November 21, 2012
By Jason Arndt
Brewers Farm Report
It was not easy for Brewer fans to cope with the loss of an All-Star first baseman entering the 2012 season. Brewers Farm Report will examine all players in the position from top to bottom. The most interesting part is the top three first basemen in the system are left-handed.
Mat Gamel had big shoes to fill at first base after left-handed slugger Prince Fielder departed for Detroit in 2012 and now the replacement Gamel could be expendable for Milwaukee.
After Gamel was lost for the entire season following a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the Brewers called upon right fielder Corey Hart to hold down the position. Had it not been for the surprising season of Japanese import Norichika Aoki, Gamel’s injury could have left a gaping hole in the lineup.
Hart is expected to receive the majority of starts at first base for Milwaukee while Hunter Morris continues to hone his skills at Triple A Nashville in 2013.
Brewers’ officials anticipate the 24-year-old Morris’ arrival to Milwaukee by the 2014 season and result in Hart moving back to right field, pending Hart signing a reported contract extension.
Morris caught the attention of fans through the entire Minor League system in roughly two seasons and nearly captured the Double A Southern League Triple Crown with 28 home runs, 113 RBIs and a .303 batting average. The left-handed Huntsville native was just ten points away from earning the league’s batting title.
Milwaukee had a desire to keep Morris in his hometown Huntsville for entire season in order for him to play before his family and friends and it paid off with a Southern League MVP.
The Stars’ first-baseman was not done and also received the honor of being named the Milwaukee Brewers Minor League Player of the Year. Morris was just one double short of tying for the Southern League lead with 40 doubles.
Morris will need the 2013 season in Nashville to improve his plate discipline after striking out 117 times in 522 at bats and drawing 40 walks – the only glaring area in his game.
As hometown hero Morris’ departs Huntsville, the question Stars’ fans are asking is who will be on the way to fill in?
Wisconsin’s Nick Ramirez is the likely favorite to be promoted to Huntsville, despite missing the first month of 2012 after injuring his right hand. Ramirez, 24, was drafted in the fourth-round by Milwaukee in 2011 and made an immediate impact in the Rookie League.
Ramirez belted eight home runs and batted .369 for the Helena Brewers along with 30 RBIs and 23 runs before earning a promotion to Single A Wisconsin in 2011. Upon joining the Timber Rattlers Ramirez struggled but was still ranked 28th among Brewers prospects by Baseball America at the closing of the season.
Keep in mind at least half of the 27 players ahead of him are pitching prospects for the Brewers including Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg, Taylor Jungmann.
Huntsville could receive additional at bats from Brevard County’s Jason Rogers if Ramirez struggles early in the season for the Stars. Rogers snagged the majority of playing time for the High A Manatees after a mid-season promotion from Single A Wisconsin.
consistent left handed batter with the ability to drive in runs.
Giacalone shocked scouts by rescinding his national letter of intent to play for the University of Tennessee in favor of playing for the Brewers. The 20-year-old from Neosha County Community College in Kansas was a dual threat after throwing the school’s fifth no-hitter in history.
In addition, Giacalone struck out 17 batters as a freshman while batting near .400 and 102 RBIs for his Community College.
After opting for the Brewers, Giacalone batted .317 with an On Base Percentage of .394 in 69 games for Helena while collecting 17 doubles and 32 RBIs.
Prospect Watch – First Base
2013 Destination: Triple A Nashville
Major League Potential: Milwaukee anticipates arrival in 2014
2013 Destination: Double A Huntsville
Major League Potential: Minimal potential
2013 Destination: Single A Wisconsin
Major League Potential: Incomplete
Odd Men Out – First Base
Mat Gamel – Milwaukee
Cause: Despite being under arbitration for Milwaukee until the 2017 season, the Brewers exhausted all of his minor league options after recalling him multiple times since the 2010 season due to injuries. After Gamel was lost for the season and the development of Morris, the Brewers could be forced to place him on waivers if they do not find any takers entering Spring Training. With noted defensive liabilities playing third base and one outfield spot open entering the winter, Gamel’s chances of being a Brewer in 2013 are very slim.
Sean Halton – Nashville
Cause: Halton has no fielding experience other than first base and will be squeezed out of the Brewers organization. The Sounds’ 2012 first baseman is also eligible for the Rule V draft being held December 6. While a solid Triple A first baseman, there is no further potential with the Brewers organization.