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Toby's Power 50
  Power 50 Notes
last updated: 05/31/2011

It's your friendly neighborhood Link Reporter Eric here with a newsflash: the Brewers' system ain't so hot. Who else is looking forward to the draft if for nothing else than the novelty of getting some new yet-to-fail prospects? Still, there are success stories and intriguing players here, even if their ceilings are more modest than we've come to expect from our top prospects. After all, backup infielders and relief pitchers have value, too! Plus, there's still plenty of season left and ergo plenty of time for disappointing seasons to be turned around. Note: As Toby mentioned last time out, Zach Braddock has been forcibly graduated from the Power 50 for simply refusing to accumulate the necessary 50 innings pitched; it is conceivable that this rule will also be used in the future on Brandon Kintzler. Please hit up either me (@SessileFielder) or Toby (@BrewerfanToby) on Twitter with any questions, comments, complaints, or lavish praise. Preferably the lavish praise. Why yes, we do take donations, how kind of you to ask.    
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Nice batch of minor leaguers here - surely a few will make their mark in baseball history. Use the Internet to learn about the history of baseball, from baseball drafts to baseball drills.
  Power 50
+/- Rank  Name  Level  Pos  Age 
 01 Peralta, Wily   A   SP 30 R R
  Compared to his stint in Huntsville last year, Wily's strikeouts are way up and his walks are way down, which means you shouldn't be too concerned with his high ERA. For a ground-ball pitcher he continues to allow a surprising amount of homers; we'll have to wait and see whether that's a fluke or not. His struggles against lefties paint a less optimistic view of his changeup than some of the scouting reports we've heard.
9  02 Thornburg, Tyler   MLB   CL 31 R R
  In a system that was down entering the year and has since seen most of its prospects stagnate or regress, Thornburg stands out as one of the few taking a step forward. He allowed two earned runs total in six May starts while showcasing a mid-90s fastball, nasty curve, and functional changeup. He'll still have his doubters until he succeeds at a higher level, but he's earned the chance.
5  03 Komatsu, Erik   A   OF 32 L L
  Cool Breeze has so far breezed through the AA test with numbers unchanged from last year, which of course represents progress. My favorite number? His 25/17 BB/K. That said, despite the fact that he's a fine player, that Komatsu is the #3 prospect in the system should give you pause. The organization doesn't view him as a true center fielder, and he hasn't hit for enough power to man a corner outfielder spot, which means that our best position-player prospect projects to be a 4th outfielder. Something else to keep an eye on: after handling lefties last year at BC, he's struggled with them so far at Huntsville.
2  04 Rivas, Amaury   A   SP 33 R R
  Rivas's strikeout rate: 5.8. Rivas's walk rate: 4.5. Those numbers are uncomfortably close together, and they're going to have to diverge substantially for Rivas to have major league success. We had been hoping that Rivas could shore up his breaking ball and exceed the back-of-the-rotation scouting reports given to him, but perhaps now we should be hoping that he makes it as a starter at all.
 05 Scarpetta, Cody   A   SP 31 R R
  We're still waiting for Scarpetta to take a step forward, but at least he hasn't taken one back. He's basically the same guy he was last year, including the surprisingly low home-run rate despite a lot of fly balls allowed. He has yet to demonstrate the control or efficiency that we'd like to see, still not having walked fewer than two batters or completed seven innings. Still, he's one of the few pitchers in the system showcasing dominant stuff.
 06 Gennett, Scooter   MLB   2B 29 L R
  .256/.299/.302 is a very ugly line indeed, as Gennett's hot April has been utterly drowned out by an execrable May. Especially of concern is that his walk rate has tanked along with his batting average. Again, the FSL is a tough league, and it's just one bad month, so we still have faith that Scooter's exquisite hand-eye coordination and pure hitting ability will eventually shine through, but the lack of secondary skills (13 walks, six extra-base hits) is concerning. He's also already 21, so he doesn't have quite as much of a buffer as you might think.
 07 Heckathorn, Kyle   A   MR 31 R R
  Like Peralta, Heckathorn last year was a ground-ball machine with an unimpressive strikeout rate despite an impressive fastball; like Peralta this year, Heckathorn is repeating a level and has seen a significant increase in his punch-outs. His overall walk rate is still quite good, though he went through a tough stretch in May where nothing seemed to be working. His problems at this point are a home run rate completely out of whack with his overall batted-ball profile and the fact that he's always been pretty hittable. I would expect the home runs to go down, especially if he stays in the FSL, and for his numbers going forward to better resemble his 2010 Wisconsin line.
1  08 Gindl, Caleb   A   OF 31 L L
  Gindl is quietly having an okay season at Nashville and has been heating up lately. He's hitting for a bit more power than he showed last year at Huntsville, always a question with Gindl because of his size, and he's still drawing a fair amount of walks. Like Komatsu, he's been playing some center field despite not really being a center fielder, and like Komatsu his lack of power probably limits his ceiling to that of a 4th outfielder, but Gindl's pretty close to being a useful major leaguer right now. He's only 22, so he could still get stronger and/or learn to hit for more power, but he's not going to get any taller or faster.
14  09 Bucci, Nick   A   SP 29 R R
  Bucci is one of the season's few success stories. As the Brewers predicted, his fastball has ticked up in velocity, now sitting in the low 90s. He's still just 20, so there's room for more growth, and his strikeout rate is already healthy. Bucci's real reason for success, though, is getting his walk rate back down to '09 Helena levels. The Brewers have loved Bucci for a long time, and it looks like he's finally blossoming.
2  10 Schafer, Logan   A   OF 33 L L
  It's great to see Schafer healthy for the first time in a year and a half; even after all that time off he remains the Brewers' most advanced center field prospect. Right now he's just knocking the rust off, but it's easy to forget that he's barely played above High-A, so success at Huntsville shouldn't be counted on automatically. He'll already be 25 in September, so it would be really nice to see him in Nashville by the beginning of next year at the latest.
8  11 Davis, Khris   MLB   OF 31 R R
  Not only has Davis not struggled upon his promotion to Brevard County and its notoriously unforgiving stadium for right-handed power hitters, he's actually hitting better than he did last year at Wisconsin. Because he's already 23, he'll be questioned until he does it at AA, but he's still greatly improved his stock, as you can see by the orientation of and number within that little arrow to the left of this paragraph. The only problem is what the Brewers would do with him if he keeps hitting like this, since left is the only outfield position he can play and the Brewers have a left fielder signed for the next 300 years. Because of that, Davis could be a dark horse 1B prospect somewhere down the line.
2  12 Davis, Kentrail   A   OF 31 L R
  Mass Haas said it best the other night: "To be honest, kind of waiting for Kentrail Davis to wow us at some point outside of the Midwest League." He's still getting on base at a good clip, both by taking walks and getting hit by (too many?) pitches, but he's just not doing much with the ball when he hits it. I'm reminded of Ryan Braun's stuggles at Brevard County in 2006, but it seems the Brewers read that correctly and promoted him anyway; we'll see if they do the same with the soon-to-be-23-year-old Kentrail, just to see what they've got. Along with Komatsu and Gindl, he completes the troika of short, lefty-hitting outfielders who can kind-of-but-not-really play center field. Interestingly, Davis has hit lefties better than righties at every stop so far in his career.
9  13 Rogers, Mark   A   SP 33 R R
  What a roller-coaster ride it's been for Rogers, who's gone from an impressive late-season cup of coffee with the Brewers last year to banishment to the Florida State League and a mysterious wrist ailment this year. With his already spotty health record, the default position regarding Rogers' future ability to pitch has to be automatically pessimistic, 100-mph fastball or not. Who gets carpal tunnel in both wrists at the same time, anyway? Very strange. The s-word is now being thrown around, which is never a good sign.
 14 Kintzler, Brandon   A   MR 35 R R
  Kintzler was quite impressive for the big club before triceps tendinitis shut him down indefinitely. He learned a changeup from Shaun Marcum in spring training that he's used to great effect, throwing it over 20% of the time. With that new weapon in his arsenal, it kind of makes you wonder what he'd look like as a starting pitcher. I mean, he has three pitches, throws hard enough (average fastball velocity: 93 mph), has very good control, and even gets a lot of grounders. Sounds like a starter to me. If left in the bullpen (and healthy), he can be a quality set-up man for a long time.
12  15 Ross, Austin   A   MR 31 R R
  He's stumbled a bit lately after a blistering start, but Ross has overall been impressive in his full-season debut, certainly more so than his better-pedigreed rotation mates Jimmy Nelson and Matt Miller. His fastball only barely breaks the 90-mph barrier, so he doesn't have the ceiling of those guys, but there's definitely something to be said for, you know, actually pitching well. Given the pitcher-friendly conditions at Brevard County, it's easy to see Ross succeeding there as well, so we might have to wait until 2011 and a promotion to Huntsville for a referendum on his true ability.
1  16 Richardson, D'Vontrey   A   OF 31 R R
  There's a chance Richardson has made a significant step forward this year. He's cut his strikeout rate by more than half, but a concurrent drop in his BABIP has masked any benefit to his batting average. Because he's played so little between DL stints and we rarely get scouting reports from the FSL, it's tough to know whether he's actually gotten better at controlling the strike zone and is getting unlucky on his balls in play, is trading fewer strikeouts for weaker contact, or is doing nothing different and it's just random variation. He just came off the DL, so hopefully it's the first option and he's poised to break out. With Logan Schafer promoted to Huntsville, D'Vo will be back in center field where he belongs. Despite his speed, baserunning remains an issue.
4  17 Green, Taylor   A   IF 32 L R
  Green, like Caleb Gindl, is putting up decent numbers at Nashville without much fanfare, positioning himself for a MLB backup role in the near future. He's played third base almost exclusively since 2007, but he's good enough at second to have played there while Eric Farris was manning shortstop. Green has a well-rounded base of skills, hitting for a decent average and surprising power, plus a walk rate that's rebounded to its 2008 level. If he's lucky, he could have Casey McGehee's career; more likely, he'll have the career McGehee was ticketed for before breaking out in 2009: a 2B/3B reserve. Interestingly, the McGehee parallel even extends to dabbling at the catcher position.
2  18 McClendon, Mike   A   MR 34 R R
  McClendon doesn't have much of a fastball, and he knows it: with the Brewers this year, he's thrown his slider an astounding 41% of the time. He's a fun guy to root for--he throws a palm ball and will quick-pitch an unwary batter. Those tricks, plus a low walk rate, will help McClendon have a career as a middle reliever despite his 88-mph heater.
2  19 Morris, Hunter   MLB   1B 31 L R
  Morris has displayed excellent power so far in his MiLB career--his ISO is an even .200. Though he performed quite well in a four-game cameo with Huntsville while Sean Halton was injured, I would expect his lack of plate discipline to trip him up long-term at AA. If he can shore up that part of his game, he'll be a good prospect, even as a first baseman. Big if, though. The Brewers like him and will push him hard. They've left the door to him playing third cracked a bit; he's played six games there this year.
3  20 Farris, Eric   A   2B 33 R R
  The Brewers finally have allowed Farris to start playing shortstop occasionally, but it turns out they were probably right all along, as his arm is apparently just too weak to make the throws from the far side of second base. It's really too bad, because if he could manage there he could easily have a utility career. As it is, he's a keystone-only prospect who doesn't hit much and who's stuck behind Rickie Weeks. If he's the Brewers' starting second baseman at any point in the future, something has probably gone horribly wrong.
5  21 Nelson, Jimmy   MLB   SP 30 R R
  Coming out of the SEC last year as a second-round pick, we expected Nelson to handle the Midwest League pretty easily, which unfortunately has not been the case. He's gotten a ton of ground balls with his power sinker, but we thought it would be augmented with a healthy dose of strikeouts thanks to a good slider, strikeouts which have not materialized. His apparently contact-oriented philosophy has burned him because of a very high walk rate--giving up a bunch of ground-ball singles hurts a lot more when you're walking guys all over the place ahead of them. It's a little unfair to bunch him in with Eric Arnett because it's not Nelson's fault that Dylan Covey didn't sign, but the comparison is inevitable.
10  22 Haydel, Lee   A   OF 32 L R
  Haydel was my pick to click in 2011, and he's clicking pretty well to the tune of an AVG/SLG of .305/.379. He's never gotten much of a chance to play center field because of the guys he's been teammates with, but theoretically he can handle the position, so if he can get on base, he can be a major leaguer. After stealing 22 of 28 bases last year, he's been bizarrely atrocious this season, only 7 of 15. I'll happily trade the the stolen bases for his increased walk rate, though.
11  23 Maldonado, Martin   MLB   C 33 R R
  Maldonado is a gifted receiver with a strong arm at the most defense-oriented position on the diamond, which means that he really doesn't have to hit much to scratch out a big-league career--which is fortunate, because he really hasn't hit much. It's unfortunate that George Kottaras and Mike Rivera are soaking up all the playing time at Nashville (not to mention Wil Nieves in Milwaukee), because Maldonado really should be in AAA auditioning for the backup catcher's job.
5  24 Wheeler, Zelous   MLB   IF 32 R R
  Not much to report on the statistical front for Wheeler, who has played in just seven games this year because of a sprained knee. He's healthy and back at Nashville now, where we expect to see him hit for a solid average, buoyed by a healthy dose of walks, and solidify his status as a humorously named utility prospect.
1  25 Roberts, Tyler   A   C 29 L R
  Country has struck out in a third of his plate appearances at Wisconsin, so it would be easy to conclude that's he's entirely overmatched after skipping Helena, but there are signs of growth. After drawing just one walk in April, he took nine in May, and he's still hitting for decent power. The next step is finding a way to put the ball in play more often. Roberts has showcased a powerful arm, gunning down 40% of steal attempts plus some pickoffs, and after a torrent of passed balls early has locked down on that front lately. I'm cautiously optimistic.
4  26 Merklinger, Dan   A   SP 33 L L
  To imagine Dan Merklinger, picture Chris Capuano throwing Chris Narveson's fastball and curveball. It's not uncommon for lefties to take a rather desultory path to success (again, Narveson), but Merklinger is now 25 and has yet to have real success above High-A ball. He hasn't been bad exactly for Huntsville this year, just uninspiring, something the Brewers apparently anticipated when they waived him off the 40-man roster in the spring. We've always seemed to like Merk more than the organization does, so I see no reason for us to stop now. As a lefty, there's always the LOOGY fallback option, and indeed righties have killed him this year, but he should at least get the rest of the year to try to prove himself as a starter.
14  27 Zarraga, Shawn   MLB   C 30 S R
  Zarraga is hitting at a decent clip for the Manatees for the second year in a row, but we'd love to see him escape the Florida State League, if only to get a better read on his power. It's worth noting that he seems to have significantly more pop from the right side of the plate, so perhaps he's just not a power hitter as a lefty despite his raw strength. The best news regarding Zarraga is that the odds of him sticking at catcher are looking up: he's played 27 of his 31 games there this year and has thrown out 11 of 25 attempted base-stealers while committing just two passed balls. A real catcher who can hit a little bit is a real prospect.
9  28 Hall, Brooks   A   MR 29 R R
  Hall skipped the Pioneer League and went straight to Wisconsin this year, but he's older than you think (almost 21). His fastball has topped out in the upper 80s with the T-Rats, which is disappointing to say the least and has led to him striking out just seven in 16 innings. Still, he's a big guy and touched the mid-90s in high school, so there's cause for hope (he was, after all, a 4th-round pick for a reason). He's also thrown a lot of strikes, which may sometimes be counterproductive in the absence of dominating stuff but is at least a nice skill to demonstrate.
1  29 Fiers, Mike   MLB   SP 34 R R
  We're happy to report that Fiers has been put back into the rotation at Huntsville; while his diverse arsenal doesn't exactly strike fier into the hearts of opposing hitters, he's been quite successful so far in his career despite a mediocre fastball. He'll be 26 in less than two weeks, so what you see is what you get, but at least you see something.
6  30 Lamontagne, Andre   A   MR 33 R R
  We heard in early April that Lamontagne was dealing with biceps tendinitis and was close to being healthy, but it's now June and there's been no sight of him and reports of shoulder problems--never a good sign. Lamontagne, search party of four!
3  31 Garfield, Cameron   A   C 28 R R
  Sent back to Wisconsin to build on last year's disappointing season, Garfield has instead missed most of the year with a knee injury and as such is in prospect limbo for the moment. Garfield still has youth and tools on his side, but he needs to get back on the field to develop.
new  32 Halton, Sean   A   OF 32 R R
  Halton flew under the radar big time last year because we didn't really know anything about him, and absent scouting reports it's hard to judge a first baseman hitting for little power in the Florida State League. Bumped up to Huntsville this year, Halton has continued to hit while bringing his power numbers up, and we've heard a good thing or two about him. He still isn't walking much and as a first baseman will have to hit a lot to be relevant, but AA success is pretty legit.
8  33 Miller, Matt   A   SP 30 R R
  Everyone was pleasantly surprised when Miller, who had serious control problems at Michigan, posted a normal walk rate for Helena last year while flashing strikeout stuff. This year, though, he walked more batters than he struck out at Wisconsin before heading to the DL with the Curse of the Brewers, aka an oblique strain. He's still got a nice sinking fastball, so here's to hoping he'll rediscover his happy place and get back on track in the second half.
new  34 De La Cruz, Frankie   A   SP 35 R R
  Frankie hasn't exactly been dominant for Nashville, but anyone who wrote his eulogy after he spent 2010 in Japan was premature. He has a fastball that touches the upper 90s and is striking out a batter an inning in the rotation, which makes him a bona fide pitching prospect as far we're concerned, even if he is a 27-year-old journeyman with a weird name. De la Cruz changed his pitching motion in Japan, going back to a full windup, so there's reason to think this is a new talent level and not a fluke. If nothing else, he'd be an interesting reliever.
4  35 Dennis, Chris   A   OF 31 L R
  I think Dennis has conclusively proved that he can hit Midwest League pitching. He now owns a collective .283/.372/.508 with the Timber Rattlers over the last three seasons. He was terrible in an early-season trial with Brevard County, but as entertaining as it is watching him rack up extra-base hits in A-ball, it's time to give him another shot at the FSL.
2  36 Lasker, Maverick   A   SP 29 R R
  Lasker's been coasting along in the middle of this list for some time based on the fact that he was a relatively high draft pick (5th round, 2008) with a memorable name, but at some point he needs to actually pitch well. He's only 21, and his strikeout rate has ticked up slightly this year, but it's been overshadowed by a skyrocketing walk rate.
9  37 Rivera, Yadiel   A   IF 27 R R
  A surprise call-up to Wisconsin in May, Rivera is the only actual shortstop prospect in the system. You can tell he's got a good glove by the fact that he's on this list despite a career OPS of .491 to this point (that is not a typo), though his D has been erratic for the Timber Rattlers (eight errors in 26 games). He's struck out 30 times in 90 plate appearances while only walking twice and without hitting for a lick of power, so he's pretty clearly overmatched, but I guess someone has to play shortstop. His glove will carry him a ways, but he needs to hit at least a little bit at some point, and rushing him to full-season ball like this won't help his bat any.
2  38 James, Justin   A   MR 38 R R
  With so much chaos in the Brewers' bullpen, James would seem to be in prime position for a shot sometime this year since he's already on the 40-man roster, but he's posted an uninspiring 13/12 K/BB in 20 innings for Nashville after racking up a ton of strikeouts last year in Oakland's system. He recently returned from a DL stint, so we'll see if it was a nagging injury holding him back in the early going.
6  39 Hawn, Cody   A   1B 31 L R
  Hawn has really struggled to find his footing at Wisconsin after dominating the Pioneer League in 2010. Chris Mehring reported that he was hitting into bad luck early in the year, but it's been two months and Hawn still has a sub-700 OPS. As a first baseman, he'll need to hit considerably better than that to be any sort of prospect.
7  40 Walker, Mike   A   3B 31 L R
  Walker, not Hawn, is the college player who's thus far best carried over his success from last year's Helena team to full-season ball. He's certainly living up to his name, having taken ball four 31 times in only 207 plate appearances this year, and he's also crushed ten homers. The scouts don't seem to love "Walker, Timber Rattler", but you can't argue with the production. He'll turn 23 in a week, so hopefully he becomes "Walker, Sea Cow" in the second half.
6  41 Rosario, Adrian   MLB   MR 30 R R
  Rosario has the rudiments of a starter's arsenal, including a low-90s fastball, nice slider, and a sinking changeup that shows promise, but his peripherals are terrible in a pitcher's park in a pitcher's league. Still, he's only 21 and didn't start at all last year, so we'll give him some time to find himself.
2  42 Perez, Osmel   A   RHP 26 R R
  I was secretly hoping for Perez, my DSL man-crush last year, to earn a promotion to the Arizona League, but given that he's still just 17 it's not at all surprising to see him back in the Dominican despite a very successful debut. Baseball America reports that Perez is working with some serious stuff on the mound, including a low-90s fastball and a precocious changeup, so remember his name and you'll look smart in a few years.
1  43 Meadows, Daniel   A   MR 31 L L
  A soft-tossing lefty drafted in the penultimate round in 2008, Meadows just keeps getting it done level-by-level, now having made the jump to AA without missing a beat. Despite having a fastball that doesn't break 90, he strikes out a healthy amount of batters while limiting the free passes, and he's not just a LOOGY either--he's actually been better against righties each of the last two years. The Brewers might have a nice little success story here.
5  44 Arnett, Eric   A   MR 31 R R
  At least there are no new bad things to say about Arnett this time around. We're still waiting to see him on a mound this year after being shut down with rotator cuff tendinitis, but even if he was healthy, it's not like he has a strong track record. At this point, Dylan Covey has been a better first-round pick than Arnett, and Covey didn't even sign.
new  45 Brown, Jordan   A   OF 35 L L
  Brown was acquired from the Indians in May and is a bat-only player who will need to slug his way back to the majors. He hasn't done much for the Sounds so far, but he hit .336/.381/.532 as recently as 2009 for the Indians' AAA team, so there's some potential there.
3  46 Katin, Brendan   A   OF 36 R R
  It's not a good sign for your status when your team chooses to carry a third catcher rather than you as a pinch hitter, and that's the situation Katin found himself in earlier this year when the Brewers preferred Mike Rivera to him. His prodigious strikeout rate makes sustained big-league success unlikely, and his bum knee even more so, but his absolute power has absolutely corrupted us and we think he could help some team--even if it's not the Brewers--off the bench.
new  47 Manzanillo, Santo   A   MR 30 R R
  Something of a folk hero around these parts, Manzanillo has been around since 2006, when he walked 47 batters in 16.1 innings in the Arizona League. As Ron Burgundy said: "I'm not even mad; that's amazing." He's always had an overpowering fastball, but control issues and a PED suspension have held him back. Whatever he's found at BC this year though is really working, as the walks are way down and the strikeouts way up--and the Brewers' international system looks just a tiny bit more hopeful for it.
2  48 Wooten, Rob   A   MR 34 R R
  Wooten was moving fast after being drafted out of UNC in 2008 as a late-innings reliever before Tommy John surgery knocked him out for all of 2010 and off our Power 50. We haven't heard a velocity reading for Wooten post-surgery, but he never relied on plus velocity, only running his fastball in the high-80s and instead racking up the Ks with a wipeout slider. The whiffs haven't quite come back yet, but it's been nice to see his control rebound well.
new  49 Wawrzasek, Stosh   A   SP 29 R R
  If this was the Power 50 Names, Stosh would obviously rank much higher. Finally escaping Rookie ball after three years, Stosh has been (temporarily, at least) moved to the bullpen at Wisconsin, where he's fanned 30% of the batters he's faced, causing us to sit up and take notice. His control needs work, but even though it's his 4th year in the system, he's still only 20, so there's plenty of time. Another list he'd appear high on: Best Cop Impersonation, Profile Photo Division.
new  50 Ozuna, Ruben   A   OF 28 L L
  Ozuna, nee Sanchez, is making his Power 50 debut after hitting like a mini-Komatsu last year in the DSL. We thought he might have been promoted stateside, but it turns out he just changed his name. He's already homered this year after hitting none last year, so perhaps the power is coming along. We know nothing about him other than his stats, but we sure do like him.

Players removed this week: Zach Braddock... Josh Butler... Darren Byrd... Marco Estrada... Jon Pokorny... Jesus Sanchez...

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