PTBNL stands for player to be named later.
For many baseball fans it is usually incorporated with a meaningless transaction on the back of the sports page, but for Jonathan Lucroy, one of the Milwaukee Brewer's best catching prospects, it was a fate he faced during the 2nd half of the 2008 season.
On July 7th 2008, a day etched in Milwaukee's mind, the Brewers acquired CC Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians for Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson, and a PTBNL. Because of the stature of CC Sabathia, the final piece of the puzzle would require more than just a minor league farm hand.
Speculation arose throughout the rest of the season who the final player would be. Players such as Taylor Green, the organizations 2007 Minor League Player of the year, Michael Brantley, a Southern League All-Star, and Jonathan Lucroy, a Southern Atlantic League All-Star were all rumored to be the final player to complete the trade. Many of the Brewers top prospects were left wondering where they would be playing next year.
However, according to Lucroy, the trade rumors did not affect his performance. "There were a lot of rumors and speculations flying around as to who it might be, and I didn't want any of that to distract me from my current task at hand. It didn't matter to me anyway; I wasn't going to be distracted by that. If it happened, great, but if it didn't, then that's great too," he said.
On Oct 3rd the Cleveland Indians ended the speculation by announcing they had selected Michael Brantley, an outfielder for the Brewers AA affiliate the Huntsville Stars.
According to Lucroy, the Brewers never mentioned anything about the possibility of being traded to the Indians. "The Brewers never told me anything in reference to the trade. They never said one word to me before or after, and really I'm glad they didn't because I didn't need to worry about anything else other than my current situation," he said.
The statistics seem to agree that Lucroy remained undeterred. Between low class A West Virginia and high class A Brevard County Lucroy offensively put together a line of .301/.377/.872. Defensively Lucroy vastly improved, throwing out 44.8% of runners. Lucroy's solid percentage was second out of all the catching prospects that appeared in the esteemed Baseball America Prospect Handbook, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America.
Lucroy was a third round pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He heard 100 names called before him on draft day because many scouts questioned his defensive skills. However, according to Lucroy, he will silence his critics through his work ethic. "I just worked my butt off in the off-season and during my first two years of pro ball. I work out at a NFL combine facility here in central Florida because everybody is bigger, faster, and stronger then me, so I get pushed, hard," he said.
Lucroy also credits Fielding & Catching Coordinator Charlie Greene for his defensive growth. "Charlie Greene, our catching instructor, really pointed out what I needed to improve on and I made sure to attack those weaknesses as best I can," he said.
According to Lucroy, his work defensively is nowhere near finished. "I'm still not even close to where I want or need to be."
Next season Lucroy will be looking to build upon a strong 2008 campaign. He said his most memorable moment from this past season was the South Atlantic League All-Star game. "I felt extremely blessed to be there and compete with all of the other players. It was the highlight of the year for me as far as accomplishments go," he said.
Lucroy set modest goals for next season. "My goals are to go out and compete. I'm not really a numbers guy. I know a lot of players are, but I'm not. I don't really believe that a total player's value is based on his stats. They have a lot to do with it, don't get me wrong, and I believe in being a good person and working hard will get you a long ways, but in the end, you have to perform, that is the bottom line, and I do expect myself to perform."
With the emergence of Angel Salome, a AA Southern League All-Star who ended his season with the Milwaukee Brewers, ahead of him many question whether the organization will have room for Lucroy in the future. According to Lucroy it is not even a concern for him. "I only worry about the things I can control, which is getting better and playing hard everyday. It's a tough thing to do, because Angel is a great player, but really, I'm only worried about myself because that's all that matters," he said.
Lucroy is fine with flying under the radar. "I would like to be viewed as a player that just goes out and plays hard every day. I try to give my all and leave it all out on the field. I want to do the little things that will enable us to beat you, and I want to be a leader on and off the field."
Jonathan is anxious to be a Brewer. My goals are to get to the big leagues of course, and when I'm there, do everything I can to help the team win. If that wasn't my goal right now, then I shouldn't be here."