The Farm Report: April 27

It's time for the first full-fledged farm report of the 2010 season. The sampling size is large enough to get a good feel for how the Brewers prospects are playing through the seasons first month. There are some status affirming performances (Jonathon Lucroy, Lorenzo Cain) and even a few early disappointments. Let's get to it.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Low A)

Peter Fatse - IF/OF - He may not have a position yet, but the 2009 24th round pick is off to a very hot start for the Timber Rattlers. In the 11 games he's played Fatse has 3 triples and 2 home runs while batting .417. He did see some extended time with the T-Rats a year ago so a hot start isn't that surprising, but this good of a start warrants notice.

Chris Dennis - OF - Dennis saw some time last season with Wisconsin, but was hampered by injuries. In limited time in 2009 he hit .312 with four homers and a .404 OBP, so far this season he's done well to prove those numbers weren't an aberration, batting .310 with an impressive .459 OBP.

Ryan Gennett - 2B/SS - Gennett signed late last year, he was a 16th round pick, and saw no playing time in 2009. In his first taste of pro ball he's gotten off to a nice start, batting .320 with a .446 OBP. Keep on eye on him if you head up to the valley, at 5'9" he'll probably be easy to spot.

Jake Odorizzi - SP - The highly touted Odorizzi has the good fortune of being overshadowed by last year's first round pick (Eric Arnett) in the rotation with him. Having taken a back seat to the hype Arnett will draw, Odirizzi has been the T-Rats best starter. He has an ERA of 1.50 and a minuscule .75 WHIP. Throw in 19 K's in 12 innings and you've got a terrific April.

Eric Arnett - SP - Speaking of last year's first rounder, Arnett has been bad. His command has been there, he's only walked two against nine strikeouts, but he's been hit around a ton. Arnett's WHIP is 1.63 and he's given up four long balls, most on the team.

Kyle Heckathorn - P - Heckathorn has been much better, his ERA is 2.25 and he's only given up 6 hits in 8 innings. It's still undetermined whether he'll be a starter or reliever but as long as he pitches well he's got a good chance at the majors.

Best of the Rest: Caleb Thielbar - RP - has an ERA of 2.63 in 13.2 innings, Kristopher Davis - LF - is batting .317 through 16 games and is tied for the team lead in hits with 20

Brevard County Manatees (High A)

Erik Komatsu - OF - The 5'10" Komatsu is off to a nice start, he's second on the team with a .338 average and has nine extra base hits in 16 games, he also leads the Manatees with 33 total bases. His problem of late has been staying healthy and on the field, it would be nice to see what he can do in a full season.

Kentrail Davis - OF - Davis is a very high ceiling player and was considered advanced enough that the Brewers assigned him to High A for his first professional action. In the seven games he's played he is batting .333. Keep an eye on him, he could climb the ladder quickly.

Wily Peralta - SP - The righty Peralta has had a mostly good 2010 so far. His overall numbers are solid, an ERA of 3.00 and 21 strikeouts in 21 innings but his walks are a bit high, he's given the free pass to 10 batters already. That's an area he will need to improve on as the season marches on.

Michael Fiers - SP/RP - Seriously who is this guy? Fiers burst on the scene last year with impressive command as a reliever and is now starting for Brevard County. He has done very well for the Manatees too, sporting a 1.88 ERA and WHIP of just .92. If he keeps it up a promotion to Double-A is inevitable.

Cody Scarpetta - SP/RP - Not good. A 1.92 WHIP and 6.00 ERA pretty much sum up Scarpetta's April. His command has just not been there yet this season but there is plenty of time to turn it around.

Best of the Rest: Nick Green - RP - has an ERA of 1.04 in his rebirth as a closer, Lefty Daniel Meadows - RP - has continued to pitch well, he has an ERA of 2.70 in 13.1 innings.

Huntsville Stars (AA)

Lorenzo Cain - CF - It appears Cain was as disappointed with his 2009 as the rest of us were and he is determined to bounce back in a big way. Through the first 17 games of the year he's hit .380 with 19 runs scored. There have been reports that he's been placed on the DL with a hamstring injury so we'll keep an eye on that.

Taylor Green - 3B - Green is another guy looking for a bounce-back year, after preseason wrist surgery caused him trouble in 2009. He's batting .328 on the young season and has hit 10 doubles all while driving in 13, which is tied for the team high.

Caleb Gindl - RF - He can hit and he continues to prove it. Gindl is batting .299 and is tied for the team lead with 13 RBI's. Also his two homers lead the team. What is most promising are his early returns against left-handed pitching, Gindl has six hits in 13 at-bats giving him a .459 average. For the left-handed Gindl, hitting lefties would be a big step forward.

Brett Lawrie - 2B - Good and bad so far for Lawrie. The good: He's got 3 triples and has driven in 12. The bad: Lawrie is only batting .225 and has struck out 23 times in 18 games. Keep in mind he hasn't played at High-A so he's skipping a level of the minor leagues by playing at Huntsville this year.

Amaury Rivas - SP - You might like to see longer starts out of Rivas but his performances have been very good so far. Through four starts Rivas has a .78 ERA and holds a 3-0 record. He's walked 11 batters so far, which is something he'll need to improve on, but last year he was far more impressive in the second half of the season.

Mark Rogers - SP - Same complaint as Rivas, you'd like to see more innings out of Rogers (he's made three starts and pitched 13.1 innings) but it is early in the season so it's not a major concern. Rogers isn't strikeout:walk numbers aren't as strong (12:10) but he's kept his ERA down (1.98) and has plenty to improve on as the season progresses.
Best of the Rest - Zelous Wheeler - 3B - is batting .306 with a .433 OBP, Jim Henderson - RP - has an ERA of 1.35 through 13.1 innings.

Nashville Sounds (AAA)

Jonathan Lucroy - C - After raking in Double-A (he hit .452) Lucroy was bumped up to Nashville to start in place of Angel Salome, who has landed on the Temporary Inactive list. What has Lucroy done for the Sounds? Oh just bat .400 through his first six games. So yea, Gregg Zaun, how about that.

Eric Farris - 2B - Another second baseman who has skipped a level of the minors, Farris made the jump from Brevard County to Nashville in 2009. He has held his own so far, batting .278 through 19 games. A stolen base expert, Farris has swiped four without being caught.

Adam Heether - 3B/UTIL - Heether is hitting for power in the early part of the season, he has five home runs, but his average is painfully low at only .205. Heether does have 13 RBI's though, expect to see that batting average go up.

Marco Estrada - SP - The waiver wire claim has been the best starter in the Nashville rotation in the season's first month. His WHIP is a very impressive .83 and he's kept his ERA under three (2.74).

Tim Dillard - RP - His new delivery has really seemed to settle in since the Triple-A season started. Dillard has yet to walk a batter through 14 innings and has an ERA of 1.93. He'd be better than Jeff Suppan.

Zach Braddock - RP - I think the word you would use to describe Braddock would be "dominant." He's been lights out, striking out 17 and walking only two in 9.2 innings and has yet to give up a run. Braddock will see time in the majors this season, the only question is when. Yea, he'd probably be better than Suppan too.

John Axford - RP - Seems like the choices in Triple-A are pretty good for relief pitchers. Axford is also off to a good start, his ERA is 3.24 and he's struck out 12 while walking only three. If he can keep his command he'll likely see time with the big club before long as well. Also better than Suppan.

Mitch Stetter - RP - Not really a prospect, but Stetter was sent down to make room for the 14.5 million dollar man, Jeff Suppan. For the Sounds the Brewers only lefty specialist has pitched 6.1 innings and has yet to give up a run. Should I say it? Yea... better than Suppan.

I think what we've learned is that Jeff Suppan has no business being on the major league roster and there are plenty of minor league pitchers that could do his job better than he can.


Farm Report: Who to Watch

We all know the Major League season is in full swing, but the Minors are also underway. With a handful of games under their belts, it's time to take a look at who to watch for level by level in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system here in 2010.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Low A)

For the second straight season the Brewers home state affiliate will feature some of the top pitching prospects in the organization. Along with a strong core of high potential pitchers there is a smattering of position players who could make this a very interesting team to watch this year.

Five to Watch

1. Eric Arnett - RHP - The Brewers top pick in 2009, Arnett will start his first full professional season with Wisconsin. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him finish the year in Brevard County, but he'll need to perform in Low A first.

2. Kyle Heckathorn - RHP - The second pitcher the team drafted in 2009, Heckathorn will also be pitching for the T-Rats this season. Heckathorn is a two-pitch pitcher at this stage in his career and will need to improve his off-speed stuff if he's going to stay a starter.

3. Jake Od0rizzi - RHP - A compensation pick in 2008, Odorizzi is considered more of a long-term project. In a few years some think he could be a stud starter but as a high school pitcher it's hard to really know what he brings to the table. Definitely one to keep an eye if you head to Time Warner Field.

4. Cameron Garfield - C - Another high pick from the 2009 draft, Garfield hit .248 for rookie level Helena a year ago. He's going to get the majority of the playing time behind the plate and it'll be interesting to see how he improves in year two.

5. D'Vontrey Richardson - OF - A two sport athlete at Florida State, Richardson will be a full-time baseball player this year. Considered very athletic, he's a project nonetheless. It may take a while but if he does develop he could be an entertaining player.

All Eyes On - Eric Arnett - You'll hear about Odirizzi and Heckathorn and a few other players but Arnett is a first round draft pick and as such, he'll be the focus of attention while he is with Wisconsin. Arnett made his debut with the Rattlers on Monday and gave up four earned runs in 4.1 innings. He didn't walk anyone, but he'll need to be much better.

Sleeper - Sean Halton - Halton (left) hit the ball very well at two different levels in the Crew's minor league system last season. At 6'5" he's certainly got the size and he hit .345 in 69 minor league games in 2009. A 13th round pick, a big year in 2010 could put him on the map as a first base prospect.

Brevard County Manatee (High A)

The pitching is what really stands out on the Brevard team. The Manatees will feature most of the good young pitchers that stood out for the Timber Rattlers a year ago. Mix in a few interesting hitters like Brock Kjeldgaard and Kentrail Davis and you've got a chance to see more than a few players who could find their way to the majors in the next several seasons.

Five to Watch

1. Kentrail Davis - OF - Milwaukee is very high on outfielder Kentrail Davis, so high, in fact that he's made his professional debut with the Brevard County club, bypassing low A entirely. Davis has drawn high praise and is off to a nice start batting .333. Keep an eye on him, his path to the big leagues could be short.

2. Wily Peralta - RHP - Peralta was eye catching if you saw him pitch for Wisconsin a year ago. He throws a mid-90s fastball with good secondary stuff. If he continues to improve he could be one of the top pitchers in the system. His first appearance was fantastic, he gave up only four hits over six innings while striking out eight.

3. Cody Scarpetta -RHP - The clock is already ticking on Scarpetta's option years, due to an invalidated rookie contract. He'll be making it to the big leagues sooner than later. He needs to be more consistent with his command, his first start was disastrous, walking six and giving up four runs in 2.1 innings.

4. Jeremy Jeffress - RHP - Make or break time for Jeffress. Once he comes off his second substance abuse suspension he'll have to show immediate improvement and a commitment to the game. Beyond that, he'll have to stay on the field. It remains to be seen whether or not he truly is over his drug problems but you have to hope, for his sake, that he is.

5. Brent Brewer - 3B/SS - The most athletic player in the Brewers farm system has to be running out of chances. He's heading into his third straight season with Brevard County and saw his batting average drop from .251 to .222. He'll need to show marked improvement to stay in baseball much longer.

All Eyes On - Jeremy Jeffress - A $100 million arm and five cent brain, that might be one way to describe the physically gifted Jeffress. Still, since his 100-game suspension he's said all the right things and appears to be making the right decisions. It's up to him now to find out whether he is going to be a future star, or another 100 mph arm that never panned out.

Sleeper: Michael Fiers - Fiers showed off his impressive command in climbing to Brevard County in his first pro season last year as a reliever. This year the Brewers seem interested in giving him a chance to be a starting pitcher. We'll see how he does in year two of his professional career.

Huntsville Stars (AA)

The Stars might be the team to watch in the Crew's farm system. Loaded with pitching and hitting prospects, this has the potential to be a very entertaining team to watch. The Brewers minor league hitter of the year will be headed there once he is off the DL and last years minor league pitcher of the year (Amaury Rivas) is already there.

Five to Watch

1. Brett Lawrie - 2B - The Canadian hitter was deemed advanced enough to bypass a second year of A-Ball entirely. Whether he stays at second base or finds himself somewhere else on the diamond he started his 2010 season off with a bang, he finished a double shy of the cycle in just his third game.

2. Lorenzo Cain - OF - After an injury filled 2009 campaign Cain saw his stock fall in the eyes of many. But, 2010 is another year and a fine spring has put him back high on the Brewers top prospect list. He's on a talented team with Huntsville this year and with a strong season could find himself with the big club by the end of the year.

3. Jonathan Lucroy - C - So Lucroy goes from having the chance to win a major league roster spot to being sent back to Double-A for a second season. Nothing like helping a players development by keeping him out of the level of the minors where players learn the most (AAA). Still, Lucroy did have some areas to improve on from last year, notably power and run production. He's the catcher of the future and with Gregg Zaun's 0-18 start the future may be sooner than later.

4. Mark Rogers - RHP - If Rogers has a big year in Double-A he could climb to the top of the Brewers pitching prospect lists. Two things need to happen for him to help the big club this year or next, longer starts and health. Here's rooting for the kid from Maine.

5. Amaury Rivas - RHP - The 2009 minor league pitcher of the year for the Milwaukee Brewers, Rivas has taken a while to develop but the Crew's patience was affirmed. If he can build on his outstanding '09 campaign with another big year for Huntsville, the dire state of pitching in Milwaukee's farm system suddenly becomes quite the opposite.

All Eyes On - Jonathan Lucroy - C - Lawrie might be the higher rated prospect (by a lot) but there are no bones being made about him contributing to the Major League team this year or even next, though 2011 might not be out of the question. Lucroy, on the other hand, could be the starting catcher by the end of the year. The pressure is on the former Ragin' Cajun and a down year in his second stint in Double-A would greatly dampen his chances.

Sleeper - Steffan Wilson - 1B/RF/LF - Who is Steffan Wilson? That was the question being asked when the first baseman/corner outfielder was added to the spring training roster. Well Wilson has quietly put up solid numbers over his three minor leagues seasons. Over that time he's hit .288 with 44 home runs and 200 driven in. He turned some heads in spring training and he could turn even more in Huntsville this year.

Nashville Sounds (AAA)

The Nashville roster isn't quite as prospect-laden as Milwaukee's other affiliates, but there are a few prospects to keep on eye on. Most of the players with the sounds this year seem well poised to step in with the big club in case of injury or ineffectiveness.

Five to Watch

1. Zach Braddock - LHP - A hard throwing lefty with pinpoint command, Braddock is one of the top young arms on the Farm. If he can stay healthy he's viewed by many as a possible future closer. At one time there was thought he could be a starter but injury troubles have put that thought out of mind.

2. Mat Gamel - 3B - Everything that could go wrong for Mat Gamel seems to have gone wrong in the last month. He showed a level of commitment that the front office likes to see this spring but was sidelined by a shoulder injury. It's not likely he'll be able to step right in and produce until he's fully healed, but when he does he'll need to rebuild his stock. With Casey Mcgehee's production with the big club it would seem Gamel's route to the big leagues is blocked. It would seem.

3. Angel Salome - C - Similar to Gamel, Salome had a chance to establish himself last year but injuries and defensive questions hampered his 2009. He'll need a big year to prove to the front office that he can be the catcher of the future of Lucroy, but at this point he would seem more like trade bait.

4. John Axford - RHP - Another player that impressed this spring, the 6'5" Axford is viewed very favorably by management and the coaching staff. Axford throws hard and when he can maintain his command he can be a dominant relief pitcher. He'll see time with the big club before the season is over.

5. Adam Heether - 3B/UTIL - If Heether can repeat his success from a year ago he will put himself in talks for a roster spot this year (in case of injury) and next year. He plays multiple positions and hit for average (.296) and power (18 HRs) a year ago. Putting those numbers up in back to back years would be impressive.

All Eyes On - Mat Gamel - Many will be interested in Braddock's performance in 2010, but he has less to prove. Braddock will be making his first appearance in Triple-A. Gamel on the other hand, had success in the majors and minors last year then fell apart. He'll need to re-establish himself as one of the best minor league hitters in the organization.

Sleeper - Brendan Katin - OF - With the confidence lost in Corey Hart at the major league level, one has to wonder if Katin finally figures out how to draw a walk that he could get a shot at the big leagues. He's off to a great start this year, with four walks and three home runs in the first four games of the year.
Keep an eye out, the Farm Reports have begun anew.


How The Brewers Spend April Fools Day

It is a well established fact that baseball players are known pranksters. So, on the holiest of days for pranksters, April Fools, what sort of shenanigans do ball players pull? I recently didn't sit down with some of the Brewers player, but if I had, here is what they might have told me.

Ryan Braun
Oh man, I L-U-V me some April Fools Days, and I am the master. Just this morning, I replaced Corey Hart's clothing with some crap I bought from Wal-Mart. Well, I didn't buy it, I paid some kid to, Ryan Braun doesn't step foot in a Wal-Mart! Anyways, Corey doesn't even realize he's been walking around wearing clothing from Wal-Mart! HAHAHA, oh man, I got him hella good. I don't think he even noticed that he is wearing, Wr (laughs), Wrang, (laughs), WRANGLERS!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Prince Fielder
I like to keep it simple, basically all day I just pretend like I'm going to punch Manny Parra. Let me tell you, he flinches so much every time, it's great! I also called a left a threatening voice mail to Russell Martin of the Dodgers.

Rickie Weeks
This morning first thing I did was call Doug Melvin up and told him I fell last night and re-injured my wrist. I don't think he liked that actually......I should probably avoid him.

Corey Hart
I hung a dead opossum in Jim Edmonds' locker, and also filled his Nalgene bottle with some straight Kentucky moonshine. He'll get a pleasant surprise after his morning workout when he goes to take a drink of "water". I also deflated Jim's tires and egged his house. Oh, it's April Fools Day? Didn't even realize. Well, that still doesn't explain why someone would give me these sweet new threads? I mean, this might be the nicest shirt and jeans combo I've ever owned.

Alcides Escobar
I promised my ex I'd send child support.

Craig Counsell
April Fools? Oh, I have a good one for you, watch this:

Counsell: "HEY BRAUNIE, ass-sphincter says what?"
Braun: "WHAT?"
Counsell: "AAAA HAHA, April Fools!"
Braun: "Good one Craig, 1992 called and would like their joke back."

Jeff Suppan
I don't partake in such childish things. I'm busy today, trying to figure out how I can donate $12.5 million dollars back into the Milwaukee community. ... ... ... APRIL FOOLS! Nah, yeah, I'm keeping that money.

Trevor Hoffman
Shhh, keep this quiet, but before Coffey goes out to pitch, I'm putting some heat into his underwear.....I bet he sets a new sprinting record to the mound!

Ken Macha
Ohhh, I suppose I could fool these boys. I think that maybe I'll go argue a call, make them think I'm actually going to get thrown out of a game. Then, right as I'm about to get run, I'll just turn around and walk back to the dugout. I never cease to amaze myself.