9/18/2013 3:00 A.M. ET
Nelson reflects on time with 'Baby Brewers'
By Adam McCalvy and Kevin Massoth / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- While the big league Brewers continued the season's final homestand, the "Baby Brewers" played for the Pioneer League Championship in Helena, Mont.
Three years ago, right-hander Jimmy Nelson was a Helena Brewer, closing a long season that began at the University of Alabama and ended with Nelson winning a ring. The 2010 Helena club, which also included Tyler Thornburg, beat Ogden in the championship round.
"When you're a young guy like that, it's pretty cool; it gives you a lot of confidence," Nelson said. "It shows how quick guys, even though they don't know each other, can come together as a team. You learn to bond with guys real quick, and it shows talent."
Tuesday's starter for Helena was right-hander Barrett Astin, Milwaukee's third-round Draft pick this year out of Arkansas. In 2010, Nelson was the Brewers' second-round pick out of Alabama. Helena lost Tuesday's game, 6-0.
Nelson remembers feeling gassed by the time that season came to an end.
"I essentially played from February to the end of September," he said. "That's a long time. But going into a full season after that, whether it's Low A or High A, it makes it easier. I went to [Class A] Wisconsin after that, and I had no problem getting through a full season. … It's kind of like a 'throw you in the deep end' type of thing. You learn how to swim quick. It's a good experience."
Brewers to evaluate team with 2014 in mind
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers baseball operations officials, including manager Ron Roenicke and his coaching staff, were scheduled to gather Wednesday morning in the Miller Park war room to dissect the roster with an eye toward 2014 and discuss what went wrong this season.
Some of the answers are obvious. Injuries eliminated much of the heart of the Brewers' batting order long before Ryan Braun was lost to suspension. The starting pitching was awful early on, particularly in May, when a 6-22 record took the Brewers out of contention.
Still, general manager Doug Melvin wants to hear ideas about how individual players and the team as a whole can be better in 2014.
"We visit all year, but this is an opportunity to review all of the statistical stuff, get everyone up to date about some of our Minor League guys, and to go over all of our players," Melvin said. "Some of it is philosophical stuff, like building a team for our ballpark, which presents some challenges. We'll look at our pitching here versus on the road -- is that something we have to be concerned about, or a one-year thing?"
Melvin already met individually with Milwaukee coaches during the Brewers' last road trip.
Roenicke characterized such meetings in the past as candid.
"I voice my opinion," Roenicke said. "I may be a little different than the coaches, but our coaches are pretty honest about what they see. It's important to be honest. Say Doug likes somebody and everybody says, 'Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I like him, too,' and now that guy doesn't turn out well. It's like, 'Why didn't any of you guys tell me he had these flaws?'
"My responsibility to Doug and to [owner] Mark [Attanasio] is what I see. You want to be optimistic about all of your players, but you better talk about the things that you see that could happen."
Club officials will take particular care to evaluate their young pitchers along with first base and second base, their two most unsettled positions. In Roenicke's view, the Brewers are only a few minor moves and a big dose of good health from being competitive.
"I don't think there needs to be big moves," Roenicke said. "I don't know if we can make big moves. I think the big moves are going to be how these young guys, especially on the mound, end up for us. If they can progress the way we think that they can, that's a big move."
Double-A manager Coles joins Brewers' staff
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers' coaching staff grew a bit Monday when Double-A Huntsville manager Darnell Coles joined the team for the last few weeks of the season.
Coles, who played parts of 14 seasons in the Major Leagues and won a World Series with the Blue Jays in 1993, will provide an extra set of eyes for manager Ron Roenicke.
Coles completed his second season as the Stars' manager Sept. 2, his team finishing well short of the postseason with a 59-79 record.
"I think we played well at times and struggled at times," Coles said. "I think it was just an up-and-down year. But a lot of player development, guys getting better."
In a disappointing season throughout the Brewers' farm system -- the only postseason play coming from advanced rookie-league Helena -- Coles said there were steps taken forward at Huntsville.
"A lot of times wins and losses take a back seat to development," Coles said. "A lot of these guys are going to play along the way up the ladder."
The biggest bright spot for the Stars was Jason Rogers, who earned Brewers Minor League Player of the Year honors and will accept his award prior to Saturday's game between the Brewers and the Cardinals at Miller Park.
Rogers, who hit .270 with 22 home runs and 87 RBIs, was primarily a first baseman this year, but Coles said the Brewers' 2010 32nd-round Draft pick had worked to add third base to his repertoire, a position that is thin throughout the Brewers' system.
"Adding third base to the picture is going to help him long term," said Coles, noting Rogers played mostly third base at Columbus State University. "It's just getting back in a routine where he feels comfortable at third. Then we'll have to see how it plays out."
Coles also noted there were some promising campaigns from pitchers at Huntsville, mentioning Taylor Jungmann, David Goforth, Andy Moye, Kevin Shackelford and Ariel Pena as standouts this season.
"There are some good pitchers on the horizon," Coles said. "You're trying to put guys in the position to be as successful as they possibly can. When you have guys that are starters, you're trying to build starting pitching first and go from there. There are some good starters on the way."
• Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado felt particularly blessed to play baseball Tuesday, when Roberto Clemente Day was celebrated throughout the Major Leagues. Clemente, like Maldonado, hailed from Puerto Rico.
"It means a lot, being from the same island that he was," Maldonado said. "It's a privilege to be here on this day."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.