use it enough after making the jump to the Pacific Coast League. It wasn't a surprise that Pittsburgh lost him in the Rule 5 draft, though there's some concern that he had a sore shoulder in the Arizona Fall League. Considering how hard he now throws, it's not out of the question that Bennett eventually could emerge as a closer.
Moss plummeted in the 2002 draft because he had an ankle injury and a strong commitment to UCLA, so the Brewers think they may have gotten a steal when they landed him in the 29th round. Milwaukee didn't get to see much of Moss last year because he dislocated his left shoulder diving for a ball in the outfield. Though his aggressive nature led to the injury, it's also one of the attributes that makes him a potentially special player. Moss has a nice, short stroke and good patience at the plate. He needs to make better contact and develop more power. Though he has plus speed, he's still learning to read pitchers' moves and get good jumps on the bases. That's not a problem defensively, where he tracks the ball well and also shows a strong arm in center field. It would have been interesting to see how the Brewers would have aligned the Beloit outfield if Moss had been healthy when Anthony Gwynn arrived there. Moss could return to low Class A to begin 2004.
Kloosterman was the 2003 National Christian College Athletic Association player of the year after a strong two-way performance at tiny Bethel (Ind.). He did more damage at the plate, batting .413 with 20 homers to set school records for single-season and career (40) homers, but the Brewers drafted him as a pitcher. Though he's strong and athletic, Milwaukee and other teams believed his future was on the mound after seeing his sharp curveball. It totally overmatched Rookie-level hitters. Kloosterman also throws an 85-90 mph fastball and a decent changeup. He has good command and consistent mechanics, especially for someone who divided his attention between hitting and pitching in college. The Brewers think Kloosterman will continue to get better as he focuses on pitching. As long as he has his killer curve, hitters can't sit on his fastball. He probably will start 2004 in low Class A.
Adams looks more like a basketball player than a baseball player. Accordingly, he first went to Texas A&M-Kingsville as a two-sport athlete on a hoops scholarship. His basketball career was derailed by a broken ankle, and he signed as a fifth-year senior before the 2001 draft. Adams uses his tall, lanky frame and the torque from his long arms to generate a low-to mid-90s fastball and a tough slider. He has reached Double-A without minor league hitters able to catch up to him. They've batted .209 against him while he has averaged 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings. Adams closed out games in Double-A last year and has the durability to work multiple-inning stints and make an occasional start. At times his mechanics get out of whack and he suffers command problems, but for the most part Adams has thrown strikes with his two primary pitches. He'll get a chance to prove himself in Triple-A this year.
Hawk could have gone as high as the sixth round in the 2003 draft if clubs thought they could sign him away from Cal State Fullerton. Milwaukee landed him as a 17th-rounder and he won the Arizona League ERA title in his pro debut. His fastball tops out at 93 mph but is more notable for its life than its velocity. He has a curveball that varies between good and too loopy, and he uses a splitter as a changeup. The Brewers liked his work ethic and competitiveness on the mound. Hawk is raw and has a somewhat violent delivery that could cause problems down the road. At this point, he simply needs innings and instruction. He'll likely open this year in low Class A.
Like Tommy Hawk, Bruso was a late-round pick who won an ERA title (in the short-season Northwest League) in his pro debut. When the Brewers traded Eric Young to the Giants last August, they were pleased to get Bruso in return. He already had reached Double-A by that point, and he performed well in the Southern League playoffs. His changeup is his out pitch, and he also throws a high-80s fastball and an adequate slider. He relies on hitting his spots and keeping batters off balance. While he pitched well in Double-A, he didn't miss many bats. Bruso projects more as a middle reliever than as a starter, but his acquisition helped Milwaukee accomplish one of its primary goals last year: to create more pitching depth. He could earn a spot in Triple-A with a strong spring training.
When the Brewers took Belcher in the 2000 draft, they had high hopes that he'd become the first quality catcher they had developed since B.J. Surhoff and David Nilsson. But he was so poor defensively--he threw out just four of 53 basestealers (8 percent) in low Class A in 2002--that they made him a full-time outfielder last year. The good news is that he continued to show promise with the bat. He has hit for average and shown a knack for getting on base throughout his pro career. He'll need to generate more power as a corner outfielder, however. Belcher also is a liability as an outfielder and might be best suited for DH. He broke his left wrist in an outfield misadventure, costing him the last six weeks of the season. The Brewers may push him to Double-A in 2004 to see how his bat responds.
In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account.
Login or sign up