Just days following the Zack Greinke trade, the Brewers made yet another roster splash when it was announced they had recalled 22-year-old and newly acquired shortstop Jean Segura from double-A Huntsville to take over the starting job at shortstop on Monday night. Segura, the centerpiece to the aforementioned trade, held a stifling .433/.500/.533 line in his first eight games with the organization and apparently received a vote of confidence from management having been recalled to the big-league roster just days after being dealt.
The transaction may have seemed a bit abrupt to some, but it should come as no surprise to most that the Brewers are in somewhat of a rush to indoctrinate many of their top prospects to the big-leagues. General manager Doug Melvin and owner Mark Attanasio remain staunch in their believe that Milwaukee will have the pieces necessary to compete for a division title in 2013, and its tough to argue with that notion when you consider the fact that A.) The Brewers have witnessed significant improvements down on the farm this season, B.) They [should] be at full health by the start of next season and also that C.) Rickie Weeks’ god-awful offensive yield this season can’t possibly replicate itself over 162 or some odd games next season.
In all seriousness, though, there should be no reason to believe Milwaukee won’t have those essential pieces to make a run at the playoffs next season. However, as this season begins to wind down, there are a few things that have yet to be checked off the “to-do” list, and it all begins on September 1 when rosters expand from 25 to 40.
Which Brewers prospects have the best odds of being recalled to Ron Roenicke’s 40-man September roster? Let’s start our list by ranking the five most plausible:
1.) Tyler Thornburg, RHP (stats)
Making mince meat of double-A Southern League hitters in the first half of the season, Thornburg became the darling of Brewers fans everywhere when he made his first big-league start on June 19. Since then, he’s seen limited time, making just one other start to go with three separate relief appearances for Ron Roenicke. Consequently, management demoted back to triple-A Nashville on July 30 for him to regain his rhythm as a starter, and he’s performed well ever since.
In a system that’s been yearning for a young player to step up and fill at the very least a somewhat important role this season, Thornburg has made his name known. For that reason, you can wager your mortgage that he’ll be on the 40-man September roster.
2.) Wily Peralta, RHP (stats)
Command issues plagued the early stages of what looked to be his final season in the minors, but after making his big-league debut in late April, he’s come around quite nicely. This past month, Peralta, 23, posted a 2.78 ERA and 1.31 WHIP over six starts, held batters to a .275 batting average and struck out over a batter per inning. His first August start was one to forget (3.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 BB, 6 K), but his swing-and miss stuff that has made him Milwaukee’s top hurler on the farm still remains.
With such a blatant shortage of arms out of the bullpen, it’s tough to imagine a scenario where Peralta isn’t on the 40-man roster come September; the Brewers have questions to answer regarding their starting-five next season, and they’ll need to determine if he’s the mid-to-backline starter scouts project him becoming in the near future.
3.) Logan Schafer, OF (stats)
My top-rated Brewers position prospect when the season started, Schafer’s entire 2012 campaign has been spent in triple-A Nashville where he’s strove to return to the big-league roster as he did last September. But after a strong spring training, Schafer struggled to hit the ball where defenders were not, resulting in an uncharacteristically low .266 average between April and May. Schafer regathered himself to hit a scintillating .354/.385/.521 in June but was equally as abhorrent in July where he posted an on-base percentage of .197 — yes, 1.97. To make matters worse, Schafer was placed on the 7-day disabled list on July 30 where he was reported to have a sore left knee and hasn’t suited up since.
Seen as a player with a chance to see legitimate playing time in 2013, things just haven’t gone Schafer’s way this season and his odds of making the 40-man roster next month have consequently taken a beating. I still think there’s a very good chance he’s recalled, as Roenicke could use his base-running prowess on a few occasions, but not to the extent of which we all previously thought.
4.) Taylor Green, 2B/3B (stats)
Receiving a decent amount of playing time after his recall from triple-A in early May, Green’s offensive output just wasn’t up to snuff and he was demoted back to Nashville early on in July, where the Brewers hoped he’d return to his slugging ways just in case Aramis Ramirez was dealt (it didn’t happen) at the trade deadline.
Unfortunately, Green hasn’t been able to tap into his power stroke, garnering just a .372 slugging percentage between July and August. He’s still a serviceable defender at third but all signs point to Ramirez sticking there for the remainder of the season as his own statistics continue to climb. Expect Green on the 40-man roster but as a pinch-hitter/runner almost exclusively.
5.) Caleb Gindl, OF (stats)
Coming off one heck of a 2011 season in triple-A where he hit .307/.390/.472 with a .357 BABIP, Gindl too seemed on the cusp of getting some real playing time by the beginning of 2013. A disciplined hitter with a very good approach at the plate, the stocky outfielder impressed Ron Roenicke this past spring. Since then, he’s been anything but impressive (at least up to his standards). With a career-worst .246/.302/.392 line to go with a heightened amount of strikeouts and diminished walks, Gindl’s big-league future has been put in serious doubt and his odds at making the 40-man roster have also taken a blow.
The Brewers are and will be heavy in outfielders, so there’s a slim chance he gets any substantial playing time should he make the September roster. Right now I’d say he has a 50/50 shot at making it.
Others (in no particular order)
Johnny Hellweg, RHP — A bit of a stretch considering he’s still in double-A ball, but its tough to ignore a guy who throws upwards of 100 MPH and has future strikeout machine written all over him. Will need to work on control issues but some big-league experience next month would do him wonders.
Jeff Bianchi, SS — Despite Segura and Cody Ransom already on the roster, the Brewers simply cannot get enough infield help so they might as well consider promoting him next month.
Tim Dillard, RHP — I don’t necessarily care for his stuff, but he can be good.
Hiram Burgos, RHP — The starting rotation is in disarray anyways, so why not try out one of Milwaukee’s top pitcher-of-the-year candidates a few times?
Fautino De Los Santos, RHP — Melvin might as well see what he got in return for Kottaras.
Mitch Stetter, LHP — Why not recall a southpaw reliever?
Edwin Maysonet, SS — Is it possible to have too many shortstops on this roster? There is a limit, but it has yet to be reached even with Maysonet.
Eric Farris, 2B — Elite speed could be utilized on the bases and, hey, maybe he shows he can hit at a mediocre level after all.
Ariel Pena, RHP — Like Hellweg, Pena has back-line starter material and has performed well thus far in double-A. Might as well see how he fairs against big-league hitting, right?
With their 14th-round pick in the 2011 Major League Baseball first-year player draft, the Milwaukee Brewers took right-handed pitcher Jacob Barnes out of Florida Gulf Coast University. A three-year contributor with the Eagles, the 6’2″, 230-pound hurler’s best collegiate season came as a junior in 2011, where over 20 total appearances and five starts he posted a 4.58 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and struck out roughly 11 batters per nine innings pitched.
Quick to sign on with the organization, Barnes began his professional career with Milwaukee’s rookie club in Arizona, where over 18 relief appearances he posted a feeble 2.18 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, .225 BAA to go with a strikeout rate of 36.1 percent, showing he was ready to move up the minor league-ladder.
Finishing out his rookie season in Arizona, Barnes was promoted to single-A Appleton to start his 2012 campaign. Primarily utilized as an extended-inning bullpen arm through the first few months of the season, head skipper Matt Erickson decided to put Barnes in the starting rotation after right-handed starter Chad Thompson was placed on the seven-day disabled list. His decision would prove to be a very intriguing one, as Barnes has now proven over his past three starts that he has some strengths to his game and that he could be an under-the-radar prospect worth watching next season.
I had the chance to see the first of his past three starts on July 23 and have been able to break down his other starts thanks to MiLB.TV. The following is my own scouting report on Barnes.
Body (6-2, 230): A power-pitcher’s frame with a bit more weight to him than other pitchers his height, Barnes has a strong, almost stocky build to him. Not an above-average athlete but is solid in that respect. Has good coordination with controlled body movements, nothing out of the ordinary in terms of his physical tools.
Delivery/Mechanics: Slow and calculated, Barnes’ delivery from the windup is smooth and lacks any noticeable quirk or hitch. Working over the top, he is able to repeat his delivery well; arm slots are duplicated well and release points are consistent. Working on a downward plane and throwing body weight into his pitches, Barnes’ delivery has some effort to it.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High — 93, Low — 88, Average — 92-90, Grade — 40/45
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High — 92, Low — 88, Average — 91-88, Grade — 40/45
Fastball (FB) Movement: Not a whole lot of movement to speak of. Barnes’ four-seamer is extremely flat and doesn’t have much life on it. Can occasionally flash a trace of arm-side run but not enough to the extent of which it should be considered even fringe-average. Grade — 35/40.
Overall Fastball: Lacking any plus-average feature to it, Barnes’ fastball should probably be considered below fringe-average at this juncture. The pitch is extremely flat and lacks any type of run or dive to it, and when he can’t spot it effectively, batters have a natural tendency to hit line drives off it. Can over-use it too much in many situations, doesn’t look to have much projection left on it, either. Grade — 40/45.
Curveball (CU): Doesn’t use the pitch a whole lot and command can be rather spotty as a consequence. Has decent 12-to-5 break to it from the batter’s perspective with very little horizontal movement. Seems as though he could put some more spin on it and generate the “falling off the table” effect with more coaching, as right now it shows more of an immediate bend rather than a delayed one. Will need to refine his command of the pitch before he intends on reaching the upper minors. Grade — 35/45.
Control: Showed very good control in rookie ball last year, walking just under two batters per nine innings pitched. Has run into some control issues this season but is generally always around the plate. Seems to have more control of his offerings out of the stretch than from the windup. Grade — 45/50.
Command: If there’s one big asset to Barnes’ game, it would be the command he has of his fastball. While his curveball lags behind in terms of movement and placement, he’s shown to be able to spot his four-seamer with a ton of consistency; probably a product of his sound mechanics and the fact that he doesn’t overthrow.
Summation: Having just two pitches that he throws with any consistency at this juncture of his career, it will be difficult for scouts to label Barnes as anything more than a solid right-handed relief specialist in a best-case scenario. While he has solid-average command of his four-seamer, it’s still very hittable due to the fact that it lacks life and movement. Add in that his curveball is still below-average right now, and it looks as though he may not break through to the big leagues until his late 20s. From there, my best guess is that he could be that aforementioned middle-inning right-handed specialist out of the bullpen.
Future: His stay in rookie ball was brief, but all signs point to him remaining in the low minors for a while.
– Alec Dopp
The month of July is a very important one for many top minor league prospects. More or less the midway juncture of the regular season, prospects who wowed early in the season and perpetuated their success into June are now enjoying the fruits of their labor in the form of a promotion to the next level of the minors. For comparison’s sake, July is essentially the baseball equivalent of Saturdays on the PGA Tour: Moving days.
For many of the Milwaukee Brewers’ top prospects, July 2012 was one we’ll never forget. Following a month where we witnessed a few noteworthy promotions and a colossal and unexpected one in Tyler Thornburg, the July dog-days also produced a number of headlines and superb performances. More specifically, a number of players within the system found an acute amount of success during July, putting up gaudy numbers at a prolific rate and moreover raising their respective stocks within the organization.
The following 10 prospects depict those aforementioned players.
Hunter Morris, 1B (stats)
July Line: 106 AB, .340/.393/.736, 20 XBH (10 HR), 24 K/10 BB (28 G)
There are few players in the system who’s power rivals that of Morris, and that was never more evident than in his stellar July showing. This month, he managed to raise his 2012 isolated power (ISO) rating to a career-best .255. His approach will still need refinement before he challenges for the starting first-base job, though is yield at the plate this month is still nonetheless impressive.
Caleb Gindl, OF (stats)
July Line: 91 AB, .319/.370/.527, 11 XBH (4 HR), 18 K/8 BB (25 G)
Gindl’s otherwise impressive power was nowhere to be found early on in 2012, though he turned things around in a big way in July. The 23-year-old hoarded four round-trippers to go with seven two-baggers this past month, raising his slugging percentage back above the .400 mark for the first time this season. A solid finish to his season could put him in prime position to battle for a roster spot this September.
Wily Peralta, RHP (stats)
July Line: 6 GS, 2.78 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 42 K/8 BB, .275 BAA (35.2 IP)
Peralta got off to a miserably slow start to his season, struggling to command his pitches and keep batters at bay through 2012′s first two months, so anything better than that would have been viewed as a successful July. However, he turned things around in the big way this past month; he effectively commanded his breaking pitches, striking out well over a batter per inning with a mere eight base-on-balls over six starts. This month could be a big reason he’s called up to the 40-man September roster in a few weeks.
Jose Pena, OF (stats)
July Line: 90 AB, .333/.413/.511, 8 XBH (5 3B), 22 K/13 BB (22 G)
Pena, a non-draft pick free agent who signed in 2010, finds himself with the rookie club in Arizona for the third straight; the only difference between 2012 and the two years previous have been his power at the plate, and that was extremely noticeable this month. With plus-speed at 6’2″, 195 pounds, the Dominican native collected three triples on his way to eight total extra-base hits, raising his wOBA to .422, his ISO to .242 through 30 games this season. Still very raw, this could be a major sign of maturity from Pena and may just cause management to scoot him along through the system.
Nick Ramirez, 1B (stats)
July line: 104 AB, .287/.306/.611, 18 XBH (8 HR), 41 K/2 BB (25 G)
Nearly a consensus top-25 prospect at the beginning of the season, Ramirez performed well below expectations in the season’s first two months, struggling with strikeouts and a power shortage at the plate.
While the former was still of clear concern in July, posting a strikeout rate of 37 percent in 25 games, the latter seems to have improved drastically. Belting eight home runs and 11 doubles this past month, Ramirez raised his season wOBA to .344 and his ISO to .224. While both of those numbers are still well below what management had expected entering the season (his power is his only big-league projectable tool at this juncture), such a profound improvement at the plate this past month should offer up some optimism heading into the season’s final stretch.
A lot has transpired since I took a look at Milwaukee’s top lower-level minor league prospects last December.
First and foremost, a number of the players I discussed have moved their respective ways up the minor-league ladder and are no longer considered lower-level prospects. Kentrail Davis, Jimmy Nelson and Tyler Thornburg would fall under this category, with Davis having been promoted to double-A at season’s onset, Nelson also making his way to Huntsville midway through the season, and Thornburg staring in double-A, dominating thoroughly, and promptly making his Major League debut back on June 19.
The same, however, cannot be said about Jorge Lopez, Taylor Jungmann, Jed Bradley and Yadiel Rivera. Lopez still resides with the rookie club in the Dominican Summer League, while Jungmann and Bradley have produced adequately in high-A Brevard County, though not to the extent of which many expected, and Rivera is still very entrenched in the class-A Midwest League.
After a solid 2012 draft class harboring many prospects that are presently in the lower-levels of the minors, I thought it fitting to update and evaluate/re-evaluate Milwaukee’s top youngsters with August already here. Let’s get to it.
*All statistics through July 28, 2012
1.) Taylor Jungmann, RHP (stats)
Expectations were enormous for the 6’6″, 225 pound right-hander coming into the season, having been a bonafide strikeout machine his junior season in college, where he rung up roughly a batter per inning. This season, his K/9 ratio is down to an astonishing 5.27. Time for concern? Possibly; however he’s proven to be able to pound the strikezone and induce a whole lot of groundballs, as depicted by an impressive 2.02 groundout-to-airout ratio this season.
Stuff-wise, we all know the story on Jungmann. His mid-90s four-seam fastball, sweeping curve and deadly changeup all grade out as plus-average offerings, with which he can pound the strikezone to his liking whenever needed. Jungmann has toyed with a slider, additionally, and that too could develop into an above-average pitch.
The key for Jungmann on his journey toward the big-leagues will be in shoring up the amount of hits he concedes to opposing hitters. Scouts viewed his impeccable command as both a strength and weakness coming out of Texas University — the latter being because of his propensity to leave the ball over the plate far too often. Once he gets that cleared up, he’ll be ready for Milwaukee’s rotation.
2.) Jed Bradley, LHP (stats)
Viewed as a prototypical southpaw with a whole lot of helium at the 2011 draft, Bradley performed adequately in high-A ball to begin the season, though it seems a nagging groin injury suffered in late May could the cause for his concerning numbers. In 18 starts, Bradley has a 4.93 ERA (4.12 FIP) with a strikeout rate of just 13 percent, allowing hitters to bat .287 and a .324 BABIP against him.
Of course, scouts don’t put too much stock into a player’s big-league potential simply based off numbers alone, much less a slightly banged-up one like Bradley, because the fact is that his has all the ingredients you look for in a future front-line starter. His low 90s four seam fastball can straighten out a bit but his heavy-sinking two-seamer generates a ton of grounders. Furthermore, his big-bending curveball, slider and changeup each grade out as plus-average.
Alluding to my earlier point, the biggest concern for Bradley right now seems to be his tendency to leave the ball over the plate. This was always a strength for him in college; he was able to spot his fastball and use his breaking pitches well enough to generate lots of swings-and-misses, thus allowing less hits to opposing batters. Now, it seems that ability may have diminished; he’s allowed an amazing 10.8 hits per nine innings pitched this season.
3.) Victor Roache, OF (stats)
Suffering a broken right wrist early this season with Georgia Southern University, Roache has been rehabbing in Arizona for a while now, and as he told me Thursday, he’s aiming to participate in a few offseason instructional leagues (possibly the Arizona Fall League) in preparation for 2013. So while technically Roache isn’t officially a lower-level prospect, I’m operating under the assumption that he will be once next season comes around.
A physical specimen at 6’2″, 215 pounds, Roache has some tools that will serve him well in the big leagues. An outfielder through his college years, he showed to have enough athleticism to man center-field with efficiency and a solid-average arm to complement it. His power at the plate is easily his most projectable asset right now; his violently quick swing allows him to pound the outfield gaps with consistency and put them over the wall, too.
The Brewers took a calculated risk in drafting Roache, however they seem to believe his wrist injury won’t hold him back from becoming the star talent scouts originally tagged him as prior to injury.
4.) Clint Coulter, C (stats)
The first high-school catcher taken by Milwaukee through the draft since the well-known (not really) annexation of Nick Hernandez in 1978, Coulter could very well turn out to be the first position player of the Brewers’ 2012 crop to reach the majors. A terribly slow start this summer with the rookie club in Arizona put at least some doubt in the minds of many scouts, but Coulter has managed to salvage his rookie campaign, now boasting a superb .370 on-base percentage through 22 games despite owning a batting average that’s slightly below the Mendoza line.
Still, Coulter has a very nice approach at the plate, drawing a good number of walks and going deep into counts. He has a quick and noticeably level swing that produces line-drive power to all fields. His “hit” tool grades out as solid-average right now but has a chance to be plus-average quickly given his keen, disciplined eye. His power is also a solid-average and will likely produce far more doubles than home runs down the road.
Though catching is his natural position and he could definitely stay there, scouts seem to believe he has some versatility, possibly along the lines of switching to first-base or maybe even a right-field given his strong arm. Regardless, Coulter is a very nice overall talent; it should be interesting to see how fast he moves through the system.
5.) Jorge Lopez, RHP (stats)
Deemed the top Puerto Rican pitching talent at the 2011 draft, the Brewers considered Lopez a steal when they took him with their second-round pick, and despite a somewhat rocky start to his professional career, they still do.
A multi-sport standout during his high school days, the lanky 6’4″, 165-pound right-hander has three intriguing pitches at his disposal. The first is a low-90s four-seam fastball that he’s proven to throw to both sides of the plate; the second being a curveball that is big-bending and hard-breaking and grades out as plus-average right now; the third being a changeup that is developing right now but scouts believe Lopez’s athleticism will lead to it becoming a lethal offering.
Still just 19 years old, Lopez is in the midst of his second season in the Rookie Dominican Summer League but has just a 4.31 FIP over 25 innings to show for it. Even so, its easy to see he has tremendous potential; how much he fills out his lanky frame and how well his secondary offerings improve will ultimately determine what kind of big-leaguer he will become.
6.) Tyrone Taylor, OF (stats)
Overshadowed by the likes of fellow prep outfielders Byron Buxton, Albert Almora and Lewis Brinson at last summer’s draft, Taylor was viewed by scouts as a guy with a whole lot of potential but also one who’s extremely raw. Having been a football star for his local high school, Taylor only recently became dedicated to the game of baseball, beginning when the Brewers took him with their second-round pick.
A toolsy outfielder with a whole lot of athleticism, Taylor’s best asset right now is clearly his speed. He covers a good chunk of real-estate from center field, a position where he most likely profiles best down the road thanks to a solid-average arm both in terms of accuracy and strength. His agility also plays well into his base-running; he gets good jumps and has enough stride in him to steal bases at a pretty impressive rate.
However, there are a few drawbacks to his game, first and foremost beginning at the plate. Mechanically speaking, there is work to be done; his pre-swing load is very elongated and his hands (which start out in good position) tend to drift away from his body, making his swing much longer than it should. This could lead to problems with off-speed offerings in the future, but it’s nothing worth losing sleep over right now.
But for as much as scouts may anguish over the projection of his bat, his performance thus far should warrant some credibility. Through 18 professional games, he’s batting .387/.434/.667 with 14 extra-base hits and six stolen bases; a small sample size but nonetheless impressive.
7.) Drew Gagnon, RHP (stats)
A guy who struggled to find consistency during his college years, Gagnon blew past the rookie ranks late in 2011 after being taken with Milwaukee’s third-round pick that summer and scouts immediately began taking notice to his game. Then in 14 starts with the low-A club in Appleton to start his 2012 campaign, the Long Beach State product posted a 2.83 ERA, striking out over seven batters per nine frames and warranted yet another promotion, and currently finds himself in the Florida State league, where he’s also been solid, yielding a 3.68 FIP through five starts.
Just what makes Gagnon so efficient? While he doesn’t have any one offering that grades out as plus-average right now, he does have three solid pitches that he loves to pressure hitters with. He can effectively spot his four-seam fastball that sits in the 90-93 MPH range to both sides of the plate and can dial it up to 95 when needed. His curveball has shown great improvements of recent, inducing more swings-and-misses than earlier in his career and his fringy changeup also has improved.
Speculation says that with an improvement of his secondary offerings, Gagnon has the stuff to be a late-rotation starter in a best-case scenario. At the rate he’s already progressed through the system, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if he makes his big-league debut by the end of 2014.
8.) Mitch Haniger, OF (stats)
Milwaukee’s 2012 supplemental first-round pick, Haniger skipped rookie ball and after signing his bonus headed straight to Appleton, where over 14 games he hit .286/.379/.429 with 13 strikeouts to seven walks. Then, tragedy hit when it was announced he would head to the disabled list after tearing the PCL in his left knee, ending what would have otherwise been a very solid rookie season.
I won’t elaborate too much on his game, as I profiled him late last month, so here’s a condensed scouting report: Solid average outfielder with decent range and an exceptional arm, most likely projects to be a right-fielder down the road. Vastly improved approach at the plate; quick hands and good mechanics. His hit-tool looks average right now; his power may be his biggest asset.
9.) Yadiel Rivera, SS (stats)
A ninth-round pickup in 2010, very few minor league infielders are as polished defensively as Rivera. Though his speed grades out as average, his range at shortstop is exceptional; long limbs, good instincts and a strong arm all play into his favor and make him a very intriguing prospect for the Brewers.
The same, however, cannot be said about his offensive tools. An aggressive hitter who loves to pull the ball, Rivera walks rarely, strikes out a lot and furthermore posts diminutive power numbers. His offensive struggles warranted a demotion from low-A to rookie ball last season, and while he’s managed to stay and somewhat improve with the Appleton club for all of 2012, his bat still lags behind. Unless he is able to cut down on his strikeouts and develop a more disciplined eye at the plate, his big-league prospects won’t look all too promising.
10.) Damien Magnifico, RHP (stats)
One of the more intriguing selections from Milwaukee’s 2012 class, very few (if any) pitchers in this summer’s draft were or are capable of lighting up radar guns with as much ease as Magnifico. Not necessarily having a power-pitcher’s frame at just 6’1″, 195 pounds, the Oklahoma product regularly touched triple-digits with his four-seam fastball — a trait that could undoubtedly serve him well as a late-inning reliever in the big leagues.
The problem is, Magnifico’s secondary offerings are noticeably sub-par. Though he’s toyed with a two-seam fastball that shows good dive at times, he struggles to command it; the same goes for his cutter. Moreover, he has trouble throwing his changeup for strikes and consequently doesn’t throw hitters off-balance at the rate it should, especially given the amount of time he spent honing his pitches in college ball.
The fact that Magnifico’s pitches are so far behind is a bit troubling. However, seldom to scouts find a guy who can throw an “easy” 100 MPH, so by that reality alone, he could have a pretty high ceiling as a big-leaguer.
– Alec Dopp
The inevitable happened on Friday night — the Milwaukee Brewers traded right-handed starter Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for three minor leaguers, of which include 22-year-old shortstop Jean Segura, a prospect that has enticed the organization of late.
Per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
#Brewers GM Doug Melvin on TV broadcast: "We feel that we got three high-level prospects to add to our organization."—
Tom (@Haudricourt) July 28, 2012
More information on the prospects Milwaukee has received in the coming days. Stay tuned.
- Update: It has been reported that the two pitchers Milwaukee will receive in the trade are right-handers Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg.
After dropping three straight to the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend and blowing three leads on three consecutive nights against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Milwaukee Brewers are taking the shape of the trade deadline “seller” many presumed they would become over the past few weeks. Now a wholesome 13 games back of the division lead, the Brewers are now in the process of fielding calls from pitching and hitting-needy contenders.
Here’s the latest trade rumors involving Milwaukee as next Tuesday’s non-wavier trade deadline approaches.
Thursday, July 26, 3:00 PM CT — Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin made it official this afternoon, telling Bob Nightengale of the USA Today that right-hander Zack Greinke “will be dealt” before the July 31 trade deadline. In the same story, Melvin went on to say that Greinke would be able pitching in a large market.
“He’s been in a small market here. A small market in Kansas City. He’s always said he enjoyed it, but he wants to take a look at everything out there.”
Furthermore, Melvin added:
“If you’re in a pennant race,” Melvin said, “this guy is a difference maker. He can go deep into games. He’s never been on the DL except for a basketball injury [breaking a rib in February 2011]. He’s very athletic. And he’s great in the clubhouse.”
It is also worth noting this tweet sent by FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi, where he was told by one source that Greinke could even be dealt before Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster.
One industry source believes Zack Greinke will be dealt before Ryan Dempster. Dempster to #Dodgers possibility remains in limbo.—
Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 26, 2012
The market for Greinke at this juncture seems to include the Braves, Angels, Rangers and White Sox.
Thursday, July 26, 11:40 AM CT — It has been announced (h/t MLB Trade Rumors) that the Brewers have designated catcher George Kottaras for assignment, as they have reportedly activated Jonathan Lucroy from the 15-day disabled list earlier today. Similarly, Milwaukee has optioned shortstop Jeff Bianchi to triple-A Nashville and have additionally selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Jim Henderson.
Henderson was a former 26th-round draft pick of the Montreal Expos back in 2003 out of Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, Tennessee. He posted a 1.69 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 1.21 WHIP in 35 relief appearances with triple-A Nashville while garnering a strikeout rate of 28.7 percent and walk rate of 11.3 percent this season. He was extremely efficient when inheriting base-runners as a reliever, as noted by an impressive left-on-base rate of 87.4 percent.
Thursday, July 26, 10:00 AM CT — Brewers’ general manager Doug Melvin affirmed to WTMJ radio that he is indeed fielding calls from clubs. Not surprisingly, most of the calls have come from contenders looking to add right-hander Zack Greinke. He told Greg Matzek this:
“We’re taking phone calls,” Melvin told WTMJ’s Greg Matzek. “We’ve been working here. I’m in the office in the ‘war room’ already. It’s a busy week. At this point we have to listen to opportunities to improve the ball club for the future and still try to win ball games now.”
Melvin also went on to say that there is “no guarantee” that he [Greinke] would be moved before his next scheduled start on Sunday against the Washington Nationals. There have been no contract negotiations between Greinke’s representatives and the club since they had reportedly offered him a nine-digit contract extension last week.
For what it’s worth, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also added on Tuesday that a Major League source told him that Greinke is “as good as gone.”
Not thought to be expendable at the onset of the season, Brewers’ third-baseman Aramis Ramirez continues to draw trade interest from contenders in need of a stable, veteran bat.
Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports suggested back on July 12 that the Los Angeles Dodgers could be in the mix for the 34-year-old third-baseman’s services, though that they would prefer San Diego’s Chase Headley if a potential deal were to reveal itself.
If Brewers decide to sell, Dodgers have identified Aramis Ramirez as possible 3B upgrade. Prefer Chase Headley, however.—
Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) July 12, 2012
The Dodgers have received little production from their third-base platoon this season, at least offensively, ranking among the worst in baseball in many categories. Most notably has been their inability to hit for average or power, posting a .248/.321/.355 line this season with a combined isolated power of just .107.
If the Brewers are in fact ready and willing to deal Ramirez to Los Angeles, they’d love to “turn him into” pitching prospect Zach Lee, or at least that’s what ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported on Monday.
Brewers would love to be able to turn Aramis Ramirez into Zach Lee of Dodgers then turn Greinke into Mike Olt of the Rangers but unlikely—
JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) July 24, 2012
Baseball America ranked Lee as the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect prior to the season. Los Angeles’ asking-price in return for the 6’4″, 190-pound right-hander is relatively unknown. It may or may not take another of Ron Roenicke’s roster players to woo them into completing a deal.
Update: The acquisition of Hanley Ramirez likely means the Dodgers will no longer pursue Ramirez.
To no surprise, the market for Francisco Rodriguez is incredibly bleak. The New York Mets were previously considered to have interest in re-acquiring the veteran reliever but probably won’t have much interest any longer.
The same goes for the San Francisco Giants. The National League West division leaders had some interest in dealing for Rodriguez, but no longer do after watching him perform underwhelmingly these past few days in Philadelphia, according to CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler.
Giants still looking for bullpen help. Had some interest in K-Rod...until they saw him the other day. And they don't see Broxton as answer.—
(@DKnobler) July 25, 2012
Outside of his abominable performance, Rodriguez’s lofty 2012 salary could be what’s pushing teams away from dealing for him. Due to receive $8 Million over the course of this season, the Brewers may not be willing to eat a majority of what’s remaining on his one-year deal. If that’s the case, teams looking for bullpen help probably won’t be willing to deal a decent prospect in return for his services.
After completing a gem of a performance Tuesday night to the tune of allowing just one earned run to cross home on three hits over seven complete innings and a home run of his own, Zack Greinke is now officially the hottest trade-market commodity out there.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has reported that the Chicago White Sox “want Greinke badly”. However, given the state of their farm system as we speak, a deal seems unlikely at best
Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 25, 2012
He also goes on to say that the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels, and even the Los Angeles Dodgers are among the most likely to acquire the right-hander at the deadline. Scouts were extremely impressed with how he performed Tuesday night, as FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reported.
“He was very poised,” one scout told my colleague Ken Rosenthal. “He had very good mound presence, very good focus. I think he’s playing to get out of there, go pitch in the playoffs and make a boatload of money.”
The scout said he has worried in the past — as many observers have — that Greinke becomes bored and disengaged at times, particularly when his team is playing poorly. That wasn’t an issue Tuesday, when Greinke looked “outstanding” and “very athletic” in the field.
Milwaukee offered Greinke a nine-figure deal last week but nothing came to fruition.
Before Monday morning, word on the street proclaimed that Zack Greinke, Aramis Ramirez, Shaun Marcum and Francisco Rodriguez were more or less the most likely Brewers to be dealt at or prior to Major League Baseball’s July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Each had been mentioned in at least a few rumors and potential package deals for needy contenders 0ver the last few weeks.
Of course, things do change, and it seems as though they are changing rapidly for Brewers GM Doug Melvin.
According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, relievers Manny Parra and Kameron Loe are now beginning to draw interest within the trade market.
Over 41 appearances (43.0 IP) this season, Parra has garnered a 3.98 ERA (2.41 FIP, 3.14 xFIP) and 1.37 WHIP, posted a career-best strikeout rate of 26.2 percent to go with a walk rate of just 9.1 percent, and has held batters to a .250 batting average. His changeup has been his best offering this season, according to FanGraphs, having accumulated a linear weight (“pitch value”) of 1.38 thus far. Texas Leaguers further confirms that sentiment by stating that his changeup boasts a swing-and-miss rate 31.4 percent this season compared to the league average of 12 percent.
Loe has been a bit more off kilter this season. In 41 appearances this season, he’s managed a 3.86 ERA (4.07 FIP, 3.67 xFIP) and 1.31 WHIP, striking out just 17 percent of batters faced though allowing a notably high home-run-to-fly-ball rate of 15.2 percent.
Keep it here for all the latest trade talk and coverage from now until next Tuesday.
Taking home National League Most Valuable Player honors last season, Ryan Braun is in the midst of yet another MVP-caliber season for the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite weathering the PED-firestorm this past winter, Braun continues to post historic numbers for a resurgent ballclub with postseason aspirations.
Now roughly six and a half seasons into his professional career, and the question can now legitimately be posed: Where does Braun rank among the all-time franchise greats? It’s a difficult question to answer with any amount of conviction, given the amount of talent the organization has housed over it’s 40-plus years of existence. However, one cannot argue with raw numbers and, more specifically, Braun’s raw numbers.
So, where does Braun rank among all-time franchise greats?
20. Richie Sexson
Career 162-game averages: .276/.366/.536, 74 XBH, 120 RBI, 97 R, 2 SB (534 G)
Where would the Milwaukee Brewers be today without Richie Sexson?
An average player at best during his three-and-a-half year stay with the Cleveland Indians, Sexson’s career took off once he arrived to Milwaukee via trade midway through the 2000 season, where the then 25-year-old towering first-baseman registered a career-best .409 wOBA in just a half a season’s time.
And it would only get better from there.
The very next season, Sexson mashed 45 home runs and drove in 125 runs, a mark that stands today as the third most for any player in a single season’s time. He nearly matched those numbers two years later in 2003, swatting 45 round-trippers with 124 home runs. It would prove to be his last season with the club, when Milwaukee dealt him to Arizona for (among others) Chris Capuano, Craig Counsell and Lyle Overbay.
In just about any other era, Sexson’s yield would have garnered serious MVP-consideration. Unfortunately, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa tallied just about all of the writer’s votes.
Even so, it’s safe to say that the organization wouldn’t be where it is today without his services, even if it was only from 2000 through 2003. He helped usher in the Miller Park era and helped put the Brewers on the path to success in the early stages of the new millennium.
19. Chris Bosio
Career 162-game averages: 30 G, 3.76 ERA (3.79 FIP), 1.24 WHIP, 107 K/41 BB, .258 BAA (170 IP)
In all honesty, Chris Bosio probably doesn’t deserve to be on this list. He was a marginal reliever at best during his early years with the club and didn’t find a whole lot of success until he was converted to a near full-time starter at the beginning of the 1988 season.
However, he was pretty darn good from there on out.
Never known for having overpowering stuff, Bosio instead utilized his superb placement en route to some Cy Young-caliber numbers. In 1989, Bosio walked less than 2 batters per nine innings pitched and held batters to a .246 batting average despite striking out a very average 17.9 percent of batters he faced. Consequently, his statistical yield gave him a 6.2 WAR rating, which was fourth-best among all big-league starters that season.
Bosio returned for three more seasons in Milwaukee’s rotation, where he registered on average 3.0 WAR per season. His impeccable command manifested itself in the form of a league-leading 1.7 BB/9 ratio during his 1992 campaign with the club. He may be one of the most under-appreciated starters in the club’s relatively short history.
18. Jeromy Burnitz
Career 162-game averages: .258/.362/.508, 72 XBH, 109 RBI, 97 R, 9 SB (782 G)
Upon arrival to Milwaukee midway through the 1996 season to his departure after the 2001 season, Jeromy Burnitz just had a knack for producing at the plate. While his hit-tool was below average, he made up for it with plus-power and a fairly keen eye at the plate. Add in the fact that he had respectable speed on the basepaths, and its easy to see Burnitz was (nearly) the total package on offense.
Between 1997 and 1998, his best two seasons from a pure value standpoint, Burnitz posted a .271/.358/.523 line with a scintillating .252 ISO and a wRC+ of 127. He proved to be surprisingly productive on the basepaths, garnering a SPD rating of 3.7 and stolen base percentage of 61 percent, additionally.
If you’re an advocate of 162-game averages, then Burnitz would rank up there with many of the franchise’s best in terms of raw power and ability to get on base. It’s unfortunate that he only lasted just six seasons with the club — who knows what his career would have amounted to had he stayed for an extended period of time.
17. Mike Caldwell
Career 162-game averages: 30 G, 3.74 ERA (4.07 FIP), 1.28 WHIP, 67 K/44 BB, .278 BAA (1604.2 IP)
Another innings-eater workhorse type from a number of successful 1980s Milwaukee rotations, Mike Caldwell had plus-average command of his offerings and was always around the strikezone, resulting in low walk totals and inherently high hit rates. But what made Caldwell so effective (and valuable) was his durability.
Caldwell’s best season came in 1978 as an experienced 29-year-old veteran. He started 34 games and appeared in three more as a reliever, where his 2.95 FIP ranked fourth-best among all AL starters and his 6.6 WAR was fourth-best among all big-league starters. Consequently, he finished second in American League Cy Young award voting and 12th in Most Valuable Player voting.
While the remainder of his career with Milwaukee was solid, his strikeout totals diminished and hitters took advantage of his propensity to leave the ball over the plate. Still, Caldwell without question ranks as one of the best starters in the franchise’s history.
16. Moose Haas
Career 162-game averages: 25 G (23 GS), 4.03 ERA (3.77 FIP), 1.30 WHIP, 80 K/41 BB, .270 BAA (1542 IP)
Moose Haas was never considered a dominating pitcher and likely never will be. Though he had above-average command of his pitches and subsequent low walk rates, he left the ball over the plate at a far too frequent rate and hardly ever got batters out via strikeout. Still, he is one of the greatest starters in franchise history.
Haas’ best season came in 1980 at just 24 years old, where he posted a 3.10 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and logged a career-best 5.2 K/9 ratio over 33 starts. The most impressive part is that he finished 14 games of which he started, a ridiculous number when you consider that Brewers starters managed just one complete game over the course of the entire 2011 season. In short, Haas was the epitome of an innings-eater.
He would struggle to find the same amount of success in each of his next few seasons with the club, harboring an ERA 3.99 and WHIP of 1.29. Haas made his way to the Oakland Athletics‘ rotation after his stay in Milwaukee, but injuries took their tool and in turn a once promising career.
15. Geoff Jenkins
Career 162-game averages: .277/.347/.496, 66 XBH, 85 RBI, 80 R, 4 SB (1234 G)
Taken with the ninth overall selection in the 1995 first-year player draft, there were plenty of things to like about Geoff Jenkins. He had a blue-collar mentality to him that fans connected with and the statistical yield to provide even more reason to cheer him on.
At the plate, Jenkins provided a ton of pop and at times hit for a decent average. He maintains a career .215 ISO and .354 wOBA, proving that he was one of the franchise’s best at raking-up extra-base hits. A career .277 batter, Jenkins twice reached the .300 plateau and nearly did it in 2006, where he batted .296 and made his lone All-Star appearance for the National League.
There wasn’t anything flashy or extravagant about Jenkins’ game. He went out and did his job day in and day out and as a consequence finds himself among the franchise’s all-time greats from a statistical standpoint.
14. Jeff Cirillo
Career 162-game averages: .307/.383/.449, 51 XBH, 70 RBI, 84 R, 6 SB (978 G)
Probably one of the more overlooked players in franchise history, Jeff Cirillo spent eight seasons in Milwaukee and was extremely productive in each more often than not.
The former 11th round pick of the 1991 draft spent his first six professional seasons with the Brewers, and during that time proved to be one of the best top-of-the-order hitters in all of baseball. He finished among the league leaders with a .307 batting average, .333 BABIP, .384 on-base percentage and a strikeout rate of just 11.6 percent. What’s more, he ranked third-best among all third basemen with an Fld of 49, according to FanGraphs.
After a brief stint with a few other clubs, Cirillo returned to Milwaukee from 2005 to 2006, where he garnered 3.4 WAR in just 189 games. He didn’t put up the biggest numbers, but he’s certainly one of the franchise’s best from a pure value standpoint.
13. George Scott
Career 162-game averages: .283/.342/.456, 57 XBH, 96 RBI, 84 R, 9 SB (782 G)
As with a number of players featured in this list, George Scott wasn’t drafted by the organization and furthermore didn’t have a lengthy stay, either, so his 162-game averages should be taken with a grain of salt. However, there’s still no denying what Scott accomplished during his time in Milwaukee.
After years of mediocrity with the Boston Red Sox, Scott made his way to the Brewers’ dugout at the beginning of the 1972 season and saw immediate improvements to his game, both offensively and defensively. In his five seasons with the club, “Boomer” posted an OPS+ of 131 compared to his 103 with his previous club. He led the AL with 37 home runs, 109 runs batted in and 318 total bases in 1975 yet finished just eighth in Most Valuable Player voting.
What’s most impressive about his tenure with the organization, though, was his defensive prowess. He took home first-base gold glove honors each of his five seasons with Milwaukee — something has has only been accomplished twice since 1975. Scott was by all accounts a complete baseball player.
12. Gorman Thomas
Career 162-game averages: .230/.325/.461, 58 XBH, 89 RBI, 77 R, 6 SB (1102 G)
The pride and joy of Milwaukee baseball from the early 1970s up through the early 1980s, Gorman Thomas was about as undisciplined a hitter that has ever graced a baseball field. He consistently totalled some of the highest strikeout rates in the bigs during his 11-year stay with the Brewers and consequently found his batting average well-below the Mendoza line.
But, man could he hit for power.
Thomas was one of the driving forces behind a slew of successful 1970s and 1980s clubs, twice leading the AL in home runs (45 in 1979; 39 in 1982) and cracking the 100-RBI mark on three separate occasions. Of course, alluding back to my previous statement, Thomas twice led the AL in strikeouts (175 in 1979; 170 in 1980) and posted a career strikeout rate of 24 percent.
Still, Thomas’ “Stormin’ Gorman” moniker is historic in and of itself.
11. Jim Gantner
Career 162-game averages: .274/.319/.351, 31 XBH, 51 RBI, 65 R, 12 SB (1801 G)
Thrust into the starting second-base role as a 26-year-old in 1979, Jim Gantner was never known to possess flashy tools or for having a ton of upside during his stay in the minors, and that sentiment resonated throughout his professional career. However, an above-aveage glove made him extremely valuable throughout his 17-year career.
Carving a niche for himself at second base over his lengthy career, Gantner also maintained the aptitude to play third base and shortstop, and not-so-surprisingly performed well at each. Still the runaway franchise leader with 9.5 defensive WAR, Gantner amassed a range factor of 5.51 at second base, 2.18 at third base and 5.36 at shortstop. By those standards, he was below-average defender only at third base while being proficient both at second and shortstop.
Gantner was a cornerstone to a number of successful 1980s teams and without a doubt deserves to be on this list.
10. Don Money
Career 162-game averages: .270/.338/.421, 50 XBH, 72 RBI, 82 R, 9 SB (1196 G)
Spending his first five big-league seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies before making his way to Milwaukee prior to the 1973 season, Don Money was one of the primary offensive catalysts to many 1970s and early 1980s Brewers rosters.
An very disciplined hitter at the plate, Money posted a career strikeout rate of just 11.6 percent and a walk rate of 9.1 percent. His keen eye and great pitch recognition helped him tap into his power potential at the plate, where he posted a career .421 slugging percentage with Milwaukee and an extra-base hit rate of 7.7 percent. While those numbers are by no means all-time franchise greats, they are a big reason why he is considered one of the better hitters in the organization’s history.
Of course, the biggest reason for Money’s success in the bigs was his exceptional glove. “Brooks” (as they called him) compiled 1.7 defensive WAR over his 11 seasons with the Brewers at third base, second and first base. That, along with his productivity at the plate, gives him the fifth-most WAR (26.1) among position players in franchise history, according to Baseball-Reference.
9. Rollie Fingers
Career 162-game averages: 44 G, 2.54 ERA (3.22 FIP), 1.08 WHIP, 49 K/16 BB, .224 BAA (65 IP)
Considered one of the greatest closers of his generation well before his arrival to Milwaukee as a 34-year-old in 1981, it’s arguable that Rollie Fingers’ best big-league seasons came as the Brewers’ ninth-inning closer at the end of his career.
After posting uncharacteristic numbers during his final season with the San Diego Padres in 1980, Fingers wasted no time in returning to his dominant ways of old. In his first season with the club, he notched a league-leading 28 saves, finishing second-best among all AL relievers with a 1.04 ERA and 2.07 FIP while posting a ridiculous left-on-base percentage of 92.6 percent.
Fingers finished out his final three professional seasons as Milwaukee’s closer, but was far from the productive closer he was in his inaugural season with the club. Still, he is by any standard the greatest relief pitcher in franchise history.
8. Ben Sheets
Career 162-game averages: 34 GS, 3.72 ERA (3.56 FIP), 1.20 WHIP, 151 K/39 BB, .256 BAA (179 IP)
Traditionally a franchise known for it’s abundance of great positional talent and sparsity of pitching talent, Ben Sheets should by all accounts be considered the most prolific starter in Brewers history. Though his career was a roller-coaster at times, one cannot argue that he didn’t have the best stuff of any pitcher in franchise history. The proof is in the pudding.
Utilizing a low to mid 90s fastball, solid-average changeup and quite possibly the best hammer-curveball in modern history (excuse my over-exaggeration), Sheets put up gaudy numbers throughout his stay with Milwaukee. His best season value-wise came in 2004, where over 34 starts he posted a 2.70 ERA, struck out over 10 batters per nine innings and garnered 8.0 WAR that ranked second-best among all big-league starters to only Randy Johnson.
Sheets would finish out his career with Milwaukee with two straight trips to the mid-summer classic in 2007 and 2008. He currently holds the franchise mark for career strikeouts (1206) and strikeouts in one season (264). Had it not been for recurring injury, he’d have presumably broken every pitching record in franchise history with ease.
7. Ben Oglivie
Career 162-game averages: .277/.345/.461, 56 XBH, 97 RBI, 81 R, 6 SB (1149 G)
After a few years spent with the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers, Ben Oglivie made his way to Milwaukee prior to the 1978 season, where to the enjoyment of he and many of his fans, his career took off.
Despite his somewhat lanky build at 6’2″, 160 pounds, Oglivie possess massive raw power and that was on full display right from the get-go up until his final season with the club in 1986. In that time-span, Oglivie swatted over 29 home runs on three separate occasions, once leading the AL with 41 in 1980, while posting a .185 ISO. He didn’t hit for a terribly high average, but he certainly knew how to hit the long-ball with the best of them.
His career began to tail off after the hallowed 1982 AL championship season, though he still managed to crack the AL All-Star roster the next season. Injury took it’s toll in each of his final seasons with the club, leading him to retire after the 1986 season.
6. Teddy Higuera
Career 162-game averages: 35 G, 15-10, 3.61 ERA (3.49 FIP), 1.24 WHIP, 176 K/72 BB, .239 BAA (224 IP)
A lifetime Brewer from his 27-year-old rookie season in 1985 to his final campaign in 1994, Teddy Higuera has absolutely earned the right to the title “greatest pitcher in franchise history”. The somewhat surprising part is that his best seasons came early on rather than a few years into his professional career.
Higuera nearly took home AL Rookie of the Year honors in 1985 when he posted a 3.90 ERA over 30 starts, and then proceeded to place second in AL Cy Young Award voting the very next season when he harbored 5.7 WAR over 34 starts. His third year in, Higuera finished sixth in Cy Young voting thanks to a career-best 7.4 WAR that ranked just behind Roger Clemens for tops among big league starters.
The amazing part about Higuera’s career is that his value was aggregated not with overpowering stuff, but with an acute ability to spot his pitches and limit walks. During his best seasons of 1985-1988, Higuera allowed just over seven hits per nine innings and struck out a very average 7.3 batters per nine innings.
5. Prince Fielder
Career 162-game averages: .284/.389/.537, 79 XBH, 109 RBI, 95 R, 3 SB (998 G)
A power-hitting phenom as a prepster out of high school, Milwaukee took Prince Fielder with the seventh overall pick in the 2002 amateur draft and more than likely realized they had an elite talent on their hands. How well he would pan out as a professional, they had no idea. But looking back, it seems as though he panned out quite nicely.
In exactly 998 games with Milwaukee from 2005 up until the end of last season, Fielder put up unprecedented numbers at the plate. Among the most notable of his accomplishments: Became the youngest player in baseball history (23) to hit 50 home runs in one season in 2007, led the NL in runs batted in (141) in 2010 and finished in the top four in NL Most Valuable Player voting between 2007 and 2001.
Fielder currently ranks as the franchise-leader in on-base percentage, is second to only Ryan Braun (more on him later) in slugging percentage and OPS+ (143), and comes in at second on the all-time home runs list behind only Robin Yount.
4. Cecil Cooper
Career 162-game averages: .302/.339/.470, 64 XBH, 105 RBI, 91 R, 9 SB (1490 G)
Up until just recently, Cecil Cooper was considered by far and away the greatest first-baseman in franchise history. Manning the position for over a decade, the left-handed hitting former 1968 draft pick hoarded an impressive statistical yield during his time with the club.
Hitting for a high average seemingly every year, Cooper also knew a thing or two about driving in runs and pounding the outfield gaps with ease. He twice led the AL in doubles (44 in 1979; 35 in 1981) during his tenure with the club and additionally led the league twice in runs batted in (122 in 1980; 126 in 1983). Consequently, Cooper finished in the top five in AL Most Valuable Player voting between 1980 and 1983 as Milwaukee’s first-baseman.
Cooper now finds himself among all-time franchise leaders in a slew of categories, most notably ranking fourth in career doubles (345) and third in total bases (2829). It’s hard to imagine where the franchise would be today without his services throughout the 1980s.
Career 162-game averages: .312/.373/.567, 83 XBH, 119 RBI, 113 R, 22 SB (810 G)
Ryan Braun may just be the greatest player in franchise history if you take into account “awards won per season”. Now in his sixth season with the club, the Miami product has been selected to five consecutive All-Star games, won four consecutive silver slugger awards, taken home rookie of the year honors not to mention a Most Valuable Player award. And he’s just over half way through his sixth professional season.
Needless to say, Braun is already as decorated a player as there’s ever been in the history of the franchise. Currently the franchise leader in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS+ (147) while ranking at or near the top of many other statistical categories, he’s already staked his claim as one of the most prolific talents in the organization’s history. The impressive part is that Braun still has upwards of eight seasons left with the club should he remain in Milwaukee through his contract.
Next stop, Cooperstown?
2. Paul Molitor
Career 162-game averages: .303/.367/.444, 57 XBH, 68 RBI, 110 R, 36 SB
There have been few players in the history of modern baseball who possessed and utilized five plus-average tools (hit, power, defense, arm, speed) to their liking on a day-to-day basis. Paul Molitor was one of those few-and-far-between players.
Known as The Ignitor for his remarkable productivity both as a leadoff hitter and defender at third base, Molitor was one of the best all-around talents of his generation. He had an amazing ability to hit for a high average but also raked up his fair share of extra-base hits, as noted by his career .366 wOBA. A steadfast defender at third base, Molitor posted a career range factor of 2.98 — a number that today would rank nearly best among all big-league third basemen.
Of course, I would be remiss not to mention that he leads the franchise with 412 career stolen bases. Molitor was the definition of a five-tool player during his stay with Milwaukee.
1. Robin Yount
Career 162-game averages: .285/.342/.430, 54 XBH, 80 RBI, 93 R, 15 SB
It’s hard to contextualize everything that Yount did for the franchise. The former third overall pick of the 1973 draft put up ridiculous numbers year in and year out and that consequently resulted in a whole lot of shiny hardware.
From bursting onto the scene as an 18 year old phenom in 1974 to his final season in 1993, Yount took home American League Most Valuable Player honors twice, once coming as as a shortstop in 1982 and the second coming as a centerfielder in 1989. He was a three-time silver slugger and was surprisingly only a two-time gold glover despite a career dWAR of 5.8.
Utilizing what many consider one of the most prolific hit tools in the sport’s history, Yount leads the franchise by a sizable margin in hits (3,142), total bases (4,730) and extra-base hits (960). Braun may surpass those numbers by the time his career is through, but right now there’s no debating that Yount it the greatest hitter in the franchise’s history, not to mention the greatest player.
Contrary to the report released last Friday by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that said the Brewers were “believed to be willing to offer” Zack Greinke a contract extension at or near $100 Million over five years, there doesn’t appear to much discussion between GM Doug Melvin and Greinke’s agent Casey Close.
According to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi:
It doesn’t appear there has been much dialogue between the Brewers and representatives for Greinke since spring training. As of Wednesday afternoon, there was no evidence that the team had made the 28-year-old a formal offer. And there isn’t much time left before the deadline for the sides to strike a deal.
Greinke missed his scheduled start on Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals to “re-charge his batteries”, according to multiple sources. Milwaukee’s ace had previously started three straight games over the course of seven days. The unfortunate part for the Brewers is that Greinke pitched miserably (at least to his standards), conceding eight earned runs to cross home on 14 hits and four walks to just four strikeouts. His string of poor outings will likely diminish his market value, though by how much is still uncertain.
Still, FanGraphs rates Greinke as the most valuable starter in the National League, with a 3.5 WAR rating. He is currently 9-3 with a 3.57 ERA (2.81 xFIP), 1.25 WHIP, striking out upwards of 10 batters per nine innings pitched with a walk rate of 5.8 percent. He is scheduled to start in Philadelphia on Tuesday against Cliff Lee.
The fact that Zack Greinke is set to miss his next scheduled start — after taking the mound three games in a row – doesn’t mean teams interested in his services are taking a break from pursuing him.
According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Chicago White Sox now have Greinke on their trade radar.
“The first-place White Sox have established themselves as the favorite in the A.L. Central to the surprise of many, and they are said to be hoping to make another second big splash on the trade market. Their trade for third baseman kevin Youkilis has been a major hit. The Braves, Angels, Rangers, Orioles and other also are expected to be in the Greinke derby.”
But do the White Sox really need Greinke’s services? FanGraphs states that Chicago’s starters have combined for 9.6 WAR, which ranks third-best among all American Leauge starting rotations. Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd and John Danks have all performed well this season, with the exception of Danks, who has not thrown a pitch in a Major League game since May 19, where he tore a tendon in his throwing shoulder. Philip Humer has filled in for him and his statistical yield has been underwhelming.
We will continue to monitor the situation as information becomes available.