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Toby's Power 50
  Power 50 Notes
last updated: 12/24/2010

Happy holidays to everyone from the staff; if you asked for upheaval, you're in luck. It's been a tumultuous offseason for the Brewers' farm system so far, though I'm a big fan of the trades Doug Melvin made to overhaul the starting rotation. As a result of the Greinke and Marcum swaps, the Power 50 loses its top three players and four of its top five (though Lorenzo Cain would have graduated even had he not been dealt). The upside is that Mark Rogers has finally claimed the coveted #1 spot on the Power 50; I'm sure that honor is just ahead of making his MLB debut and getting married on his personal "best of 2010" list. As far as the system as a whole, it's obviously depleted, especially in terms of impact talent, but there's still plenty to like and dream on here--unless you like shortstops. -Eric    
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  Power 50
+/- Rank  Name  Level  Pos  Age 
5  01 Rogers, Mark   A   SP 33 R R
  It was a long way to the top, but Rogers is finally rocking 'n' rolling as the best prospect the Brewers have to offer. He impressed in his late-season cup of coffee and will enter 2011 on the cusp of making the majors for good, though he'll probably need to spend another year building up his innings total before being considered for a full-time starting job. Stamina aside, Rogers' future may be in the bullpen anyway, but his fastball is perhaps the single best tool of any prospect in the system.
2  02 Braddock, Zach   A   MR 32 L L
  Despite spending over four months with the big club, Braddock pitched only 33.2 innings, well short of the 50 he'd need to graduate from the Power 50; at that rate, he'll still be eligible into June of next year. The careful handling was warranted given Braddock's injury problems, but we'll see if the Brewers take the kid gloves off next year. Braddock's value will also benefit if he can reduce his uncharacteristically high walk rate.
4  03 Peralta, Wily   A   SP 30 R R
  2011 will be an interesting one for Peralta. If he can consolidate his worm-burning 2010 and his fire-balling 2009, he could become the elite starting prospect the Brewers currently lack. He would also find himself very close to a call-up, since he climbed all the way to AA last year and is on the 40-man roster.
4  04 Rivas, Amaury   A   SP 33 R R
  Rivas's strikeout, walk, and hit rates all went in the wrong direction in 2010, but that's to be expected from a mid-rotation prospect getting his first taste of AA. His numbers were still fine overall, and he'll be one of the first players considered should the Brewers need another starting pitcher next year. The biggest thing holding Rivas back right now is a mediocre breaking ball.
5  05 Davis, Kentrail   A   OF 31 L R
  People are down on the Brewers' position prospects, but it's no embarrassment to have Davis as the top hitter in the system. He was a highly touted player at Tennessee and is a year removed from being a supplemental first round choice. Yes, his early season results at Brevard County were lackluster and injury-plagued, but Davis hit extremely well at Wisconsin. So there you have it: pedigree and production. I wonder if, given his age and experience there last year, the Brewers skip him over BC, and also whether he'll play center field if he's not on the same team as D'Vontrey Richardson.
3  06 Heckathorn, Kyle   A   MR 31 R R
  Heckathorn's got a bit of the Wily Peralta thing going on: he's got a nice fastball but doesn't strike out as many hitters as you'd expect, preferring instead to get grounders. Managers in the MWL said his changeup was one of the best in the league, but scouts weren't nearly so enamored with it. As with most prospect vagaries, time will tell which group was right. Even if Heckathorn never fully harnesses his power stuff, he can be an innings-eating workhorse.
4  07 Scarpetta, Cody   A   SP 31 R R
  Unlike most Brewers prospects, Scarpetta is a fly-ball pitcher, but he's never really had a problem with home runs. Instead, his bugaboo is control, though he was much improved in that regard in the second half, something he attributes to a mechanical adjustment. If he can carry that through to 2011 and continue racking up the strikeouts with his big curveball, he could jump up the prospect lists.
4  08 Gindl, Caleb   A   OF 31 L L
  He may be a "flat-footed smurf", but Gindl continues to refine his offensive game, seeing his BB/K rate improve each of his three years in full-season ball. You may have seen his lack of size start to catch up with him last year though, evidenced by his cratering power numbers. He played more center field than ever at Huntsville, but there seems to be much skepticism about whether or not he can play there long-term.
4  09 Gennett, Scooter   MLB   2B 29 L R
  If you thought Gindl was small, wait'll you get a load of Gennett! The pint-sized infielder was the breakout positional player of 2010, and with the departure of Brett Lawrie, he suddenly finds himself the best keystone prospect in the organization. It's fair to wonder if such a little guy can continue putting such a big charge into the ball at the higher levels of the minors, and Gennett could stand to borrow some of Gindl's notes on how to cut down on his strikeouts and boost his walks.
5  10 Komatsu, Erik   A   OF 32 L L
  Bouncing back strong from the injuries that ate his 2009 season, Komatsu hit better than expected while moving left on the defensive spectrum, playing the majority of his games in center field. If Komatsu can handle center, it raises his ceiling from 4th outfielder to legitimate starter, since it doesn't appear that he has the power to start in a corner.
5  11 Thornburg, Tyler   MLB   CL 31 R R
  "Lincecum Lite" has perhaps the second-best fastball, at least velocity-wise, of any potential starter in the system. "Potential" starter is the key, though, like it is for so many other pitchers on this list. Next year we'll get a better feel for Thornburg's secondary stuff and stamina. Reports that the Brewers' team surgeon has merged him with Kyle Heckathorn to create "Kyler Heckathornburg", a flame-throwing ground-ball machine with pinpoint control, remain unconfirmed as of press time.
6  12 Schafer, Logan   A   OF 33 L L
  Schafer salvaged a bit of the 2010 season by being able to take part in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .323/.447/.323 in eight games. The stats don't really matter, but it's just nice to see that he was healthy enough to play. He's 24 and has still barely played above High-A ball, so you'd love for Schafer to see Nashville at some point this year.
4  13 Nelson, Jimmy   A   SP 30 R R
  Nelson has flown a bit under the radar for a second-round pick who touched 96 in his debut, but I guess that's what a Jeff Suppan comp will do to a guy's reputation. The Brewers played it cautious with Nelson in 2010, so it will be nice to see what the big righty can do once he's allowed to start and use his whole repertoire.
6  14 Dykstra, Cutter   MLB   3B 30 R R
  Cutter made strides in 2010 toward proving that he wasn't another bad Dykstra investment, but he's already failed at two positions and didn't impress anyone at third base either. Who knows where his future lies defensively, but as long as he keeps getting on base, he'll be okay.
1  15 Green, Taylor   A   IF 33 L R
  We've given Green a pretty long leash, but his strong 2007 & 2008 seasons are now pretty far in the rear-view mirror. Some guys never come all the way back from wrist injuries; we hope Green's not one of them.
11  16 McClendon, Mike   A   MR 34 R R
  Hard to believe McClendon has climbed this high, but he's certainly made the most of his unexpected opportunity and enters 2011 right in the mix for a bullpen spot. He pitched very well in the AFL, which can only improve his chances.
5  17 Kintzler, Brandon   A   MR 35 R R
  Pretty much ditto on the McClendon comment, right down to the AFL dominance; Kintzler kept the ball on the ground there to an astounding degree (3.17 GO/AO). Kintzler's solid fastball velocity and excellent control give him a good shot at MLB success out of the pen.
1  18 Davis, Khris   MLB   OF 31 R R
  Davis put up prototypical slugger numbers at Wisconsin, juuuust missing out on a pretty OBP/SLG slash line of .400/.500. A poor throwing arm might limit him to left field, so you wonder where he would play in Milwaukee with Deputy Ryan on the team.
11  19 Farris, Eric   A   2B 33 R R
  After an injury-wrecked regular season and a new crop of second base prospects left his future in doubt, the "Save Farris" movement that saw him hit .351/.415/.432 in the AFL and Brett Lawrie traded away may have accomplished its goals. Sure would be nice if he could play shortstop, though...
13  20 Morris, Hunter   MLB   1B 31 L R
  Morris didn't hit particularly well after being ambitiously assigned to Wisconsin straight out of the draft, but the organization seems high on him, further challenging him with a spot in the AFL. The Brewers had him play some third base there, apparently to the mirth of scouts, but the fact that they'd even try it probably speaks well of his athleticism, at least relative to other first basemen. He also played some outfield for the Rattlers, and Cody Hawn would probably be very grateful if Morris was good enough to move to either position.
14  21 Merklinger, Dan   A   SP 34 L L
  Merklinger finally got the Brewers to notice him with a series of excellent second-half starts and was rewarded with an AFL spot, where he struck out over a man an inning. His fastball/curve combo from the left side evokes Chris Narveson, and I'm sure the Brewers would be happy if that's who he turns into.
1  22 Dennis, Chris   A   OF 31 L R
  Dennis offers an intriguing power/patience combo, but the decreasing time he's seen in the outfield indicates that he'll most likely be a first basemen, where he'll have to hit a ton to be a real prospect. His biggest problem right now is a lack of contact.
5  23 Lamontagne, Andre   A   MR 33 R R
  Lamontagne just kept getting it done as he pushed his way from Wisconsin to Brevard County to Huntsville and then from the bullpen to the rotation, where he turned in several promising starts. It's easy to say his future is in the pen, but you never know.
5  24 Richardson, D'Vontrey   A   OF 31 R R
  Richardson's .314/.429/.590 August--and Chris Mehring's comments on just how HARD he was hitting the ball--finally gave us a peek at his immense potential, but he remains (expectedly) inconsistent in every aspect of the game. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him given another crack at the Midwest League next year, especially given how unforgiving Space Coast Stadium can be for right-handed hitters with power.
4  25 Bucci, Nick   A   SP 29 R R
  It seems Bucci narrowly escaped (from his Canadian perspective, perhaps missed) being dealt to the Blue Jays in the Marcum deal, and we're glad he's stuck around. He struggled last year, especially with his control, but it's important to remember that he didn't turn 20 until midway through the season.
 26 Arnett, Eric   A   MR 31 R R
  No one is more eager to see the calendar turn to 2011 than Arnett. It's impossible to know what to expect from him from, but he's got a good enough arm and slider to stay on the radar.
7  27 Miller, Matt   A   SP 30 R R
  The book on Miller post-draft seemed to be that he was probably a reliever, so his Pioneer League success as a starter came as a welcome surprise, as did his solid control. Between Miller, Thornburg, and Nelson (and perhaps Arnett), the Wisconsin staff should be very interesting for the second straight year.
4  28 Lasker, Maverick   A   SP 29 R R
  It's funny how inured you can become to a name like "Maverick"; it and "D'Vontrey" now sound as normal to my ears as, say, "Clark". Anyway, Lasker had a pretty blah year and is perhaps even more fly ball-oriented than Cody Scarpetta. Still, he'll only be 21 next year, and the friendly confines of Space Coast beckon.
2  29 Fiers, Mike   MLB   SP 34 R R
  Fiers just continues to get it done, posting an even better K/BB in the pitcher-unfriendly AFL than he did during the regular season. His fastball's okay, but it's tempting to want to move him to the bullpen to make it play up; at the same time, keeping him a starter best takes advantage of his multiple quality offerings.
6  30 Hawn, Cody   A   1B 31 L R
  "The Cheetah" tore up Helena, but good college hitters should tear up Helena. Hawn has the misfortune of being stuck behind two comparable players in Hunter Morris and Chris Dennis, which will limit the speed of his ascent even if he continues to mash.
6  31 Hall, Brooks   A   MR 29 R R
  Hall had a fairly nondescript pro debut at Maryvale, but he's one of the higher-ceilinged pitchers the Brewers have. We'll see how aggressively they push him next year.
6  32 Howell, Del   A   SP 32 L L
  Howell is still left-handed and still has good stuff, so he's still here in the lower half of the Power 50. As you can see from his peripherals, however, he's not a very good pitcher currently, though to be fair he's quite green. I've called him the pitching version of D'Vontrey Richardson before, and I'll stick with that comparison entering 2011.
1  33 Garfield, Cameron   A   C 28 R R
  To be sure, Garfield didn't do much well last year, be it offensively (604 OPS) or defensively (19% CS rate). Is he bad or was the 19-year-old just in over his head as one of the youngest players in the Midwest League? He was a second-round draft pick for a reason, so there's still reason for hope.
new  34 Egan, Pat   MLB   MR 35 R R
  The Brewers are hoping for Kam Loe v2.0 with Egan, whom they selected from the Orioles in the Rule 5 draft. He does two things very well: be 6'8" and get grounders. He's not exactly dominant, though, and with a lot of bullpen candidates for a few spots, he'll really have to wow in spring training to stick. Hopefully he's got Loe's phone number.
4  35 Roberts, Tyler   A   C 29 L R
  Do we have Roberts far too low? Kevin Goldstein's got him at #8, and Roberts definitely opened some eyes with his offensive fireworks at Maryvale--but he also had 15 passed balls in only 39 games, making you wonder if he can stick at catcher. Roberts might merit a bump to A-ball, but with Garfield probably deserving to repeat it and Rafael Neda needing to get out of Rookie ball, he might not get the chance.
new  36 James, Justin   A   MR 38 R R
  James, claimed off waivers from the A's in November, has good stuff, in particular a mid-90s fastball. He also "can't stand walking people" and is "against it", so that's nice.
8  37 Ross, Austin   A   MR 31 R R
  College pitchers should be expected to do well in the Pioneer League, even without premier stuff, but Ross's 52/6 K/BB in 46.2 IP was exceptional nonetheless. We'll see how effective his mediocre fastball is in full-season ball next year.
9  38 Pokorny, Jon   A   MR 31 R L
  Pokorny has power stuff, especially coming from the left side, but his control wavered badly at times last year. Striking out over a third of the batters you face will get you noticed, though.
new  39 Neda, Rafael   A   C 31 R R
  We didn't get to see much from Neda after he signed late, but he sounds like a good all-around talent at the dish.
9  40 Katin, Brendan   A   OF 36 R R
  No one took a chance on Katin in the Rule 5 draft, but he was good enough last year to suggest that he could be a decent 5th outfielder/pinch hitter. It was his age-27 season, so Katin may be peaking now and will need some luck to get an opportunity to show off his skills in the big leagues before he starts to decline.
16  41 Butler, Josh   A   SP 35 R R
  Outrighted off the 40-man roster and with a new crop of pitching prospects breathing down his neck, it looks like Butler may have missed his window. That elbow impingement last spring couldn't have come at a worse time for him.
1  42 Watten, Trey   A   SP 33 R R
  Watten has the best sinker in the system, and we're excited to see what he can do as he moves up and benefits from increased defensive competence, though the playing surface at Joe Davis will probably be worse than the new one put in at Space Coast Stadium over the offseason.
1  43 Wheeler, Zelous   MLB   IF 32 R R
  Ladies and gentlemen, the best shortstop prospect in the Brewers system! At 5'10" and 215 pounds and with 32 errors at the position to his name last year, Wheeler may not be long for 6, but he continues to show a knack for getting on base and could be a utility prospect.
4  44 Zarraga, Shawn   MLB   C 30 S R
  Zarraga is a very puzzling prospect--is he a hulking 1B/DH with thunder in his bat, or a Jason Kendall-esque catcher who hits for average and takes walks but has no power? So far, all of those things. Zarraga has huge power potential but only five home runs in three years, and while he did play 44 games at catcher last year for Brevard County, he also played 29 at DH. Bottom line: if he can't catch, he's probably not a prospect.
1  45 Haydel, Lee   A   OF 32 L R
  Haydel continues to put up mediocre numbers at the plate, but the fact that he's been pushed to a new level each year and hasn't washed out yet gives hope. Indeed, though his 7% walk rate is hardly outstanding, it's better than he'd ever done in the past, so he's hanging in there. His calling card remains his blazing speed, but the fact that he's played so little center field over the last couple years is a little concerning.
new  46 Meadows, Daniel   A   MR 32 L L
  Meadows doesn't throw very hard, but as a lefty that's less of a factor, and he's posted consistently good numbers since being taken with the Brewers' 49th-round pick in 2008. Next year will bring about what John Sickels calls the Double-A Finesse Pitcher Acid Test.
new  47 Mercedes, Roque   A   SP 33 R R
  Welcome back to the Brewers organization and the Power 50, Roque. Mercedes was traded with Cole Gillespie to the Diamondbacks for Felipe Lopez in 2009 but returns via a waiver claim. He didn't really do anything well at AA last year, but he's still got good stuff and is only 24.
new  48 Sanchez, Jesus   A   MR 32 R R
  Sanchez was claimed off waivers from the Phillies earlier this month. Converted from catcher only a few years ago, Sanchez is only 23 and apparently featured a low-90s fastball and good changeup as a starter, which makes him an intriguing sleeper, especially if the Brewers put him in the bullpen and let his stuff play up. He spent all last year in the Florida State League, so expect to see him open the year with either Brevard County or Huntsville.
new  49 Garman, Brian   A   MR 31 L L
  One of three relievers to post eye-popping strikeout rates for Helena last year, Garman earns a spot on the list ahead of Eric Marzec and Alex Jones by virtue of his left-handedness and power slider.
new  50 Allison, Kenny   A   OF 29 R R
  A mostly anonymous 39th-round pick from the most recent draft, Allison's speed and athleticism got him noticed by Baseball America, who compared him to Lorenzo Cain. His most notable offensive trait in the few months he spent at Maryvale was a Weeksian HBP rate, but his physical tools make him one to keep an eye on entering 2011.

Players removed this week: Hiram Burgos... Lorenzo Cain... Donovan Hand... Jeremy Jeffress... Brett Lawrie... Chuck Lofgren... Jake Odorizzi... Angel Salome...

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