Believe it or not, having the likes of Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo graduate to the Majors – paired with the dealing of Will Inman for no one in particular – doesn’t exactly do wonders for your farm system. With a solid showing in the 2007 MLB Draft, paired with the potential of some of those who remained in a declining system, the Milwaukee Brewers have done a solid job of rebuilding what was a suddenly sparse minor league chain.
|Our Top 5 Milwaukee Brewers Prospects at the end of the 2007 Season|
||He's athletic enough to play LF and his powerful bat will shine in the bigs||
||The main thing we care about is that his bat should be a serious weapon||
||Hard-thrower who was held in extended ST then suspended in late-August||
||Proven arm who provided the Brewers with help out of the bullpen in 2007||
||Though he was a 5th round pick in '07, this high schooler raked in his debut||
|* Ages are as of 12/2/07|
|** Level is the highest level the player has reached|
|*** Our rankings combine a player's ceiling with the odds that he'll reach it and favor recent production|
|<<< Discuss these rankings|
1. Matt LaPorta , LF (1/8/85)
When the Milwaukee Brewers tabbed Matt LaPorta with the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s edition of the MLB Draft, many baseball experts were left to scratch their heads. And just six months later, it’s already appearing that the Milwaukee brass has trumped the so-called “experts” this time around. While he experienced High-A ball as a 22-year-old, LaPorta’s .304/.369/.696 vital (131 PA) across two levels was impressive nonetheless. The University of Florida product found continued success in the Arizona Fall League, tabbing.351 OBP and .500 SLG rates in 112 at-bats. If the 6-foot-2, 212-pounder can continue to find comfort in left field, then the Brewers very well could have committed a first-round robbery.
2. Mat Gamel , 3B (7/26/85)
Saying that Mat Gamel’s MiLB career has been one of consistency would be a major understatement. Thanks in part to an impressive 37 doubles (466 at-bats), the 6-foot, 205-pounder posted a solid .300/.378/.472 vital in the High-A Florida State League in 2007. For his professional career, the Chipola (Fla.) J.C. product holds a .296/.367/.471 line in 1,181 combined at-bats. The Jacksonville native managed to break free of his steady play in the Hawaiian Baseball League this fall, continuing to impress by going a stellar .333/.410/.608. While I believe he has Ryan Braun syndrome – i.e. thou shalt not man the hot corner in the future – Gamel’s dependable bat should find its way into the Brewers lineup regardless.
3. Jeremy Jeffress , RHP (9/21/87)
If you’re the Milwaukee Brewers, you have little to nothing to worry about with regards to the potential of flamethrowing Jeremy Jeffress. A 6-foot, 175-pounder with a hard-breaking slider to boot, Jeffress netted a 1.23 WHIP while striking out 95 would-be hitters in 86.1 frames of work (26.0 percent K/PA) in 2007. Unfortunately for the Brewers, it’s everything else that’s causing the headaches. After failing a team-administered drug test in 2006, Jeffress became a repeat offender, this time being suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball after being caught with marijuana or another illicit drug in August , according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. If Jeffress can get back to smoking opposing batters instead, there’s no question that a slot in the Brewers rotation will be waiting.
4. Manny Parra , LHP (10/30/82)
The prospect stock of Manny Parra was basically written 41 years ago . The Good: Parra’s 1.11 WHIP through Triple-A (1.42 WHIP in 26.1 IP with the Brewers). The Bad: the fact that the American River (Calif.) J.C. product came out of the bullpen in seven of his nine outings once he reached the big leagues. And the Ugly: the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder turned 25 this offseason and his minor league performance to date has been more on the solid-impressive side than dominant side.
5. Caleb Gindl , RF (8/31/88)
With the 2007 MLB Draft squared away in the books, it appears in retrospect that Caleb Gindl wasn’t too happy about being a fifth round pick. And unfortunately for Pioneer League pitchers, Gindl simply let his rage out on them. A 5-foot-9, 185-pounder out of Pace, Fla., Gindl posted a stellar .372/.420/.580 vital in his first 207 at-bats as a professional. While question marks surrounded the lefthanded hitter out of high school, it appears that Gindl’s bat may carry a good deal of answers for the future.
Between LaPorta, Gindl, and third rounder Jonathan Lucroy (C, 6/13/86), the 2007 draft class netted a triumvirate of bats that are more than worth watching throughout their respective developments. Standing just 5-foot-7, Angel Salome (C, 6/8/86) and his .465 slugging (from High-A in 2007) makes up for any lack in stature. Salome was, however, sentenced to a 50-game suspension in July for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Alcides Escobar (SS, 12/16/86) has the physical tools, but hasn’t been able to find overly intriguing quantitative success (.306/.331/.366). And while Brent Brewer (SS, 12/19/87) isn’t putting up mind-numbing numbers, either, he was one of the fastest base runners in the low minors.
Adam Loberstein can be reached at email@example.com.