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Peralta's handlers in the Dominican Republic advertised him as an athletic outfielder with a promising power-speed combination when he became available on the international market in 2005. But the Brewers were more enamored with his strong, quick arm, and they signed him as a pitcher for $450,000. He lasted just one pro summer before blowing out his elbow, however, requiring Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2007 season. Back to full strength by 2009, Peralta began a steady climb through the system. In 2011, he led the Double-A Southern League with a 3.46 ERA and was so dominant in five late-season starts at Triple-A Nashville that Milwaukee expected him to return there last season and cruise. That didn't happen. He struggled with his mechanics, had trouble throwing strikes, pitched behind in the count too often and allowed hitters to sit on his fastball. Peralta allowed just four runs in his first three starts, but after a brief promotion to the Brewers--he gave up three hits and one run in his big league debut, a relief appearance on April 22--he returned to Nashville and couldn't get anyone out. His ERA swelled to 6.40 in late June, and his struggles cost him at least one chance to fill a hole in Milwaukee's rotation. Brewers officials were getting quite concerned. Peralta finally was able to make adjustments--a key was closing his front side instead of flying open in his delivery--and pitched well enough to get a September promotion to Milwaukee. He won his first big league start against the Marlins and two-hit the Mets for eight innings in his third. When Peralta has his mechanics together, he pounds the bottom half of the strike zone with a heavy 93-95 mph fastball. He also has the ability to reach back for a little extra velocity when needed, topping out at 98. He throws two- and four-seamers, and he likes to jam hitters by pitching inside. During his September callup, he featured a devastating slider that gave righthanders fits with its deception and sharp bite. He also has a reliable changeup with splitter action. There's nothing wrong with Peralta's stuff, but he still needs to control and command it better. For a big-bodied pitcher, he's quite athletic, fielding his position well and controlling the running game with quick times to the plate. His confidence waned during his early-season struggles, but he worked his way back and displayed solid poise while in Milwaukee. Peralta's September re-established his status as Milwaukee's top prospect and put him in position to make the major league rotation in spring training. He remains prone to bouts of wildness, but he profiles as at least a No. 2 starter. The Brewers haven't developed a pitcher this highly regarded since Yovani Gallardo, so a lot is riding on Peralta's success.
The Brewers bounced Thornburg around in 2012. He was headed for the Southern League all-star game when they summoned him for an emergency start in mid-June. Then he went to Triple-A, where he sat for a couple of weeks with a sore wrist, before getting recalled again in late July and placed in an unfamiliar relief role. As a September callup, he mostly watched before getting a start after Milwaukee was eliminated from contention. Thornburg primarily works with a 91-94 mph fastball that hits 97 and an overhand curveball that buckles knees when he thows it for strikes. Scouts like his deceptive changeup more than his curve, though the latter was his best pitch in the majors. Thornburg has unorthodox mechanics, pinwheeling the ball to the plate a la Tim Lincecum and prompting some scouts to wonder if he'll be able to repeat his delivery enough to be a starter in the majors. He does throw strikes but needs to improve his command. He left his somewhat straight fastball up in the strike zone too often in the big leagues, and gave up eight homers in 22 innings. Thornburg likely will open 2013 in Nashville because the Brewers don't have any rotation openings. They still see him as a mid-rotation starter, though his future could be as a late-inning reliever.
The 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Jungmann signed for $2,525,000, the second-largest bonus in club history. Sent to pitcher-friendly high Class A Brevard County for his pro debut, he had an up-and-down season. He didn't dominate as much as expected, but he made 26 starts and went 3-0, 1.66 in August. Jungmann is all about pounding the bottom of the strike zone with his 90-96 mph sinker and getting hitters to beat the ball into the ground. He uses his tall frame to pitch on a downward plane and get outs early in the count. When he stays on top of his slider, it's a solid pitch with sharp break. The Brewers are encouraging him to throw his changeup more, though it's still below-average. Jungmann doesn't walk a lot of batters, nor does he pile up high strikeout numbers. There were concerns about his delivery coming out of college, but he smoothed it out and displayed good command of his pitches in his first pro season. Jungmann will head to Double-A Huntsville in 2013 and could see Triple-A before season's end. He could join Milwaukee's rotation at some point the following year, with the club envisioning him as a future No. 2 or 3 starter.
Morris had a breakthrough 2012 season, becoming the first Brewers farmhand named Southern League MVP since Corey Hart in 2003. He led the league in hits (158), extra-base hits (74), homers (28), RBIs (113), total bases (294) and slugging (.563). Managers rated him the best batting prospect and best defensive first baseman in the league, and Rawlings honored him with a Gold Glove as the minors' top defender at his position. Morris hits with power to all fields and has produced 57 homers in 337 pro games. He has an aggressive approach at the plate but improved his plate discipline last year. He drew more walks (40) than he had in his previous 201 pro games in the minors (38) and waited more patiently for pitches to drive. Morris also made dramatic strides in the field, enhancing his footwork and cutting his errors to six after making 19 in 2011. His range remains average at best but he has good arm strength for the position. He gets no leg hits thanks to his below-average speed. The Brewers now believe Morris can be a big league regular. He'll move up to Triple-A and could be in position to start for Milwaukee in 2014, though winning a job will be more difficult if Corey Hart remains at first base.
While 2011 first-rounders Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley had inconsistent seasons at Brevard County, Nelson dominated and earned a promotion by mid-June. His control was much more erratic in Double-A, probably the result of shoulder fatigue that prompted the Brewers to skip some of his starts. He recovered in time to get more innings in the Arizona Fall League, though the strike zone remained elusive there. An imposing figure on the mound, Nelson often overpowers hitters with a 92-94 mph fastball that he can run up to 96. He also throws an effective two-seamer in the low 90s that has good sink and induces weak groundouts. He has become more consistent with his sharp 84-86 mph slider, which he uses to shut down righthanders, and more confident with his fringy changeup. He also did a better job repeating his herky-jerky delivery last year until the shoulder fatigue set in. Nelson is a bulldog on the mound with a confident demeanor. The key to his development will be improving his control and command. Nelson likely will return to Huntsville in 2013, at least for the start of the season. He projects as a No. 3 starter and could find himself in Milwaukee's rotation before 2014 is done.
Once the Brewers saw that Zack Greinke had no interest in signing a contract extension, they sent him to the Angels last July for Jean Segura and hard-throwing righthanders Hellweg and Ariel Pena. Because Hellweg already had exceeded his previous career high for innings by 31, Milwaukee pitched him sparingly afterward. The Angels switched Hellweg from relieving to starting in 2011 to give him more innings in an attempt to help him repeat his delivery more consistently and improve his problematic command. He has made strides with locating his pitches, but his strikeout totals have dipped as he has dialed back his fastball to get ahead in the count. Hellweg still pitches regularly in the mid-90s with his fastball, which features late sink and has hit 100 mph when he came out of the bullpen. He can be tough to hit when he throws his slurvy breaking ball for strikes. His changeup is a work in progress. Tall and skinny, he can overpower hitters with the downward tilt on his fastball, but his long limbs also make it difficult to maintain his release point. When Hellweg throws all of his pitches for strikes, he looks like a potential No. 2 starter. But his lack of consistency could mean that his future will come as a late-inning reliever, possibly as a closer. He'll open 2013 in Triple-A.
The Brewers thought they got one of the steals of the 2012 draft when Roache fell to the 28th overall pick. After leading NCAA Division I with 30 homers in 2011, he broke his left wrist diving for a ball six games into his junior season. The injury required six screws, two pins and a metal plate to repair and he didn't play again for Georgia Southern or in the minors after signing for $1,525,000. Roache's calling card is his top-shelf power potential, the product of strength, bat speed and patience. Some scouts question his ability to recognize and handle breaking balls, and his swing can get stiff at times. He may not make enough contact to hit for a high average, but his power should be worth it. Roache has fringy speed and average arm strength, with the instincts to be an effective corner outfielder. Milwaukee praises his devotion to coming back from his injury as soon as possible, as he worked hard so he could take part in instructional league. The Brewers' medical reports indicate that Roache will make a complete recovery. With his track record of college success, he'll start his career at one of their Class A affiliates. It may take time for him to return to form, but he has the potential to be an impact offensive player.
Gennett did in 2012 what he has done at every level of the Brewers system--hit for a high average and make his league's all-star team. He also represented Milwaukee in the Futures Game and earned a spot on the 40-man roster. He continues to prove that his size won't stop him from succeeding and remains motivated by those who say he's too small to make it in the majors. Using an open stance and a level swing, Gennett hits line drives to all fields. He makes consistent contact and has surprising pop for his size, most of it coming with doubles to the gaps. He's a free swinger who doesn't take many pitches and draws few walks, resulting in relatively low on-base percentages considering how many hits he accumulates. Gennett has average speed and knows how to run the bases. A high school shortstop, he has worked hard to improve at second base but still has rough edges to smooth out. He has led his league's second basemen in errors in each of his three pro seasons. His arm and range are average. The next step for Gennett is Triple-A. If he succeeds there as he has at every other level, the Brewers will have to decide whether to keep incumbent Rickie Weeks at second base or move him to give Gennett a shot.
The Brewers fell in love with Coulter's offensive potential and quickly zeroed in on him as the first of their two first-round picks in 2012. He's a physical specimen who was a Washington state high school wrestling champion before turning his focus to baseball. After going 27th overall and signing for $1,675,000, he led the Rookie-level Arizona League in on-base percentage (.439). Coulter has considerable offensive upside. He's strong with good leverage in his quick swing, and he knows how to work counts to get pitches to drive, so he has above-average power potential. He doesn't get himself out at the plate. Though his high school coach was former big league catcher Tom Lampkin, Coulter is still raw defensively. He has solid arm strength but must improve his mechanics and agility after throwing out just 16 percent of basestealers and giving up 21 passed balls in 26 pro games. He has the leadership, desire and work ethic to remain behind the plate. He has below-average speed but good instincts and an aggressive nature on the bases. The Brewers will be patient with Coulter, who is just 19 and didn't play a lengthy high school schedule in the Pacific Northwest. Whether he begins his first full pro season in low Class A Wisconsin depends on how he looks behind the plate in the spring.
As compensation for losing free agent Prince Fielder to the Tigers, the Brewers got the 27th (Clint Coulter) and 38th (Haniger) picks in the 2012 draft. Haniger headed to low Class A after signing for $1.2 million, but his pro debut ended after 14 games when he tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. That injury healed in time for Haniger to participate in instructional league. Milwaukee coveted Haniger for his power as well as his overall athleticism and arm. He improved his plate discipline as a junior at Cal Poly, taking pitches, drawing walks and doing a better job of handling offspeed stuff. Those upgrades and an adjustment to load his hands better in his swing allowed him to make better use of his above-average raw power. After totaling 13 homers in his first two seasons at Cal Poly, he hit 13 as a junior, and he could produce 25 or more on an annual basis. Haniger is a fringy runner and average defender in right field. His arm is a weapon, as his throws are not only strong but also accurate. He draws praise for his work ethic, poise and confidence. Because Haniger's pro debut was so brief, the Brewers probably will send him back to Wisconsin to begin 2013. They consider him an advanced player who can move quickly.
The Brewers had no idea what to expect from Rogers in 2012. The fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft and recipient of a $2.2 million bonus, he had missed most of the 2011 season with carpal tunnel syndrome that required surgery on both wrists, as well as a 25-game suspension for testing positive for a banned stimulant. He struggled early on last year in Triple-A, battling command issues as he tried to scrape off the rust. He started throwing better by July, with the velocity on his fastball increasing to the mid-90s as he worked regularly. He got a better feel for his overhand curveball and threw more strikes with his slider. The timing was fortuitous, as he was ready to move into the major league rotation after Zack Greinke was traded to the Angels in late July. Rogers turned in several impressive starts, though erratic command boosted his pitch counts and led to early exits. He'll need more consistency to stick in the majors, but his comeback from a pair of shoulder surgeries that cost him the 2007 and 2008 seasons has been impressive. Milwaukee shut him down after seven big league starts to protect his arm but will give him every chance to make its rotation in the spring.
Bradley saw his 2012 pro debut degenerate into a nightmare after signing for $2 million as the 15th overall pick the year before. His troubles began in spring training, where he sustained a groin strain that prevented him from getting on the mound and bothered him after he was assigned to high Class A. As he tried to compensate for his injury, his mechanics broke down, and his command was so bad that he rarely put pitches where he wanted to. Bradley looked like a far cry from the advanced pitcher he was at Georgia Tech. He was such a mess that the Brewers shut him down in early August and told him to focus on getting healthy and recouping his mechanics. He also had trouble adjusting to pro ball, often throwing too much between starts and generally failing to pace himself. Milwaukee hasn't lost faith in Bradley. When healthy and mechanically sound, he throws an 88-93 mph fastball with armside run and a mid-80s slider. He has good arm action and deception on his changeup. The Brewers didn't expect him to have physical or mechanical issues because he was a workhorse in college who was able to repeat his delivery consistently. They will likely send Bradley back to Brevard County in 2013 to get a fresh start.
Schafer had a modest year statistically in 2012, but there was plenty of good news as he played a full season and finished it in the majors. He missed all but seven games in 2010 with a sports hernia and later a broken foot. A broken thumb in spring training cost him the first six weeks of the 2011 season. Schafer is at his best when sending line drives into the gaps with a simple, level swing. His plate discipline waned in Triple-A last year, but he did continue to make contact and showed decent pop--mostly to the gaps--considering his wiry frame. Schafer doesn't have blazing speed but runs the bases well. He also has great instincts in center field, getting good jumps and chasing down deep flies with ease. His arm is average but accurate, and he plays with confidence and poise. The Brewers were encouraged by Schafer's play during his September callup, as he got several big hits off the bench in the heat of a playoff race and played strong defense in center. He'll have every chance to make the big league club and back up Carlos Gomez in center.
No Brewers farmhand made a bigger leap forward in 2012 than Burgos. Sent back to repeat high Class A, he dominated Florida State League hitters and earned promotions to Double-A and Triple-A. He was pitching well enough at season's end that he could have been summoned to the majors had there been a need. He went 10-4, 1.95 overall, ranking third in the minors in ERA and leading the system with 153 strikeouts. Burgos doesn't wow with his stuff, throwing his fastball mainly at 88-91 mph, but it plays up because of his strong fastball command and his other pitches. He features a cutter, a changeup that can bottom out when at its best, a curveball and an occasional slider. He can throw each of them for strikes in any count. He varies his patterns, keeping hitters off balance, and consistently pounds the strike zone. Milwaukee compares him to Mike Fiers, another pitcher who succeeded at a somewhat advanced age by carving up hitters with deception and location. After adding him to their 40-man roster in November, the Brewers are anxious to see Burgos in his first major league camp in the spring. He'll probably open the season in the Nashville rotation.
Taylor was a standout running back and safety for his high school football team, and he showed potential in baseball that figured to blossom when he focused on one sport. The Brewers loved his athleticism, taking him in the second round last June and signing him for $750,000. He put together a strong pro debut before a wrist injury cut his season short. Taylor has improved his mechanics at the plate and features a line-drive stroke with good bat speed. Some amateur scouts worried about the load in his swing, as he rocked back before moving forward, but he smoothed that out after signing. His power goes mostly to the gaps, though he has a chance to produce double-digit homers on an annual basis as he matures. Taylor has above-average speed that plays well in center field, where he shows good instincts, as well as the basepaths, where he's aggressive and gets good jumps. His all-around package of tools gives Taylor an ideal center-field profile if he hits. He'll move on to low Class A for his first full professional season.
Davis strained his right calf early in 2012, tried to return too soon and re-injured his leg, costing him two months of the season. Determined to make up for lost time, he went on an offensive binge when he returned to Double-A and continued to rake following a promotion to Triple-A, hitting a combined .350/.451/.604 for the year. Davis' quick bat gives him 20-25 homer potential in the majors, and he can drive the ball out of the park to all fields. Sometimes his swing gets long, but he takes walks and doesn't get himself out as often as he did earlier in his career. Davis' biggest issue is where he'll play. He's a below-average runner who doesn't get great jumps, and his arm isn't strong either. He fits best in left field, where the Brewers have Ryan Braun signed for years to come. Davis has turned himself into a serviceable outfielder and has some experience in right field. After joining the 40-man roster in November, he'll return to Nashville and try to hit his way into big league consideration.
Following a strong showing in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2011, Arcia saw his U.S. debut end before it even began when he broke his ankle sliding into second base during extended spring training. The break was so severe that doctors inserted a metal plate to repair it. Arcia, whose older brother Oswaldo is a top prospect in the Twins system, recovered in time to participate in instructional league and got more action over the winter at the Brewers' Dominican academy. The good news is that Arcia is just 18 and still has plenty of time to make up for the lost season. He has the skills to be an outstanding defender at shortstop, with good range to both sides, solid footwork around the bag and plenty of arm strength. He also shows great instincts in the field. Milwaukee hopes Arcia will develop into an above-average offensive player. He shows contact ability and some surprising pop for his size, so he could hit for a solid average with gap power down the road. His speed is average at best, but he runs the bases well and shows good instincts there as well. The Brewers may consider sending Arcia to low Class A in 2013, though that might be pushing it considering his age and inexperience.
Ten former Long Beach State pitchers saw big league action in 2012, and Gagnon is on his way to joining their ranks. He went through a dead-arm stage after signing for $340,000 as a third-round pick in 2011 and got roughed up in Rookie ball. He threw much better in instructional league that fall and found his groove last season at two Class A stops. Gagnon pounds the strike zone, walking few hitters and inducing early count outs. He has good life on an 88-92 mph fastball and has the ability to reach back for a little extra velocity when needed. He has abandoned a slider to go with a more conventional curveball that he regularly throws for strikes. His changeup still needs work but he delivers it with good arm speed, and he dabbles with a cutter that can be effective. Gagnon has a strong mound presence and knows how to set up hitters. He continued to perform after a midseason promotion to Brevard County and could be ready for Double-A in 2013. His lack of a plus pitch limits his ceiling, but he could be a very solid back-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues.
The Brewers used Goforth in relief after signing him for $100,000 in 2011, then moved him into the rotation at Wisconsin last season. The idea was to get the hard-throwing righty to work on his secondary pitches because there is no question about his ability to throw fastballs past hitters. Goforth regularly pitches in the mid-90s and can reach 98 mph. His fastball straightens out when it's up in the strike zone, leaving him vulnerable to home runs, however. He made some progess with his curveball, cutter and changeup in 2012, but they remain average at best. He loses his mechanics at times, resulting in walks and wild pitches, and is learning to pace himself as a starter. He did pitch better in the second half of last season and won two playoff starts (including a shutout against Burlington) as the Timber Rattlers won the Midwest League crown. Goforth still profiles better as a reliever in the majors, which would allow him to unleash his fastball with more fury and pitch in shorter bursts. The Brewers may keep him in the rotation in 2013 to get more innings while refining his pitches and command.
The Brewers had high expectations for Bucci in 2012, but he severely strained his shoulder in spring training. It took him most of the season to rehab it and get ready to pitch again. He was impressive in six starts at Brevard County, including an eight-inning outing to close the season. Bucci features a fastball that sits at 90-92 mph and touches 94, uses it on both sides of the plate and isn't afraid to pitch inside. His secondary pitches include a cutter, sharp-breaking curveball and changeup, all of which have a chance to be at least average. He shows a good feel for pitching and repeats his delivery well. Last year's shoulder issue notwithstanding, his frame and athleticism should lend themselves to durability. Milwaukee loves his competitiveness on the mound, which he developed during his time with Canada's national teams. He was part of bronze-medal winners at the 2009 and 2011 World Cups and a gold-medal squad at the 2011 Pan American Games. Though he missed much of last season, Bucci has plenty of time to develop into a middle-of-the-rotation starter. Protected on the 40-man roster in November, he'll make the jump to Double-A.
Originally signed by the Yankees as a catcher in 2004, Sanchez was traded two years later to the Phillies in the Bobby Abreu/Cory Lidle deal. When it became apparent Sanchez wasn't going to hit enough, Philadelphia decided to take advantage of his arm strength and shifted him to pitching. He posted two solid seasons in Class A before the Phillies released him after the 2010 season. The Brewers signed him two weeks later and moved him to the bullpen in mid-2011. He has thrived in his new role, reaching Triple-A last year and claiming a spot on the 40-man roster. As a reliever, Sanchez can focus on two pitches, a 94-97 mph fastball that he commands well and a developing slider that improved considerably last season. He throws strikes and keeps the ball down in the zone. Sanchez will get a good look in spring training and should have a chance to join a retooled Milwaukee relief corps.
Pena's performance after his acquisition from the Angels in the Zack Greinke trade last July wasn't what the Brewers had in mind. They knew he was rough around the edges, as evidenced by his Futures Game turn just before the deal. Pena hit 94-95 mph in the prospect all-star game but fooled no one, giving up eight runs on seven hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly. He wasn't the same afterward, making just three quality starts the rest of the year as his control and command disintegrated. Velocity isn't an issue. Pena pitches regularly at 92-94 mph with his sinker and can reach 98 with his four-seamer. He throws a hard slider that breaks late and sits at 82-86 mph. His 85-88 mph changeup is too firm and mostly just a show-me pitch. Though he has good size and obvious arm strength, Pena is so erratic with his command that many scouts figure he'll have to pitch in relief. He loses his mechanics too easily and often drags his arm behind his body, leaving pitches up in the strike zone. His problems persisted in a short winter ball stint in the Dominican Republic. Pena will try to make a better impression on his new organization when he returns to Double-A this year.
The Brewers wanted to restock their pitching with the 2011 draft, and they were excited to land Lopez in the second round and sign him for $690,000. The returns from his first full pro season were disappointing, however. He experienced some back issues in the early part of 2012 and didn't perform well in the Arizona League, before making an unusual move to the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League to work with instructors there. The good news was that Lopez looked better in instructional league, touching 95 mph and throwing a hammer curveball that buckled hitters' knees. He works around 90-91 mph with his fastball but should throw harder as he gets stronger. He has good feel for a breaking ball and uses it as a strikeout pitch when ahead in the count. Lopez continues to work on a changeup as his third pitch. He got better at repeating his loose delivery, which bodes well for improving his control and command. Still a teenager, Lopez has a long way to go but has No. 3 starter's upside. He probably will go to low Class A to begin 2013.
The 2012 season figured to be a big one for Scarpetta. His original $325,000 deal was voided because he needed finger surgery after the Brewers made him an 11th-round pick in 2007, so Milwaukee had to place him on the 40-man roster when the club re-signed him. As a result, he ran out of minor league options last year, meaning he needed to get as close to big league-ready as possible to make Milwaukee feel good about keeping him. All of that went up in smoke when Scarpetta injured his elbow during spring training and had Tommy John surgery in May, and the Brewers removed him from the 40-man roster after the season. He probably won't be ready to pitch again until mid-2013, but at age 24 he's young enough to bounce back and still make it to the majors. When healthy, Scarpetta has a 90-94 mph fastball and a sharp-breaking curveball. His third pitch is a changeup that still needs work. He sometimes has trouble with his mechanics, which contributes to inconsistent control and may have led to his elbow trouble. Slated to pitch in Triple-A last year, Scarpetta probably will break in at a lower level when he returns to action. If he can stay healthy, the Brewers still see some upside as a No. 3 or 4 starter, but he also could be pegged for bullpen action.
The Brewers have no doubt that Rivera is a major league-quality defender at shortstop, but they haven't resolved the question of whether he'll hit enough to be an everyday player. The smooth shortstop makes highlight-reel plays with above-average range and a strong arm. He has sure hands and good lateral movement. Rivera made some strides at the plate in his second shot at low Class A in 2012, but he remains a free swinger with little plate discipline and a propensity to strike out. His .274 career on-base percentage indicates his lack of offensive polish. Rivera does have some home run power in his lanky frame, but he needs to focus on making contact and getting on base. He gets too long with his swing and too pull-conscious, especially after hitting a home run, and pitchers easily carve him up with breaking balls. He has average speed at best and isn't a basestealing threat. Rivera profiles as at least a utility player thanks to his defense, though he could develop into a regular if he can make some strides at the plate. High Class A could be a challenge for him in 2013.
When Manzanillo dislocated his shoulder and injured his scapula in a serious auto accident in the Dominican Republic after the 2011 season, he appeared to make a speedy recovery and was active in spring training. He told Milwaukee's training staff that his shoulder felt fine, but as it turned out, that wasn't the case. It quickly became evident he wasn't the same pitcher who had a breakout season in 2011. The Brewers pulled the plug after 12 mostly dreadful relief outings in Double-A, sending Manzanillo to Arizona to rehab a strained right rotator cuff. He returned to the mound in mid-August but didn't pitch well in the minors or the Arizona Fall League. Before he got hurt, Manzanillo regularly threw in the mid-90s and topped out at 99 mph, but his fastball velocity diminished significantly in 2012. His formerly mid-80s slider also lost some power, and his control diminished as well. He also throws a changeup that has become more effective. If Manzanillo can get back to where he was in 2011, he could help Milwaukee as a set-up man and perhaps even as a closer.
Gindl played through nagging injuries in 2012, including a lower back issue that cost him a September callup, and turned in the worst offensive performance of his six-year pro career. His grinder mentality kept him in the lineup when others might have begged out, but in the end that did him little good. With a squatty build and limited athleticism, Gindl must hit to play in the majors. Before last year, he had established his credentials as a solid hitter with gap power, though his patience slipped when he repeated Triple-A. He's a below-average runner with fringy arm strength who fits best in left field, though he has played in all three outfield spots. That versatility should help him as he now looks like an extra outfielder and lefthanded bat off the bench in the Laynce Nix mold. If Gindl can get his bat going again, he could fill that role in Milwaukee this year.
The Brewers keep waiting for Davis to live up to the potential he showed as one of the best college hitters in the 2009 draft class, and to the $1.2 million bonus he received that summer as the 39th overall pick. He has the compact swing and bat speed to hit for average and power, but he has yielded modest production as a pro. He drew more walks in 2012 but also struck out more than ever, as he often got tied up by a small hitch in his swing. He has yet to show he'll have better than average power at best or enough to play on an outfield corner in the majors. Davis has battled leg issues that have hampered him on the bases and in the outfield. Whether he has the instincts to play center field on a regular basis is open for debate, and his fringy arm strength may relegate him to left field. His pure speed rates as above-average, but he doesn't get good jumps on the bases. Milwaukee declined to protect Davis on its 40-man roster this offseason, and no team deemed him worthy of selection in the Rule 5 draft. He'll move up to Triple-A in 2013.
When Heckathorn was drafted 47th overall and signed for $776,000 in 2009, many scouts considered him a better fit as a late-inning power reliever than a starter. The Brewers wanted to give him a chance to start, however, and he continued to do so until midway through 2012, when Milwaukee finally shifted him to the bullpen. He couldn't maintain consistency through the course of a game as a starter, and the move gave him the chance to go all-out in brief stints. He posted a 3.68 ERA in 18 bullpen appearances for Huntsville, compared to his 5.10 ERA in 17 starts, though he had just 17 strikeouts in his 29 relief innings. Heckathorn's fastball improved from 88-91 mph to 91-94 with his new job description, and he continued to rely on movement and sink to get groundouts rather than whiffs. His slider got a similar boost into the mid-80s. Heckathorn's changeup can be effective when hitters sit on his hard stuff. He has a bulldog approach, which plays better in shorter bursts out of the bullpen. He does a good job of filling the strike zone, but it remains to be seen if he's more of a middle reliever than a set-up man. Milwaukee left him off its 40-man roster but will promote him to Triple-A in 2013.
Drafted as a shortstop, Prince played that position for three pro seasons before moving to center field in 2012. His best tool is his above-average speed, which he used to tie for the NCAA Division I lead with 48 steals in 2009. He continues to cause havoc with his aggressiveness on the bases, stealing 147 bases in 385 pro games. But he's not a pure burner and must improve his basestealing efficiency after getting caught in 25 percent of his pro attempts. Prince is a contact hitter with little pop, using a level swing to put the ball in play and get on base. He improved his plate discipline considerably in 2012. His athleticism allowed him to make the transition to center field, where he's still learning the proper reads and routes but can run down balls. He has an average arm. The Brewers like Prince's confidence and feel for the game. While he doesn't have fluid infield actions, he profiles as a utilityman who can play almost anywhere on the diamond. After he hit .404 in the Arizona Fall League, Milwaukee decided not to expose him to the Rule 5 draft and protected him on its 40-man roster. He'll be on call in Triple-A this year.
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