03/30/10 10:00 AM ET
Brewers' 2010 organization preview
Pitching starting to catch up to tradition of offensive depth
By Lisa Winston / MLB.com
With an organization noted for its depth and breadth of quality hitters coming through the system, the Brewers concentrated a little more this spring on adding polished pitching to the fold via the First-Year Player Draft and that is reflected in their updated preseason prospects rankings. In their first Draft under new scouting director Bruce Seid, the club signed its first 23 picks and brought in a good balance of hitters and pitchers, many of them polished college products. Their preseason top 10 is similarly balanced, though still weighted toward the offensive side.
The Brewers already boast a largely homegrown crop of top players, such as Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, and there could be some on this list who join them soon.
Alcides Escobar, SS
Whether by coincidence or design, the Brewers' shortstop of the future fell one at-bat shy of losing rookie eligibility last season, making him an immediate favorite for National League Rookie of the Year honors in 2010. The defensive whiz, signed out of Venezuela in 2003, has added the offense needed to make him a well-rounded future star, busting out in '08, when he hit .328 with 76 RBIs and 34 steals at Double-A Huntsville and finishing third in the Minors in hits. In '09, he stole 42 bases at Triple-A Nashville, hitting .298, before he batted .304 in 125 at-bats with the big club.
Trent Oeltjen, OF
Signed as a six-year free agent, the Australian-born veteran opened a lot of eyes in a breakthrough season with Arizona in 2009, though he came up through the Minnesota organization. His 14 triples at Triple-A Reno tied him for third in the Minors, as he hit .303 with 10 homers and 64 RBIs and was impressive in his big league debut. He could factor into the Brewers' picture as a backup outfielder and bat off the bench.
Angel Salome, C
The Brewers have depth at catcher, with two on their preseason top prospects 10 list, but it's the 5-foot-7 200-pound "pocket Pudge" with the cannon arm who could see more time in the bigs this year. His numbers fell off somewhat last year, but when a .286 season in his Triple-A debut is considered a disappointment, it says something about a bat's upside. He won the Southern League batting title in 2008 at Huntsville, hitting .360 with 13 homers and 83 RBIs in just 98 games. He's a line-drive hitter to all fields with one of the best arms in the Minors.
Wily Peralta, RHP
The 20-year-old Dominican has the potential to feature a plus-fastball with plenty of movement as well as a promising slider, and he is working on developing a changeup, which would give him a serviceable third pitch as a starter. Coming off Tommy John surgery, he worked as a tandem starter last season at Class A Wisconsin to ease back into the grind of innings. Overall, he posted a 3.47 ERA in 27 games, 15 starts, striking out 118 in 103 2/3 innings.
Amaury Rivas, RHP
The Brewers' choice for their Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009, Rivas was 13-7 with a 2.98 ERA at advanced Class A Brevard County, and ranked among the Florida State League leaders in several categories. He finished strong, with a 5-1 record and 2.10 ERA in August, throwing a fastball in the low 90s with a plus-changeup. He's adding a slider, which is still a work in progress.
Mark Rogers, RHP
The fifth-overall pick in the 2004 Draft out of high school in Maine, Rogers has already missed significant time over the years due to several shoulder operations, but in 2009, he appeared healthy and ready to return to his former position of top prospect. His fastball was in the mid-90s after missing '07 and '08, and his secondary pitches were solid once again. He posted a 1.67 ERA in 23 games at Brevard County, limiting hitters to a .201 average as the team used caution with him. If he can repeat that success, it would be a great feel-good story and good news for Brewers fans.
Cody Scarpetta, RHP
An 11th-round pick in the 2007 Draft, Scarpetta throws a fastball in the mid-90s and a power breaking ball. On the 40-man roster ahead of schedule due to contractual issues, he posted a 3.52 ERA in the Midwest League in 2009 and should continue to move up the ladder.
RHP Eric Arnett (1) was taken with the 26th pick in the first round out of Indiana University. He's armed with a sinker that can clock anywhere from the high 80s to the mid 90s and a slider with plus-potential, he posted a 4.41 ERA in 14 games at Class A Helena, striking out 35 in 34 2/3 innings. ... OF Kentrail Davis (1s) Will make his pro debut this season after signing late out of Tennessee. A left-handed hitter with a quick bat, he has great raw power potential and speed. ... RHP Kyle Heckathorn (1s) was taken out of Kennesaw State (Ga.) with the 47th pick and posted a 6.04 ERA in a brief six-game stint at Helena, walking four and striking out 15 batters in 22 1/3 innings. ... OF Max Walla (2) was drafted out of high school in New Mexico and hit .201 in 32 games in the Arizona League in his debut. He has raw power, a solid bat and good makeup. ... C Cameron Garfield (2) was slowed by an ankle injury as a high school senior but was one of the best defensive players in the Brewers' Draft class. He hit .248 with four homers and 21 RBIs at Helena. ... Speedy SS Joshua Prince (3) out of Tulane swiped 26 bases in just 36 games at Helena, leading the league, and finished with 38 steals between Helena and Class A Wisconsin, good for fourth in the organization. He had led NCAA Division I with 48 steals before the Draft. ... OF D'Vontrey Richardson (5) signed too late to play last season, but the star quarterback out of Florida State has great speed, athleticism and raw power. ... Power-hitting 1B Sean Halton (13) out of Lewis-Clark State led the organization with a .340 average at Helena, adding six homers and 43 RBIs.
Hitter of the Year -- Kentrail Davis, OF
The supplemental first-rounder out of Tennessee could be the shining star of the system in his pro debut as he hits a full-season club this spring. The 39th player taken overall in the 2009 Draft, he has great speed and raw power potential. A quick left-handed bat is another asset of the 5-foot-9, 200-pounder.
Pitcher of the Year -- Zach Braddock, LHP
Braddock missed time in July and August due to injuries last season, but he's now healthy and could move up very quickly. Boasting one of the best arms in the system, he had a 1.09 ERA in 14 games at Brevard County and limited hitters to a .143 average before moving up to Huntsville and posted a 2.87 ERA in limited action between DL stints. Overall he combined for a 1.79 ERA and a .193 average against in 40 1/3 innings, walking seven and striking out 62 batters. The 18th-round pick in the 2005 Draft moved to the 'pen in '09 and really took off in that new role, where he could be a good fit in the big leagues.
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.