Farm Report: Outfielders

Depending on Plush 2.0, Logan Schafer could start sometime in 2012

We'll be doing the outfield group a little bit differently.  Too many minor league outfielders see time at all three outfield spots to group them into being a right fielder, left fielder or center fielder.  That said, some players have established themselves in an outfield spot so when those do pop up we'll let you know.

But first, feel obligated to take a look back at the infield:

First Base
Second Base
Third Base

1. Logan Schafer - Centerfielder of the future, probably very near future.  After an injury plagued 2010 season Schafer reclaimed the top spot in the outfield rankings with a strong 2011 campaign.  Schafer hit .315 with a .385 OBP and 33 extra-base hits.  His best success came after a call-up to Nashville, where he hit .331.  A full season at Nashville wouldn't be a bad idea, especially with what could be a packed outfield at the major league level.

2. Caleb Gindl - A corner outfielder most likely, but Gindl has seen a fair amount of time in center.  If he is the future replacement for Corey Hart in right it will be quite the change.  Gindl is 23 years old and only 5'9" but he can hit.  Last season he hit .307 with 15 home runs and 60 runs driven in.  He also walked 63 times.  Gindl won't be on the big club in 2012 but he's knocking on the door pretty loudly now.

3. Khristopher Davis - 2012 is a big year for Davis, after hitting the ball well at Low-A and High-A he struggled mightily in a stint with Double-A Huntsville.  With Wisconsin in 2010 he hit .280 with 22 home runs and in 90 games with Brevard County he hit .309 with 15 homers.  After being promoted to Huntsville he hit the wall, batting .210 with only two home runs in 35 games.  If he can replicate his success from A-ball with Huntsville next year he will be a top prospect, replicating that success will be no small feat though.

4. Brock Kjeldgaard - This may be a little high for Kjeldgaard, but it's hard to overlook his power.  In his last three seasons his home run numbers have been 20, 17 and 24.  Arguably his best season was 2011, when he hit .270 with a .354 OBP and 76 runs driven in.  He even stole 15 bases.  His game is not without holes, but he is a very raw talent and if he continues to improve he could be a legit major leaguer.

5. D'Vontrey Richardson - Speaking of raw talents, Richardson fits very well into that category.  A true five-tool prospect, Richardson has flashed every tool possible in his two seasons but is far from any degree of consistency.  In his two seasons in pro-ball he has played almost exclusively in center.  Last year with Brevard County he hit .284 with 23 extra-base hits and a .327 OBP.  It would seem prudent to give Richardson another season in A-ball to sharpen up a few areas of his game.

6. Kentrail Davis - Another example of why I won't rate players based solely on their draft position, Davis saw his stock dip in 2011.  Considered a five tool prospect, Davis has shown those tools despite not being able to consistently put it all together.  Last season he had 34 extra-base hits and stole 33 bases, but he also hit just .245.  It wouldn't be a surprise to see him bumped to Double-A if the organization thinks stiffer competition will draw better results from him.

7. T.J. Mittelstaedt - A 44th round pick in 2010, Mittlestaedt did a little bit of everything for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers last season.  In the minors he's played left and right field, second and third base and he even pitched a couple innings last season.  At the dish he hit .293 with an impressive .410 OBP and 29 extra-base hits.  Oh and he stole 28 bases.  Mittlestaedt will be with Brevard County in 2012, if not higher.

8. Ruben Ozuna - Ozuna will be 20 when the season starts, he saw time with three teams in his second season in the Brewers organization.  He played 11 games with the Brewers Dominican Summer League affiliate, seven with the rookie Arizona Brewers and 12 with rookie Helena.  Ozuna batted .299 with a .356 OBP and eight extra-base hits.  Nothing outrageously good but it catches your eye.  Expect a little more stability in 2012, in the form of a promotion to Wisconsin or at least a full season with Helena.  You get the feeling the organization wants to see him play.

9. Max Walla - A true project pick, Walla was drafted in the second round in 2009.  He spent his first two professional seasons with rookie level Arizona.  In his first season he hit .201 with a .282 OBP, in season two he hit .252 with a .335 OBP and in his third season (now with rookie Helena) he batted .285 with a .374 OBP.  With Helena he also had 22 extra-base hits and a career high .785 OPS.  Nothing too good, but steady improvement.  It will be interesting to see what Walla can do in 2012, probably with the Timber Rattlers.

10. Lee Haydel - I really don't know what to make of Haydel.  Supposedly he can fly but he was only successful on 17 of 35 stolen bases attempts last year.  He's a career .282 hitter in five seasons but with only a .324 OBP, so he doesn't project as a leadoff hitter.  If he can improve his plate presence and not get caught stealing bases so often he will probably have a chance to reach the majors as a fourth or fifth outfielder someday.  He may have a chance at Nashville's bench in 2012, otherwise it's a third straight season in Double-A.

Final Thoughts - This is the strongest position group for the Brewers organization, with some very high ceiling players. With a big season a guy like Kentrail Davis or D'Vontrey Richardson could shoot to number three on this list.  Both players are very athletic and have had a degree of success so far, but need to develop more consistency before having a shot at the majors.

Schafer and Gindl are about as close to sure things as there are for hitting prospects.  They've had success at every level they've been and seem to be ready for a chance at the majors.  You also have a guy like Brock Kjeldgaard, who has huge power but strikes out a ton and Khristopher Davis, a college hitter who has hit the ball well at every level but faces his biggest test with a full season at Double-A.

Further down the list you have project guys like Ozuna and Walla, who once they start to really take strides in their development could see their stock shoot up.  This is a good group of players and the Brewers have to be happy with their options for the outfield.


Farm Report: Shortstop

Time for some light Monday morning reading in the form of yet another Farm Report, finishing out the infield.  This is a, well, interesting group and I'm not entirely sure what to make of it.  What I can tell you is that you shouldn't expect to see any of these players in the majors anytime soon.

Here's a look back at last weeks prospect rankings:

First Base
Second Base
Third Base 

1. Yadiel Rivera - You'll hear a player described as "toolsy" and that fits the bill for Rivera.  Potential is the word for him.  Only 19 years old, Rivera split time between Low-A Wisconsin and rookie Helena with his most success coming in rookie ball.  For the season he had nine home runs and 43 RBIs with a .236 batting average.  He's got some work to do, but more on that later.  The organization will probably give him another chance at Low-A Wisconsin but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him at Helena for another year of seasoning.

2. Josh Prince - A third round pick in the 2009 draft, Prince is a slap hitter who has hit for decent average but a low OBP.  Last season with a Brevard County he played in 75 games and hit .281 with a career high five home runs.  In three professional seasons he has a .254 career batting average but he's stolen 106 bases in his career. He would seem destined for Double-A in 2012.

3. Mike Brownstein - Brownstein has struggled to stay on the field and so far has been more of a utility player than anything else.  That said, the positions he saw the most amount of playing time at were second base and shortstop, so for our purposes we are putting him at shortstop.  In the 85 games Brownstein played between Wisconsin and Brevard County he hit .261 with a .350 OBP.  So there's that.

4. Hainley Statia - I don't know if we can even call Statia a prospect since he's only spent one year in the Brewers system after spending his first six minor league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels organization.  But, he's still only 25 and has yet to make an appearance in the big leagues.  He also had a solid first season with Double-A Huntsville.  Statia played in 95 games and hit .279 with a .355 OBP and 22 extra-base hits.  It would seem he would get a look at Triple-A Nashville next season.

5. Brandon Macias - Another utility player, Macias was undrafted and signed by the Brewers.  He played in 52 games at two different levels, Arizona Rookie League and Low-A Wisconsin.  He saw time at second base, third base, shortstop and even played a game in left field.  Macias hit .249 with a .335 OBP and 17 extra-base hits.

Final Thoughts - Let's take a look at this group, two utility players, one seven year minor league veteran and two actual shortstops.  Rivera is the only high potential player in this group, showing a decent pop for a shortstop.  But Rivera is very unrefined, he struck out 125 times in 106 games and committed 34 errors.  So while he may have high potential he is a long way from reaching it.

Prince is an interesting prospect, although at his best he would seem to be a place holder for someone with a bigger stick.  That said, if he can consistently hit .270-.280 with 30-40 stolen bases he would be an acceptable starter at shortstop.  Double-A will be a big test for him in 2012.

As for the rest of this group, it's tough to say much.  Brownstein and Macias haven't played enough to get a good read on and they aren't true shortstops.  As for Statia... he would appear the most solid all around prospect in the system.  That said he's been in the minors for seven seasons, that's a long time.

Overall this group is better than it was a year or two ago but it's still not good.  There isn't anyone in this group that seems like they will be helping the major league club anytime soon.  We'll be back tomorrow with the outfield.


Farm Report: Third Base

Taylor Green hit lights out last year, but where
will he be on opening day?
To cap off our first week back from hiatus (that's right, I'm taking Friday off) we'll take a look at the hot corner. Third base, a position with some legit depth but not necessarily a future starter. Or with three future starters, depending how you look at it.

Here's the previous position breakdowns:
First Base
Second Base

1. Taylor Green - Much like Gamel, it may be a little unfair to call Green a prospect still.  But he's never had any consistent playing time in the majors.  Green might have been the only hitter who was better than Mat Gamel in 2011, he hit .336 with 22 home runs and 36 doubles.  He drove in 88 and had OBP over .400 (.413 to be exact).  His white hot summer earned him a call-up to the majors and his .270 average in 37 at-bats earned him a spot on the postseason roster.  His role in 2012 is very unclear, he'll have a chance at making the big league roster but playing time may be hard to come by.  Green can spell Aramis Ramirez at third and Rickie Weeks at second, but that doesn't guarantee very much playing time.  Because of this, it would not be a surprise to see him back with Nashville in 2012, at least when the season starts.

2. Mike Walker - Taking second place by a nose on the third base prospect list is Walker.  He split time between first and third for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2011 and showed decent power in his first season outside of rookie ball.  For the T-Rats last year Walker hit 15 home runs and drove in 72 while hitting .277 with a .387 OBP.  He'll be with Brevard County in 2012 but his real test won't be until he hits Huntsville.

3. Zelous Wheeler - 2011 was a lost year for Zelous Wheeler.  A 19th round pick in 2007 Wheeler had been steadily climbing the Brewers farm system before injuries slowed him down last season.  In his five minor league seasons he is hitting .271 with a .371 OBP.  Wheeler is best defensively at third base, in very limited time at other positions he has struggled mightily.  The next step in his development will be for Triple-A Nashville, but depending on where Taylor Green lands the playing time may not be there.

4. Shea Vucinich - Drafted in the 20th round of the 2010 draft, Vucinich played in 125 games for Brevard County last season.  His numbers were solid, especially considering he bypassed Low-A.  Vucinich batted .260 with a .348 OBP and drove in 51 runs.

5. Kyle Dhanani - Sure, why not.  Dhanani final had a breakthrough offensively in his third professional season.  He hit .266 with two home runs and 28 RBIs in 59 games with Rookie level Helena.  Tough to read what his future is, but it was likely enough to keep him around for another year.

Final Thoughts - Good group, a lot of guys who could have a role on a major league club.  Green looks like a potential starter and if his minor league stats are any indication he could be a future star.  But the team is not quite convinced, having signed Aramis Ramirez to a three-year deal.  That being said, Ramirez could be viewed as a first or third baseman, which means you have three players for two spots (Gamel, Green and Ramirez) and only one of those players has a history of big league success.  Have to like the front office hedging their bets there.

As for Walker and Wheeler, time will tell.  Wheeler right now looks like he could contribute offensively, at least off the bench, but his defense and lack of experience at a position besides third base would cause doubts that he could serve as a utility player.  And for a player with only 43 home runs in five seasons starting at third base is almost completely out of the question.

Walker could be a legit prospect, but he's more defensively polished at first base than third.  Also as a college hitter success at lower levels of the minor leagues should be expected.  His first big test may not be until he reaches Double-A Huntsville, which likely won't be until 2013.

Stay tuned, we'll be back next week Monday to finish up the infield.


Farm Report: Second Base

Day three of our position-by-position look at the Milwaukee Brewers farm system brings us to the middle infield, second base to be specific.  And for a change this group features one of the organizations top prospects.

Here's a look back at our first two position breakdowns:
First Base

1. Scooter Gennett - Ryan Gennett, or 'Scooter' if you will, was drafted by the Brewers in the 16th round in 2009.  He fell in the draft due to signing concerns but Milwaukee felt they would be able to strike a deal.  He didn't play in 2009 (it took a while to sign) and made his debut the following season.  Last season Gennett hit .300 with nine home runs and drove in 51 runs while scoring 74 times for High-A Brevard County.  He'll start next season with Double-A Huntsville.

2. Eric Farris - Farris had a nice bounce back year with Nashville a season ago.  After struggling through a knee injury in 2010, he came back for the Sounds and hit .271 with 37 extra-base hits.  Farris never played at Double-A and it would seem he's headed for another year with Nashville.

3. Nick Shaw - An interesting prospect, Nick Shaw has tremendous eye at the plate, maybe the best in the Brewers farm system.  Last season Shaw had a .260 average for Wisconsin last year but to go along with that mediocre average his OBP was .374.  He walked 82 times for the Timber Rattlers last season.  Shaw has split time between second and shortstop, so he projects out as more of a utility payer for the time being.

4. Sergio Miranda - In five seasons in the minor leagues, Miranda is a .286 hitter with a .347 OBP.  His career year came in 2010 when he drove in 71 runs with 18 doubles.  Last year with Huntsville he took a step back, hitting .270 and driving in only 29 RBIs.  He'll likely be the odd man out in the shuffle and promotions for 2012.  With Farris at Nashville and Gennett at Huntsville, Miranda seems destined for a bench role next season.

5. Adrian Williams - Choices are few and very far between after the top four in this group, we'll give it to Williams.  He was drafted in the 45th round a year ago and played in 56 games for Rookie Helena, batting .238.  Williams is only 21 so who knows what will happen next for him.

Final Thoughts - Second base can be labeled a strength, mostly on the wheels of Scooter Gennett.  He has some power (18 home runs in his first two seasons) and he projects as probably a lead-off or number two hitter, unless his power improves.  The concern with Gennett is his defense, in two seasons he has committed 43 errors at second base.  Still, he's a station to station guy so if his defense improves he could be a replacement for Rickie Weeks in a few seasons.

Farris is a solid prospect, although it's not clear whether Milwaukee views him as a future starter or a bench player.  He's got good speed, 70 stolen bases in 2009 and is a career .289 hitter through five minor league seasons.  His near future is likely as a bench player and it wouldn't be surprising if he had a chance to win a spot on a big club out of spring training.

All-in-all this is a group that features 2-3 players who could contribute at the major league level and one of which has the tools to be a future all-star.


Farm Report: First Base

Meet your 2012 First Baseman, Crew Fans
For round two of our look at the Brewers farm system, we continue our trip around the infield with an in-depth look at Milwaukee's first base prospects.  First base is one of the better positional groups though maybe without than the high-end prospects the team has had in the past (Prince Fielder).

1. Mat Gamel - It may not be fair to call Gamel a prospect anymore, but for the purposes of this ranking he is.  Gamel should start the 2012 season as the starting first baseman and his stats at Triple-A would say he has little left to accomplish in the Minors.  Gamel hit .310 with a career high 28 home runs and 96 RBIs last year.

2. Hunter Morris - Drafted in the 2nd round in 2010, Morris played the majority of his season with Brevard County, batting .274 with 20 home runs and 69 RBIs for the season.  He did have a brief stay with Double-A Huntsville, in four games with the Stars he batted .353 with a home run and two RBIs.

3. Sean Halton - Halton is a player who has consistently hit for average throughout the minor leagues, that was a trend that continued for him in 2011.  For the year he hit .298 with only seven home runs but with an impressive 39 doubles (that was fourth in the Southern League).

4. Cody Hawn - Another high-round corner infielder drafted in 2010 for Milwaukee, Hawn entered pro ball after being drafted in the 6th round.  It was actually the second time Milwaukee drafted him, they first drafted him in 2007 in the 23rd round but he elected college ball instead.  Hawn saw his power dip in his second year as a pro, he hit only six home runs, but he did hit .294 for Low-A Wisconsin in 2011.

5. Nick Ramirez - One more corner infielder drafted high by the Brewers, this time in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, almost like they were planning for a first base opening or something.  In his first 59 games as a professional he hit 11 home runs and drove in 53 with a .271 batting average.

Final Thoughts - This is one of the better position groups in the organization, though Gamel seems to have the best upside of any of these players.  That said, he hasn't been able to make the transition to the majors in the short stints he's been in the big leagues.  He'll get the chance next year as an every day player but it's good to know the organization has planned for other options.

Morris and Hawn would combine to make a really top tier prospect but each has holes in their game.  Morris has good power - as evidenced by his home run totals - but his walk count is awful.  A .274 batting average is good but a .301 OBP from a first baseman is just unacceptable.  Hawn is the opposite, his power dipped last year but his OBP was very nice.  To go with his .294 average, Hawn had a .382 OBP.  He walked 51 times in 101 games, not too shabby.

Sean Halton is another interesting prospect, but his game is not without holes.  He will likely be at Triple-A next year and it should be a defining year in his development.  The good? Through three seasons in the minors Halton has a .301 average and .352 OBP.  The Bad? Through those three seasons he only has 23 home runs.  So the question is can he succeed as a doubles hitter and hit for a high enough average to be a productive major leaguer.

As for Ramirez, he's a ways from contributing to at the major league level.  He put up big power numbers in his first year but his average took a huge dip when he was promoted from Rookie Helena to Low-A Wisconsin, for the Timber Rattlers he batted only .197 in 36 games for the T-Rats.

Options, that's what this group offers the Milwaukee Brewers.  If Gamel pans out then you have trade bait or possibly a player you could move to a corner outfield spot as a replacement for Corey Hart (although outfield prospects are aplenty in the Brewers system).  If Gamel doesn't work out this is a group of guys that, with seasoning, could be major league contributors.


Farm Report: Catchers

With the open of spring training and a new season getting closer by the day, it's time to take an in-depth look at the Milwaukee Brewers farm system.  So here we stand, taking a position by position look at the organization's depth going into the new season.

A couple notes, I don't like to rate players based on draft position, so I won't.  After seeing Eric Arnett drafted in the first round, get rated high by numerous people (myself included) and thus far be an abject failure as a professional it seem senseless to say a player will be a success until he's played in the minors.  What this means is that you will see no mention of top picks Jed Bradley or Taylor Jungmann in the pitcher rankings.

Another word about my rankings, I value success at Triple-A more than success in rookie ball - regardless of draft position.  The level of competition is higher and good numbers against better competition warrant more notice.

Without further ado, here are your preseason 2012 catcher rankings:

1. Martin Maldonado - Signed as a minor league free agent in 2007, Maldonado is an excellent defender with a strong arm.  2011 was his best year as a pro, splitting time between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville, he hit .287 with a .373 OBP and 11 home runs.

2. Shawn Zarraga - Zarraga was a 44th round pick for the Brewers in 2007 and has quietly hit the ball well for two consecutive seasons.  For Brevard County in 2010 he batted .281 with a .380 OBP and followed that up with a .272 average and .325 OBP in a second consecutive season with the Manatees.  It would seem  Zarraga is due for a promotion to Double-A Huntsville for 2012, but the organization tends to bounce catchers around quite a bit.

3. Parker Berberet - Drafted in the 25th round of last year's amateur draft, Berberet was not exclusive to the catcher position in his first season, he also saw time at first base.  But until his position is more defined we will slot him into the catcher category.  In his first season he hit .240 with a .325 OBP and 24 extra base hits. As a college hitter there should be an expectation of early success however and the next season-plus will be very telling.

4. Cameron Garfield - The organization has to be hoping that Garfield will be one to watch, though 2011 was one to forget.  The former second round pick played in only 15 games due to injury a season ago.  depending on his health, he will likely start his season with Low-A Wisconsin.

5. Joey Paciorek - Not a ton to say about Paciorek, besides that after struggling as a corner infielder for the the his first three seasons he was moved behind the plate in 2011 and finally had success in A-Ball.  He hit .257 with 15 extra-base hits in 47 games.  His likely destination in 2012 is back with Wisconsin for another season. Although depending on the organization's view of his defense he could be up to Brevard County. 

Honorable Mention - Tyler Roberts (Helena)

Final Thoughts - It would be incorrect to call this a position of strength but it would also be a mistake to call it a weak spot.  Maldonado seems to be the only player with big upside, though his consistency leaves a lot to be desired.  Maldonado had never hit better than .254 in a season prior to his breakout performance a season ago.  If he hit with consistency his defense could - potentially - make him a starter at the big league level but he should have a good chance at winning the backup job for Milwaukee in 2012.

You could shuffle the order of the next four names and you wouldn't get any objection from me.  All four players have shown some upside but none have done enough to warrant consideration as top prospects.  Garfield has, at times, seemed like he could have a major league future and he'll be only 20 when the season starts.  If he can come out with a big season his stock would rise very quickly.

Overall this group features a bunch of solid players, but none that have distinguished themselves as a potential future starter.