May 18th, 2011

2011 MLB Draft: 10 First-Round Prospects the Milwaukee Brewers Might Target


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Young and restless: Identifying 10 first-round prospects theMilwaukee Brewers may be sizing up

The 2011 MLB draft is but a couple weeks away, and rest assured, the Milwaukee Brewers will have their sights set on top-tier talent.

Let the records show that GM Doug Melvin has a comparable track record in the draft over the past few years, selecting notable starters Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Yovani Gallardo and Rickie Weeks.

What will this year’s draft generate?  Here’s an in-depth look at 10 prospects the Milwaukee Brewers might target in the first round.

Austin Hedges, Catcher, JSerra Catholic, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Height: 6’1″

Weight: 195 pounds

Scout’s take (via MLB Draft Guide):

“Hedges is generally viewed as the top defensive catcher, high school or college, eligible for the 2011 draft. His sound fundamentals and solid athleticism make a rare combination for a catcher still in high school.”

Why he’s a good fit:

Both Jonathon Lucroy, 24, and Wil Nieves, 31, are solid catchers capable of handling Milwaukee’s revamped rotation for the next few seasons. However, there are some question marks.

Lucroy has yet to hit his prime, and lagging injuries could put him back a few years in terms of productivity. Likewise, Nieves is neither the short- nor long-term answer for Ron Roenicke’s ballclub.

If given a few seasons’ time in the minor leagues, Hedges would put yet another formidable bat in an already lethal Milwaukee lineup for many years to come.

Is this the second coming of Buster Posey?

Matt Barnes, RHP, UConn

Height: 6’4″

Weight: 203 pounds

Scout’s take (via Baseball Rumor Mill):

“Barnes is a raw, young, high-ceiling guy whose performance on the Cape didn’t measure up to his stuff or his expectations coming in. Barnes’ fastball sits in the 90-93 mph range, he spots it really well working both sides of the plate.”

Why he’s a good fit:

With the 12th & 15th overall selections in the first round, the Brewers have to be licking their chops when it comes to potential pitching talent. And with a plethora of prospects to go around, now seems like the right time to snatch up a future difference maker.

In adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in the offseason, the Brewers all but diminished their pitching talent for the future. With UConn’s Matt Barnes, however, that sobering fact would take a turn for the better.

Possessing all the capabilities you could hope in a big-league starter, Barnes seems to be a surefire target for GM Doug Melvin to zero-in on.

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George Springer, OF, UConn

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 200 pounds

Scout’s take (via Baseball Rumor Mill):

“His bat head stays in the hitting zone. He produced good bat speed and has natural lift in his swing. He has a high center of gravity and can lift the ball with authority.  His power projects to be above average.”

Why he’s a good fit:

As it stands, both Carlos Gomez and Ryan Boggs both occupy Ron Roenicke’s defensive depth chart in center field. Once the 2011 draft is over, however, that very depth chart may be subject to change heading into 2012.

Power bats with great defensive range are scarce nowadays, but UConn’s gifted center-fielder George Springer is an exception to the norm.

Should Prince Fielder leave either from in-season trade or during free agency, the Brewers won’t be missing a beat when it comes to the long ball should Springer go 10th overall to Milwaukee.

Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 200 pounds

Scout’s take (via Baseball Beginnings):

“Long, lean and lanky. Smooth and easy delivery through mid ¾ slot, good balance and extension and landings. Fastball 89-93, comfortable 91-92, mostly with sink. Changeup 78-82 mostly with sink, occasional fade. Slider 82-85, adequate.”

Why he’s a good fit:

Solid left-handers are hard to come by these days, but Danny Hultzen’s lean frame should allow him to become a reliable arm at the back end of Milwaukee’s rotation for years to come.

Moreover, a starting rotation traditionally comprised of right-handed pitching could use another steadfast hurler like Hultzen in Milwaukee.

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Travis Harrison, 3B/OF, Tustin HS (Calif.)

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 216 pounds

Scout’s take (via Baseball Rumor Mill):

“Travis Harrison looks like a big leaguer, athletic, can really run, can flat out hit, very good bat speed, strength in swing, has power and projects even more, outstanding hitter, maybe the best in the class.”

Why he’s a good fit:

Believe it or not, Prince Fielder’s potential exit spells concern for number of defensive positions on the diamond. Is Mat Gamel a viable asset to play first base for the Brewers should Fielder depart? Will Rickie Weeks move to center field? These are just a few questions concerning Milwaukee as the draft draws nearer.

Widely viewed as one of the best pure hitters of this year’s class, Travis Harrison also possesses fielding skills that translate to a plethora of defensive positions and would be a subliminal prospect to fill the shoes of Casey McGehee at third base just a few years down the road.

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Matt Purke, LHP, TCU

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 175 pounds

Scout’s take (via Baseball Rumor Mill):

“He throws both a slider and curve; the curve has good depth, while the slider has occasional tilt but can flatten out as he gets around the side of the ball. A late release point gives him some deception and reduces the hitter’s reaction time.”

Why he’s a good fit:

At the 2009 MLB amateur draft, the Texas Rangers took TCU’s prototypical left-hander with the 14th overall selection.  Fortunately for the Brewers, the Rangers failed to sign Purke, prompting a return to the Horned Frogs.

Last season, Purke went an unprecedented 16-0 with a 3.02 ERA, vaulting him up this year’s draft boards and mock drafts.

Purke is undoubtedly the most feared lefty at the college level, and the Brewers would ideally trade up for his services.

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Daniel Norris, LHP, Tennessee HS

Height: 6’3″

Weight: 180 pounds

Scout’s take (via Baseball Rumor Mill):

“With a fastball  registering in the 92-94 mph range and a deceptive breaking ball, many analysts and checkers rate Norris as the top prep arm in the 2011 MLB draft class. Shows a little recoil and his consistency is up and down.”

Why he’s a good fit:

This gifted southpaw is a bit raw talent wise and would become a prized possession for the Brewers to develop in the minor leagues for 3-4 season.

A Clemson commit, Daniel Norris went 8-0 with a 1.96 ERA with his high school ballclub last year, and looks to prolong that success for any team willing to snatch him up early in the first round.

For the Brewers, who could use a power lefty such as down on the farm, now is the time to pull the trigger on Norris’ talents to ensure young talent in the future.

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Alex Meyer, RHP, Kentucky

Height: 6’9″

Weight: 220 pounds

Scout’s take (via Baseball Rumor Mill):

“A 6’9″, 220-pound right-hander who possesses electric stuff, including a  high-velocity fastball and an excellent curveball, with his changeup and  two-seam fastball developing.  Added 15 pounds of muscle and an inch in height to his projectable frame and working on his degree in summer classes.”

Why he’s a good fit:

Should the Brewers choose to pursue big-name talent prior to the 2011 trade deadline, they’ll be forced to depreciate their talent on the farm.

With that being said, the Brewers do have the 12th and 15th overall selections, and that selection will more than likely be used to replenish a dwindled farm system.

Alex Meyer, one of the top high school recruits from a few years back, would fit the Brewers’ scheme with pitching coach Rick Kranitz.

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Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice

Height: 5’11″

Weight: 180 pounds

Scout’s take (via Baseball Rumor Mill):

“Rendon has one of the best swings on a college hitter, with excellent hip rotation and strong, quick hands. His plate coverage is good, and he can shorten his swing to square up a ball up in the zone. He’s a solid defender at third with an above-average arm and good reads.”

Why he’s a good fit:

I suppose a better question would be, “Why isn’t he a good fit?”

Although not physically intimidating, Anthony Rendon is as pure of a major-league prospect as any in this year’s class and would be the ideal first-round selection to start off Milwaukee’s 2011 draft.

With Casey McGehee’s contract due to expire at the end of the season, the thought is that the Brewers will re-sign him to a three- to four-year deal. Should Prince Fielder leave at the end of his 2011 season, McGehee may take over the reigns of second base, leaving an opportunity for Rendon to work his way up into Ron Roenicke’s starting lineup as soon as 2012.

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Gerrit  Cole, RHP, UCLA

Height: 6’4″

Weight: 220 pounds

Scout’s take (via Baseball Rumor Mill):

“Tall righty whose fastball sits around 94-95 mph and tops out at 96. Also mixes in an above average low 80s slider and a 80 mph changeup. Smooth, effortless  delivery. Aggressive with the strike zone.”

Why he’s a good fit

Last but certainly not least, Gerrit Cole may already be atop GM Doug Melvin’s pre-draft wish list.

Not only does he have the structure to become an effective starter for many years to come, but Cole also boasts one of the most complete packages of any pitcher of this year’s class.

During his 2010 campaign with UCLA, Cole dominated Pac-10 lineups to the tune of an 11-4 record, 3.37 ERA and, most importantly, 153 strikeouts in just 123.0 innings of work.

Given two solid seasons of work in the minor leagues, and Cole would be more than ready to play a role in Milwaukee’s starting rotation.

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 28:  Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole #12 of the UCLA Bruins pitches against the South Carolina Gamecocks during game 1 of the men's 2010 NCAA College Baseball World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium on June 28, 2010 in Omaha, Nebraska. The Gameco

Brewers offense held in check by Dodgers


By Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel

If the Milwaukee Brewers are going to continue to perform like this in the clutch on the road, it’s going to be a long season away from Miller Park.

The Brewers continued to come up empty with runners in scoring position, going 0 for 9 in those situations Tuesday night in a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

The Brewers were fortunate to split the two-game series while going 2 for 23 (.087) with runners in scoring position. For the season, their road batting average in those situations dropped to .211.

With that background, it should come as no shock that the Brewers have scored a total of 14 runs in their last 11 road games, during which they have gone 2-9. Over that stretch, they have been shut out four times.

The Brewers let an opportunity to strike first slip away in the first inning against Hiroki Kuroda, who pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings. With one down, new No. 2 hitter Corey Hart singled to left and Ryan Braun drew a walk.

Prince Fielder bounced into a force at second, leaving runners on the corners, but Casey McGehee’s drive to right-center was hauled in by Matt Kemp in front of the wall.

Brewers starter Randy Wolf was not as fortunate in the bottom of the inning. After a two-out walk to Andre Ethier, Kemp smashed a 3-1 fastball the other way and over the wall in right for a two-run homer.

“That’s Matt’s strength. His strength is right-center to right field,” Wolf said. “He has kind of an inside-out swing. He’s a big, strong guy. I wanted it up; I wanted it elevated above the belt. It was probably thigh-high, right where he could do some damage.”

The Brewers missed on an even better chance to score in the third inning off Kuroda. Wolf led off with a double, sending a drive over Ethier in right and was bunted to third by Rickie Weeks.

Hart drew a walk, putting runners on the corners with one down. But Kuroda recorded a huge out by striking out Braun on a split-finger fastball, then escaped by inducing Fielder to fly out to left.

The Brewers’ inability to hit in the clutch on the road nixed another budding rally in the fourth inning. With one down, Yuniesky Betancourt and Jonathan Lucroy singled, but Carlos Gomez, moved down to the eighth spot because he couldn’t hit with men on base, bounced into a double play, only his second of the season.

Wolf was fortunate to keep it at 2-0 in the bottom of the inning. He walked Juan Uribe to open the inning and issued another walk to Jerry Sands with two down.

Kuroda hit a slow topper toward short that forced Betancourt to charge in and throw on the run but he was late and the infield hit loaded the bases. Wolf fell behind in the count, 3-1, to Jamey Carroll, who hit a smash to the left side that McGehee caught with a sliding stab to get a force at second and snuff the rally.

“My command wasn’t good; I wasn’t very sharp today,” said Wolf, who didn’t look comfortable working with catcher Lucroy. “I had a ton of 3-2 counts and wasn’t able to make the pitch to put guys away early in the count. Obviously, that first-inning mistake (to Kemp) was the ball game, really.”

Hitters know that the ball doesn’t carry well at night at Dodger Stadium and that point was driven home again to Fielder in the sixth inning. After Braun led off with a single, Fielder sent a drive to center that he thought was gone, but the ball didn’t carry in the damp air and Kemp caught it with his back against the wall at the 395-foot marker.

“You’ve really got to hit the ball here, especially the opposite way,” said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who noted that Kemp must have really got all of his opposite-field two-run shot off Randy Wolf in the first inning.

“I thought Prince’s ball was going out. I thought Casey’s ball was going out, too. It never has (carried well) here. At night time, when it’s cold here, you’ve really got to crush it to get it out, especially to the big part of the park. If those balls go out, we score five runs.”

Braun moved up on a groundout by McGehee and stole third without a throw but was stranded when Betancourt took a called third strike that he thought was wide of the plate.

Wolf struck out Rod Barajas to open the bottom of the inning but it took him 10 pitches to do it, extending him well beyond 100 for the game. When James Loney followed with a single to left, Wolf was done at 119 pitches.

Sergio Mitre, who hadn’t pitched since last Wednesday against San Diego, took over and retired the next two hitters to keep it a 2-0 game.

The Brewers took three more swipes with a runners in scoring position in the eighth and came up empty. Weeks led off with an infield single and moved up on a balk by Kuroda. Hart lined a 3-2 pitch right at Kemp in center and Braun flied out to deep right, moving Weeks to third.

Right-hander Kenly Jansen took over for Kuroda and walked Fielder on four pitches, then fell behind, 3-0, in the count to McGehee. Jansen got it back to 3-2, however, before McGehee fouled out to first.

Padres host Crew as Bartlett puts RBI streak on line


by Jon Star, MLB.com

The D-backs found the right formula to cool off a hot Padres offense in San Diego’s final game of an eight-game road trip on Tuesday night. Now, the Padres head home, where any positive streak has been hard to come by.

San Diego welcomes the Brewers, who also were halted on Tuesday night, snapping their four-game winning streak. Both teams will look to start new streaks Wednesday, but victory for either team could be determined by the production of Jason Bartlett.

By recording a first-inning sacrifice fly on Tuesday, Bartlett tied a franchise record with an RBI in his ninth consecutive game, a feat shared by Sixto Lezcano (1982) and Steve Finley (1996). It is the longest streak since Jorge Cantu notched an RBI in 14 consecutive games spanning the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Marlins.

Bartlett’s streak is part of a warming trend that has consumed much of the Padres’ lineup. Before Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to Arizona, the Padres scored seven or more runs in five consecutive games for only the third time in franchise history. It was an important turnaround for a club that ranked last in the National League in runs scored for much of the season.

Yet, while the offensive output is a welcome development, Padres manager Bud Black won’t just rely on the bats. He wants to see his team continue to put pressure on opposing pitchers and that means stealing bases. Entering Wednesday, the Padres lead the NL with 45 steals.

“[Last season] if we didn’t score, we pitched so well that the other team didn’t score, either, so we were still able to do some things that we wanted to do offensively, especially with our basestealers,” Black said.

A bigger concern for Black may be his club’s futility at home. Coming off a 4-4 road trip, the Padres return to PETCO Park, where they are 7-14. But Black doesn’t believe location should make a difference when it comes to producing.

“Through April, we weren’t swinging the bats the way we are swinging in May and that’s the bottom line,” Black said. “It didn’t matter where we were. We still have to play good baseball no matter where we play, regardless if it’s home or on the road.”

Yovani Gallardo (4-2, 4.88 ERA) will be tasked with continuing the Padres’ home woes. The right-hander has won each of his last two starts, limiting the opposition to two earned runs on six hits over 14 innings. If there was one area of concern for Gallardo, it is his walk total. Gallardo issued seven free passes during his last two starts, and battled through a 30-pitch second inning in his previous start against the Pirates.

“I lost my rhythm a little bit [in the long second inning] but I was able to get out of it with no runs on the board,” Gallardo said of his last start. “I gave our team a chance to score first, and that’s what happened.”

Nevertheless, the right-hander should feel a measure of comfort in PETCO Park. Gallardo tossed seven innings of one-run ball with 11 strikeouts in his lone start there on May 1, 2010. Overall, Gallardo is 1-1 with a 5.87 ERA against the Padres.

Brewers: Duo’s damage
May started out very quietly both for the Brewers and their biggest sluggers in Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. Milwaukee dropped five in a row to begin the month and seven of 10, before winning four of their last five games. Fielder and Braun have contributed to the turnaround. Since May 10, the pair has combined to go 16-for-52 with four home runs and 15 RBIs. The production comes after Fielder and Braun combined to go 7-for-64 with a solo home run (Fielder’s) from May 1-9. Despite their slow start to May, Braun and Fielder have combined for 65 RBIs, leading all National League tandems.

Padres: Maybin’s May
The Padres’ scoring has jumped over the last week and much of that can be attributed to Cameron Maybin’s surge during the month. The center fielder has recorded two four-hit games in the last week and is 12-for-25 (.480) in that span, including a multi-home run game on May 13. The stretch has boosted his batting average 51 points. He has hit safely in 12 of his last 16 games (20-for-60) and has crossed the plate 12 times in the span. One element that has disappeared from Maybin’s game this month is the stolen base. Maybin has not attempted to steal a base in May after recording six steals in eight attempts in April.

Worth noting:
The Padres have played 25 games decided by two runs or fewer. San Diego went 11-14 in those games, including a 5-7 record in one-run games


Taylor Green’s Three-Run Homer Gives Nashville An 11-10 Victory Over Sacramento


via NashvilleSounds.com

Taylor Green hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to power the Nashville Sounds to a 11-10 victory over the visiting Sacramento River Cats in front of 7,975 screaming kids on Tuesday afternoon at Greer Stadium.

With the win, Nashville (14-24) earned a season-split with Sacramento. All four games of the series were decided by one run.

Four Nashville hitters recorded multiple-hit contests in the victory. Outfielder Brett Carroll continued to stay hot against Sacramento, adding his second three-hit performance in the series while scoring three runs. Carroll, Edwin Maysonet and Taylor Green all drove in three runs on the afternoon.

The Sounds sent all nine hitters to the dish in the bottom of the first inning and plated four runs on Sacramento starter Guillermo Moscoso. The River Cats’ right-hander gave up a leadoff double to Eric Farris and walked the bases loaded before allowing a two-run single to Carroll. Moscoso then balked to put both runners in scoring position before allowing another two-run single to catcher George Kottaras.

Sacramento plated two runs to trim the Nashville lead to 4-2 in the next frame, all with two outs. Josh Butler surrendered a solo homer to catcher Josh Donaldson, his third of the season. Three batters later, the River Cats plated their next run when Jamile Weeks hit an RBI base knock.

The River Cats went ahead 5-4 in the next inning, beginning with Matt Carson hitting his sixth home run just inches above the glove of Jordan Brown in left field. With two outs again in the inning, Sacramento plated two more runs, highlighted by an RBI double from Donaldson and RBI single from Michael Taylor.

Nashville knotted the contest at 5-5 in the next frame. Carroll doubled to left field and later scored when Maysonet knocked a two-out single to right field.

Sacramento scored the last of its run in the top of the six inning, plating five runs to take a 10-5 lead. Outfielder Michael Taylor singled and scored on the ensuing Shane Petersen triple down the left field line. Reliever Jim Henderson came into the contest and allowed Weeks to single home Petersen for the next run. After a walk, Carson belted his second home run of the game, this time a three-run shot over the left field wall.

Nashville went ahead for good in the bottom of the seventh inning, again sending all nine batters to the plate for six runs. Sacramento reliever Jerry Blevins began the inning by hitting Jordan Brown and giving up a double to Brendan Katin, his team-leading 18th extra-base hit of the season. Carroll followed by driving in his third run of the contest with an RBI base hit to right field.

Blevins intentionally walked Kottaras before being replaced by Willie Eyre (3-2), who quickly offered up a base-loaded, two-run single to Maysonet. Green then blasted the first pitch he saw from Eyre over the center field wall and off the clubhouse. Giving Nashville the 11-10 lead, the three-run homer was Green’s fourth of the year and first since April 17.

Both starters took no decisions. Butler gave up a season-high seven runs while scattering 10 hits with two walks in five plus innings. Moscoso lasted three innings for Sacramento, surrendering five runs on six hits with three walks.

Henderson (1-1) backed into the win with two innings. Donovan Hand contributed a scoreless frame while Mark DiFelice converted his fourth save with a perfect ninth.

After an off day on Wednesday, the Sounds travel west to begin an eight-game road trip with the Salt Lake Bees (AAA-Angels) and Tacoma Rainiers (AAA-Mariners) of the Pacific Conference Northern Division, the teams’ only meetings this season. Left-hander Chase Wright (0-3, 7.50) makes the start at 7:35 pm CT on Thursday for Nashville against Salt Lake right-hander Matt Palmer (0-3, 10.67).

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