The Brewers' young shortstop deserves to be talked about.
Is it news when a general manager calls one of his players underrated? Should it be? Brewers GM Doug Melvin voiced concerns to Jayson Stark last week about the national coverage of Jean Segura. "I see people talk about the [Jurickson] Profars and even the Dee Gordons," Melvin said. "But they never talk about him. He's an exciting player." Putting aside Melvin's obvious vested interest in Segura, let's give the man what he wants by highlighting his shortstop.
Segura is indeed an exciting player. The 23-year-old is the youngest standout on a surprisingly fun Milwaukee roster. His .349/.386/.470 line entering play on Monday translated into the fifth-best True Average amongst shortstops with 50-plus plate appearances, and his stellar play is one of the causes behind the Brewers' recent surge. Why then is Segura overlooked in favor of the world's supply of Profars and even the Gordons? Presumably due to a combination of three reasons: 1) He plays in Milwaukee; 2) He lacks the elite ceiling of Profar; and 3) He lacks an elite tool, unlike Gordon. What Segura has—a wide and deep skill set—is more than enough to make up for those perceived flaws.
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Only a few baseball games going on around the world on Monday so some of the prospects on this list are fringier than usual. The most interesting game was in the World Baseball Classic qualifying round as Brazil knocked off Panama, a team with major leaguers Carlos Lee, Carlos Ruiz, and Ruben Tejada, and former big leaguers Ruben RiveraandRamiro Mendoza. Twenty-six year-old Rafael Fernandes, who allowed 10 ER in 12.2 innings with nine walks and four strikeouts for the Yakult Swallows in Japan last season, tossed two-hit ball over six shutout innings for the Brazilians while their lone big leaguer, Yan Gomes, knocked in Royals minor leaguer Paulo Orlando with an RBI single to account for the only run scored in the 1-0 victory. One other note of importance -- Brazil is being managed by Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin. Who says baseball season is over?
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The Brewers seemed to wave the white flag in July. Ever since they've been white hot.
In the days leading up to July 27th, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin weighed his options regarding free-agent-to-be Zack Greinke. He could keep Greinke, gamble on overcoming bleak playoff odds, and recoup draft picks during the offseason; or, trade Greinke before the deadline and jumpstart the rebuilding process. Melvin chose to send Greinke to the Angels for a trio of prospects. Days later, on July 31th, the Brewers improved their record to 47-56; the nearest wild card team sat 12 wins ahead. Given their team’s positions in the standings and on the trade market, you could excuse Brewers fans for checking out. After all, the 2012 season appeared to be another disappointment in a string of them, dating back to the club’s loss in the 2011 National League Championship Series.
Over the ensuing months, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder would leave via free agency. A case of broken protocol entangled newly minted NL MVP Ryan Braun in a messy controversy, if not a 50-game suspension. Factor in Greinke speculation, and Milwaukee fans were eager to get the season underway, with the drama of a pennant chase being a preferable alternative to the malaise of their offseason. The good feelings didn’t last long. Milwaukee spent April bobbing over and under the .500 mark, finishing the month at 11-12. By the time August arrived, the Brewers’ rounded playoff odds were zero percent.
A trio of perplexing pitchers leads off today's Ten Pack.
Dylan Axelrod, RHP, White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte)
The fact that Axelrod even reached the big leagues is quite an achievement. A 30th-round pick in 2007 by the Padres, Axelrod lasted a year and a half before landing in Indy ball, but all he did was get better. His primary skill is the ability to throw strikes. He pounds the strike zone with an 88-91 mph fastball, has a decent slider, and a somewhat-less-than-decent curve. He has no changeup, but he hits his spots and keeps hitters off balance; while that's the kind of pitcher who should hit a wall, he just hasn't yet. With 7 2/3 shutout innings on Sunday, he now has a 1.08 ERA in four starts for the Knights to go with 26 strikeouts and just four walks. He's already a great scouting find for the White Sox, and has to upgrade that status by becoming a usable arm as a No. 5 starter or middle reliever, which exceeds any expectation ever put on him.