CHICAGO -- The Brewers have already signed 14 of the 51 players they selected last week in the First-Year Player Draft including their only local pick, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee right-hander Chad Pierce.Pierce, 23, of Fond du Lac, Wis., was assigned to the Brewers' advanced rookie affiliate in Helena, Mont. That team will begin workouts on Tuesday ahead of its June 21 season opener. The following players were also signed and assigned to Helena: Left-hander Michael Strong (10th round), right-hander Jacob Barnes (14th), right-hander Andrew Moye (15th), right-hander Sean Albury (31st), shortstop Adrian Williams (45th) and second baseman Gant Elmore (49th). The highest signee was ninth-rounder Malcolm Dowell, an 18-year-old center fielder from LaGrange (Ga.) High School. He was assigned to rookie-level Arizona, which also begins workouts Tuesday and opens its season on June 20. Nine others were signed and assigned to Arizona, including three undrafted players: Catcher Adam Weisenburger (34th round), right-hander Mitchell Conner (36th), right-hander Casey Medlen (37th), third baseman Jalen Harris (41st), left-hander Mike Francisco (48th), right fielder Matthew Franco (50th), right-hander Gregory Davis (undrafted), right fielder Brandon Macias (undrafted) and left-hander Stephen Peterson (undrafted). The deadline for teams to sign their Draft picks is 11 p.m. CT on Aug. 15.
Saito's planned return pushed back a few days
CHICAGO -- A day after he was scratched from a rehabilitation assignment at Class A Wisconsin, Brewers reliever Takashi Saito was cleared by a club doctor to try again on Tuesday or Wednesday at Triple-A Nashville.The precise plan was still being formulated when assistant general manager Gord Ash briefed reporters about Saito, who was in Appleton, Wis., on Sunday to rehab a left rib-cage strain when he reported feeling tightness in his upper back. "He just didn't feel right. He didn't want to push it," Ash said. By Monday, when Saito was examined again by head team physician William Raasch, that sensation was gone. Saito's original schedule called him to pitch Sunday in Appleton, then Tuesday and Thursday in Nashville before re-joining the Brewers over the weekend in Boston. The Brewers may push him to Wednesday and Friday, Ash said, and will likely add an appearance or two beyond those games. That would push Saito's return to the big league bullpen into the Brewers' next homestand. It's the second time this season that Saito went out on a rehab assignment and returned to Milwaukee with a different injury. He was working back from a quadriceps strain in late April when he developed the rib-cage problem. Saito, 41, has been limited to two appearances this season because of injuries. He was supposed to be the Brewers' primary setup man for John Axford after making at least 45 appearances with an ERA of 2.83 or better in each of his first five Major League seasons. The Japanese import made 56 appearances in each of the past two seasons, including last year with Atlanta. "If he duplicated what he did last year, he would have been a pretty important component for us," Ash said. "If we get him healthy for the second half, it will be like making a trade."
Prospect just killin' it at Class A Brevard County
CHICAGO -- If you think Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder is on a hot streak, check out what outfielder Brock Kjeldgaard is doing down at Class A Brevard County. His name is pronounced "KILL-guard," and he's been killing Florida State League pitching.Kjeldgaard has a stranglehold on the FSL's Player of the Week Award, winning the honor Monday for the third consecutive week after batting .400 (8-for-20) with a double, a triple, three home runs, nine RBIs, six runs scored and a pair of stolen bases. The 25-year-old Canadian has already belted 17 home runs, one shy of the Manatees' record for an entire season. You have to have played in the pitcher-friendly FSL to understand how impressive 17 homers on June 13 really is, said Brewers slugger Ryan Braun. Space Coast Stadium is big enough without the seemingly constant ocean breeze blowing in, and nearly every ballpark in the league is pitcher-friendly. Braun hit seven homers in 59 FSL games in 2006. "I hated that place," Braun said. "That's a really tough place to hit." Kjeldgaard's OPS is a Fielder-esque .969. Not bad for a prospect who began his professional career as a pitcher, drafted by the Brewers in the 34th round in 2005. Kjeldgaard did not convert to a position player until the start of the 2008 season, and since then has hit 68 home runs with 258 RBIs in three-plus seasons. He also strikes out a lot -- 524 times in his first 428 Minor League games. "When the fastball wasn't going to be enough, we decided to give him a shot in the field," said Brewers farm director Reid Nichols, who has been at Brevard County over the past few days. "He showed a powerful swing, but he hasn't played a lot of baseball coming from Canada. [Manatees hitting coach] Dwayne Hosey and [Minor League hitting coordinator] Darnell Coles made a mechanical adjustment to try and help cut down his strikeouts, and it helped his pitch selection as well." Said Brewers first base coach Garth Iorg, who worked with Kjeldgaard in the Minors: "He's always going to strike out, but when he touches it, it goes."
Injured Brewers relievers Brandon Kintzler (triceps) and Manny Parra (elbow) are struggling at the team's rehab facility in Phoenix, Ash said. Kintzler underwent another MRI scan on Friday to determine if there have been changes in his sore right triceps. The results are still pending. And the Brewers are considering "other forms of intervention," for Parra, who has a strained ulnar collateral ligament and flexor tendon in his left elbow. Ash could not detail that intervention because it was still being formulated, though he was not talking about Tommy John surgery.Asked whether the problem was only physical or something else, Ash said. "I can't tell you that. I'm not sure he can tell you that. You just treat the physical conditions that present themselves, and he gets two-thirds of the way up the hill, and then has to slide back down. We're going to try to get him something that will get him over the hill." Left-hander Mitch Stetter (hip) was doing better, Ash said, and had advanced to "incline throwing." That means throwing from part of the way up the pitcher's mound. Top pitching prospect Mark Rogers had gotten some relief from carpal tunnel syndrome in his right wrist thanks to a cortisone injection, but will need surgery at some point, according to Ash. Rogers is throwing off flat ground and hoping to delay surgery until after the season.