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Feature
 
 
2010 Top Prospect Fan Poll

Ebert
on 01/11/2010

 

Similar to past years, Brewerfan recently conducted a poll of the Milwaukee Brewers' top prospects, asking the users to submit their own top 20 lists to figure out how those top prospects stack up in the eyes of the fans.

30 users participated in the poll, and 44 different players received votes. Points were assigned in reverse order of the votes they received, meaning that a player receiving the top vote received 20 points, the second best prospect received 19 points, and so on. The order was determined by the total point value, meaning the prospect with the most points would be named the Brewers' top prospect.

Here are how the top prospects stack up in the collective eyes of the fans who participated:

1. Alcides Escobar - SS
Total points: 590. First-place votes: 26. Second-place votes: 2. Lowest ranking: 6th. Escobar finished second on this list a year ago, just eight points below top prospect Mat Gamel. This is the first year since 2006 (Prince Fielder) in which the top prospect was a near-unanimous selection in this annual poll. The last three years featured tight races between Gamel and Escobar, Manny Parra and Matt LaPorta, and Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo. We've known about Escobar for quite some time, as he was added to the organization as a 16-year old out of Venezuela and has slowly but surely climbed the ladder. He now is looking to take over as the team's everyday shortstop, with J.J. Hardy being dealt to Minnesota to make room for him. With a flair for the dramatic, Escobar intends to make a difference with his bat as much as with his defense and speed.

2. Brett Lawrie - 2B
Total points: 541. First-place votes: 1. Second-place votes: 10. Third place votes: 14. Lowest ranking: 7th. The Brewers certainly have a knack for drafting and developing impact bats, as Lawrie's bat speed, power potential and swagger have drawn a few comparisons to Ryan Braun. He was ranked sixth on this list a year ago before making his professional debut, and while he didn't post eye-popping numbers for the Timber Rattlers in the Midwest League, he impressed the organization enough to earn a bump up to AA Huntsville in August. His strengths and weakensses are similar to Braun's at a similar point in their careers in that few question his bat, but his future defensive home is up to debate. Observers from this past season seem to think he should be able to stay at second base for at least the next few years. Despite finishing last season with Huntsville, he may be assigned to high-A Brevard County to open 2010.

3. Mat Gamel - 3B
Total points: 532. First-place votes: 3. Second-place votes: 14. Third-place votes: 8. Lowest ranking: 8th. In defense to Gamel, one person left him off of their list, citing that his ineligibility for rookie of the year honors next year made him no longer a prospect in their eyes. Since he hasn't eclipsed the 130 at-bat plateau, he remains on the Power 50, as well as everyone else's list, and should be the second ranked prospect. But that is the beauty and essence of a fan poll. Gamel, who ranked number one on this list a year ago, lost a little luster on his prospect status due to a less than impressive season, both with the Brewers at the big-league level, despite inconsistent playing time, and when he returned to AAA Nashville. He still figures to be a big part of the Brewers' plans moving forward, and could offer a second, impact bat from the left-side of the plate to help balance the team's starting lineup better than it currently is.

4. Jonathan Lucroy - C
Total points: 489. Highest vote: 2nd (3 votes). Most popular position: 4th (13 votes). Lowest ranking: 12th. Doug Melvin hasn't been shy about tossing Terry Steinbach comparisons Lucroy's way, and has even noted this off-season that Lucroy could open the coming season on the big-league roster. Lucroy, who finished seventh on this list last year, started last year slow, but finished strong, which earned him the opportunity to play in the Arizona Fall League. Every time we heard or read a first-hand report out of Arizona, glowing reviews of Lucroy followed, noting how he hit the ball consistently hard and that his defense was solid across the board. While he could use more seasoning at AAA, Gregg Zaun's presence may indicate the Brewers want him to mentor Lucroy much like Zaun did with Wieters in Baltimore last year.

5. Zach Braddock - LHP
Total points: 432. Highest vote: 2nd (1 vote). Most popular position: 5th (7 votes). Lowest ranking: 14th. Braddock's career has been fun but frustrating to follow, as he vaulted up from the 14th spot on this list a year ago. He has some of the best pure stuff in the organization, and has also shown the ability to command the strike zone. However, he hasn't been able to stay healthy over the course of a full season, and it seems as though keeping him in the bullpen may be a better way to keep him on the field of play. He too participated in the Arizona Fall League and flourished in all but one appearance. If Braddock returns to AA to open this coming season, it probably won't be long before he joins the Sounds, and he could even make the big-league club out of spring training.

6. Angel Salome - C
Total points: 402. Highest vote: 2nd (3 votes). Most popular position: 5th (7 votes). Lowest ranking: 15th. As Lucroy's star seems to be growing brighter and brighter, Salome's, similar to Gamel, may be slipping a little. Salome and Lucroy practically switched spots on this year's list versus last year's, when Salome was ranked fourth. While his statistics in 2009 weren't as strong as they were in 2008, when he led the Southern League in batting, they were still pretty good. He did get better throwing out base-runners, and reports suggest that overall he is a much better catcher defensively. Now he needs to stay healthy, put it all together, and prove that he can be the team's catcher of the future just as much as Lucroy is.

7. Eric Arnett - RHP
Total points: 365. Highest vote: 3rd (1 vote). Most popular position: 5th (5 votes). Lowest ranking: 19th. Arnett was scouting director Bruce Seid's first gift to the Brewers, and he became the first college pitcher the team selected in the first round since Kyle Peterson in 1997. Don't worry, the comparison ends there between the two, as Arnett's power arsenal matches his imposing physical stature. After a heavy workload in the spring, the Brewers took it easy with his arm last summer, placing him on a strict pitch count and having him lay off of his nasty slider. Some expressed concern in his 4.41 ERA, while others took solace in his peripherals (2.14 groundout to flyout ratio, .228 opponent's batting average, 35 strikeouts, 33 hits and only one home run allowed in 34.2 innings). We'll get a better feel for him, of course, in 2010, possibly close to home if he's assigned to Wisconsin.

8. Logan Schafer - CF
Total points: 268. Highest vote: 5th (1 vote). Most popular position: 13th (5 votes). Lowest ranking: 20th. Schafer received minimal support on this list a year ago after his professional debut, and he exploded onto the scene this year on his way to being named the organization's minor league player of the year. He hit .313 for the Manatees with 44 extra-base hits, and showed a drastically improved approach at the plate by improving his walk to strikeout ratio from 13:46 in 206 at-bats in 2008, to 42:56 in 480 at-bats in 2009. He also leap-frogged over Cain, at least on this prospect list, with many considering Schafer a more likely long-range answer to centerfield. He will need to prove that AA isn't as challenging for him to open 2010 as it was in 2009.

9. (tie) Amaury Rivas - RHP
Total points: 265. Highest vote: 6th (2 votes). Most popular position: 8th and 9th (5 votes each). Lowest ranking: 20th. Sure, Rivas managed only three total points on this list last year, but you've been living under a rock if you haven't heard the reports on Rivas from the 2009 season: His fastball reached the mid-90s, his changeup was rated the best in the Florida State League by Baseball America, and he was named the Brewers' minor league pitcher of the year after going 13-7 with a 2.98 ERA. He's the safest bet in the upper levels of the Brewers' system to make significant contributions to the Brewers starting staff in the next two to three seasons, and after pitching 166 innings at the high-A level, he could soar past AA and AAA if his success continues.

9. (tie) Jake Odorizzi - RHP
Total points: 265. Highest vote: 2nd (1 vote). Most popular position: 13th (9 votes). Lowest ranking: 19th. Odorizzi may not be moving as quickly to Milwaukee as Yovani Gallardo did (yet), but several people compared the two pitchers in some fashion. The Brewers are clearly taking it nice and easy with Odorizzi, who like Gallardo receives praise for his command more so than his pure stuff. Odorizzi's stuff isn't bad, and it could get even better. He debuted on this list in the 10th spot, pretty much the same spot as this year, in which he finished tied in points and total votes with Amaury Rivas, who enjoyed great success two levels higher. Wisconsin fans will get to see Odorizzi first-hand, likely part of a very talented pitching staff, in 2010.

11. Mark Rogers - RHP
Total points: 260. Highest vote: 3rd (1 vote). Most popular position: 7th (5 votes). Lowest ranking: 18th. The Brewers sent quite a few promising stars to the Arizona Fall League, including Rogers. While he didn't fare all that well, it was just nice seeing his name in the box score every few days. The organization was extremely cautious with his progression and pitch count this past year after Rogers missed almost all of the two years prior due to arm and shoulder injuries, which also caused him to miss the cut on this list last year. Reports out of Brevard County were encouraging, as he struck out 67 batters in over 64 innings of work, with his fastball back to its usual mid-90s dominance. The Brewers are expected to loosen up on the reins a little this year as Rogers ascends to AA Huntsville.

12. Caleb Gindl - OF
Total points: 242. Highest vote: 4th (1 vote). Most popular position: 10th, 12th and 14th (4 votes each). Lowest ranking: 19th. Gindl received solid support, getting a vote from all except one person that submitted a top prospect list. Although he did drop one spot from last year's poll, it's clear everyone recognizes the success he has enjoyed so far during his professional career and his future value to the team. While he is continually questioned for his lack of ideal height, he also continues to mash, and is a productive left-handed hitter that can play all three outfield positions. Hoping for Brian Giles may be a little much, but as one person put it, getting a player similar to Matt Stairs would be a valuable asset.

13. (tie) Lorenzo Cain - OF
Total points: 237. Highest vote: 8th (4 votes). Most popular position: 8th, 10th and 11th (4 votes each). Lowest ranking: 19th. The future appeared to be extremely bright for Cain at this time a year ago, when he ranked eighth on this list coming off of a very impressive showing in the Arizona Fall League. He was expected to be fast-tracked from there, and was already being labeled as the most likely candidate to take over in centerfield once Mike Cameron left town. Of course, that didn't happen, and a second stint in Arizona wasn't as kind to Cain, although he continues to show the flashes of promise we have seen throughout his career. He'll need to put it together and stay healthy this coming year, and likely will be doing so a phone call away in Nashville.

13. (tie) Kentrail Davis - OF
Total points: 237. Highest vote: 5th (1 vote). Most popular position: 12th (4 votes). Lowest ranking: 20th. Davis is one of several promising players (Brooks Hall, D'Vontrey Richardson and Scooter Gennett) selected and signed from the 2009 draft that have yet to make their professional debut. Davis entered last spring as a likely first-round pick, and a player expected to go in the first half of the first round. He pressed a little too much for the Tennessee Volunteers, and didn't enjoy as strong of a season. He is an exciting offensive performer with speed and power, and a relatively polished game should allow him to debut with Wisconsin, if not Brevard County.

15. Wily Peralta - RHP
Total points: 230. Highest vote: 6th (1 vote). Most popular position: 16th (5 votes). Lowest ranking: 18th. Peralta was identified at this time last year, when he snuck in on this list as the 20th best prospect, as a potential dark-horse. He may not have thrived as well as some had hoped, but he still enjoyed a very good season for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Armed with one of the most electric fastballs in the system, reports had him up to 97 during the season serving in a piggy-back starting role. Some are still concerned that his delivery and stuff may be better suited for short relief, but his changeup is good enough, and he maintains his velocity well enough deep into ballgames to keep him as a starter for now.

16. Cody Scarpetta - RHP
Total points: 216. Highest vote: 6th (1 vote). Most popular position: 15th (5 votes). Lowest ranking: 20th. It's hard to imagine Scarpetta dropping a spot on this list after having a solid overall year in the Midwest League. Several people noted that they wanted to push Scarpetta higher, but just felt he fit the best in this range. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it's proof of how strong the Brewers' system remains and just how much pitching help may be inching towards Milwaukee in the next few years. Scarpetta will join Peralta in Brevard County, where the thick air may help both enjoy big years, and possibly a bump to AA Huntsville.

17. Taylor Green - 3B
Total points: 212. Highest vote: 3rd (1 vote). Most popular position: 11th (4 votes). Lowest ranking: 20th. Consider the 2009 season a mulligan for Green, as it didn't start well and it certainly didn't end well. It's important to remember that he finished fifth on this list a year ago, coming off a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League with many feeling he could make a strong push towards the big-leagues this coming year. That aggressive pace may have been delayed by a year, but the talent is still there for Green to pick up where he left off. He could be in AAA by midseason, and could be back among the top five to 10 overall prospects on this list next year.

18. Jeremy Jeffress - RHP
Total points: 133. Highest vote: 4th (1 vote). Most popular position: 18th (6 votes). Lowest ranking: 20th. Having Jeffress at the 18th spot is very encouraging, as it's clear his upside is greater given where some people had him ranked (six people had him ranked among their top 10 prospects). The talent is there, and hopefully the determination is now too after being suspended twice for violating minor league baseball's substance abuse policies. Due to his suspension, we'll have to wait a couple of months to see if his command can start to catch up with his velocity. The sooner that happens, the sooner we'll be seeing Jeffress in Milwaukee.

19. Josh Butler - RHP
Total points: 83. Highest vote: 5th (1 vote). Most popular position: 19th (6 votes). Lowest ranking: 20th. Butler provides more instant and much-needed depth in the Brewers organization than any other player. He enjoyed a break-out season last year, pitching across four levels (partially due to minor injury rehab) as well as a stint in the Arizona Fall League. Reports that he was working on honing his changeup may help explain his 11.93 ERA in six appearances there, but it's clear he needs more work in AAA before he gets the call. A disappointing 2008 season caused him to receive only five points in this exercise a year ago.

20. Evan Anundsen - RHP
Total points: 72. Highest vote: 9th (1 vote). Most popular position: 19th (4 votes). Lowest ranking: 20th. Anundsen received votes from fewer than half of the people that submitted a list (14), but some noted that he carries more importance to this team given the need for starting pitching. He made this list last year as well, and actually dropped one spot, from 19th to 20th, despite having a better overall season in 2009. Most prospect followers recognize that his upside is limited since on most days he tops out in the upper-80s, but his heavy, sinking fastball is good enough to carry him to the big-leagues for at least a cup of coffee or two.

Others receiving votes (point totals in parentheses):

John Axford (42), Chris Cody (41), Kyle Heckathorn (41), Nick Bucci (27), Daniel Merklinger (16), Rob Wooten (9), D'Vontrey Richardson (8), Hernan Iribarren (6), Josh Prince (6), Khris Davis (4), Cutter Dykstra (4), Evan Frederickson (4), Chuck Lofgren (4), Eric Farris (3), Maverick Lasker (3), Brooks Hall (2), Alexandre Periard (2), Michael Fiers (1), Scooter Gennett (1), Del Howell (1), Jose Pena (1), Brandon Ritchie (1), David Welch (1), Zelous Wheeler (1).

Ranking Notes

Six players (Alcides Escobar, Brett Lawrie, Jonathan Lucroy, Zach Braddock, Angel Salome and Eric Arnett) were included on all 30 top prospect submissions. Three more (Mat Gamel, Logan Schafer and Caleb Gindl) showed up on all but one each. Five players (Amaury Rivas, Jake Odorizzi, Mark Rogers, Wily Peralta and Cody Scarpetta) made it on 28 submissions, and two players (Kentrail Davis and Taylor Green) appeared on 27 submitted lists.

Lorenzo Cain (26) also showed up on most submissions, as it's safe to say that the top 17 prospects out of 20 were nearly unanimous as far as who belonged on the list regardless of the order.

The point totals dropped off pretty significantly after the top 20 prospects, and even after the next best three to five players that received votes. 15 players received only one vote, and as noted above, 44 players in total received a vote, down 10 from the 54 different players that received a vote last year.

While fans were collectively confident of the team's top seven prospects, there was a fairly significant drop in point totals between Eric Arnett (365) and Logan Schafer (268). The next biggest jump occurs between the aforementioned drop between Green (212) and Jeffress (133). I find this interesting since in past years, some people have submitted lists in more of a tier-based format, although no one did so this past year.

14 of the players on this year's list were also on last year's. The highest-ranked player from last year's list to not be represented on this year's version was Cole Gillespie, who was part of the package used to acquire Felipe Lopez from the Diamondbacks. The remaining five players (Omar Aguilar, Alexandre Periard, Brent Brewer, Cutter Dykstra and Tim Dillard) remain in the system and remain eligible for this list. Next year's list undoubtedly will look different at the very top as Escobar and Gamel graduate from prospect status.

Of the six new players to make this year's list, two were new to the system as premium draft picks (Arnett and Davis) and three enjoyed break-out seasons (Schafer, Rivas and Butler). Mark Rogers may have missed last year, but finished eighth, 12th and 17th from the same exercise from 2006 through 2008.

Once again this year, Zach Braddock is the only left-handed pitcher to make this list. The organization's pitching depth continues to improve, from the bottom up, as 10 pitchers made the list, one up from a year ago. And as shown by the others receiving votes, pitchers represented the next six leading point totals.

One of the team's previous organizational weaknesses, the lack of left-handed hitters, has turned around, as the bats are split 50-50 between left and right-handed swingers.

Thank you to everyone that participated. To discuss the results in greater detail, please be sure to visit this thread on the minor league page of the Fan Forum:

 




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