Midseason Farm Report: Catchers

The halfway point of the minor league season has come and gone, but not gone is the chance to do a little recouping of the Brewers farm system.  If you'll recall back to January I took a shot at positional rankings of Milwaukee's minor leaguers, my rankings - stat based (not WAR) and completely lacking scouting reports.  I like doubles and walks, but even more so I like players who are consistent and succeed at higher levels of the minors.

Take it as you will, but here are my rankings from earlier this year:

First Base
Second Base
Third Base
Relief Pitcher
Starting Pitcher

So we revisit these illustrious rankings with a little mid-season update.  Leading the way for the position group is the catchers, here's a look where they stood in the offseason:

1. Martin Maldonado
2. Shawn Zarraga
3. Parker Berberet
4. Cameron Garfield
5. Joey Paciorek

And without further ado, where they stand here in July.

It's still this guy, how great is this picture?
1. Martin Maldonado - Barely, just barely, am I willing to maintain Maldonado's prospect status but it's retained none the less.  Maldonado was the no-brainer call-up after the fluke injury to Jonathan Lucroy back in May and since then he's been about as good as anyone could have hoped for.  Maldonado is batting .267 (4th on the team) with five home runs and 16 runs batted in.  What's more important, his defense has been as advertised (by which I mean really good).

A decision will need to be made when Lucroy returns from his broken hand, but Maldanado has made that a difficult choice for Brewers brass to make.  Don't be surprised to see current backup catcher George Kottaras traded around the time Milwaukee makes that choice.

2. Cameron Garfield - The nice thing about prep players is that when a season is lost, early, to injury they are still young enough that development won't (usually) be horribly delayed.  Garfield only saw action in 15 games last year but he seems to be bouncing back nicely in 2012... and he's only 21 years old.  Since returning to a starting role for the Timber Rattlers at the end of may he's played in 22 games and batted .314 with a .392 on-base percentage.  It's doubtful he'll get promoted this year but it's good to see him back on the field.

3. Clint Coulter - With a sigh do I rate Coulter this high.  As I've said I don't like to rate a player based on their draft position but that's all I have to go on for this year's first round pick (by the way the new signing rules regarding draft picks is going to do wonders for player development).  Coulter was the top pick for Milwaukee in 2012 and is currently with the rookie league Arizona Brewers.  Eight games into his first pro season and he's 3-for-31 with a triple, home run and four driven in.  In other words, not going anywhere soon, but then he's also only 18 years old.

4. Parker Berberet - It's a wash between the four and five spots, but Berberet gets the slight nod thanks in part to the numbers he put up last season when he hit seven home runs and drove in 40 for Helena.  This year he started out with Low-A Wisconsin and was promoted to Brevard County after an injury to our number five guy, Shawn Zarraga.  In 36 games between Rattlers and the Manatees Berberet has hit .261 with a .343 on-base percentage.  The power has been absent however, as he's only managed six extra-base hits in 119 at-bats.

5. Shawn Zarraga - Before going down with an injury (anyone know what it was?) the 23-year-old Zarraga was off to a nice start for Brevard County.  Through his first 28 games he was batting .292 with a .384 on-base percentage.  With six doubles, a triple and two home runs he still has more extra-base hits than Berberet.  All this adds up to Zarraga likely finding it easy to move ahead of the player that took his spot once he returns from injury.

Off the List - Joey Paciorek - Backing up Berberet at Brevard County is Paciorek.  He's not doing a bad job, he has a .255 average with eight runs batted in, but he's still the backup.  Would I really rate the backup ahead of the starter? Don't answer that.

Final Thoughts - We are past the halfway point of the minor league season and there hasn't been a ton of change in this ranking.  That could change drastically by the end of the year though, Maldonado should stick in the big leagues and be off this list, Coulter could show why he's a first round pick and Garfield could start flashing more power.  Realistically though expect to see this same group of names, maybe with some shuffling of the order, when these rankings are updated next.