HOUSTON -- The Brewers have reached preliminary agreements with two more First-Year Player Draft picks, second-round selection Jorge Lopez and fifth-rounder Michael Reed, two baseball sources said Friday.
Lopez, a prep school right-hander from Puerto Rico, and Reed, an outfielder from Leander (Texas) High School, must pass physical examinations before their contracts are complete. Formal announcements are expected from the Brewers within days.
The deadline for teams to sign their 2011 Draft picks is 10:59 p.m. CT on Aug. 15, and talks between the Brewers and their two first-round picks, collegiate pitchers Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley, could go right to that date. Both are coming off their junior seasons and are represented by high-profile agents -- Alan Hendricks for Jungmann and Greg Genske for Bradley.
Brewers general manager Doug Melvin sent a letter to both players making a case for signing early and reporting to a Minor League affiliate. Now, it is evident that their professional debuts will not come until 2012.
"We're not alone with that," assistant general manager Gord Ash said, pointing to the large number of first-round Draft picks who remain unsigned. "The problem is there's no advantage to signing at this point. They might as well just wait to the end and see what happens.
"I can never [understand] it. If you get out and play, especially players of this caliber, you can be in the big leagues a year to a year and a half sooner. You're waiting to start your own clock, and where is the money made? I don't care what bonus you get, it's going to pale when compared to what you're going to get in the big leagues. For me, this isn't about the kids as much as the high-visibility agents wanting to ensure that their recruiting record is intact."
Talks are ongoing but informal to this point, Ash said.
"You can't negotiate with yourself," he said.
According to Baseball America, Reed received a $500,000 bonus, well over Major League Baseball's $154,800 recommendation for his slot.
Counsell singles, puts forgettable streak to rest
HOUSTON -- Craig Counsell had the last laugh on Friday, when he snapped the long slump that had become fodder for late-night comedians.A day after Stephen Colbert lampooned Counsell's drought, it was over, thanks to a well-struck single to right field in the ninth inning of Milwaukee's 8-1 rout of the Astros. It was Counsell's first hit since a three-hit game against the Cardinals on June 10, a span of 57 days. The knock, which ended an 0-for-45 drought, sparked the sort of dugout celebration usually reserved for much more dramatic feats. Counsell, it should be noted, has enjoyed a few of those during his 16-year Major League career. "It was almost like I had been throwing a no-hitter and nobody would talk to me about it," Counsell said. They could talk again Friday. Even Counsell, who hours earlier had declined a reporter's request to discuss the slump. "It's been ugly, it's been bad," he said after the game. "It's a relief to just do something right." The hit spared Counsell further comparisons with Bill Bergen, a light-hitting catcher in the early 1900s who was considered by some the worst Major League hitter in history. Depending on your source, Counsell's 0-for-45 either matched or fell one shy of Bergen's 1909 record for consecutive hitless at-bats in a single season. The Brewers, based on data from the Elias Sports Bureau, say the record is 0-for-45. But the Society for American Baseball Research says Bergen was 0-for-46, the figure cited Thursday by the New York Times in a story about Counsell and White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn challenging some of Bergen's 100-year-old records. Dunn entered Friday hitting .167. Bergen owns the lowest season batting average for a regular position player, at .139. Counsell and Dunn are each accomplished Major Leaguers enduring awful seasons. Perfect fodder for comedian Colbert, who lampooned both players on his Colbert Report on Thursday night. Colbert blamed Counsell's troubles on his new, simplified batting stance. Until three years ago, Counsell waited in the batter's box with hands famously high over his head, which, Colbert joked, "made him ineffective against curveballs, but deadly against pinatas." Counsell was not laughing. It had become difficult for teammates, too, and for manager Ron Roenicke, who had on several occasions defended Counsell's very place on the team. Roenicke lauded Counsell's defense, and his role in the clubhouse as mentor. "It's big," Roenicke said of the hit. "You're feeling for a guy and you want him to do it, and he finally comes through. It's a nice relief." For him or for everybody? "Everybody!" Roenicke said. "You feel for the guy." "I don't know if you guys heard us in the dugout, but we were yelling," winning pitcher Yovani Gallardo said. "We were pretty excited. That's the kind of team we have here. We help each other out." Someday, Counsell said, maybe he will look back on the last two months and laugh. It will be a while. "Look, I've played a long time," Counsell said. "You have great experiences in the game, and I don't know if this is a great experience, but it was definitely an experience. ... I'm glad it's over."
McGehee enjoys chat with young fan
HOUSTON -- Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee had a brief telephone chat Friday with 7-year-old Clayton Wollner, the young fan whose request for a home run was answered with three McGehee blasts in Wednesday's win over the Cardinals.
McGehee signed one of his home run balls to be sent to Wollner, and hopes the publicity generated by this feel-good story serves a purpose. Wollner was born with a condition called craniosynostosis, which prevents his skull from growing properly. He's already had seven surgeries, the most recent on July 13 at Children's Hospital.
"Hopefully, the best thing that will come out of it is they'll be able to use this as a platform to make people more aware of what Clayton has gone through," said McGehee, whose own young son, Mack, has cerebral palsy.
"It's the same way I've been able to make people a little more aware of cerebral palsy," he said. "Maybe this will open some doors for them or other people going through that. Hopefully, there's something bigger that will come out of it."
Yankees catcher Jorge Posada's son has the same condition as Clayton, and Posada's charity raises funds and awareness for similar children.
"Hopefully, people with kids who get this diagnosis know they're not alone," McGehee said.
Former first-round pick Arnett earns promotion
HOUSTON -- The Brewers gave 2009 first-round Draft pick Eric Arnett a promotion on Friday, a positive development for a player who has not enjoyed too many of them in his brief professional career.
Arnett, now 23, was bumped from rookie-level Helena to Class A Wisconsin.
"He went to Helena with a purpose and fulfilled that purpose," assistant general manager Gord Ash said. "He's throwing the ball much better this year."
Forget Arnett's 5.19 ERA in nine starts at Helena, Ash said.
"Between the level of play and the official scoring, you don't put a lot of emphasis on the statistical numbers, Ash said. "All of the reports, from the scouts who have seen him and the pitching coach [Elvin Nina] and manager [Joe Ayrault] there have been positive. He had one bad game, and that was it."
Arnett is pitching with more aggressiveness than the Brewers had seen during Arnett's struggle-filled first two seasons. He's also bringing more velocity, pitching comfortably in the low 90s and topping at 94 mph.
A shoulder injury sidelined Arnett for the first half of 2011, but that issue is behind him, Ash said.