We break down the top five prospects for each organization for 2010, taking into consideration: games, at-bats, innings and major-league service time. We expect these players to have rookie status remaining heading into next year.
According to MLB rules: "A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a major league club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit (excluding time in the military service and time on the disabled list)."
Note: Statistics are those at each stop in the minors this season and age represents how old they will be on opening day 2010.
It was a rebuilding year for the Brewers, who finally made the playoffs in 2008, only to fall back to mediocrity in '09. The thing is, this team is anything but mediocre if they had just acquired some pitching. Perhaps it comes from the farm in 2010?
1. Alcides Escobar, SS, 23
Escobar barely qualifies as a rookie having not surpassed the service time or at-bats after his August call-up to replace J.J. Hardy. Hardy fell out of favor due to inconsistency and the Brewers appear committed to Escobar long term. He hit .304 with a homer, 11 RBI, 20 runs, four steals, a .333 batting-average against and a .368 slugging percentage with the Brewers. He won't hit for power, but he can slap his way on base and be a 30-40 steal candidate in his first full season after going .298-4-34-76-42, .353-.409 in 430 at-bats in his first Triple-A campaign. His steals will be useful relative to his late-round draft slot and at a thin shortstop position on Draft Day. Long-term, he could develop some Jose B. Reyes-like power.
2. Mark Rogers, SP, 24
We have waited years for Rogers to get healthy and make good on his immense potential. It finally came in 22 starts in high Class A last year. Granted, it was a pitcher-friendly league and ballpark, but his 1.67 ERA, .201 batting-average against and 67 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings are eye-popping for an injury-prone former elite pitching prospect. Rogers will be stretched out cautiously after his years of injury woes and coming off shoulder surgery, so don't expect more than 125 innings out of him combined between the minors and perhaps the majors by the end of the season. He still might become that future front-line starter he was once billed to be.
3. Brett Lawrie, 2B, 20
Lawrie, the team's first-round pick in 2008 out of a Canadian high school made quite a splash in his first season as a pro, going a combined .274-13-65-54-19 (.340-.436) in 424 at-bats between low Class A and Double-A. He is a gifted hitter who feels most comfortable at second base, where his pop should play nicely in Fantasy in a few years. We expect (hope?) Rickie Weeks to be healthier and have a breakthrough this season, so Lawrie will get a long ride in Double-A this season and be a popular name on prospect lists for 2011.
4. Amaury Rivas, SP, 24
The Brewers were just a few starters from being a contender last season. If only they have a few more arms like Rivas' to turn to. They might turn to him by June 1 in 2010, which makes him a top target in deeper NL-only and long-term keeper leagues in the latter rounds on Draft Day. Unlike Rogers and the starting pitcher prospect below, Rivas put together a full season that could make him an impact pitcher for the Brewers and Fantasy owners in the second half. He went 13-7 with a 2.98 ERA, .220 BAA and 123 strikeouts in 133 High Class A innings last season. He will start in Double-A out of spring training, barring something unforeseen, and could move quickly from there if he stays dominant.
5. Jeremy Jeffress, SP, 22
Jeffress tested positive for a "drug of abuse" for a third time and received a 100-game suspension under Minor League Baseball's Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program on June 29, 2009. That kept him from being a potential candidate to help the pitching-needy Brewers last season and now puts some doubt about whether his previous results are tainted by some substance he took. There were reports the drug has continued to be marijuana, though. Consider Jeffress a potential future ace in keeper leagues, but his chances of making it up to Milwaukee before June 1 are slim.
Best of the rest: Caleb Gindl, OF; Jonathan Lucroy, C; Angel Salome, C; Cutter Dykstra, OF; Taylor Green, 3B; Tim Dillard, SP; Josh J. Butler, SP; Jake Odorizzi, SP; Cody Scarpetta, SP; Wily Peralta, SP; Eric Arnett, SP; Zach Braddock, RP; Lorenzo Cain, OF; Kentrail Davis, OF; Kyle Heckathorn, SP; Max Walla, OF; Alex Periard, SP; Lee Haydel, OF; Nick A. Green, SP; Brent Brewer, SS; R.J. Seidel, RP; Setch Lintz, SP; Omar Aguilar, SP; Efrain Nieves, SP; Evan Frederickson, SP; Eric Farris, 2B; Cody Adams, SP; Cameron Garfield, C; Josh Prince, SS; Brooks Hall, SP; Nick Bucci, SP; Logan Schafer, OF; Joe Koshansky, OF; Evan Anundsen, RP; and Maverick Lasker, SP.
Last year's top five here: Gamel, 3B; Salome, C; Jeffress, SP; Escobar, SS; and Green, 3B.
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