1.24.2012

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.

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