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December 21, 2010

Future Shock

Milwaukee Brewers Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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Previous Rankings: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System In 20 Words Or Less: Boy, their big-league rotation is going to be much improved in 2011 (Let's not talk about the system).

Three-Star Prospects
1. Mark Rogers, RHP
2. Cody Scarpetta, RHP
3. Kyle Heckathorn, RHP
4. Wily Peralta, RHP
5. Amaury Rivas, RHP
6. Kentrail Davis, OF
7. Scooter Gennett, 2B
Two-Star Prospects
8. Tyler Roberts, C
9. D'Vontrey Richardson, OF
10. Jimmy Nelson, RHP
11. Hunter Morris, 1B

Nine More:
12. Caleb Gindl, OF: This undersized outfielder has left-handed bench potential.
13. Khris Davis, OF: He showed impressive power and patience in his full-season debut, but he's already 23.
14. Erik Komatsu, OF: Komatsu is another potential bench outfielder thanks to his approach, speed, and left-handedness.
15. Tyler Thornburg, RHP: The third-rounder has power stuff out of a small package, but he profiles better in relief.
16. Cutter Dykstra, 3B: This 2008 draftee had a bounce-back year offensively but has yet to find a defensive home.
17. Logan Schafer, OF: A groin injury and broken foot limited him to just seven games in 2010, but he could move up if he's healthy.
18. Chris Dennis, 1B/OF: This Canadian slugger has raw power and an idea at the plate. However, his long swing leads to plenty of whiffs.
19. Eric Arnett, RHP: This 2009 first-round pick fell apart mechanically during a disappointing full-season debut.
20. Matt Miller, RHP: A fifth-rounder from June, Miller is a tall righty with a good fastball and command but little else.

1. Mark Rogers, RHP
DOB
: 1/30/86
Height/Weight: 6-3/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2004, Mount Ararat HS (ME)
2010 Stats: 3.71 ERA (111.2-86-69-111) at Double-A (24 G); 2.08 ERA (4.1-3-3-3) at Triple-A (1 G); 1.80 ERA (10.0-2-3-11) at MLB (4 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/control

Year in Review: In his seventh professional year, this former fifth overall pick finally stayed healthy with a normal workload and reached the big leagues.
The Good: Despite an injury history that would have most out of baseball, Rogers still has a power arsenal. He throws a 92-96 mph fastball with a bit of natural sink, and gets good spin on a 78-83 mph curveball with plenty of late break. He earns praise for his makeup and work ethic, coming all the way back after missing two full years due to shoulder issues.
The Bad: Rogers' ability to stay healthy will remain a risk for some time, as he's had multiple surgeries and still has a cross-fire delivery that takes his arm well across his body and reduces his ability to throw strikes. His changeup is a below-average offering, which combined with the mechanics, leaves many scouts projecting him as a late-innings reliever.
Ephemera: Rogers was, and remains, the only player from Maine to be selected in the first round of the MLB draft.
Perfect World Projection: Rogers could have a future in either a bullpen or rotation role.
Fantasy Impact: It's hard to say without knowing a role.
Path to the Big Leagues: While the Brewers are likely to make more moves before spring training, as of now, Rogers is in the mix to compete for the fifth starter job.
ETA: 2011.

2. Cody Scarpetta, RHP
DOB: 8/25/88
Height/Weight: 6-3/240
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 11th round, 2007, Guilford HS (IL)
2010 Stats: 3.87 ERA (128.0-120-67-142) at Double-A (27 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Curveball/control

Year in Review: This bulky right-hander rebounded from a slow start with an excellent second half to finish among the Florida State League leaders in strikeouts.
The Good: Scarpetta began throwing more strikes as the season wore on, and he was finally able to take advantage of his stuff. His 91-94 mph fastball is a tick above average, and his plus-plus curve is the best in the system, capable of generating silly-looking swings from good hitters. He maintains his stuff deep into games and pitches with an aggressive edge that serves him well.
The Bad: Scarpetta will flash a solid changeup at times, but it remains an inconsistent pitch that needs refinement. He can get out of whack mechanically, and lose the strike zone. His big body borders on soft, and conditioning could become a bigger issue for him down the road.
Ephemera: Scarpetta had significant trouble in bases-loaded situations during the 2010 campaign, as opposing batters went 9-for-19 with four doubles and a home run against him.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an innings-eating third starter
Fantasy Impact: It'll be average for a starting pitcher, with some extra strikeouts.
Path to the Big Leagues: Scarpetta will move up to Double-A in 2011 and get his workload tested at a higher rate.
ETA: Late 2012.

3. Kyle Heckathorn, RHP
DOB
: 6/17/88
Height/Weight: 6-6/225
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental first round, 2009, Kennesaw State
2010 Stats: 2.96 ERA (85.0-82-23-67) at Low-A (17 G); 3.00 ERA (39.0-40-10-23) at High-A (8 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Sinker/changeup

Year in Review: A huge right-hander, Heckathorn generally pitched well in his pro debut, but he did leave some questions about his ceiling.
The Good: Heckathorn generates plenty of ground balls with a plus sinker that comes in at 91-94 mph and becomes even more difficult to hit due to his height and arm angle. He gets good tilt on a low-80s slider than flashes plus at times, and he has far better command and control than most tall, young pitchers thanks to a simple delivery that he repeats well.
The Bad: Heckathorn will need a good defense behind him, as he lacks a go-to offering when he needs a strikeout. He gets some fade on a changeup, but he telegraphs the pitch and often misses the release, costing him movement.
Ephemera: No player drafted out of Kennesaw State has ever won a game in the majors.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a 200-inning, strike-throwing ground-ball machine.
Fantasy Impact: He's nothing to get to excited about, until fantasy leagues start counting pitcher double plays.
Path to the Big Leagues: After splitting his full-season debut between Low- and High-A, Heckathorn will return to the Florida State League in 2011 with the hope that he'll be ready for the Southern League before the season is out.
ETA: 2012.

4. Wily Peralta, RHP
DOB
: 5/8/89
Height/Weight: 6-2/225
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2005, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: 3.86 (105.0-102-40-75) at High-A (19 G); 3.61 ERA (42.1-43-24-29) at Double-A (8 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/command

Year in Review: Peralta is an intriguing Dominican arm who reached Double-A, but scouts were left wondering what kind of pitcher he will be.
The Good: Peralta has a power pitcher's frame and impressive arm strength, mixing a low-90s two-seam fastball with sink and a pure four-seam heater than can get up to 96. He'll showcase a big league-average slider at times, and he has made progress with his changeup to the point where it should be a solid offering.
The Bad: Peralta's delivery comes with some effort, and the corresponding issues with throwing strikes. Scouts had a hard time defining him, as he would waver between blowing smoke and pitching to contact, not only from game to game, but from inning to inning.
Ephemera: Peralta was born in the small peninsula town of Samana, the same hometown of Marlins All-Star Hanley Ramirez.
Perfect World Projection: Similar to many of the pitchers in the middle of this list, he projects as a big-league starter, but not a special one.
Fantasy Impact: See above; “not a special one.”
Path to the Big Leagues: Peralta will return to Double-A Huntsville to begin the 2011 season.
ETA: 2012.

5. Amaury Rivas, RHP
DOB
: 12/20/85
Height/Weight: 6-2/210
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2005, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: 3.37 ERA (141.2-130-55-114) at Double-A (25 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/slider

Year in Review: A late bloomer due to early career Tommy John surgery, Rivas continued his steady climb up the ladder by succeeding in Double-A.
The Good: Rivas' greatest strength is that it's hard to find weaknesses in his game. He pitches primarily off a low-90s fastball, and mixes in a slider that has its moments and a changeup that is the best pitch in his arsenal. His command and control are good, and he earns high marks for his mound poise.
The Bad: As hard as it is to find flaws in Rivas, there's not much to get excited about, either. He'll need to become more crafty at the upper levels without a plus power pitch, and he doesn't have much of a ceiling.
Ephemera: Rivas gave little indication that he'll help the team anywhere but the mound, as during his first year in a league where pitchers hit, he went 0-for-26 with 14 strikeouts.
Perfect World Projection: While he's not exciting, he should fit into the back of a rotation.
Fantasy Impact: Impact is not the word I'm looking for here.
Path to the Big Leagues: Rivas will begin the year at Triple-A Nashville, and will likely be on the short list for emergency starters should the need arise.
ETA: 2011.

6. Kentrail Davis, OF
DOB
: 6/29/88
Height/Weight: 5-9/195
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental first round, 2009, University of Tennessee
2010 Stats: .335/.421/.518 at Low-A (64 G); .244/.380/.341 at High-A (33 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/power

Year in Review: It took health and a demotion to get going, but this outfielder who signed for first-round money impressed Midwest League scouts.
The Good: Davis is the definition of a compact athlete; he is built more like an NFL running back that an outfielder. All of his tools rank at least average, but most importantly, he can hit, making consistent loud contact with the potential for double-digit home runs if the power he shows in batting practice begins to manifest itself in games. He has on-base skills thanks to excellent pitch recognition. He's an above-average runner and has solid arm strength.
The Bad: Davis didn't show much in-game power during his debut, but he did have 28 doubles and 10 triples in 97 games, so he drove plenty of pitches. The development of his power will be key for him, as he's likely to lose some speed and is fringe-average in center field as is. If moved to a corner, he could end up as a tweener.
Ephemera: In 16 day games for Low-A Wisconsin, Davis hit a remarkable .492 by going 32-for-65.
Perfect World Projection: If he can find his power, he's an everyday corner outfielder, which by default is a good offensive player.
Fantasy Impact: He should deliver on batting average, and will be even more valuable in on-base leagues. Power/speed ability is still to be determined.
Path to the Big Leagues: Davis turns 23 in June, so it's time to get going. He has a chance this spring to earn a leapfrog assignment to Double-A.
ETA: Late 2012.

7. Scooter Gennett, 2B
DOB
: 5/1/90
Height/Weight: 5-9/164
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: 16th round, 2009, Sarasota HS (FL)
2010 Stats: .309/.354/.463 at Low-A (118 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/power

Year in Review: A 16th-round pick who signed for fourth-round money, Gennett had an impressive full-season debut.
The Good: Multiple scouts noted that if Gennett had a more traditional frame, he would have earned first-round consideration considering his bat. He's a remarkably adept hitter with excellent bat speed and hand-eye coordination who consistently barrels balls with gap power. He has solid average speed and plays the game with an infectious energy.
The Bad: It's hard to imagine a player who looks more like a Scooter, as Gennett is short, skinny to the point of frail, and wears his socks high to accentuate his rail-thin build. He has no physical projection and needs to keep hitting, as second base is his only defensive option, and he's no more than an average fielder.

Ephemera: While Sarasota High is a consistent baseball powerhouse that produced Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond and Padres pitching prospect Casey Kelly, among others, its most famous alumni is Paul Rubenfeld, better known as Pee Wee Herman.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an everyday second baseman and fan favorite. Let's face it, has there ever been a guy named Scooter that fans didn't like?
Fantasy Impact: The kid can certainly hit, but he's not going to put up big numbers in other categories.
Path to the Big Leagues: Gennett will have to keep proving himself, with the next stop at High-A.
ETA: 2013.

8. Tyler Roberts, C
DOB
: 10/25/90
Height/Weight: 6-0/226
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 10th round, 2009, Jones County HS (GA)
2010 Stats: .288/.354/.513 at Rookie complex (42 G); .000/.250/.000 at Rookie Appalachian (1 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/defense

Year in Review: A 10th-round pick in 2009, Roberts was among the most impressive hitters in the Arizona Summer League.
The Good: Roberts projects as an offense-first catcher, and his offensive ceiling is considerable for his position. Roberts is incredibly strong, with plus-plus raw power and he surprises scouts with his pure hitting ability. He has a solid arm behind the plate as well as a take-charge attitude that fits well with his position.
The Bad: Roberts has an immense lower half, and there are plenty of concerns about how he projects physically. He's slow, even for a catcher, and awkward defensively with poor footwork and receiving skills. His swing gets long, and while his offensive ceiling is intriguing, few think it's enough to work at first base if he's forced to move.
Ephemera: Jones County has produced a pair of first-round picks in Willie Greene (1989) and Rondell White (1990)
Perfect World Projection: He'd be an offense-oriented catcher, but good enough to stay behind the plate.
Fantasy Impact: A catcher who hits home runs is always valuable.
Path to the Big Leagues: Roberts will make his full-season debut in 2011 at Low-A Wisconsin, and some scouts believe he could end the year much more well-known than he is now.
ETA: 2013.

9. D'Vontrey Richardson, OF
DOB
: 7/30/88
Height/Weight: 6-1/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Fifth round, 2009, Florida State University
2010 Stats: .243/.331/.368 at Low-A (132 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Speed/hit

Year in Review: This former football star was one of the top athletes in the Midwest League, but he also looked like a football player trying to learn a new sport.
The Good: No position player in the system comes close to touching Richardson on a tools level. He's a plus-plus runner who displays above-average power in batting practice and has a combination of bat speed and leverage. He showed a surprisingly mature approach with 58 walks, and covers a ton of ground in center field. His arm is average.
The Bad: Richardson has a long way to go when it comes to hitting. He has a hitch in his swing, and he can look foolish against even average breaking stuff; he struck out 164 times in 132 games. He often needs his speed to make up for poor jumps in the outfield, and he's still learning how to work the basepaths, as he stole just 17 bases and was caught 15 times.
Ephemera: Richardson was a teammate of Giants catcher Buster Posey at Lee County High in Georgia.
Perfect World Projection: Richardson's ceiling is higher than any position player in the system, but the gap between what he is and what he can be is measured in light years.
Fantasy Impact: He could be a first-round pick five years from now, or he could be striking out 173 times at Triple-A.
Path to the Big Leagues: Richardson's transformation from athlete to baseball player will continue at High-A Brevard County.
ETA: 2014.

10. Jimmy Nelson, RHP
DOB
: 6/5/89
Height/Weight: 6-6/245
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2010, Alabama
2010 Stats: 3.71 ERA (26.2-30-13-33) at Rookie-level (12 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Speed/hit

Year in Review: The Crimson Tide's Friday starter made a late-spring surge to move into the second round.
The Good: Nelson has solid stuff across the board to go with average command. He pitches primarily off a low-90s fastball, and surprised scouts by touching 95 in some late-spring starts. He gets good two-plane break on a low-80s slider that has served as an out pitch in his career, and his huge frame is built to gobble up innings.
The Bad: Other than his size, few things about Nelson stand out, as both his fastball and slider are average to a tick above. His changeup needs considerable work, as he telegraphs the pitch with slow arm action. His body borders on soft, and conditioning could become an issue.
Ephemera: Nelson comes from an athletic family, as his father played football at Florida, while his mother played basketball at Florida State.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a back-of-the-rotation starter, but some scouts wonder if the fastball/slider combination could play up in a relief role.
Fantasy Impact: Limited.
Path to the Big Leagues: Nelson will make his full-season debut at Low-A Wisconsin, and while he lacks a ceiling, he has the ability to move somewhat quickly.
ETA: 2013.

11. Hunter Morris, 1B
DOB
: 10/7/88
Height/Weight: 6-4/215
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: Fourth round, 2010, Auburn
2010 Stats: .251/.306/.436 at Low-A (71 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/speed

Year in Review: A fourth-round pick, Morris settled for a bonus of just over $200,000 after turning down far more money from Boston three years ago as a second-round pick.
The Good: Morris has big-time raw power, with multiple scouts describing him as “country strong.” He was among the NCAA leaders with 23 home runs in 272 at-bats during his final year at Auburn, and also has very good bat control for a pure slugger, with the kind of plate coverage and hitting skills necessary to avoid a high strikeout rate.
The Bad: Morris has some bad habits from his three years swinging with metal. He's a heavy pull hitter who needs to adjust to the fact that he can't hit home runs with wood without making solid contact on the sweet spot of the bat. Hitting and hitting for power are his only tools worth mentioning, as he's a below-average runner, and average at best defensively, with a third base experiment in the Arizona Fall League earning giggles from scouts.
Ephemera: While playing for Grissom High in Huntsville, Alabama, Morris was a four-time All-State player and won four Huntsville Player of the Year honors, and four North Alabama Super Metro Player of the Year awards.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a solid everyday first baseman, but only with adjustments.
Fantasy Impact: He'll bring home runs without a batting average that will hurt you, but that's about it.
Path to the Big Leagues: Morris will move to High-A Brevard County in 2011, not exactly a good place to put up power numbers.
ETA: 2013.

The Sleeper: Right-handed reliever Robert Hinton has a good fastball, an even better slider, and struck out 11.1 batters per nine innings in 2010.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/85 or later)

1. Yovani Gallardo, RHP
2
. Mark Rogers, RHP
3. Zach Braddock, RHP
4. Cody Scarpetta, RHP
5. Jonathan Lucroy, C
6. Kyle Heckathorn, RHP
7. Wily Peralta, RHP
8. Carlos Gomez, OF
9. Mat Gamel, 3B
10. Amaury Rivas, RHP

Many scouts believe Gallardo is just the tiniest amount of adjustments away from taking off, and don't be surprised if he has a better year than Greinke in 2011. Braddock pitched well in relief and has the stuff more suitable for an eighth-inning role, which he could assume at some point this year. Lucroy is a serviceable catcher, certainly nothing special either offensively or defensively, but of course compared to Jason Kendall, he looks like Johnny Bench. Gomez still has tools, speed, and defense, which gives him a slight edge over Gamel, who lacks all of those things and is just plain better suited for the American League.

Summary: Doug Melvin went all-in for 2011 with his trades for Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke, and it's an admirable move, considering where the Brewers stand entering the year. Flags fly forever, but if it fails to produce one, Milwaukee could be in for a very long rebuilding process.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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