The fruits of the efforts of the scouting and player development staffs of the Milwaukee Brewers are slowly working their way up the organizational ladder, and for the first time in what seems like an eternity, the Brewers can say that their team in class AA, Huntsville, has many more prospects than not. With the forthcoming additions of center fielder Dave Krynzel and newly minted third baseman Corey Hart, the Brewers will have one of the more talented and one of the more youthful teams in the Southern League. While the on-field results may or may not be there for the rest of the season, the future of the Brewers' major league team is slowly inching it's way up the organization ladder.
Once Krynzel and Hart are in place down in Huntsville, the oldest player in Huntsville's everyday starting lineup will be left fielder Jeff Deardorff, who turns 24 on August 14th. The lineup includes three other 23 year olds, in first baseman Bill Scott, catcher Eli Alfonzo and second baseman Todd West. Right fielder Cris Guerrero is 22. Third bagger Corey Hart is 20, as is center fielder Dave Krynzel. The youngest player of the bunch is shortstop J.J. Hardy, who will be only 19 until the 19th of August. That makes the average age of the prospect-laden lineup under 22 years old. It's not just the youth that is exciting, it's that all of them but West are among the organization's top 50 prospects, and the lowest among the seven besides Hardy is Guerrero, who comes in at #30.
The starting pitching staff is much the same. The pitchers who figure to hold down rotation spots for most of the rest of the season are Paul Stewart, Dave Pember, Ben Hendrickson, Luis Martinez and recently acquired Ben Diggins. Pember is the elder statesman of the group, having turned 24 in March. Stewart, despite being drafted in 1996, is still just 23. Diggins just turned 23 in last month. Martinez turned 22 last January. To cap it off, Hendrickson doesn't turn 22 until this coming February. Even closer Matt Childers is only 23. Those six guys have an average age of under 23 years, and each one of them is on the Power 50. Childers is one of only two closer prospects on the Power 50, at number 40.
This doesn't necessarily mean that the Brewers will have a dominant team any time in the near future, of course. This does mean, though, that the farm system is actually showing signs of making the Brewers competitive from within for the first time in almost a decade. Unlike recent season, when there would be one or two top prospects in AA or AAA, and not much else, the Brewers are actually fielding virtually a whole starting lineup and rotation of prospects in AA. Not all of them will pan out, but the Brewers' odds are much better in having 10-15 decent prospects than could possibly help the team, as opposed to 3-5 guys. There is still work to be done, as the AAA team is still a pretty barren wasteland in terms of talent, but if the Brewers keep sticking to their minor league game plan, AAA should soon be stocked with a pretty healthy supply of in-house talent, too. After that, hopefully those players will be able to help Milwaukee find it's long awaited major league success.
Offensive Player Of The Week:
Huntsville doesn't really get that many offensive players of the week because their home park, and their league, are probably the toughest places to hit in the Brewers' system. Both batting averages and power numbers suffer there. Steve Scarborough was the only star to be an offensive player of the week, until this week, when the honor goes out to left fielder/first baseman Jeff Deardorff. Jeff has been playing lights out for about a month now, and has come very close to the award on a number of occasions, and this week he finally broke through. In 20 official at-bats, Jeff hit .400/.500/.700. He collected 8 hits, including 2 home runs, drove in 3 runs, and scored 5 times. He also walked 5 times and stole a base. Jeff was added to the Brewers' 40-man roster this past offseason after spending 5 years in the minors, starting in Ogden and working his way to Huntsville for the second part of the 2001 season. He was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1997 draft out of an Indiana high school, bats and throws right handed, is 6'3 tall and weighs 220 pounds.
Last Week: Prince Fielder, 1B, Ogden
July 8th: Nic Carter, OF, Ogden
July 1st: Izzy Alcantara, OF, Indianapolis
June 24th: Mario Mendez, OF, Ogden
June 17th: Ralph Santana, 2B, Beloit
June 10th: D.J. Clark, 3B, High Desert
June 3rd: Steve Scarborough, SS, Huntsville
May 27th: Corey Hart, 1B, High Desert
May 20th: Brad Nelson, 1B, Beloit:
May 13th: DJ Clark, 3B, High Desert
May 6th: Pete Zoccolillo, OF, High Desert
April 29th: Corey Hart, 1B, High Desert
April 22nd: Ryan Thompson, OF, Indianapolis
April 15th: Ryan Knox, OF, High Desert
Pitcher Of The Week:
Yet another first for a player of the week award this week in the pitching category. This week marks the first time a player has won an award on a rehabilitation assignment. Ryan Poe, pitching rehab with the High Desert Mavericks, allowed just one run in 10.1 innings of work this past week, and that earns him pitcher of the week honors. Ryan allowed 11 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 4. Having missed the past 12+ months after Tommy John surgery, Poe got right back into his groove with a 0.87 ERA for the High Desert Mavericks. Poe, a 24 year old righty, was drafted in the 21st round of the 1998 draft. He stands 6'2 and weighs in at 220 pounds.
Last Week: Carlos Ramirez, SP, Arizona
July 8th: Tim Harikkala, SP, Indianapolis
July 1st: Jose Garcia, SP, Indianapolis
June 24th: Jimmy Osting, SP, Indianapolis
June 17th: Dave Pember, SP, Huntsville
June 10th: Luis Martinez. RP, Huntsville
June 3rd: Ben Hendrickson, SP, High Desert
May 27th: Jimmy Osting, SP, Indianapolis
May 20th: Derek Lee, SP, Huntsville
May 13th: Ryan Miller, SP, High Desert
May 6th: Doug Dent, SP, High Desert
April 29th: Justin Gordon, SP, High Desert
April 22nd: Brian Nielsen, SP, Beloit
April 15th: Andrew Lorraine, SP, Indianapolis