As my vacation here in Arizona winds down, I was beginning
to worry that I wouldn't get to see the minor leaguers play
in any game situations, but my patience was rewarded on Thursday
as all three squads went through intrasquad scrimmages. The
actual games start on Saturday, the day after I leave, but watching
players play other players from their same team can be just
as interesting as watching players play other teams. This way,
at least I know who everyone is.
I decided on watching the kids in the A-Ball camp, as I've
paid the least attention to them so far this spring. It was
pretty much like a normal game, though both sides' lineups
cards ran about 12 players long and no one had to go in order.
There was more or less a new pitcher each inning.
There were quite a number of people milling around the minor
league side of the Brewers' complex. When I first got here
last Sunday, there were probably half a dozen people total
watching any of the practices, but on Thursday there were
upwards of about a hundred people at any given point. In fact,
there were probably more people on the minor league side at
the height of its popularity than there were at the end of
the Brewers' game against the Rangers
At the A-Ball intrasquad game, there were somewhere around
40 people at one point, which prompted Don Money to note that
there were more people there than at some of the Beloit games.
Maybe they should have handed out magnetic calendars or something.
Back to the game, here's what I saw:
Gilberto Acosta made a few nice plays at shortstop
and worked the count well twice, fouling off a number of pitches
and walking. He doesn't have a powerful swing, but he might
be a guy that could walk 60-80 times down the road.
Josh Alliston is a big guy and really bore down on
the hitters. His fastball had some pop, but his breaking pitch
hung out a little bit through the zone, and he got hit hard
off of it once or twice.
Dane Artman pitched well for a few batters before
losing his control both down and up in the zone.
Jason Baker had a nasty breaking ball (it looked like
a slider from my angle) that made a couple of hitters look
silly. His fastball wasn't overpowering, but he placed it
Dallas Bates made a nice play in left field. His bat
leaves something to be desired, but he has a strong body and
might be a player down the road.
Paul Bell impressed me last spring and continues to
do a lot of little things well. He sort of reminds me of a
raw Ronnie Belliard.
Craig Breslow had a lot of movement on all of his
pitches, and was almost unhittable, which lead to a walk or
two and a strikeout or two.
Ozzie Chavez launched a triple down the right field
line that had some legs under it. I still think that with
his swing, he could develop a little bit of pop eventually.
Geno De Salme is a soft tosser who has to locate his
pitches very well, and he did a good job of that today.
Pedro Esparragoza looked a little bit tepid at some
points, being slow to block balls in the dirt. However, he
did make an awesome snap throw to first to pick off Matt Serafini,
and he called a good game.
Jeff Eure played a pretty good third base, though
he was out of position a couple of times and had to be corrected
by the coaches. His overly big swing haunted him at the plate
as he struck out once and didn't make solid contact the other
Prince Fielder looked super-confident at the plate
and hit the ball solidly twice, resulting in one hit. He didn't
make any mistakes on defense, but didn't look smooth there.
Mitch Franke was lost at the plate and not a heck
of lot less lost on defense at first.
Jeremy Frost looked athletic behind the plate and
showed a decent, if not overly quick, swing.
Hector Garcia had one big knock just foul down the
left field line, but wasn't that good otherwise, chopping
a number of balls into the dirt.
Andri Gomez was a little slow of foot at second base,
but he has a nice, compact swing at the plate.
Bo Hall carried around a video camera to either side
of the field to record pitchers on tape. He was very athletic
and set up the camera well.
Steve Hunt didn't really impress me with his swing.
Terry Mayo started the game at pitcher and was the
only pitcher to go two innings that I saw. He threw hard (I'd
guess in the low 90's), but was consistently wild low. He
did get a lot of ground balls, and if he can learn to hit
spots low in the zone, could be effective later in the year.
He has a heck of an arm and the build to a pitcher.
Taylor McCormack continued to look good at third base.
He has a nice swing, but takes some weak cuts and needs to
be more confident in his abilities.
Manuel Melo has a very light swing, but somehow gets
some decent pop out of it from time to time. He needs to take
more pitches and use his natural speed when he gets on base.
Mario Mendez has a fun time playing the game, which
is evident in his play. He made a number of nice plays in
center field. He gets decent loft under the balls he hits,
but his swing is long and has holes. I think he has the ability
to get his hands through the zone more quickly and cut down
on the holes.
Gabriel Mendoza wasn't overpowering but had good control
and changed locations well. He relies on good stuff for strikeouts,
Greg Moreira is an imposing figure on the mound and
looks the part of a major league workhorse. However, he doesn't
yet have the ability to hit spots and while his fastball is
good, his breaking stuff is not close to ready.
Josh Murray took 6 pitches and struck out, proving
that sometimes it does indeed pay to swing.
Derek Patterson has a pretty smooth swing. Defensively,
he threw at least 3 balls into centerfield from catcher.
Ricky Pijuan is a big kid with some get-up in his
long swing. Having about 4 major-league caliber prospects
in front of him at first base won't help him.
Francisco Plasencia drove a ball hard into the gap
in his only AB. He was barely cut down at home plate on an
inside-the-park home run attempt.
Guilder Rodriguez is flashy on defense but his swing
is about as weak as they come. He needs to add muscle and
work with a hitting coach for a long time.
Vinny Rottino looked good at third base. At the plate,
he took some pitches, but didn't have a great swing.
Matt Serafini has a big uppercut swing and has definite
power potential. He also makes good contact for the size of
Mike Shwam threw a good inning and looked healthy.
His fastball had some pop.
Chas Terni was solid on defense at shortstop and looked
very mature on the ballfield. Even if he isn't overly productive,
he seems to be a guy that will be able to teach the younger
guys a thing or two.
John Vanden Berg was pretty athletic behind the plate,
though he still projects to be an offensive catcher.
Tom Wilhelmsen didn't pitch, but ran around a lot.
Lendon Willis is very raw in the field and at the
plate, but he has a good body and passes the look test for
a potential major leaguer. He just needs work.
As for the Brewers, it was hot and the game took a very long
time. There was a pretty decent crowd at the beginning of
the game, but by the end, everyone that was left was scurrying
to leave as quickly as they could. It was one of the more
entertaining games of the spring that I've seen. It also helped
that I was almost nailed in the crotch by a line drive into
the stands and that Marcus Hanel tossed me a ball after the
Glendon Rusch looked pretty bad on the mound. He threw his
first pitch for a strike almost every time, but also had a
number of 3-1 counts and left the ball flat through the zone
on many occasions. He got hid hard, and in the this case,
the box score does not lie. Mike Buddie pitched like Mike
Buddie. He was effective, got a lot of weak grounders, and
looked like he could eat even more innings. Valerio De Los
Santos also looked solid, if not a bit erratic. John Foster
looked very good early on, but seemed to wear down quickly
and lost almost all control by the end of his appearance.
Ben Diggins looked as bad as Rusch, leaving everything through
the zone up and flat. He really needs to work on his offspeed
stuff. Watching Derek Lee induce a double play ball was fun.
Dave Krynzel continued to hit the ball hard, but once again,
most things didn't find holes. He also took a couple big swings
at balls he shouldn't have swung at. He worked the count fairly
well, not swinging at early pitches as much as he has recently.
Wilton Veras looked solid in the field and seems to have a
good idea at the plate. He might be a guy to watch in AAA.
Brooks Kieschnick solidified his bid to make the team as a
pitcher/outfielder/first baseman with a very good show at
the plate and a good arm in the outfield. Keith Osik also
continued to impress me with his defense and skills at the
plate. Royce Clayton stayed hot.
One more day down in Phoenix, and then I have to head back
to the cold confines of Minnesota. The report for Friday will
be up sometime late Saturday or early Sunday, depending on
when I get back to St. Paul. It has been a blast down here
and I already can't wait for next spring!