Milwaukee Brewers 2011 Minor League Review
Overall farm ranking via Baseball America (2011)
2011 (30) | 2010 (14) | 2009 (10) | 2008 (21) | 2007 (5) | 2006 (5) | 2005 (3) | 2004 (1)

Record of Major and Minor League Teams
MLB: [94-65] NL Central (record as of 9/25/11
AAA: [71-73] Pacific Coast League – Nashville
AA: [64-73] Southern League – Huntsville
A+: [62-76] Florida League – Brevard County
A: [67-72] Midwest League – Wisconson
R: [30-46] Pioneer League – Helena
R: [17-39] Arizona League

The Run Down
Prior to the 2011 season start, the Brewers made several trades that depleted their farm system of top talent. They traded Brett Lawrie to Toronto for Shaun Marcum, and then traded Jake Odorizzi, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and Jeremy Jeffress to the Royals for Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt. GM Doug Melvin played the “Future is Now” card and since it’s the end of the season, it’s fair to say that the trades were worth the initial investment. However, if the Brewers cannot resign Fielder and recoup some of their prospect loses, the long-term effects could cause many negative ripples. Prior to the Odorizzi trade, the Brewers had the worst farm system in professional baseball. Nothing changed from Opening day to the last day of the season. With a depleted farm system, the Brewers are laden with role players and bullpen arms within their minor league system. Future depth will take years to rebuild; if injuries occur…. Well, see the 2011 Minnesota Twins season.

Graduating Prospects

Arizona Fall League Players – Peoria Javelinas
Pitchers: Jed Bradley (LHP); #26 Brandon Kintzler (RHP; second year in a row); Santo Manzanillo (RHP); Dan Meadows (LHP); Cody Scarpetta (RHP):
Hitters: #6 – Scooter Gennett (2B); Zelous Wheeler (SS); #7 – Kentrail Davis (LF); #16 – Logan Schafer (CF)

Players of Interest
*Rankings are currently from Baseball America 2011
#15 Caleb Gindl | LF: At just 22, Gindl hit .307/.390/.472 in 438 at-bats at Triple-A with 43 XBH (15 Hr), 6 steals in 11 attempts and a 93:63 K:BB ratio. Has a compact swing with good gap power, average homer power, strong strike zone discipline but his speed is below average, even if he is a smart baserunner. More of a left fielder than right fielder, albeit, left field will be manned by Ryan Braun for many years to come. Scouts call him a “squattier Brian Giles.” See Scouting the Unknown article for further details.

#9 Eric Farris | 2B/SS: Received a brief call-up when Rickie Weeks went down with an injury, before acquisition of Hairston Jr. He has a solid swing and plays excellent defense. Offensively, he is a singles hitter with a tendency to steal bases. Possesses plus-speed and good instincts on the base paths. Stole 70 bases in 2009 at High-A. However, looks to be more of a 20 to 25 steals player over a full season.

Taylor Green | 3B: To quote myself from the 2010 Minor League Review, “Had a compression fracture on his left wrist at the end of 2008 season [which] affected 2009 season. [In 2010, wrist injury appeared to have linger effects] … Before injury, had 20 home run potential. Baseball America states he does a good job controlling the strike zone, hits line drives and is a contact hitter … Green still has the peripherals to be a quiet sleeper, like in the Casey McGehee mold.” Amazing what the Pacific Coast League can do for hitters. Slash .336/.413/.583 in 420 at-bats with 59 XBH (22 Hr) and 72:55 K:BB ratio. The numbers were bolstered by a .360 BABIP and a friendly hitting environment. However, the power stroke is legitimate. Nevertheless, the Brewers third base position is filled by the same type of player in McGehee, who happens to be a pending a free agent.

#16 Logan Schafer | CF: Due to a hernia in 2010 and when he returned, he fouled a ball off his right foot and broke it. He has gap power, but focuses mainly on making contact. Has Gold Glove-caliber defense. His hitting will make him a fourth outfielder. Nothing he does, besides defense, is noteworthy. In deeper leagues, if given at-bats could provide some moderate speed.

#5 Wily Peralta | RHP (SP): Ranked as my 25th overall fantasy prospect in my Top 50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects for 2012. To quote myself from that list, “[Peralta] is easily the Brewers top prospect. Throws a straight 92 to 94 MPH fastball with a good slider and slightly above-average change-up. Physically able to handle heavy workload, mechanically sound. A right-handed Ted Lilly.” Should be the first pitcher the Brewers call up if there is an injury.

#4 Cody Scarpetta | RHP (SP): From a raw talent perspective, Scarpetta could be a solid number three starter with his 90 to 94 MPH fastball, the best curveball in the system and a sound changeup. As with many young pitchers, control is a constant battle. Career 9.5 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 pitcher. His strikeout rate dropped this year from 10.0 K/9 in 2010 to 7.5 K/9. Additional concerns include Scarpetta’s body. He’s a large prospect (6’3″ 242 lbs) and looks like a young David Wells – the weight does worry some scouts. I believe he’s next in line after Peralta.

#2 Mark Rogers | RHP (SP): Battled injuries all year and only threw 44 1/3 innings across three levels. Had Carpal Tunnel surgery on both wrists in August 2011. On August 19, 2011, Rogers was suspended 25 games due to consumption of illegal chemicals, but not steroids. The kid has a lot of talent, but a laundry list of injuries and the illegal drugs scarlet letter.

#12 Amaury Rivas | RHP (SP): Fastball sits in the low 90s, slider is average at best, and a quality changeup. Had Tommy John Surgery in 2006. Scouts see him as a reliever long term while the Brewers believe he’ll stay within the rotation. Last year I stated, ”he’s a number four starter in the mold a Scott Baker-[Joe Saunders hybrid].”

Michael Fiers | RHP (SP): He’s Tom Milone (LHP, WAS), but from the right side. His fastball tops out at 88 MPH and he has excellent command of his breaking pitches. Projects as a fifth starter, or long-reliever. In 126 innings, split between Double-A and Triple-A, he had a 9.4 K/9, a 2.6 BB/9, a 0.95 WHIP and a 1.86 ERA. Traditional stats look stellar. However, saber stats tell a slightly different story. With a .226 and .224 BABIP at Double-A and Triple-A respectfully, Fiers benefited greatly from luck and leaving runners on base (~78 LOB%). I could see him getting a few spot starts if there are injuries, or working from the bullpen in 2012.

Honorable Mention
Khris Davis | LF: In 304 at-bats in High-A (Florida League), Davis slashed .309/.415/.533 with 37 XBH (15 Hr), 10 steals in 15 attempts and a 70:51 K:BB ratio. However, upon promotion to Double-A, he struggled with his 124 at-bats: .210/.272/.331 with 10 XBH (2 Hr) and a 23:10 K:BB ratio. Sickels reports Davis having slightly above average talent , plays below-average defense and has a long-swing. Double-A will clearly test his prospect status in 2012. Currently, at just age 23, Davis is an intriguing prospect. Could be a .290/20/5 fantasy prospect if given a full season. Those numbers are not quite a 12 team league play, but deeper leagues should take note.

#17 Hunter Morris | 1B: With Prince Fielder potentially leaving, Morris is currently their top first base prospect. He has, “good power, but gets too aggressive sometimes and doesn’t draw many walks … scouts question pure bat speed and grade pure hitting ability above raw power,” according to Baseball America (2011). Trained as a third baseman in 2010, but only played six games there in 2011. Hit .277/.299/.461 with 19 home runs, 28 doubles and a 84:18 K:BB ratio at High-A. There should be several concerns on hitting patience, defensive skills, and long-term talent. Look for the Brewers to sign another free agent if they cannot resign Fielder.

Dan Merklinger | LHP (SP): According to John Sickels, “Merklinger throws a 88 to 97 MPH fastball, a decent curve and change-up … decent control with a deceptive delivery.” Had mild success at Double-A, throwing 158 innings of 4.10 ERA (4.25 FIP), 7.6 K/9, a 3.6 BB/9, 1.35 WHIP and a .294 BABIP. Projects as a fourth starter on a poor team.

#27 Nick Bucci | RHP (SP): A very young pitcher (D.o.B: 7/16/90) who hails from Canada. Consequently, Bucci is very raw. Throws a 88 to 92 MPH fastball, an average curveball and an improving changeup. Has good delivery, a pitcher’s build (6’2”, 180 lbs) and considered, “one of the hardest workers in the system.” If he can harness some command, scouts believe ceiling is a number four starter. Threw 150 innings, with a 7.1 K/9, a 3.1 BB/9, 3.84 ERA (3.87 FIP), 1.29 WHIP and a .287 BABIP. Overall, he improved upon prior overall performances.

#8 Tyler Thornburg | RHP (SP): Throws a power 93 to 95 MPH fastball, that is often very straight, especially when reaching top end (98 mph). Also throws a very good, sharp, power curveball and an show-me changeup. Currently working on improving changeup and overall command. Long-term, could slid into a closer role. Will work as a starter in the minors to increase experience. In 136 2/3 innings, across two levels (Low-A and High-A), Thornburg had a 10.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, a 2.57 ERA, and a 1.11 WHIP. He was assisted by a .277 BABIP and 86.7 LOB% in 68 2/3 innings at Single Low-A and a .256 BABIP at High-A+.