1.23.2012

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.

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