Notes: Braun, Gallardo class of Minors
Anderson, Gwynn find way home; Nix, Gross recovering
MILWAUKEE -- Some consider the jump from Class A to Double-A to be the toughest a player has to make in his Minor League development. It didn't seem to faze two Brewers farmhands honored Tuesday.
Third baseman Ryan Braun and right-hander Yovani Gallardo, both of whom moved from Class A Brevard County to Double-A Huntsville at midseason, were named the 2006 Robin Yount Performance Award winners as the organization's Minor League player and pitcher of the year.
The team is planning to recognize both players in a ceremony prior to the Brewers-Giants game on Saturday.
"I feel like we have an extremely deep and talented Minor League system, so to be recognized as having the best year of that group is a really great honor," Braun said from his home in California.
Braun, 22, batted a combined .289 with 22 home runs, 77 RBIs and 26 stolen bases in 118 games this season. He was selected by the Brewers in the first round -- eighth overall -- in last year's First-Year Player Draft and played his first full season at third base after playing college ball at the University of Miami as a shortstop.
Promoted to Huntsville on June 21, Braun struck out 19 times in his 11 games, but rebounded by hitting .382 in July. He was actually better during his tenure against tougher competition at Huntsville than he was at Brevard, hitting .303 in 59 games with 15 of his 22 homers.
"When he was promoted we were in Mobile [Ala.], and I almost felt bad for him at first," said outfielder Drew Anderson, who joined the Brewers last week as a September callup. "That's a tough level, and it happens to almost all of us. But then, all of a sudden, he went off, and from then on he hit. It was ridiculous."
"He just had to get his feet on the ground," added Huntsville manager Don Money, who is spending the final two weeks of the Major League season on the Brewers coaching staff. "After about a week or 10 days he settled down and swung the bat well, and really got our offense kick-started.
"Unlike a lot of the young guys, he really has an idea up there at the plate. At times, maybe he still tries to do too much, but I think most guys will do that from time to time."
Huntsville's second-half surge landed it a place in the postseason, but the team was defeated by Montgomery in the league championship series. After a few weeks off, Braun will be among several players representing the Brewers in the Arizona Fall League, a prospect-laden league that begins play Oct. 10.
"It's a chance to get some more at-bats against good competition and to work on defense," he said. "I feel like I have as much range and arm strength as anybody in the big leagues, but I don't have the experience yet. So you just try to get as many reps there as you can."
Gallardo, 20, a second-round draft pick in 2004, also split the season between Brevard County and Huntsville, going a combined 11-5 with a 1.86 ERA in 26 starts. He held opponents to a .192 batting average while striking out 188 batters in just 155 innings.
"He's the most consistent pitcher I've ever seen," Braun said. "That says something, because I feel like I've played with some good ones."
Money said he wouldn't be surprised if both players make it to the Majors at some point in 2007.
"You just have to give them time. Be patient," he said. "You can't try to rush people, but you never know how things go."
Firsts: Anderson and Tony Gwynn, Jr. both scored their first Major League runs in Monday's 4-3 win over the Cardinals. Anderson was mobbed by teammates after scoring the winning run on Tony Graffanino's ninth-inning single.
"It was pretty special, definitely one of those things you never forget," Anderson said. "I had a feeling that he was going to get a hit. You saw his at-bat, and you could tell. He was fouling off so many good pitches. I kept trying to tell myself, 'Be ready every time.'
"He hit the ball hard, so I knew it was probably going to be a tight play, but I saw Prince [Fielder] jumping up and down, so I knew it wasn't going to be too close of a play."
Injury notes: Laynce Nix walked around the clubhouse on crutches Tuesday and will be off his feet for a month while recovering from surgery on his left big toe. Nix said he will not be able to sprint at full speed for about four months, but said he hopes to be ready for the start of Spring Training in February.
"That's why we had to get the surgery done now instead of after the season," said Nix, who was experiencing pain related to "turf toe."
Another injured outfielder, Gabe Gross, took batting practice and ran in the outfield on Tuesday afternoon but is not yet recovered from a strained left hamstring. Gross was available as a pinch-hitter, and hoped to know more about his condition after running through another series of drills on Wednesday.
"If I could get in one good week before the end of the season I would be happy," Gross said.
On deck: Right-hander Carlos Villanueva is scheduled to start Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. CT series finale against the Cardinals and right-hander Jeff Suppan. Villanueva, 22, is starting in place of Tomo Ohka, who was lost for the year on Saturday when he suffered a hamstring strain running out an infield single. Pending their offseason moves, the Brewers likely will consider the 22-year-old Villanueva for a spot in the starting rotation next season.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.