Brewers promote top prospect Braun
Third baseman slugged 10 homers at Triple-A Nashville
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers pulled the trigger late Thursday on one of the most speculated roster moves in club history, promoting top positional prospect Ryan Braun to the Majors in hopes of sparking a slumping offense.
A spot for Braun opened when the team placed right-handed reliever Elmer Dessens on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain. That move was retroactive to May 19.
But instead of replacing Dessens with another pitcher, the Brewers opted for Braun, 23, a third baseman who was batting .342 with 10 home runs, 22 RBIs and four steals in 33 games at Triple-A Nashville this season. Braun will likely be in the starting lineup when the Brewers begin a three-game series in San Diego on Friday night.
"I think Ned [Yost] is going to play him," said Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, referring to the Brewers' manager. "It would make sense right now, and I talked with Ned about it this afternoon."
The Brewers dropped two of three games in Los Angeles this week and have lost four consecutive series after winning or splitting 11 of their first 12. Still, at 28-19, they are comfortably in first place in the National League Central.
Braun nearly made the big-league club out of Spring Training, batting .353 with five homers in 11 games. But he also committed four errors, and the team chose instead to stick with veterans Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino at third base.
Those players have struggled at the plate. Counsell is batting .231 on the season and Graffanino .187, and while manning third those two have combined for a .593 OPS, 27th of the 30 Major League teams in third-base production.
The Astros made a similar move when the Brewers were in Houston last month, promoting top prospect Hunter Pence and then going on a hot streak. Melvin argued that the Brewers' circumstance is a bit different.
"We're sitting nine games above .500 right now," Mevlin said. "We think Ryan Braun is going to be a good big-league hitter, we've got a lot of confidence, but the thing is that no one player can carry a team for a whole season."
Braun will wear No. 8 with the Brewers, and will be making his Major League debut.
He was selected by the Brewers in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Miami, and entered the season as the second-best prospect in the organization according to Baseball America, behind right-hander Yovani Gallardo.
Assuming Braun starts, the Brewers will field a starting lineup heavy on home-grown players. Regular starters drafted by the team include first baseman Prince Fielder, second baseman Rickie Weeks, shortstop J.J. Hardy, left fielder Geoff Jenkins and center fielder Bill Hall. Outfielders Tony Gwynn, Jr. and Corey Hart have also started at times as part of a right-field rotation.
In 2006, Braun batted .289 with 22 home runs, 77 RBIs and 26 stolen bases in 118 games between Class A Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville and was named the organization's Minor League Player of the Year. He then played for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League and was named to the All-Prospect Team after batting .326 with six home runs and 25 RBIs in 25 games.
Dessens was 1-1 with a 6.60 ERA in 12 relief appearances for the Brewers this season.
"We don't think it's too serious with Elmer," Melvin said. "The risk is that we only have 11 pitchers now, but hopefully with the off-day [Thursday] we will go into this series at full strength. If we run into any extra-inning games, we might have to make another move."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.