As we lead up to both the start of the 2008 season and our “Diamond Cutter” top 100 prospects list, I will be taking a look at the top five prospects from every single Major League team. Each team will have its top five prospects along with a brief scouting report on each player that I have pulled from my scouting notes. Today we continue on with the NL Central with the Milwaukee Brewers. As always, let me know how you feel about the rankings in the comments section below or via email.
1.) Matt LaPorta, 1B/OF: This former catcher is a big, strong power hitter who made a big name for himself in college. LaPorta has an easy loft to his swing and a strong, powerful frame which still has room to add some muscle. He has fantastic plate discipline and can flat out hit for power to all fields in any stadium. LaPorta doesn’t have much speed and has struggled some adjusting with his move to the outfield. He is a better fit at first base but that spot is already anchored down on the Brewers by Prince Fielder. It appears as if the Brewers will continue on with playing him in left.
2.) Manny Parra, LHP: If Parra can fight off the seemingly endless injury problems he can have some great success with the Brewers as a starter or long reliever. Parra’s greatest weapon is fastball combo with a low-90’s two-seam fastball and a mid-90’s four-seamer. Parra also has three developing secondary pitches including a splitter, curveball and most polished of the three, a change-up which he uses to keep hitters off balance from his hard fastball. As important as the work on his secondary pitches are to his success, more importantly he just needs to stay healthy and try to finish off a full season in the Majors.
3.) Jeremy Jeffress, RHP: Jeffress is an intense and confident young pitcher when he’s on the mound. The flamethrower has a strong fastball in the mid to upper-90’s and can dial it up to over 100 mph at times. He also has a nasty slider that he needs to become a little more consistent with as well as a developing curve and change-up. Even though he throws incredibly hard, he tends to lose velocity as games go on so that coupled with his slider and intensity make him the perfect candidate to be a closer when he hits the big leagues. If he can address his substance abuse problem (suspended 50 games last season which will carry over into 2008) he will have a very bright future ahead of him.
4.) Mat Gamel, 3B: Gamel has had a very consistent professional career so far and has shown he can handle himself at the plate. With a good eye at the plate, Gamel has the ability to hit to all fields and is a doubles machine. It appears as if the Brewers are drafting players with little concern for their defensive abilities (see Matt LaPorta and Ryan Braun) but it has worked out pretty well for them so far. Gamel just doesn’t have the footwork or the accuracy for the hot corner and with a slew of players without skill positions it should be interesting to see where he winds up.
5.) Alcides Escobar, SS: It’s good to see a Brewers prospect that wasn’t drafted solely for their offensive ability. Alcides Escobar is the exact opposite actually as defense is his strong point and offense is what is his a chilies heel. He is a great fielder with stellar range and a very strong throwing arm. But as I said, offense is his weak spot and needs to become a more patient hitter at the plate as he is a hacker. When he does put the ball in play he takes advantage of his speed very well. He’s a very good base runner but needs some work on his base stealing ability. If he can work on these things he could be a good lead off hitter down the road.
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