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Minor League Midseason Report

Harrmann
on 06/22/2001

 
x

Indianapolis Indians (AAA)

Overview

The key word for the Indianapolis Indians season has been underachievement. Though they started out fast (17-6), their season quickly took a nose-dive, and they eventually were 5 games under .500 in the middle of May. Clubhouse problems have been rumored to be part of the problem, as though there were numerous promotions, many players who deemed themselves worthy got passed over for promotion. The team has rebounded and is now 37-37. It is not actually quite the midway point of the International League season yet, as their all-star break is in the first week of July. The Indians are out of the running for a first-half playoff spot, but this is a good team and if they get their collective act together, could definitely make the playoffs in the second half. The team will likely also become more stocked with prospects from AA-affiliate Huntsville in the second half. Starting pitchers Nick Neugebauer and Jose Garcia are the most likely to be promoted to Indy, probably in the near future. Indy is also looking forward to the forthcoming return of Jose Mieses, who cracked a vertebra in his back three starts in to his Indianapolis season. A AAA rotation including Neugebauer, Mieses, Garcia and Carlos Chantres would make a lot of teams drool. Indy will likely not get much help offensively from Huntsville, but guys like SS Elvis Pena and OFs Mark Sweeney and Micah Franklin should all get markedly better in the second half at the plate. As a group, the team only has about 6 guys with a legit shot at sticking in the majors: 1B Bucky Jacobsen, SS Elvis Pena, 2B Marcos Scutaro, SP Carlos Chantres, SP Jose Mieses and SP Kyle Peterson.

Offense

The team got off to a super-quick start offensively, with OF Brian Lesher batting over .400 for the first couple of weeks of the season, and 3B Mike Coolbaugh also contributing heavily with power. Once these two cooled off, however, the whole offense went down hill. Lesher and Coolbaugh still currently lead the offense. Lesher is now batting .271/.353/.438 with only 7 HR and Coolbaugh is at .271/.359/.466. The Indians have been searching for an effective leadoff man all season: OF Alex Sanchez wasnt patient enough at the plate as his OBP only reached the .340s right before his promotion and SS Pena has struggled making good contact all season. They both have very good speed when they do get on base, though. 2B Marco Scutaro has been the only player to raise his game offensively since late April, as he is hitting an impressive .288/.387/.461 and leads the team in runs scored (52) by 11 over his closest competitior. He was batting in the .250s for much of May. The team is a black hole offensively at the catcher and first base spots, as C Kevin Brown, C Creighton Gubanich, 1B/OF Brant Brown and 1B/OF Kevin Barker have all been huge disappointments. 1B Bucky Jacobsen was demoted to Huntsville in May, but got his bat hot there and has been reassigned to Indianapolis and will get every chance to take hold of the position in Indy.

Defense

The Indians defense has been solid pretty much everywhere. Up the middle, SS Pena has committed 14 errors and probably doesnt have the range or arm to play the position regularly in the majors. 2B Scutaro has 11 errors, but is sound defensively at the position, although he would have the same troubles as Pena at SS. Behind the plate, C K. Brown has a pretty good arm, but not good enough to make up for an anemic batting average. C Gubanich has a pretty bad arm. OF Micah Franklin has been pressed into service at 3B due to some injuries to 3B Coolbaugh and has been up and down there. He has a good arm, but has committed a lot of errors, including 4 in one game. Coolbaugh is much more sound there, and can play SS and 2B well. B. Brown and Barker have manned 1B very effectively. Sanchez is very quick in CF, but sometimes takes bad routes to balls.

Pitching

The bullpen has clearly been the strength of the ballclub. Beyond RHP Steve Rain, none of them will ever strike out that many guys, but they do their job very effectively. Of the five men currently in the Indy bullpen, 4 have ERAs under 4: RHP Gus Gandarillas (3.50), RHP Jay Tessmer (2.41), RHP Mike Buddie (2.31), LHP Matt Williams (2.04). LHP Tom Fordham, who is currently injured but spent most of his time in the bullpen, has an ERA of 2.58. RHP Brandon Kolb, currently with the Brewers, has an ERA of 3.38 out of the pen. Only Rain (4.58) and RHP Mike Penney (5.71) have struggled coming on in relief. The rotation has been another story. Four men have regularly been in the rotation and the lowest ERA amongst them is 4.25, by RHP Tim Harikkala. The other starters: RHP Carlos Chantres (4.36), RHP Kyle Peterson (4.57) and RHP John Snyder (5.88).

Huntsville Stars (AA)

Overview

The Huntsville Stars had a lot of confidence going into the season, and although they were for a time only 2 games over .500 in the middle of May, they persevered, went 15-4 between May 24 and June 15 and claimed the Western Division championship in the Southern League with a record of 42-29. The offense was largely unproductive throughout the season, relying on 1B/LF David Gibralter (.295/.379/.460) for any output until 1B Bucky Jacobsen (.441/.518/.860 in 93 AB) and SS Dionys Cesar (.297/.364/.473 in 148 AB) were able to spell him in May. Jacobsen has since been reassigned to Indianapolis. 1B/OF Kevin Barker has been demoted from Indy to Huntsville, and could put up some very good numbers for the Stars. The offense could get some more help with promotions from High Desert: C Lance Burkhart, 1B/OF Jim Rushford, SS Billy Hall and 1B/OF Jeff Deardorff. Pitching, particularly in the bullpen, was the key to the Starss success. They lead the league in strikeouts in the 1st half, recording 600+ in 71 games. The pitching staff could become depleted in the second half, though, because the 1-2 punch of Nick Neugebauer and Jose Garcia will likely be promoted to Indianapolis and one of their top relievers, Rocky Coppinger, is also probably headed to Indy. The opening day rotation of Neugebauer/Garcia/Jose Mieses/Derek Lee/Ryan Poe could turn into Lee/Aaron Myers/Luis Martinez/Jason Childers/Matt Parker in a few weeks. Ryan Poe is on the disabled list with some arm soreness and there has been no timetable mentioned for his return. On the roster, there are 4 guys, all pitchers, with a chance to stick on a major league roster: RHP Nick Neugebauer, RHP Jose Garcia, RHP Ryan Poe and RHP Rocky Coppinger. LHP Luis Martinez could blossom into major league talent, but isnt there, yet.

Offense

As stated, the offense had its share of troubles during the season. When it hit bottom, the team went 19 consecutive innings without scoring a run. 1B Gibralter was the lone bright spot throughout the first half for the Stars, batting over .300 for the majority of the first half, showing very good plate discipline and making good contact. 1B Jacobsen went on an unbelievable hot streak after his demotion from Indy, as he hit 10 HR in 93 AB, and now leads the team in HR, but now that he has been reassigned to Indy, he wont have the lead for long. SS Cesar proved to be a huge improvement over both SS Mark Ernster, who hit .148/.216/.235 over 81 AB in the first month and a half of the season and SS Wellington Sanchez, who hit .218/.275/.238 over 101 AB. 3B/OF Josh Klimek has been solid in his third year in the league, batting .272/.369/.462 with a good K:BB ratio. 2B Jeff Pickler has been disappointing this season. The career .300 hitter has recovered from a 2-month long slump, but is still only hitting .260/.331/.296. OF Scott Kirby continues to show flashes of his 99 form, but has been a disappointment, too. 3B Tony DeRosso, OF Mark Cridland and utility man Jared Mathis have all put up plain bad numbers. C Brian Moon is hitting .163. There is virtually no team speed outside of CF Jason Fox.

Defense

While he has been very good at the plate, SS Cesar has been iffy in the field, committing 10 errors in 35 games at SS. He has decent range for the position and can play 3B and 2B, too. 3B DeRosso has had an ongoing case of the yips in the field this season. C Moon is outstanding defensively, with a cannon arm and smarts behind the plate. OF Cridland had a very good arm, and has some good range. 2B Pickler is hurt by his lack of versatility he can only play 2B. 3B/OF Klimek has shown good versatility. OF Kirby has shown some willingness to learn CF, which could help him. 1B/LF Gibralter has been very good at 1B, but has lapses in the OF.

Pitching

Pitching is the reason that the Stars are where they are. RHP Neugebauer is one of the most promising pitching prospects in the game. He struck out 101 men in 77.2 IP, allowing 71 H and 38 BB, giving up only 4 HR, he has a 3.01 ERA. RHP Garcia was almost as impressive, allowing only 55 H and 33 BB in 71.2 IP, striking out 65 with a 2.64 ERA that has been closer to 2 than 3 for a lot of the season. Ryan Poe struck out 40, walking only 7, in his 35 IP (with a 3.86 ERA) before injury. RHP Mieses has a 2.22 ERA over 24.1 IP. LHP Lee has been solid as the #4 man in the rotation, posting a 4.28 ERA in his 3rd season in the league. RHP Mark Brownson was prone to giving up the gopher ball, giving up 9 HR in 53.2 IP and had a 6.20 ERA before going on the DL. The bullpen is really the highlight of the team, though. With strict pitching counts on the starters, they have been used a lot, which has put a ton of pressure on them to hold small leads for long periods of time. 6 of the 7 pitchers whom have regularly pitched out of the pen have ERAs under 4: RHP Jack Krawczyk (3.99 in 38.1 IP), RHP Aaron Myers (3.29 in 38.1 IP), RHP Jason Childers (2.45 in 51.1 IP), closer RHP Brian Mallette (2.43 in 40.2 IP), RHP Andy Kimball (1.31 in 41.1 IP) and RHP Rocky Coppinger (0.64 in 28.1 IP). LHP Martinez, whom is 20, has sturggled since promotion from High Desert, posting a 6.75 ERA in 9.1 IP, walking 9 and allowing 13 hits. The Stars have cycled through lefty relievers, starting with Ryan Jacobs (2.77 in 13 IP), on to Scott Forster (6.23 in 8.2 IP), to Martinez, and now they are using Tim Davis, whom has allowed no runs in 2 IP.

High Desert Mavericks (A+)

Overview

The High Desert Mavericks finished the first half of the regular season in second place, with a respectable 37-33 record. The Mavs lead the Cal League in batting, hitting .285 has a team. The hero of the offense is 1B/OF Jim Rushford. The 27-yearold Rushford hit .359/.447/.625, with a batting average closer to .380 for most of the season. The team is littered with other .300 hitters: C Lance Burkhart hit .307 and hit 16 HR, OF Bobby Darula hit .300, OF Cristian Guerrero hit .304, SS Billy Hall hit .315 and CF Ryan Knox hit .305. Three men have at least 10 SB and five men have at least 10 HR. The pitching staff was the worst in the league, however, posting a combined ERA near 6. Only 2 Mavs pitcher have ERAs below 4 and 5 posted ERAs above 6. Three pitchers gave up at least 10 HR. The Mavs do play in a bandbox of a park, which skews all the numbers a bit, but the pitching wouldnt have been that great anyway. Rushford, Burkhart and 1B/OF Jeff Deardorff will all likely be promoted in the next month or so, and Hall and OF Billy Scott could be promoted by the end of the year, too. On the pitching side, RHP Matt Parker, RHP David Pember and RHP Gene Altman probably will be considered for promotion. From Beloit, they might receive some offensive help in the form of 1B Jude Voltz , OF Derry Hammond and 3B DJ Clark and some pitching in the form of RHP Ryan Miller, RHP Roberto Miniel and RHP Dan Hall. Guerrero, Hall, Scott, C Kade Johnson and CF Dave Krynzel are all major league hopefuls, but all have a long way to go.

Offense

This offense puts up great numbers across the board, aided by an extremely helpful home park. 1B/OF Rushford is 27 and putting up numbers a 27 year old probably should in this kind of park. 2B Steve Scarborough takes a lot pitching, and might walk 80 times this year, although he will only hit in the .250-.270 range. SS Hall has really come on this year, after being an offensive enigma his first couple years in the organization. Hall is hitting .315/.357/.546 with 14 SB. He still doesnt have good plate discipline, although he already will have a career high for walks. The 3B position has been split evenly between 3B Chris Patten and 3B Chris Rowan. Neither has distinguished himself Patten is batting .186/.281/.214 and Rowan is hitting .238/.288/.477. Rowan has much more potential, but neither is playing well. Ex-thirdbaseman 1B/OF Deardorff is having a kind of break-out year in his third go-around in the Cal League, batting .298/.351/.534. C Burkhart has also been having a career year, hitting .307/.409/.638, although he is 26. C Johnson, whom is a much bigger prospect, has had shoulder problems all season and it has sapped his power. OF Guerrero is in the middle of being out for a month with a broken foot and CF Knox (.305/.409/.417) is out with a broken hand. CF Krynzel is the youngest player in the league, and is struggling a bit, hitting only .245 and has struck out 33 times in 102 AB. He will be demoted back to Beloit when Knox is healthy. OF Scott is in his first year of pro ball and is striking out way too much (78 times in 247 AB), but is recovering from some shoulder problems.

Defense

This team is very good defensively. Up the middle, SS Hall and 2B Scarborough make the best double play combo in the system, and one of the better ones in minor league baseball. Hall has amazing range at SS, and has a cannon of an arm. Scarborough has the range to play SS, too, and has a very good arm for a 2B. Both are slick defenders, although Hall is prone to committing mental mistakes from time to time. 3B Patten is also a very good fielder and can play anywhere on the infield. 3B Rowan has a good arm, but needs some work. Both CF Knox and CF Krynzel have excellent range and plus arms. OF Guerrero may have the best OF arm in the system, though and is improving on reading balls off of bats. 1B/OF Deardorff has very good range for 1B, and has the arm to play in the OF.

Pitching

Nothing really good can be said about this group. One of the few bright spots has been RHP Pember, who was promoted from Beloit about a month ago, and has been solid, with a 4.01 ERA over 42.2 IP, striking out 26 and walking only 7. RHP Parker has had his moments, but has been wildly inconsistent, as shown by a 4.94 ERA. From there, the rotation falls off the edge of a cliff. RHP Paul Stewart has a 5.54 ERA, but in 74.2 IP has given up 87 hits, 15 of those being HR. RHP Dave Huggins was moved to the rotation after LHP Luis Martinez was promoted to Huntsville. Martinez had a 6.56 ERA in 35.2 IP, although he had 41 Ks against 18 walks. Huggins has a 6.92 ERA in 53.1 IP, and has given up 10 HR and 68 total hits. RHP Matt Childers, younger brother of Huntsville Stars pitcher Jason, has had a nightmarish year. He has a 7.68 ERA that has actually gone down 2 points in the last month. In 72.2 IP, he has given up 102 hits, including 12 HR. The two ptichers with ERAs under 4 are bullpen members RHP Mike Corey (3.71) and RHP Roberto Giron (3.72). The biggest pitching prospect on the team is in the bullpen: RHP Gene Altman is the teams closer and has 6 saves in 7 chances, but also has a 5.40 ERA in 16.2 IP, with 20 hits allowed and 13 walks given up, with 20 Ks.

Beloit Snappers (A)

Overall

The Beloit Snappers were the only Milwaukee farm team to finish below the .500 mark in the first half of the season, at 30-39. They actually did win 20 of their last 33 games, but it would have been nearly impossibly to get to .500 after a 10-26 start. The reason they started so badly is because of the combined factors of it being really hard to hit in Beloit before May and the fact that the starting pitching was so young. The only offense forces in the first couple of months were CF Dave Krynzel and OF Derry Hammond. The rest of the offense was mired in a slump. For most all of the pitchers, this was their first taste of full-season baseball, and it showed, as the team gave up a ton of walks and wild pitches. Once they started putting things together in mid-May, though, good things happened. The team is still being forced to play small-ball because the three guys they were counting on to be big boppers (Hammond, 1B Jude Voltz and 3B DJ Clark) arent driving the ball consistently. Hammond has been hitting the ball hard in spurts and Voltz is coming around power-wise, but Clark is still not hitting the ball with power much of the time. The team also doesnt have more than average speed, so they have to use sacrifices and balls in the gap to score runs. The pitching has also settled down, now that the pitching roles are more defined. The rotation RHP Ryan Miller/RHP Ben Hendrickson/LHP Justin Gordon/RHP Roberto Miniel/RHP Roberto Maysonet has jelled nicely and RHPs Victor Cordero, Mike Shwam and Dan Hall have been very good closing out games. The team should be much better in the second half, as they have momentum going with them and not a whole lot of promotions forthcoming. They will also have Krynzel back and have C Jason Belcher providing some offensive spark. Hammond, Clark and Voltz all could be promoted, as could Miller or Miniel, but none of them are sure things to be moved up. Belcher, Clark, Miniel and Hendrickson are the best prospect on the team, but none is close to the majors.

Offense

The first thing noticeable about the offense is the total lack of power: OF Hammond (11) and 1B Voltz (11) lead the team in HR, but after them, it drops off to C Eliezer Alfonzo (6) and 3B Clark (4), and no one else has more than 2. OF Bob Pregnolato does have 20 doubles out of 46 hits, as well as 8 SB in 9 attempts. CF Krynzel (.305, in 141 AB) and C Belcher (.333, in 42 AB) are the only .300 hitters and after them, it drops down to 3B Clark at .277. Clark is on pace to walk 66 times, and Belcher could walk 40 times in the second half. Hammond and SS Todd West also could walk more 50-60 times this season. Hammond (.247/.328/.455) is having the best year of his career, although he was a level higher up last season, in Mudville. OF/1B Hector Garcia has been a bit of a disappointment, batting only .226/.251/.290 after tearing up the Pioneer League as a 19 year old 2 years ago. 2B Jeff Kenney has walked 20 times in 102 AB.

Defense

Once again, the Brewers have a good up-the-middle duo, this time with SS West and 2B Kenney. West only has 6 errors all season and is fluid and has good range and a decent arm. Kenney only has 1 error in 25 games at 2B. None of the Beloit catchers have above-average arms, with C Belcher being the worst. 1B Voltz is a big target (66) at first. 3B Clark has had a tough year in the field, committing 22 errors. He has decent defensive tools, but a move to 1B or the OF may be forthcoming. OF Hammond has a strong arm in RF and is improving defensively.

Pitching

The Beloit pitching staff has a handful of good, young arms who are still finding their way as they start pro baseball. RHP Miniel is the standout of the group, with a 3.13 ERA in 69 IP and a WHIP that has been around 1.00 all year, along with an impressive (almost 4:1) K:BB ratio. Almost as impressive has been RHP Hendrickson, who leads the team with a 2.88 ERA in 59.1 IP, but which does not include 13 unearned runs. RHP David Pember was also good before his promotion to High Desert, as he posted a 3.27 ERA over 44 IP. RHP Miller has had his spots this season, earning organizational pitcher of the month last month, but is still recovering from a bad start, as his ERA stands at 6.16. He has given up 14 HR in 61.1 IP, but has also struck out 72. LHP Gordon, a converted firstbaseman, has had control problems (42 walks in 53 IP), but throws hard and has a 5.43 ERA, which has been on the downswing for most of the season. The bullpen is a strength of the Snappers, as RHPs Hall, Cordero and Shwam have all posted good numbers thus far. RHP Ruddy Lugo also was very good, before he was traded to the Dodgers.

 




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