Milwaukee Brewers: Top 10 Prospects

Milwaukee Brewers

Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2009.

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1. Alcides Escobar, ss
2. Mat Gamel, 3b
3. Brett Lawrie, c/3b
4. Jeremy Jeffress, rhp
5. Angel Salome, c
6. Lorenzo Cain, of
7. Cutter Dykstra, of
8. Taylor Green 3b
9. Cole Gillespie, of
10. Jonathan Lucroy, c
Best Hitter for Average Mat Gamel
Best Power Hitter Brett Lawrie
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Taylor Green
Fastest Baserunner Lee Haydel
Best Athlete Brent Brewer
Best Fastball Jeremy Jeffress
Best Curveball Cody Scarpetta
Best Slider Zach Braddock
Best Changeup Bobby Bramhall
Best Control Chris Cody
Best Defensive Catcher Carlos Corporan
Best Defensive Infielder Alcides Escobar
Best Infield Arm Alcides Escobar
Best Defensive Outfielder Lorenzo Cain
Best Outfield Arm Brendan Katin
Catcher Brett Lawrie
First Base Prince Fielder
Second Base J.J. Hardy
Third Base Mat Gamel
Shortstop Alcides Escobar
Left Field Ryan Braun
Center Field Rickie Weeks
Right Field Corey Hart
No. 1 Starter Yovani Gallardo
No. 2 Starter Manny Parra
No. 3 Starter Jake Odorizzi
No. 4 Starter Carlos Villanueva
No. 5 Starter Zach Braddock
Closer Jeremy Jeffress
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Ron Belliard, 2b Nationals
2000 Nick Neugebauer, rhp Out of baseball
2001 Ben Sheets, rhp Brewers
2002 Nick Neugebauer, rhp Out of baseball
2003 Brad Nelson, 1b Brewers
2004 Rickie Weeks, 2b Brewers
2005 Rickie Weeks, 2b Brewers
2006 Prince Fielder, 1b Brewers
2007 Yovani Gallardo, rhp Brewers
2008 Matt LaPorta, of Indians
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Ben Sheets, rhp Brewers
2000 Dave Krynel, of Diamondbacks
2001 Mike Jones, rhp Brewers
2002 Prince Fielder, 1b Brewers
2003 Rickie Weeks, 2b Brewers
2004 Mark Rogers, rhp Brewers
2005 Ryan Braun, 3b Brewers
2006 Jeremy Jeffress, rhp Brewers
2007 Matt LaPorta, of Indians
2008 Brett Lawrie, c/3b Brewers
Rickie Weeks, 2003 $3,600,000
Ben Sheets, 1999 $2,450,000
Ryan Braun, 2005 $2,450,000
Prince Fielder, 2002 $2,400,000
Mark Rogers, 2004 $2,200,000
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Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers farm system already had provided the big league club with three-fourths of an infield (Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy), a pair of slugging corner outfielders (Ryan Braun, Corey Hart) and an ace in the making (Yovani Gallardo). It kept on giving in 2008, providing the ammunition for Milwaukee to acquire C.C. Sabathia.

Not many clubs would trade their top prospect for a rental, but that's exactly what the Brewers did in early July. They included outfielder Matt LaPorta, their 2007 first-round pick who was tearing up Double-A, with lefty Zach Jackson, righty Rob Bryson and a player to be named (outfielder Michael Brantley) to get Sabathia, a pending free agent.

The Brewers figured Sabathia was just the pitcher to get them over the top and into the postseason for the first time since 1982. He was everything Milwaukee hoped for and more, going 11-2, 1.65 and pitching a four-hitter against the Cubs on the final day of the season to clinch a wild-card berth.

Though Sabathia lost his lone playoff start as the Phillies eliminated the Brewers in the National League Division Series and later left for a $161 million contract from the Yankees, general manager Doug Melvin said he'd make the trade again.

"We have no regrets," Melvin said. "C.C. got us to the playoffs. We wouldn't have gotten there without him. The fact that we were able to make the deal is a tribute to the depth of talent in our farm system."

Even after all the recent graduations to the majors and the Sabathia deal, the system continues to churn out talent. Manny Parra won 10 games as a rookie, and in a preview of coming attractions, shortstop Alcides Escobar, third baseman Mat Gamel and catcher Angel Salome made their big league debuts in September.

Milwaukee was able to restock through the draft, where compensation for the loss of free agents Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink gave the club six of the first 62 selections in June. After popping Canadian high school slugger Brett Lawrie in the first round, the Brewers focused on pitching.

The Brewers may have a similar bonanza in 2009, when they'll get two early picks for Sabathia and as many as three more if both Ben Sheets and Brian Shouse also leave via free agency. But for the first time in nine years, Jack Zduriencik won't be running their draft.

The Mariners hired Zduriencik, the scouting director whose astute draft picks are the prime reason Milwaukee has finished .500 or better in three of the last four years after 12 straight losing seasons, as their general manager in October. Zduriencik took assistant scouting director Tony Blengino and Eastern crosschecker Tom McNamara with him to Seattle. The Brewers promoted Western crosschecker Bruce Seid to replace Zduriencik and tabbed Midwest crosschecker Ray Montgomery as Seid's assistant.

Milwaukee will enter 2009 with a new manager as well. Owner Mark Attanasio made the decision to fire Ned Yost after a September swoon, and interim manager Dale Sveum wasn't retained. The Brewers then turned to Ken Macha, who had a .568 winning percentage and captured two division titles in four years with the Athletics from 2003-06.

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