By Jason Arndt
Brewers Farm Report
As the 2013 season is underway, Brewers Farm Report, is breaking down the Top Ten of 20 Brewers’ prospects in 2013 with some surprises.
Milwaukee could be taking a long look at Scooter Gennett if its second baseman Rickie Weeks continues to struggle for the parent club.
Gennett has been under pressure with the struggling Triple A Nashville Sounds as the team’s leadoff hitter as the scrappy infielder is trying to start and end rallies on his own.
Huntsville’s Jimmy Nelson has sizzled for the Stars to start the season and should climb the prospect charts if he continues to show success on the mound.
Victor Roache has made his first appearances in the Brewers’ organization with the Midwest League Champion Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and is on a four-game hit streak to start his young career.
1. RHP Tyler Thornburg, Triple A Nashville Sounds
Thornburg has struggled in his four starts to begin the 2013 season with an 0-2 record and 6.30 earned run average.
The right-hander averaged five innings per appearance, striking out 18 batters and walking seven. During the span of 20 total innings, he has allowed 21 hits and two home runs.
Nashville’s season opener was his strongest outing of the season striking out seven New Orleans batters in five innings of work. He received a no-decision allowing one earned run, three hits and walked only one batter.
However, the number one rated prospect has steadily declined since the April 4 start allowing 3, 5 and 5 earned runs.
2. RHP Taylor Jungmann, Double A Huntsville Stars
Aside from a rocky start against Jackson April 12 where he allowed seven earned runs in 2.1 innings pitched, the Brewers’ 2012 first-round draft selection has been solid for the Stars.
His sole victory came in his Stars’ debut tossing five innings and allowing one earned run while striking out four Chattanooga Lookouts.
Jungmann was handed a tough loss April 22 at Birmingham pitching six innings and allowing one earned run and striking out two before being relieved to start the seventh inning of the game. In the same game, the 6’6″ right handed pitcher had difficulty maintaining control allowing four walks and five hits.
In his last three starts, his game walk totals have climbed allowing nine walks (four each his last two starts).
Brewer fans need to be assured the pitcher is in his first full season of Minor League Baseball after being thrown to High A Brevard County to begin his career in the Brewers’ organization in 2012.
3. RHP Johnny Hellweg, Triple A Nashville Sounds
The tall right-hander is being groomed as a starter after splitting time between relief and spot starts his last two minor league seasons in both the Angels and Brewers systems.
In four starts, Hellweg has compiled a 1-2 record for the Sounds with an earned run average of 4.00. Hellweg is facing similar struggles to Thornburg after putting together a solid season debut against New Orleans April 6. In his first start, he allowed no runs and two hits in five innings.
However, the right-hander has been able to demonstrate the ability to bounce back after sustaining two rough outings following his only win of the season with a five-inning and six strikeout performance against Memphis April 25.
Hellweg has strucked out a total of 19 batters in 18 innings pitched but needs to work on his control after walking 13 batters through the duration of the season.
4. 1B Hunter Morris, Triple A Nashville Sounds
After beginning the 2013 campaign with a bang hitting a home run in his Triple A debut with Nashville, the Brewers’ 2012 Minor League Player of the Year has struggled to get into a consistent rhythm.
In 18 games for the Sounds, Morris has knocked four home runs and driven in ten. The left-handed hitter earned his 2012 Southern League Most Valuable Player award in Huntsville for his near Triple Crown season and ability to collect doubles. The 2013 season has been on the opposite end of the spectrum with four doubles.
Scouts long mentioned Morris’ plate discipline as the key “make or break” tool to earn him a shot to the Major Leagues. The 2013 season has been a tough start striking out 16 times and walking seven in 73 plate appearances.
However, Morris is slowly improving during the course of the season thus far. His batting average has jumped from .173 to .227 in 10 days.
5. LHP Jed Bradley, High A Brevard County Manatees
The left-handed Bradley sported his best outing April 9 against the Lakeland Flying Tigers going five innings and striking out six to give him the first of two victories this season for the Manatees.
Bradley snagged his second win his most recent start April 25 against the Dunedin Blue Jays striking out six and allowing one earned run and two walks.
Aside from a rough outing where he struggled to maintain control and was unable to make it out of the first inning against the Clearwater Threshers, he has been able to show some improvement compared to last season.
In his second straight season with the Manatees he has posted a 2-1 record with a modest 3.45 earned run average in 15.1 innings pitched. The areas in need of improvement would be to improve command of his pitches giving up 16 hits and 11 walks.
6. 2B Scooter Gennett, Triple A Nashville Sounds
Gennett has been highly consistent for the Sounds this season batting .417 with an on base percentage of .444 as the team’s primary leadoff hitter.
His ability to get on base has not translated to runs on the board as he crossed home plate nine times in 15 games.
The scrappy infielder has made attempts to ignite the team’s offense with two doubles and a triple and has been able to keep his strikeouts under control with eight in 60 at bats.
In the rough 6-12 start for the Nashville Sounds’ season, Gennett might be getting too aggressive with three stolen bases but was caught twice.
The pressure could be building on the second baseman to carry a struggling team.
7. OF Victor Roache, Single A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Roache was recently added to the Midwest League Champions roster a week ago after spending time in Arizona strengthening himself in extended spring training due to an injury he sustained when he was drafted by the Brewers in the first round last season.
The right-handed outfielder jacked his sole home run of the season in his Rattlers’ debut April 21. In the game, he went 1-for-3 with a home run, two RBI, two runs scored and a walk.
In the following night, he notched his first double going 1-for-3 with a walk. He has maintained a four-game hitting streak to start his early career in the Midwest League.
Roache will be the outfielder to keep an eye on as he officially begins his professional career in the Fox Valley region in Wisconsin.
8. RHP Jimmy Nelson, Double A Huntsville Stars
Nelson has been near lights out for the Stars starting the season 3-0 with a meager 1.30 earned run average in five starts.
In 27.2 innings, the right-hander has struck out 32 and walked just five.
The 23-year-old gave the Stars’ a season-opening victory striking out eight Lookouts and not allowing a walk in five innings of work but allowed two earned runs.
Since his opening night win, he has held teams nearly scoreless allowing an earned run in two starts (April 15, April 25) but keeping hitters at bay in his other two (April 10, April 20).
Nelson matched his season-high in strikeouts with a no decision April 15 against the Tennessee Smokies lasting five innings and allowing one earned run and three hits.
9. C Clint Coulter, Single A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
Coulter has been having trouble with a tougher Midwest League compared to his stint with the Rookie League Arizona Brewers in 2012 batting .160 with two home runs and five RBI in 13 games for the Rattlers.
The Brewers’ number one catching prospect had his best game April 8 against the Cedar Rapids Kernels going 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI but had a difficult time with plate discipline, striking out three times.
After being given a couple days off to rest, he hit his second home run the following game against the Kane County Cougars April 13 hitting a solo home run in a 1-for-3 game.
Milwaukee might be better served to send him to Rookie League Helena when the H-Brewers begin its season in June following the amateur draft.
The youthful 19-year-old will need time to succeed and he has been overmatched against pitchers with more development in the Midwest League.
10. OF Mitch Haniger, Single A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers
After sustaining a season-ending injury early in the 2012 season, Haniger is attempting to redeem himself with a full season of Minor League baseball under his belt this season.
Haniger, one of the few first-round picks (sandwich selection) the Brewers made in 2012, could be climbing the prospect charts during the progression of 2013.
In 16 games, Haniger has sprayed the field with a variety of different hits. In addition to notching five doubles, the 22-year-old has jacked two home runs and driven in ten runs for the Rattlers.
Furthermore, he has walked eight times and stolen three bases (no caught stealing) for a .382 on base percentage to compliment his .286 batting average.
At the same point last season, Haniger was already sidelined with a partial tear of his posterior cruciate ligament of his right knee.
Alongside Roache and another hot hitting outfielder, Tyrone Taylor, the Rattlers have a strong core of speedy young outfielders to help them defend their Midwest League title.