Three weeks ago, we updated you on the progress of the top Milwaukee Brewers prospects honing their games in the league. Over that time span, many youngsters have vaulted themselves into the driver’s seat as top-tier prospects worth watching, while some (Cody Scarpetta), have not.
Let’s check in on the progression of the Brewers’ top prospects in the desert up to this point.
RHP Jed Bradley (4.50 ERA, 3 SO, 4.0 IP)
RHP Brandon Kintzler (3.68 ERA, 15 SO, 14.2 IP)
LHP Daniel Meadows (2.61 ERA, 4 SO, 10.1 IP)
RHP Casey Medlen (3.86 ERA, 11 SO, 9.1 IP)
RHP Cody Scarpetta (19.64 ERA, 7 SO, 7.1 IP)
2B Scooter Gennett (.391 BA, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 17 R, .990 OPS)
3B Zealous Wheeler (.265 BA, 4 RBI, 6 R, .639 OPS)
Kentrail Davis (.316 BA, HR, 7 RBI, 9 R, 4 SB, .874 OPS)
Logan Schafer (.254 BA, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 12 R, 4 SB, .437 SLG)
Designated to Milwaukee’s rookie club in Helena later that season, Nelson would go 2-0, posting a 3.71 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 26.2 innings pitching in just his first minor league season. His performance would be enough for Baseball America to rank the power right-hander as the Brewers’ eighth overall prospect heading into the 2011 season.
I was fortunate enough to speak with Nelson on a number of different topics, ranging from his draft-day experiences to his favorite food. The following conversation contains everything Brewers fans need to know about the youngster.
Jimmy Nelson’s Favorites
AD: If you had to choose, what is your favorite movie of all-time?
JN: Well, Forest Gump is a good one. Inception is another one of my favorites.
AD: Favorite food?
JN: Any kind of seafood, really. I’m a big pasta fan, too.
AD: Alright, last one: do you have a favorite quote that you base your game off of?
JN: Not really. I have a bunch of favorite sayings I base my game off of, but, there’s not really one quote that I really focus on.
Jimmy Nelson: Growing Up
AD: What influence did growing up in Niceville, Florida have on your love for the game of baseball?
JN: Its a very baseball-rich area. There’s a lot of talent that comes out of that area, and there’s also a lot of really good coaches, which I think really helped me a lot growing up. I was always on pretty good teams, which helped make my a lot better and gave me that opportunity to get a college scholarship.
AD: Did you always want to be a pitcher?
JN: I mean, I did play a little bit of first [base] too, but when I was a kid I always threw. I was always one of the harder throwers in my age group. When you’re a tall, big kid, you tend to get funneled into that position as a pitcher whenever you’re big and you throw hard.
AD: How was your hitting?
JN: Oh, I don’t know. The last time I hit was in my freshman year of high school. We had designated hitters, so there wasn’t really much of a need. I wasn’t terrible, though.
AD: I understand you were actually drafted by the Cincinnati Reds back in 2007, but did not sign. Why?
JN: Yeah they drafted me right out of high school. It wasn’t enough money for me to sign, and it wasn’t enough money to skip college. I mean, I wanted to go to college to get a lot better to mature and grow into my body. I felt like I could get more after I’d proven myself. I was really excited about going to Alabama, too. They have a great staff and great facility and everything like that.
AD: How successful was the team when you were playing?
JN: We were always good. We were always the team that doesn’t have that many big-name players, but we always end up scrapping it out and fought until the end. We won a lot more games than we were expected to. We made it to regionals every year I was there, and then we made it to the super-regionals my junior year.
Jimmy Nelson: The 2010 Draft
AD: Back at the 2010 Draft, who was the first person to call you to let you know you’d been selected by the Milwaukee Brewers?
JN: I mean, the area scout called me that morning of the draft and said, “if we take you in this round will you sign for this much?” All I said to him was yes and that was pretty much the extent of my conversation. Before the Brewers came around I knew there were some other teams that were interested in me and passed me up.
I was 99 percent sure the Brewers were going to draft me, though. I was happy about it. It’s one of the best times of a prospect’s life. Just going through that process is very exciting and it’s just the beginning, really.
AD: Give us a breakdown on the pitches you throw.
JN: Well, I throw a sinker and a four-seam fastball, and I’m anywhere from 93-95 mph.
I’m primarily throwing sinkers, but I also have my slider — which has gotten a lot better. I went anywhere from 84 mph in college to 88-86 mph now. I’ve really developed my change-up this year, and that was probably one of the big points of this whole season. It’s gotten a whole lot better.
AD: So, developing your change-up has been the only real stress-point from the coaches of late?
JN: Yeah. Stuff-wise we’ve been working with the change-up because my other three pitches are pretty good. You know, the change-up is just a “feel” pitch and for a power-pitcher, that can be pretty hard to do.
AD: If you had to choose one word to describe your style of play on the mound, what would it be?
JN: Competitive. I wanted to say “intense”, but I’ll say competitive.
AD: Now, obviously scouts and “experts” around the country like what they see in you. Do you pay attention to the prospect rankings?
JN: Yeah, I mean, I appreciate it, but, you really can’t pay attention to that kind of stuff. We really try to shy away from that kind of stuff. We don’t need any distractions. I mean, we hear about it and just because we’re a rated prospect doesn’t make us any more likely to make it to the big-leagues than anybody else in the system. It’s just one of those things you know about, but we just try to ignore it.
AD: What are your expectations heading into next season? Do you know where you’re going to start?
JN: No, not really. No one really knows where they’re going to start. I mean, hopefully I’m able to get to double-A at some point this year. But, you never know what can happen. I mean, there’s some systems that guys go from single-A to the big leagues in one year. Its all just up to me to perform and do what I can, really.
AD: What are your career goals?
JN: I mean, of course I want to be in the big leagues as long as I can. I want to be able to help whatever team I’m with. Obviously, I want to win a World Series. Of course, everyone wants to have a 10-year big-league career, and every pitcher wants to win a Cy Young [award]. But if you ask anybody, getting to the big-leagues and staying there is the goal. Getting there is just half the battle, staying there is ultimately what I want to do. You know, just having a good career and being able to help people any way I can, and help the team as much as possible, really.
AD: Thanks for the insight, Jimmy. I really appreciate it.
JN: No problem, man. Anytime.
Alec Dopp covers the Milwaukee Brewers as a featured columnist on Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @alecdopp.
Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 16th round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Sarasota, Florida, 21-year-old
second baseman Scooter Gennett has quickly transformed himself into one of the top young minor league prospects in the Brewers’ organization.
Primarily known for his outstanding speed and quick hands at the plate, the Florida State product has used his athleticism and pure hitting skills to his advantage. In his first season with Milwaukee’s class-A affiliate Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Gennett hit .309 with 9 HR, 87 runs scored and 55 RBI. He was also able to amass 14 stolen bases as well as a .817 OPS.
Prior to the 2011 season, Gennett was swiftly promoted to high class-A Brevard County, where he would continue to strut his skills — only this time to a much more vigilant crowd.
In 134 games, (556 at-bats), the 5’9″, 170-pound infielder batted .300, including 9 HR, 51 RBI and 74 runs scored. His 167 hits were enough to lead all minor league prospects in Milwaukee’s system, and his .300 BA ranked fifth.
This fall, the youngster is currently honing his skill-set in the Arizona Fall League — MLB’s most preeminent and well-known league; a place where many of today’s top talents sharpened their games just a few years ago.
Through the league’s first nine games, Gennett has torched opposing pitching to the tune of a .395 BA, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 11 runs scored, 24 TB and a 1.097 OPS for the Peoria Javelinas.
On top of his superb hitting abilities, breathtaking athleticism and quickness, Gennett is also a great fielder. Having made the transition from shortstop (his natural position) to second base, the youngster can play virtually and infield position with outstanding effectiveness. His strong arm may even allow him to become a future third-baseman if need be.
He’s still a raw talent, but it seems as though the young Gennett is gaining more and more recognition as a prime-time prospect for the Brewers. If he continues to make strides down on the farm (he’s expected to start 2012 with class-AA Helena), he could become with Milwaukee by late 2103, and possibly a starting role by 2014.
Fully realizing that much of Milwaukee Brewers fans’ attention is fixated on the heroics of Ryan Braun and company, I’ll make this as simple and to-the-point as possible.
September call-ups Taylor Green, Jordan Schaefer and Michael Fiers have been able to become acclimated with the major-league pace during this historic month of September. Odds are they’ll likely take on a whole new role within Ron Roenicke’s lineup, possibly as soon as next season, with a number of contract dilemmas looming for Doug Melvin and company to deal with this offseason.
Let’s take a look at five prospects we can’t wait to see in 2012.
Mat Gamel, 1B
The 27-year-old Gamel has played, up to this point, his entire career in Milwaukee’s minor-league system, excluding his short-lived stint with the club back in the 2008 season. While this may not be appealing to Brewers fans, seen as how Prince Fielder’s exit will leave a colossal hole in Roenicke’s lineup, we should have confidence with what he brings to the table. His left-handed bat will be an ideal replacement for Fielder next season and into the future. Granted, he’ll need to clean up his rather sloppy defensive habits, however there’s no questioning his raw talent and aptitude at the next-level. A quick fact-check for all Gamel doubters: Since his first full minor-league season in the Brewers’ system way back in 2005, Gamel has registered 105 HR, 503 RBI, has a .304 BA while maintaining a .873 OPS. He won’t be anything close to what Fielder has been, but he’ll be good enough.
Wily Peralta, RHP
If there was one surefire September call-up bound to come to fruition last month, it would’ve certainly been Peralta. Finishing 2011 with a combined 3.17 ERA between AA-Hunstville and AAA-Nashville, Peralta, if nothing else, would have been a solid addition to add depth to Milwaukee’s bullpen for the strech run toward the postseason. Yet, for whatever reason, that largely anticipated call-up never happened — leaving us all scratching our heads in amazement. Nevertheless, expect to see the 22-year-old Peralta in a Brewers uniform by the end of 2012. With a number of discouraging contract situations looming, such as LaTroy Hawkins, you could make the case for the young right-hander to be in the bullpen on opening day.
Taylor Green, 3B
Unlike many top-tier prospects that have emerged from Milwaukee’s farm system in year’s past, Green has taken a much more unconventional route to the majors in that he has remained relatively unheard of by most Brewers fans. Spending five surprisingly productive seasons in the minors, Green has suddenly vaulted himself into a part-time role, with a full-time role potentially waiting for him in 2012. All Green has managed to do in his six minor league seasons is amass 71 home runs, 402 RBI, 142 doubles and maintain a .831 OPS. If he can transition that success into an everyday role with the Brewers, he’ll have a chance to become a fan-favorite and All-Star candidate in no time.
Michael Fiers, RHP
If you haven’t already heard of him, you might want to change that. The 26-year-old Fiers was recently named Milwaukee’s minor-league 2011 pitcher of the year, holding true to a combined 1.86 ERA with AA-Hunstville and AAA-Nashville. In 10 starts with the Sounds, Fiers went 10-0 with a stifling 1.11 ERA and 69 SO in 64.2 innings of work. His successes in 2011 were enough for the Brewers to bring him up from the minors, making his MLB debut on September 14, where he struck out two while allowing two hits in an inning of relief. Like Peralta, Fiers will more than likely get his shot at Milwaukee’s bullpen by 2012.
Logan Schaefer, OF
Though you’re probably more likely to recognize him from one of Sports Center’s most bizarre plays than for his on-field productivity, we shouldn’t lose sight of what the 25-year-old center fielder brings to the table. His 6’1″, 180-pound frame has enabled him to roam the outfield with great efficiency for three of Milwaukee’s top minor league affiliates in 2011. His bat isn’t half bad, either. Maintaining a .315 BA while accumulating 5 HR, 43 RBI and 16 SB this season, Shaefer was recalled from AAA-Nashville, adding another left-handed bat to Roenicke’s lineup, not to mention add some much-needed speed on the bases. With Nyjer Morgan’s contract situation yet to be handled, Shaefer could potentially be included in Milwaukee’s opening-day depth chart. We’ll have to wait and see.
Follow Alec Dopp on Twitter: @alecdopp.