The Milwaukee Brewers have had a very original method to drafting the past few years. This can be seen by looking down the list of their top 10-20 prospects and seeing one big thing lacking from many of them: defense. You can see this very clearly by their best prospects over the past couple of seasons with players like Ryan Braun, Matt LaPorta (now in Cleveland) and again in Mat Gamel. While the Brewers pro club isn’t exactly beaming with defense it makes sense that the organization as a whole may not be focusing too heavily on it either. Of course one thing they do have a abundance of is sluggers both on their pro roster and through their system. With that being said, let’s take a look at the top five prospects for the Milwaukee Brewers:
1.) Mat Gamel
Position: Third Base | Statistics | Video | 2008 Rank: #4
Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 195
Scouting Report: Gamel has had a very consistent professional career so far and has shown he can handle himself at the plate with a fantastic, pure swing. 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 (most recently 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. Of course with the way this kid can hit, they will find a spot for him somewhere.
2.) Alcides Escobar
Position: Shortstop | Statistics | Video | 2008 Rank: #5
Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Height: 6-1 | Weight: 175
Scouting Report: Escobar has come a long way with his bat and has changed my mind from last year’s scouting report when I said that it’s good to see a Brewers prospect that wasn’t drafted solely for their offensive ability considering how bad his bat was at the time. He is a great fielder with stellar range and a very strong throwing arm. Escobar has improved his overall hitting ability and now isn’t a liability as he once was. He’s able to put the ball in play a lot more and takes advantage of his speed very well. He’s a very good base runner but needs some work on his base stealing ability. Again, I can’t stress enough what a nice turnaround he has made. Now rather than projecting him as a defensive specialist, I can see him as a nice number two hitter in the lineup and maybe even take home some Gold Gloves in the future.
3.) Jeremy Jeffress
Position: Pitcher | Statistics | Video | 2008 Rank: #3
Bats: Left | Throws: Right | Height: 6-0 | Weight: 197
Scouting Report: 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 if he doesn’t pan out as a starter. If he can address his substance abuse problem (suspended 50 games between 2007 and 2008) he will have a very bright future ahead of him. He’s still learning how to pitch and put everything together so there’s no telling what he’s truly capable of.
4.) Brett Lawrie
Position: Catcher | Statistics | Video | 2008 Rank: NR
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Height: 5-11 | Weight: 200
Scouting Report: There is mixed reviews on this Canadian prospect for a couple of reasons. For one its always more difficult to scout players from Canadian high schools as there just isn’t as much attention or scouting done. The second reason is due to the giant question mark around his defense. While he is athletic, quick and has a plus arm, he lacks basic catching skills which holds him back from keeping this as his primary position. If he’s able to learn the footwork, blocking and game calling skills he could pass as a catcher but if nothing improves he most likely will be moved out from behind the plate. However one thing that isn’t questioned is his incredible plus, plus raw power. He has the potential to hit a lot of home runs as a pro but he does need to work on his approach and eye at the plate as he gives a lot of the outer half of the plate with his open stance. But boy does this kid have power.
5.) Angel Salome
Position: Catcher | Statistics | Video | 2008 Rank: NR
Bats: Right | Throws: Right | Height: 5-7 | Weight: 190
Scouting Report: Yet another catcher in the top five for the Brewers but this one is better defensively that Lawrie. Built like a little tank behind the plate (very similar to Ivan Rodriguez), Salome has a plus arm which garners him a lot of attention and helps him shut down his opponent’s running games. He is very athletic which translates well while at catcher. Again the Brewers have a very strong offensive catcher with Salome and has the ability to hit for a pretty good average and drive in runs. The Brewers actually have a third highly ranked catching prospect in Jon Lucroy who too has a strong bat so it should be interesting to see what happens with these three down the road.
2008 Rankings: (1) Matt LaPorta, (2) Manny Parra, (3) Jeremy Jeffress, (4) Mat Gamel, (5) Alcides Escobar
By Matthew Whipps
“The Diamond Cutter“
Major & Minor League Baseball Columnist
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