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Minor League Report - April 4th-April 14th

on 04/15/2002


One of the largest knocks against the Brewers' minor league system over the last few years has been not only their lack of quality positional prospects, but the general lack of plate discipline throughout the system. Pretty much everywhere you'd look, even players with relatively high batting averages would fail to draw their fair share of walks. While this in large part remains a problem, the Brewers' top two position player prospects seem to be making strides early in the season on being more selective at the plate.

Billy Hall, a shortstop drafted in the 6th round back in June of '98, has had problems controlling the count and the plate throughout his minor league career. Hall had a bust out season last year, setting career highs in pretty much every last offensive category. However, even though he had his best season in his career, he only managed to walk 27 times, while striking out 124 times in about 500 at-bats. During the offseason, Hall stated that he was trying to grow as a player and would try to concentrate on making better contact. Through the first week and a half of his season in AAA Indianapolis, the results seem to be there. In 46 plate appearances, Hall has 11 hits, 7 walks and had been hit by one pitch, while only striking out twice. It is unlikely that the 7:2 BB:K ratio will be kept up all season, but he already had more walks (7) then he accrued in 168 plate appearances in AA Huntsville last summer (5). While he hasn't hit for quite the power that he did last season yet, it is a pretty safe bet the Brewers are more than happy to see Hall get on base at a .400+ clip if he has to trade off a few home runs.

Dave Krynzel, Dean Taylor's first draft pick in the '99 draft, also struggled to take a walk last season in stops at class A Beloit and A+ High Desert. Krynzel did walk 36 times, but that was spread over more than 520 at-bats. He also struck out 150 times, which is not what the Brewers want their leadoff man of the future to do. In returning to High Desert this season, the centerfielder seems to have made a few strides in controlling the strike zone. In 44 plate appearances thus far, Krynzel has walked 4 times and struck out 7 times. This is still not ideal, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Krynzel already has the natural ability to make things happen with the bat and hit for a high average, so if he can add the ability to take a healthy number of walks to his repertoire, Dave could be a dominate force roaming centerfield in Miller Park for years to come.

Offensive Player Of The Week
Ryan Knox probably didn't deserve to get sent back to High Desert this season, but he is making the most of his chances so far in the California League. The 1999 24th round selection was lights-out in his first week and a half for the Mavericks, batting .424/.500/.909 in 33 at bats. Knox has crushed 4 home runs and 4 doubles so far in the young season, and even more impressively, has stole 10 bases in 10 attempts in 10 games played. He also scored 11 times and walked 3 times, versus only 4 punch-outs. With numbers like these, Ryan won't have to wait long before he gets the call up to Huntsville again.

Pitcher Of The Week:
Andrew Lorraine was one of the last spring training invitees sent back to the minor league camp and he is showing in the early going why. In 2 starts spanning 12 and 2/3 innings, Lorraine allowed only 1 earned run, and that came on a solo home run, to post a sparkling early season ERA of 0.71. He allowed 10 hits and walked only 2 batters, striking out 6. The 29 year old lefty, pitching for his 3rd organization in a year, was originally drafted by the California Angels in the 4th round back in 1993. He has 163 major league innings under his belt and has pitched for the Angels, the White Sox, the A's, the Mariners, the Cubs and the Indians.

Team Of The Week:
Anytime you can go 6-0 on a road trip, you know things have to be going pretty well, and that's how things are going for the 9-2 Indianapolis Indians. The Indians have both their pitching and their hitting going full bore for them early on, under first year manager Ed Romero. Lorraine, Everett Stull and Tim Harikkala all are in the top 10 in ERA, Brian Mallette leads the league with 3 saves (though he is presently in Milwaukee) and the pitching staff as a whole has a 2.55 ERA, including 2 shutouts, both being good enough for the International League lead. On the batting side, Indy also leads the IL in batting, with a team average of .289. They also have the home run lead, with 22, which is 5 more than their nearest opponent and more than twice as many as everyone else. Individually, they have the top three home runs hitters. Izzy Alcantara has 6, followed by Ryan Christenson with 4 and Ryan Thompson and Midre Cummings with 3 apiece. Just Alcantara and Christenson combined have more home runs than 9 teams in the league.


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