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Fielder first came to the attention of BA readers in 1998, our first Baseball For The Ages issue. He wasn't the top 14-year-old--that honor went to Braves righthander Kyle Davies--but he was featured as the prominent son of a big leaguer. His father Cecil was wrapping up a 319-homer major league career. By then, Prince's power already was the talk of his father's clubhouses, thanks to batting-practice displays he had put on at Tiger Stadium. Fielder has since become a major leaguer, like his father, with a June 2005 promotion so he could DH for the Brewers in interleague play. Between being a pudgy, shy 14-yearold and a confident, 21-year-old big leaguer, Fielder has dealt with his share of adversity. Scouts doubted his bulky, overweight body out of high school, but the Brewers didn't and drafted him seventh overall. He arrived in Double-A as a 19-year-old, only after he had been served with papers stemming from an investigation into his father's gambling debts, problems that led to the family's breakup and Prince's estrangement from his father. He left the Arizona Fall League this offseason when his wife Chanel, whom he wed in June, had medical issues while pregnant with their second child. Through all his travails, Fielder has hit and hit for power. He has as much raw power as any hitter in the minors due to tremendous bat speed and brute strength. He has power to any part of any park and is at his best when he's using the whole field, letting his strength work for him. He homered in his first two games at Triple-A Nashville before a month-long slump, and it's the adjustments he made to get going again that have the Brewers so excited. Fielder knows the strike zone well and started picking up on the steady diet of breaking balls he was seeing. Once he started trusting his hands to hit breaking balls left in the strike zone, he punished them. He was productive in a pinch-hitting role in the big leagues due to his ability to focus during those at-bats, and he carried that improved concentration with him when he returned to the minors, hitting .349 with 13 homers in his final 39 games. Fielder can get pull-conscious, opening his shoulder and giving away the outer half of the plate. Defense is perhaps Fielder's biggest obstacle. He's more comfortable in the batter's box than at first base, and he made 12 errors in 101 games in 2005. He has good hands for the position and more quickness than he's given credit for, but must show more pride in his defense to be rated as average. Lyle Overbay was one of the Brewers' best hitters the last two seasons, but he was arbitration-eligible and his power was dwarfed by Fielder's. So at the Winter Meetings, general manager Doug Melvin sent Overbay and minor league righthander Ty Taubenheim to the Blue Jays for young big leaguers David Bush and Gabe Gross, plus lefty prospect Zach Jackson. Now that Fielder has a clear path to playing time, he's an instant favorite to be National League rookie of the year.
Rogers had college scholarship offers in hockey (Dartmouth) and soccer (Duke) and had signed with Miami to play baseball before becoming the first Maine high schooler ever drafted in the first round. Two of Rogers' pitches could earn 70s on the 20-80 scouting scale. His fastball tops out at 100 mph and sits at 95-97 mph with some late cutting action. Rogers' breaking ball has improved substantially, as a once-loopy pitch became a hard mid-80s slider that reaches 90. He's one of the best athletes in the organization. Rogers put up ugly numbers in the low Class A South Atlantic League because he's still trying to control his powerful body and has been unable to repeat his delivery. He throws across his body, though he has toned that down, and still needs to get better extension to keep his pitches down. His fastball straightens out at times. Rogers' stuff, tenacity and Northern background have elicited John Smoltz comparisons from Milwaukee officials. He'll go to high Class A Brevard County in 2006. When he harnesses his body and can command his stuff, he'll move rapidly.
BA's Freshman of the Year in 2003, Braun helped Miami to a pair of College World Series berths in three seasons. He had an All-America season before the Brewers drafted him fifth overall. An elbow strain ended Braun's pro debut two weeks early and limited him to DH duty in instructional league. Braun has all five tools. He works counts waiting for a pitch to hit, then has the bat speed--thanks to very quick hands--to hit for excellent power. His approach and power remind some in the organization of another former Miami third baseman, Pat Burrell. Braun is a plus runner, and his average arm strength should be enough for third base. Braun has a less-than-textbook swing. He could use more balance and a more consistent, less exaggerated load. He needs more repetition at third base, where he'll have to get used to reacting quicker than he did at shortstop, his former position. Braun should reach Double-A Huntsville at some point in 2006. He has enough athleticism and bat to move to an outfield corner if he's not cut out for third base.
Gallardo committed to Texas Christian, which hoped to use him as a two-way player, but the Brewers and a $725,000 bonus persuaded him to sign. He thrived in the tandem-starter system at low Class A West Virginia, winning his final eight decisions (all starts). Only Mark Rogers has better stuff in the organization. Gallardo pounds the strike zone with an 89-93 mph fastball that touches 96 with boring action and life down in the zone. He repeats his drop-and-drive delivery well, enabling him to command his fastball, and he can throw his curveball, slider and changeup for strikes. His low-80s slider is at times a plus pitch. The Brewers describe Gallardo's demeanor as quietly intense, while others have chided him as too laid-back. Drop-and-drive pitchers tend to elevate their stuff at times, but he has such downward life on his fastball that it hasn't been a problem. Gallardo's progress in the second half and in instructional league has the Brewers projecting him as a No. 2 starter in the mold of Mike Mussina. He's more polished than Rogers and will join him in high Class A in 2006.
Hart played first and third base prior to 2004, earning the Double-A Southern League's MVP award in 2003. He has spent the last two seasons as an outfielder, and he made his first big league start as a center fielder. Hart's athletic ability lends itself to versatility. He can play five positions, and he ranked third in the system in homers and steals in 2005. The organization's best baserunner also ranks near the top in raw power, as he has good leverage in his swing. He has average range and arm strength on the outfield corners. At his size, Hart inevitably has length to his swing and will have periods where he struggles to make contact. Hart is a below-average defender at third, where his range is limited and his throwing motion has to be adjusted. Hart saw Arizona Fall League time at third base, where he'll have to contend with Bill Hall. Hart could also be a solid corner outfielder, though he's blocked by Geoff Jenkins and Carlos Lee, or a utilityman.
Escobar was flirting with a .300 average in early August, but sagged as he wore down. He was shaken by an Aug. 6 incident when his batting-practice line drive hit pitching coach John Curtis in the head, sending him to the hospital. Escobar has the tools to be an above-average defender at shortstop, starting with fluid actions, a strong arm and good hands. His wiry strong body produces some pop at the plate, and his swing is sound. He's a plus runner, getting from home to first in less than 4.2 seconds. Escobar's strike zone is too generous. He improved at recognizing breaking balls in instructional league, and that progress will have to continue for him to make more consistent contact. Escobar's 41 errors ranked third in the minors, but Milwaukee isn't worried about his defense. While the Brewers have J.J. Hardy in the big leagues, Escobar is gaining ground fast. When Hardy couldn't play in the Arizona Fall League, Escobar became the league's youngest player and acquitted himself well. He'll start 2006 in high Class A.
Eveland was a draft-and-follow signee in 2003, one year after the Brewers gave Manny Parra $1.5 million as a draft-and-follow. Eveland joined Parra in the Huntsville rotation in 2005, blew past him as a prospect and spent much of the second half in Milwaukee's bullpen. Eveland has a build that evokes David Wells and has some of Wells' pitchability as well. His fastball sits at 88-90 mph, touching 94. Eveland adds and subtracts off his fastball and commands it well. His slider can be a plus pitch, aided by his deceiving, crossfire delivery. His curveball has good depth. Like Wells, Eveland has trouble maintaining his weight. When he became a reliever, his conditioning lagged as he didn't maintain a workout schedule between starts. His changeup is his fourth pitch, though at times it's average. The Brewers hoped Eveland would get back on a conditioning track in the Arizona Fall League, but a knee injury ended his stint. If he's healthy and in shape, he could have the inside track on Milwakee's fifth starter's job.
After joining the organization in the offseason Keith Ginter trade with Oakland, Cruz played in the Futures Game and was Milwaukee's minor league player of the year. He led Nashville to the Pacific Coast League title, winning the championship series MVP award with three homers in a sweep of Tacoma. Cruz' calling card is well above average raw power. He uses an aggressive swing, strong wrists and quick hands to generate a buggy-whip swing with violent bat speed. But power isn't his only plus tool. He also has a plus arm in right field. Cruz has holes in his swing. Pitchers use his aggressiveness against him with offspeed stuff in fastball counts. They'll also climb the ladder on him because he'll chase high heat. The Brewers say they can live with the strikeouts as long as he makes powerful contact. Cruz figures to take another turn through Triple-A in 2006. He's behind Corey Hart on the depth chart of corner outfielders that already includes Geoff Jenkins and Carlos Lee.
After going from Class A to the Braves in 2004, Capellan was the key player in the Dan Kolb trade. While Kolb quickly fizzled in Atlanta, Capellan struggled as a starter in Triple-A before shifting to the bullpen and finishing the season in Milwaukee. Capellan touched 100 mph with his fastball in 2004, but with the Brewers he worked at 92-94 mph as a starter. His velocity spiked back to 95-97 as a reliever, a role he enthusiastically embraced. He generates excellent arm speed, giving his fastball late tail and life up in the strike zone. Lacking confidence in his loopy downer curveball, Capellan switched to a slider as a reliever. It's still slurvy but he was able to throw it for strikes with some consistency. His changeup remains a work in progress, and his conditioning remains a concern. Capellan could return to a starting role if he rediscovers the bite and command on his curve in winter ball or in spring training. He had a 5.16 ERA as a starter and a 1.44 ERA as a reliever in Triple-A. He'll probably open 2006 in a set-up role in Milwaukee.
Jackson tied for the minor league lead with 16 wins, pitched in the Futures Game and reached Triple-A in his first full season. But when the Blue Jays set their sights on Lyle Overbay, they parted with Jackson and big leaguers David Bush and Gabe Gross in a Winter Meetings trade. Jackson works quickly with a quirky crossfire motion that makes his pitches look faster than they are. Armed with an 83-89 mph cutter, he's able to get it in on the hands of righthanders. He also throws a two-seam fastball at 88-92 mph, a tick above average for a southpaw, and a sweeping curve he uses to expand the zone against lefties. His changeup is average and he controls it well. Jackson makes quick adjustments but proved much more hittable in Triple-A, partly because he relied on his cutter too much. He also seemed to give Triple-A batters too much credit and didn't pitch as aggressively as he did in the lower minors. Jackson is a strike-thrower who keeps his defense in games. His ceiling is as a mid-rotation starter. Expected to open 2006 in Triple-A, he could contribute in Milwaukee before the season is out.
Inman's stellar pro debut was a major coup for area scout Grant Brittain, who stayed on Inman after many other scouts backed off. Inman toned down a maximum-effort delivery in the spring, and set the Virginia high school career strikeout record when his fastball crept into the 90s. Inman's fastball sits at 92-93 and he has big league command of the pitch-- rare for a high schooler. His slurvy curveball is a swing-and-miss pitch that Milwaukee wants him to tighten into a slider. The club loves his competitiveness, aptitude and willingness to get better. Not much about Inman is typical. His arm action was likened by one club official to that of a javelin thrower--long in the front and the back. The Brewers were able to improve his extension and quiet his delivery. At times he throws too many breaking balls for someone who throws strikes with a live fastball. Inman has the polish and stuff to move quickly, but the Brewers want to take it slow to make sure he maintains his improved delivery. He'll report to low Class A for his first full season.
Fermaint has as high a ceiling as any Brewers position player other than Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, and one Brewers official likens him to Andruw Jones. But it took Fermaint until midway through his third pro season to make it out of Rookie ball, and the progress of his bat will determine how much of his significant potential he reaches. He had hamstring problems in high school in Puerto Rico that helped drive him down to the fourth round of the 2003 draft. He also struggled with shoulder woes and pitch recognition in his first try at Rookie-level Helena in 2004. Like Jones, Fermaint improved as a hitter when he got into a wider, better hitting position to give him more balance against offspeed pitches. That helped him let his bat speed take over, as his hands are quick enough to catch up to any heater and drive it with authority. While he doesn't project to have Jones' power and is more of a top-of- the-order hitter, Fermaint has defensive ability that evokes the young Jones, with a solid-average, accurate arm, effortless range and efficient routes. He's a plus runner, covering 60 yards in 6.5 seconds when healthy. The Brewers liken Fermaint's makeup to that of Corey Hart, as he doesn't get down on himself and is coachable. His ability to adjust to more advanced pitching--South Atlantic Leaguers handled him in his first pass through the league--will determine how quickly he advances.
In many ways, Parra and Dana Eveland are similar, but Eveland gets the edge as a prospect because of his better health track record, better command and reaching the majors first despite being a year younger than Parra. The Brewers still have significant hopes for Parra, whom they gave a $1.55 million bonus as a draft-and-follow in 2003. His delivery evokes a smaller version of Mark Mulder, but Parra hasn't thrown with the command that helped earn him those Mulder comparisons earlier in his career. He still has excellent stuff when healthy, starting with a darting 88-90 mph two-seam fastball that touches 93. Parra can bump his four-seamer up to 95 mph and work high in the zone with it, then attack hitters with a solid-average splitter or curveball. At times he struggles to control his changeup and two-seamer, throwing fat strikes and leaving him far more hittable than his stuff should allow. Parra also has failed to remain healthy for an entire season as he continues to over-rotate in his delivery, slowing his arm down and leading to nagging injuries. In 2005, he felt it in the back of his shoulder, and while he didn't require surgery, he didn't pitch after June 30. A healthy Parra projects as a No. 3 starter, as does Eveland. Milwaukee thinks Eveland's quick rise has challenged Parra to try to match it. He'll probably open the year in Triple-A.
Nelson ranked No. 1 on this list after the 2002 season, when he led the minors with 49 doubles and 116 RBIs. His career took its first real step backward in 2005, as he started the year in Triple-A but had to endure a midseason demotion back to Double-A. He moved back up to Nashville for the end of the season and Pacific Coast League playoffs. The Brewers say he handled his demotion well, using it as motivation rather than becoming bitter. Nelson's problems began when he broke his hamate bone in his right wrist in 2003, and his power still has yet to bounce back. His strength and potential are still there, but the Brewers believe he has lost the feel for his swing mechanics and his confidence along with it. Nelson has worked hard to get better in the outfield after Prince Fielder's arrival in the system prompted the Brewers to move him to left field. He runs well enough to play the outfield, and his arm is good enough for him to see action in right. He'll try to rediscover his power stroke in Triple-A this year.
Iribarren attracted plenty of attention in 2004, when he won the Rookie-level Arizona League batting title, then had a scintillating 15-game stint at low Class A Beloit. His .637 slugging percentage that year, however, may have given an inaccurate read of the kind of hitter Iribarren is. He was experienced for a Latin player going into the AZL, having spent two years at the Brewers' Dominican academy (which the club since has eliminated in favor of bringing players to the United States sooner). Slender and sleek, he's a slap-and-dash middle infielder whose quick hands and flat swing plane evoke Rod Carew and Luis Castillo. Iribarren just doesn't have much power, and virtually none against lefthanders (three extra-base hits in 100 at-bats last year). He's a plus runner, and he has enough patience and bat control to hit in the No. 2 hole. A solid defender at second, his defensive tools are all a grade or two below those of his West Virginia running mate, Alcides Escobar. They should advance together to high Class A in 2006.
The Brewers drafted Dillard in the 15th round in 2001 out of high school, then picked him again out of Itawamba (Miss.) CC, which he helped reach the Junior College World Series. He played catcher and pitched back then, but Milwaukee coveted his power right arm on the mound. Dillard had committed to Mississippi, where his father Steve was an all- American before his own big league career as an infielder, but signed as a draft-and-follow in 2003. The Brewers named Dillard their 2005 minor league pitcher of the year after he led the system's full-season starters in innings, wins and ERA. He has a strong, durable frame and good coordination, and he excels at repeating his low-effort delivery. His slinging arm action helps give him one of the organization's better fastballs. It has heavy sink and boring action, sits at 87-91 mph and touches 94. He averaged an efficient 14 pitches an inning by working on his sinker, and has the best control in the system. Dillard's secondary pitches aren't at his fastball's level, in part because of his relative inexperience as a pitcher. His slider is hard and sweeps a bit but lacks tilt or depth. He tends to drop his arm on his changeup, giving the pitch away. If his secondary stuff can improve to just average, Dillard could be an innings-eating workhorse as a No. 4 starter. He's ready for Double-A.
The best evidence of the Brewers' new approach to Latin American scouting, Pascual signed for a $710,000 bonus in September after dogged pursuit by the organization's Latin American scouting coordinator, Fernando Arango. Milwaukee wants to sign advanced Latin players and bring them to their complex in Arizona, rather than use the academy-based approach that produced Alcides Escobar and Hernan Iribarren but few big leaguers of note (Valerio de los Santos stands out the most). The Brewers consider Pascual, the top Dominican pitcher available in 2005, the equivalent of the second-round pick they forfeited to sign free agent Damian Miller. Pascual had a strong start to his career in instructional league, impressing with his stuff and makeup. He has a long, loose frame with a short upper body and plenty of projection. His fastball sits at 87-90 mph, and he topped out at 92-93 in instructional league. He also showed the ability to spin a breaking ball, though the pitch is still in its nascent stages. The same goes for his changeup. Milwaukee officials praised his work ethic and attitude in instructional league. He should start 2006 in Rookie ball.
Hammond has a college player's maturity and experience to go with a powerful, relatively fresh left arm. Hammond began his college career at juco power Sacramento City College in 2001, but had bone spurs removed from his elbow that year. He didn't return to full strength until the summer of 2004 in the Central Illinois Collegiate League, then transferred to Long Beach State, where he worked as a lefty specialist. Because he worked just 24 innings during the spring, Milwaukee used him as a starter after he signed for $30,000 as a sixth-round pick. Hammond could move quickly in either a rotation or bullpen role. He has an average 88-92 mph fastball that sits closer to 92-94 when he relieves. He's tweaked his breaking ball, picking up a slider from roving pitching instructor Jim Rooney, and has quickly made it an out pitch. The Brewers have been aggressive with the athletic 23-year-old, giving him time in the Arizona Fall League, and he should begin 2006 as a Double-A starter.
Hendrickson pitched 46 big league innings in 2004, but his struggles in 2005, Nashville's run to the Pacific Coast League title and Milwaukee's relatively healthy rotation kept him on the farm all season. He has lost luster since he was the Triple-A International League pitcher of the year in 2004. He posted a 10.93 ERA in big league camp last spring, landing him back in Triple-A. He struggled with his mechanics and command from the start in 2005, and his walk total was the highest he had posted since his first full season in 2001. Hendrickson adjusted and challenged hitters more as the year went on, but his stuff--aside from his plus curveball that remains his meal ticket--was too short to overcome constantly being behind hitters. His 88-91 mph fastball had more life last season, but he still pitched backward too often and wasn't as good throwing his curveball and changeup for strikes in fastball counts. His changeup remains his third pitch, though he emphasized it more in 2005. The Brewers say Hendrickson's upside is that of a Jeff Suppan type, a durable fourth or fifth starter. He also profiles similarly to journeyman Dave Eiland, who never quite had the stuff to get big leaguers out consistently. Hendrickson will get a shot at the fifth starter spot in Milwaukee, with Dana Eveland his biggest in-house competition.
The Brewers' dearth of catching caused them to give free agent Damian Miller a three-year contract at age 35, costing them a second-round pick in the 2005 draft. Palmisano is the organization's best hope of developing its own replacement, though Angel Salome is catching up to him. The Rookie-level Pioneer League MVP in his pro debut in 2003, Palmisano hasn't matched his production since. Palmisano, whose brother Nick is a power-hitting first baseman at Stetson, has become a solid receiver by working diligently with roving instructor Charlie Greene. His throwing times to second base come in consistently at or below 2.0 seconds and continue to improve as he enhances his strong arm with technique, including better footwork and a more consistent release point. He hasn't made the same progress at the plate, where he tends to tinker too much. He changes his stance from open to closed, wide to narrow. The Brewers would like him to get more balanced and use his legs more in his swing, the better to bring out his average power potential. He runs well for a catcher. Palmisano is expected to move to Double-A in 2006.
Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Salome moved back and forth from the Dominican and New York twice, finally settling into upper Manhattan at age 12. He attended the same high school as Manny Ramirez and hit like Ramirez in high school, surpassing .800 as a senior. Salome hit .415 at Helena last season as his Popeye-like forearms, short swing and powerful stroke helped him get the fat part of the bat on the ball consistently. His swing would be better if he incorporated his lower half more, giving him more power and allowing him to stay back better on breaking balls. His ebullient personality and bilingual ability are both assets as a catcher. Salome still has to adjust to pitchers who throw with velocity and sharp breaking balls he didn't see in high school, both at the plate and behind it. While Salome has a 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale and has a prototypical athletic, squat body to catch, he has many adjustments to make defensively. He's still grasping basic receiving fundamentals. He had 18 passed balls in 35 games at catcher and threw out 32 percent of basestealers. He's expected to return to low Class A for 2006.
Krynzel was once one of the Brewers' top prospects as a potential leadoff man and center fielder. He came to spring training last year with a clear shot at the big league job and hit .323, but Brady Clark beat him out. Now Milwaukee has better outfield depth, making Krynzel less a part of the organization's future plans. He has yet to put his considerable tools together. His Pacific Coast League playoff performance was unfortunately too typical, as he tried to do too much and struck out 10 times in 33 at-bats while batting .152. Krynzel typically gets off to fast starts before tailing off in the second half as pitchers adjust. He has average or above-average tools across the board, particularly defensively, and remains one of the organization's fastest baserunners. But his inability to adapt over the course of a season makes him more of a fourth outfielder than a viable candidate as a big league starter.
After taking Michael Vick in the 30th round of the 2000 draft, the Rockies chose Heether with their next pick. Colorado signed neither, as Heether went to Modesto (Calif.) Junior College before a two-year stint at Long Beach State. Heether was a solid college hitter who has become a solid pro hitter, and the Brewers see him as a possible Jeff Cirillo. Heether's grinder mentality got him through a challenging 2005 season, as he broke his nose in a home-plate collision in the second game of the year. He sat out a week, and later missed a month when a pitch broke a bone in his left hand. Things started to click with Heether's swing last year in instructional league, as he incorporated his lower half into his swing, generating pop to go with his all-fields, line-drive approach. He has quick hands and handles breaking balls when he trusts them to do the work. He battles pitchers and doesn't give away at-bats. His good hands translate as well to the field, where he has solid tools across the board. Heether finished the year strong, hitting safely in 12 of 14 games after a promotion to Double-A, and spent the offseason working out in San Diego with Anthony Gwynn and his father Tony to hone his hitting approach. He'll return to Double-A this year.
Sarfate has had an uneven pro career, but with his power stuff, a spot in the big league bullpen isn't far away. He hasn't missed a turn in the rotation since having elbow surgery in 2002. Sarfate continued to hone his repertoire last year, focusing on a spike curveball and changeup while shedding his slider. His fastball is among the best in the organization, touching 97 mph and sitting at 92-94 with life. He pitches inside with his fastball relentlessly, daring hitters to try to turn on it, and probably would do well to learn to throw it to the outer half more often. When he leaves his heater over the plate, he tends to get punished. Sarfate's secondary stuff is mediocre at best, and he doesn't throw his curve or changeup with much conviction. None of his three pitches finds the strike zone enough. Scouts believe he profiles best as a power reliever, but if Sarfate improves either of his secondary offerings, he could challenge for Milwaukee's No. 5 starter's job in 2006. Otherwise, he'll get a full taste of Triple-A.
After years of waiting for Dave Krynzel to pan out as a center fielder, the Brewers have developed enviable depth at that position, giving them other in-house options if Brady Clark has a short-lived run as the big league starter. Moss is the best intermediate option, a toolsy athlete with significant upside who's ready for his first shot at Double-A. He played a career-best 118 games in 2005, avoiding serious injury for the first time as a pro and just missing 10 days in June with a twisted ankle. Brevard County manager John Tamargo helped Moss understand that even when he's nicked up, he's capable of helping his team win. Moss is a plus runner with above-average power potential. He has bat speed and a quick short swing, but his power has been offset by poor plate discipline. With experience, he'll learn which pitches to drive and which to lay off, and the Brewers project he can hit 20-25 homers annually while staying in center field. His plus arm could allow him to move to right if he slows down too much to stay in center. Moss took on a leadership role in instructional league, setting the pace for younger Brewers with his work ethic and attitude. The organization hopes that's an indication Moss will break out this year in Double-A.
Gamel is a grinder who can hit, a good combination. He played at Jacksonville high school baseball power Bishop Kenny and didn't start until his senior season, keeping his name under the radar. He spent his first college season at Daytona (Fla.) Community College, and Milwaukee didn't spot him until last year at Chipola, where he played with Brewers draft-and-follow outfielder Darren Ford (now the fastest player in the system). Gamel earned a reputation as one of Florida's top hitters in a down draft year in the Sunshine State, and the Brewers had to grab him in the fourth round. Gamel, who had committed to Louisiana-Monroe, was a juco all-American after hitting .433-14-63, and followed up with a solid pro debut. Chipola coach Jeff Johnson called him the best hitter he had ever coached. Gamel has a good lefthanded stroke that lashes line drives from gap to gap. At times his swing gets a little long, but when his mechanics are right it's a short stroke that should lend itself to good pull power. Gamel's best defensive tool is his arm strength, and the Brewers already have talked of moving him to the outfield. He'll probably open this year in low Class A after finishing 2005 there.
Another one of the Brewers' intriguing outfield prospects, Cain played some center field en route to winning the Arizona League MVP award. However, he profiles more as a corner outfielder and has enough bat to play there. A draft-and-follow, Cain advanced quickly working with AZL hitting coach Joel Youngblood and proved both willing to listen and able to take what he'd learned and apply it quickly. His naturally quick bat is his best tool, and his bat speed and wiry frame have the organization projecting him to hit for future power. He's a plus runner as well and has an average arm. Cain's approach at the plate remains raw, from pitch recognition to his set-up and swing. He had an exaggerated leg kick when he first joined the organization, but toned it down after Milwaukee broke him down on video and showed him just how much of a timing problem the leg kick was causing. He spent much of instructional league working to quiet his approach, with positive results. Cain won't be a fast mover, especially considering the organization's current outfield glut. He has work to do refining such aspects of his game as outfield routes, basestealing and his approach at the plate. He'll have to have a big spring to ensure a spot in full-season ball.
Rottino had enrolled in the University of Wisconsin's pharmacy program when he signed with the Brewers, and his drive and intelligence quickly made him an organization favorite. Club officials consider him the hardest worker in the system, and he already has exceeded expectations for a nondrafted free agent. He was Milwaukee's 2004 minor league player of the year and reached Triple-A in 2005. Rottino finished the year as Prince Fielder's replacement in the Arizona Fall League. The Brewers challenged Rottino last year by jumping him to Double-A, then by having him play almost exclusively at catcher to start the season. He never had caught extensively prior to instructional league in 2004, and he impressed enough to get the shot. He still has work to do behind the plate (six passed balls in 22 games), but he has enough arm strength and the body for the position. He's not an everyday option there, however. He's a solid defender at third base, his best position, and can fill in as a corner outfielder. Rottino's power took a hit as he faced more advanced pitching, but he has a low-maintenance, line-drive swing and makes consistent contact. He's not far from being a solid big league utilityman.
Roberts is another in a recent line of two-way University of Houston stars that includes Brad Sullivan and Jesse Crain, as well as Brad Lincoln, who could go in the first round of the 2006 draft. Unlike Sullivan and Crain, Roberts never put up All-America numbers in college, posting back-to-back 4.00-plus ERAs in his last two seasons. He also led the Cougars in home runs (nine) as a junior. However, his stuff took a jump in the Cape Cod League in 2004, when Roberts focused mainly on pitching. Now that he no longer has to play the infield, his fastball should touch 94 mph more regularly. His curveball is a solid-average pitch that just needs a little more consistency. He has shown flashes of a solid changeup as well. He's not gifted with a perfect pitcher's body, so he'll have to keep his fastball down to be successful. Roberts likely will open in low Class A, where he struggled at the end of his pro debut.
Anderson played on two Nebraska teams that reached the College World Series and was considered a gritty scrapper, though in his final two seasons he batted just .255 with 14 extra-base hits. He has consistently hit as a pro, however, and his bat and attitude have endeared him to the Brewers. His game is similar to that of Milwaukee's current overachieving center fielder, Brady Clark. Like Clark, Anderson's best tool is his bat. He keeps his swing simple, repeats it well, covers the plate and makes adjustments to keep getting the barrel to the ball. He led the Florida State League in hits and finished fourth in batting last year. He actually has added a tool in pro ball, getting slightly faster so that he now runs a tick above-average, getting to first base in 4.1 seconds from the left side. Anderson makes all the plays in the outfield with a fringy arm and solid range, making him a good bet to be a future fourth outfielder in the majors. Power is his weakest tool and probably will keep him from being an everyday player. He'll make the move to Double-A for 2006.