1.22.2010

The Farm Report: Pitchers

Part two, in the NBA they'd be called tweeners, guys who might be either one position or the other. In this case, it's yet to be determined whether or not these pitchers are headed for the starting rotation or the bullpen.

In each case I'll give the best indications possible of which end of the pitching spectrum these players are headed for, let's get to it.

Pitchers

1. Zach Braddock (AA)
2. Jake Odirizzi (Rookie)
3. Wily Peralta (Low A)
4. Cody Scarpetta (Low A)
5. Donovan Hand (AA)

As per the usual, we'll start with No. 5, Donovan Hand. A right-handed pitcher who spent all of 2009 with Huntsville, Hand has settled in well as a relief pitcher. While he did make 12 starts with the Brewers double-A affiliate, he excelled as a reliever. In 33 relief innings Hand's ERA was 1.91, in his starts his ERA was nearly two-and-a-half runs higher at 4.39. He's the most veteran of this bunch, he'll be 24 in April, but should be assigned to Nashville to start the year. If he pitches well in 2010, he could earn his way onto the 40-man roster by next spring.

Sitting at No. 4 on our list, is Rockford, Ill. native and another righty Cody Scarpetta. The gap between him and our No. 3 is absolutely paper thin, the years they had with Wisconsin a year ago were nearly identical. Scarpetta is already on the 40-man roster due to contract difficulties so his development clock is ticking. He had good all-around numbers a year ago, a 3.52 ERA, .219 batting average allowed and 117 strikeouts against 56 walks. He's also considered to have the best breaking ball in the Brewer's system. The question with Scarpetta is, can he develop that third pitch to make him a major league starter? The Brewers will give him the chance to.

Wily Peralta looks like a very promising prospect, he throws in the low to mid-90s and has a nice breaking ball. He showed fairly good command with Wisconsin last season, walking 46. Ideally you would like to see that number go down, otherwise you end up with too many five inning starts. He'll need to improve his third pitch if he's going to be a big league starter and that appears to be the path the team intends for him.

Next we have Jake Odirizzi, all indications are that the team intends for him to get a shot as a starting pitcher, but so far he's seen time as both a reliever and starter. He's had good command for a prep pitcher, with 40 strikeouts and only nine walks, but a .296 batting average allowed needs to improve. It's hard to rate a guy with 4.40 ERA as the No. 2 pitcher but he earns that spot on the strength of draft position (he was the 32nd overall pick in 2008). Odirizzi will most likely be assigned to Wisconsin next year, so I'll do my best to get my own scouting report then.

And sitting at No. 1 is none other than Zach Braddock. It's very doubtful that Braddock makes a return to the starting rotation with his injury history, but the team seems unwilling to rule that idea out just yet. He's got a big arm and good command, last season he struckout 62 batters in 40.1 innings and only walked seven. If he stays healthy at Triple-A and has the type of year he's capable of, Braddock will see time with the big club next year. Whether it's when someone gets hurt or during September call-ups, he's going to be knocking on the door very soon.

This is a very good group of pitchers, there is some real talent here. What is most promising is that, with pitchers like Zach Braddock and Donovan Hand, the team finally has some pitching prospects in Triple-A. Add in the immensely high-ceilinged trio of Odirizzi, Peralta and Scarpetta and the formerly dire pitching prospects start to look, well, good.

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