Results tagged ‘ Hunter Morris ’
It was announced just after today’s win over the Chicago Cubs that LHP Chris Narveson was placed on the 15-day Disabled List with a sprain of the middle finger on his left (throwing) hand.
After retweeting my announcement of the status change, Narveson added a little bit more…
— Chris Narveson (@sleep_trick) April 8, 2013
Then, in the post-game media availability, manager Ron Roenicke stated that it would be a position player to replace Narveson on the active roster but that the specific player in question would be announced at a later time.
Naturally, the gears began to grind in the Brewer Nation thinkspace as people tried to come up with the name of who will be on their way to join the parent club in Chicago for Game 2 against the Cubs on Tuesday.
Here are some possible candidates, listed in alphabetical order by last name, with reasons for and against them getting the call.
- On the 40-man roster
- Hitting just under .500 on the young season
- Left-handed hitter
- Could option back to minors later
- Limited to second base defensively
- Not a power bat off the bench
- Basically no time above Double-A
- Would only play off the bench
- On the 40-man roster
- Left-handed hitter
- Some pop in a pinch-hitting role
- Could option back to minors later
- Seasoned minor leaguer
- Corner outfielder defensively
- Off to a very slow start offensively
- Would only play off the bench
- Plays some first base (an area of need)
- Plays catcher allowing for additional flexibility and allows Roenicke to play Maldonado at 1B more
- Left-handed hitter
- Cup of coffee in the big leagues (with the Cubs in 2012)
- Not on the 40-man roster
- No minor league options
- True first baseman
- Allowing for Alex Gonzalez or Yuniesky Betancourt to start at 3B assuming Jean Segura is healthy
- Had breakout season in 2012
- Defensively sound though not spectacular
- Left-handed hitter
- Would help add a touch more balance to the Brewers every day lineup
- Would likely become the starter at first base
- Has played a little third base in his pro career
- True first baseman
- Not on 40-man roster
- Has only played a handful of games above Double-A
So, who got the call?
Blake Lalli, who nearly made the 25-man roster out of spring training in the first place, had his contract selected the Brewers following Nashville’s 1-0 victory on Monday evening.
This will give Ron Roenicke some flexibility to utilize Martin Maldonado as he chooses, including playing him more at first base like I reported was part of the plan back in Spring Training before Alex Gonzalez took to the position so easily.
Lalli will wear uniform number 50 and will join the team tomorrow in Chicago.
Congrats and welcome back to the Show!
The move required a corresponding 40-man roster transaction to clear a spot. To that end, Corey Hart was transferred to the 60-day DL. A source told me back on Opening Day a week ago that Hart’s projected return date had been pushed back to June 1st anyway, so this move makes perfect sense in that regard.
The move is retroactive to March 31st (the earliest is can be) so Hart is now eligible to be activated off the disabled list on May 30th.
Shortly after the morning team meeting today at Brewers Spring Training, Ron Roenicke addressed the media and told them that Mat Gamel is ”probably going to miss the season” due to a re-tear of his surgically-repaired right knee ACL.
There will be no “matomic bombs” hit at Miller Park this year, Tiny Tim.
This comes as a bit of shock in a couple of ways. First and foremost, Gamel had good checkups on the knee both when he was in Milwaukee for “Brewers On Deck” last month, the team’s annual winter fan fest, and again just last week at down at Maryvale. Secondly, the failure of the repair occurred in the middle of the ligament. Repairs fail around 10% of the time, but if they do happen it is usually at one end of the ligament or the other. The Brewers head physician, Dr. William Raasch, explained the failure scenario to team officials and then assistant GM Gord Ash relayed that assessment to the media.
From here, Roenicke told the media that Doug Melvin’s plan is to review internal options first. That means a longer look for Taylor Green, perhaps more looks for Alex Gonzalez and Martín Maldonado, an a more significant look at Brewers 2012 Minor League Player of the Year and Southern League MVP Hunter Morris. Another name you’ll see in the box score on the big league side now is Sean Halton who started at 1B for the Nashville Sounds last year. To that end, Gord Ash told Brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy that Hunter Morris “will be a strong candidate” to play first base at the start of the season.
There are a couple of unsigned free agents with first base experience in Carlos Lee and Aubrey Huff, but there is doubt that either would want to come to a situation where they’re basically guaranteed to lose the job as soon as Corey Hart is healthy enough to return. Other externals options include recently DFA’d players. Mike Carp and Daric Barton fit that description.
What would you do, Brewer Nation?
In many conversations I’ve had over the past several days about the Brewers roster composition, backup first baseman was of particular interest.
Following Corey Hart’s knee surgery, Mat Gamel was promoted from his assumed role of reserve first baseman — along with third baseman and corner outfielder — back to the starting first baseman’s job he held last season when the team headed north after Spring Training.
The initial talk was about how quickly Hart could and would return. Then it moved to whether Gamel was a capable starter for the span of time Hart would be missing. Soon though that the Brewers didn’t have an official backup first baseman anymore was quickly realized by many fans.
First, the Brewers openly courted former Brewer Lyle Overbay, but to no avail as he signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox. More quietly they were interested in Juan Rivera who logged time in 54 games at first base for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. Rivera agreed to a free agent contract with the New York Yankees instead.
This sent up some flares signaling that the Brewers didn’t outwardly appear all that interested in heading to the season with the relatively inexperienced (and left-handed hitting, like Gamel) Taylor Green as the primary backup.
Talk moved to Hunter Morris and whether he would be given a chance to compete for the job. I’ve done my best to point out that Morris isn’t even on the 40-man roster this year and it would be extremely out of character (and in my opinion foolhardy) to waste an option year and start Morris’ arbitration clock for the time which Hart would miss. And that was to the people who were suggesting Morris as the starter over Gamel. To those who think they’d burn the same to make use of Morris as a backup, all I can say is that I don’t exactly foresee that either.
With all this talk, I reached out to a source about the role and it was suggested to me that backup catcher Martín Maldonado could be the man to fill in against some lefty starters in Gamel’s stead. The source went so far as to say that Maldonado was told specifically to get a first baseman’s glove to bring Spring Training. To that end, Maldonado is on record as saying that he enjoyed the time that he got to play first base last year.
One potential problem is that it is quite unlikely that Maldonado will see any reps at first base while away at the World Baseball Classic — where he will back up Yadier Molina for Team Puerto Rico — so he’d miss that time. Plus, as his time with the Brewers will be limited overall this Spring, Maldonado will likely be called on to catch plenty when he is with Milwaukee so he can develop his rapport with his new pitchers and reestablish the bonds with the returning Brewers hurlers.
Still, it would make sense if Maldonado is up to the task. He surprised most people with his offensive numbers last season and played passable-at-worst defense at first when called on.
So basically, keep that in mind when and if you see Maldonado’s name start popping up in Cactus League boxscores with a “1B” near it.
Welcome, fellow Brewers fans, to the first “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” column for Series: 2013! Allow me to give you a brief reminder of how this works.
As we approach Opening Day on April 1, 2013, I will be reviewing/previewing players in the the Milwaukee Brewers organization that are either on the 40-man roster or have been given an invitation to big league camp in Spring Training. I won’t do every single non-roster invitee, but I plan on writing up most of them at this point. Basically, though, this is a way to focus on the individual members of the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Let us depart on our lengthy journey of discovery and remembrance!
First let me say that I realize that bonuses usually come at the end. In this case, it simply doesn’t work out that way.
The reason for this bonus article is that four players were announced after the day on which they would have otherwise had their individual article written and posted.
The players in question are Rafael Neda, Kentrail Davis, Hunter Morris, and Adam Weisenberger. They were assigned jersey numbers 94, 93, 92, and 91, respectively.
These won’t be in-depth profiles of these players but I wanted to make sure you knew a little something about them before camp opens and you see their names popping up in box scores.
#94 – Rafael Neda
Rafael Neda is a 24-year-old catcher who stands 6’1″ tall and weighed in last year at 215 pounds. He was born in Obregon, Mexico and played collegiate ball at New Mexico before the Brewers drafted him in the 10th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
He has never been touted for his bat which is reflected in his career minor-league slash line of .220/.314/.271, but he calls a good game and the pitchers I’ve spoken with that play with Neda all enjoy throwing to him. He is a good leader on the field and, presumably, in the clubhouse as well.
Neda played the entirety of the 2012 season at the Class-A affiliate Wisconsin Timber Rattlers based in Appleton, Wisconsin. The Timber Rattlers wound up winning the Midwest League Championship in 2012 and Neda’s gamesmanship played a large part in that championship run. While his catching skills helped a number of his early season teammates get their promotions up to Class-A Advanced Brevard County, his leadership helped hold the team together with new, young faces as they marched to postseason sucess.
I covered a game as a credentialed media member up in Appleton for one game (column here) back in June of last year and Neda was the offensive hero. He hit his first (and still only) professional home run during a rally inning and then won the game in extra innings with a walk-off single with the bases loaded.
Most young ballplayers in the minor leagues experiences flashes like that. It’s the gentlemen who can stack flashes together and reshape them into consistency that move up the organization and hopefully one day become Major League ballplayers.
To be blunt, Neda doesn’t fit the profile of someone who will ever excel enough behind or in front of the dish to become a big league regular. I have no doubt though that he’ll be a quality contributor this spring as pitchers hone their craft and that Neda won’t be going anywhere out of the Brewers system for as long as he wants to play. The term “organization guy” gets thrown out as a negative a lot of the times I see it used to describe someone, but in Neda’s case if that’s what he becomes, I think that the Brewers minor leaguers he plays with along the way will be that much better for it.
#93 – Kentrail Davis
An outfielder from Mobile, Alabama by way of the University of Tennessee, Kentrail Latron Davis (5’9″, B/T: L/R) reached the Double-A affiliate Huntsville Stars in 2012 following a strong showing in the 2011 Arizona Fall League.
Davis, 24, was originally drafted out of high school by the Colorado Rockies in 2007 but chose to go to college instead. The Brewers then picked him in the supplemental first round in 2009 (39th overall).
He struggled out of the gates in 2010 after being assigned straight to Class-A Advanced Brevard County to begin his professional career. After finishing out the 2010 season with the Timber Rattlers, where he hit very well, Davis spent all of 2011 back at Brevard County. His prospect status was in some doubt though after a lackluster season at the plate where he hit only .245/.317/.361 in 565 plate appearances. He was very good when he reached base though, stealing 33 bases in 41 attempts (80% success rate), and scoring 76 runs.
In 2012, Davis was a Huntsville Star and perhaps being home in Alabama helped him relax. He finished the year with a .274/.357/.404 line in 498 plate appearances over 122 games. He has a ways to go before he’ll be under consideration for a 40-man roster spot (let alone a 25-man one) but if he can improve his vision and discipline he has the chance to perhaps contribute one day in a reserve OF role at the big league level.
Of note: Davis is ranked as the 11th best prospect in the Brewers system entering 2013 by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.
#92 – Hunter Morris
After an inauspicious start to the year, Morris, 24, turned on the power in a big way in the second half of the season. He finished with the following statistics:
136 G, 571 PA, 522 AB, .303/.357/.563, 77 R, 158 H, 40 doubles, 6 triples, 28 HR, 294 total bases, 113 RBI, 2 SB, 40 BB, 117 K
Those numbers were good enough to win the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player Award! But the accolades wouldn’t stop there as Morris was also awarded the Minor League Gold Glove for first basemen. Yeah, out of all of them, spread over 10 “domestic-based, full-season leagues”, Morris was named the best fielder as his position.
Make no mistake though, Morris was drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Auburn University for his bat which is what will get him to the big leagues should he achieve such, but his developing defense would be a nice boost to his chances.
Morris has things that are often looked for in a prospect (he’s 6’2″, 200 lbs, for what it’s worth), but he also has some reports about the things that could hold him back. But if this power remains the norm and he can increase his walk rate, the Brewers might be looking to add his left-handed swing and glove to their everyday lineup as early as 2014.
In a recent radio appearance, Brewers GM Doug Melvin said that they’re going to watch Morris closely this spring as their evaluation of him very well could impact their long-term decision about the future of the now incumbent 1B Corey Hart in Milwaukee who is only signed through the end of the upcoming 2013 season.
No pressure, kid.
Of note: Morris is ranked the #7 overall Brewers prospect by MLB.com, and is #4 on the overall list of first base prospects in the minor leagues entering 2013.
#91 – Adam Weisenburger
After being chosen as the Best Defensive Catcher in the Brewers system by Baseball America, Adam Robert Weisenburger will enter big league camp in 2013 much like the rest of the players in this article. That is to say that none of them stand a chance of breaking camp with a plane ticket to Milwaukee in hand.
Don’t let that dissuade you from understanding how a guy like Weisenburger will be spending his time before being reassigned to the minor league fields at Maryvale.
Catching bullpens, working with some pitchers he’ll likely meet up with down the road in the 2013 MiLB season, and other things in preparation, but with starting big league catcher Jonathan Lucroy leaving camp to play with Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, there will be plenty of innings behind the dish in actual big league Spring Training games.
It’s why Neda is there. It’s why Weisenburger is there. It’s also why the Brewers have invited non-roster catchers Blake Lalli and Anderson De La Rosa and Dayton Buller to camp. To be clear, however, if Weisenburger lives up to the billing as the best defensive catcher in the system than he could see the bulk of the game time given to these youngsters.
Weisenburger split time in 2012 between Class-A Advanced Brevard County and Class-AA Huntsville. While he didn’t hit particularly well at either stop (less so as the competition got tougher), his ability to receive, throw, and call a game are what could further his advancement in the system. He’s an interesting case to watch this spring in whatever game action he’s afforded.
Physically, the Minnesota native is 5’10″ and listed at 185 pounds. He bats right-handed. Weisenburger was drafted in the 34th round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Miami University, in Ohio.
Thirty-two current Milwaukee Brewers players from the 40-man roster plus a host of alumni, Minor League prospects, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters are scheduled to participate in Brewers On Deck, which is set to take place Sunday, January 27 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Delta Center. The event is presented by Time Warner Cable.
Brewers On Deck is the annual Fan Fest that bridges the gap between winter and Spring Training. Players, coaches and alumni scheduled to attend include the following (all subject to change):
- John Axford (@JohnAxford)
- Burke Badenhop
- Jeff Bianchi
- Ryan Braun
- Nick Bucci (@nickbooch)
- Hiram Burgos (@Burgos196)
- Khris Davis
- Marco Estrada
- Mike Fiers (@Fiers64)
- Yovani Gallardo
- Mat Gamel
- Scooter Gennett (@Scooterg11)
- Caleb Gindl
- Carlos Gomez (@C_Gomez27)
- Michael Gonzalez
- Tom Gorzelanny (@TGorz)
- Taylor Green
- Corey Hart
- Johnny Hellweg
- Jim Henderson (@JimHenderson29)
- Brandon Kintzler
- Jonathan Lucroy (@JLucroy20)
- Martin Maldonano (@Machete1224)
- Chris Narveson (@sleep_trick)
- Michael Olmsted
- Wily Peralta
- Josh Prince (@JoshPrince17)
- Mark Rogers
- Logan Schafer (@LoganS22)
- Josh Stinson (@JStinny19)
- Tyler Thornburg (@TylerThornburg)
- Rickie Weeks
- Ron Roenicke
- Joe Crawford
- Marcus Hanel (@Markoos55)
- Garth Iorg
- Rick Kranitz
- Jerry Narron
- Johnny Narron
- Ed Sedar
- John Shelby
- Lee Tunnell
- Clint Coulter (@ccoulter12)
- Kentrail Davis
- Drew Gagnon (@Dgags24)
- Mitch Haniger (@M_Hanny19)
- Taylor Jungmann
- Hunter Morris (@HunterMorris15)
- Jimmy Nelson (@Jimmy_J_Nelson)
- Victor Roache (@_Heavy28Hitter_)
- Matt Erickson (Mgr.)
- Jerry Augustine (@jaugie46)
- Jim Gantner
- Larry Hisle
- Gorman Thomas
- Bob Uecker
Tickets for Brewers On Deck are currently on sale. Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children ages 14 and under. Tickets may be purchased at the Miller Park ticket office, by calling the Brewers Ticket office at 414-902-4000, or online at Brewers.com/ondeck. On the day of the event, only cash will be accepted for purchases made at the door. Tickets the day of the event are $20 for adults and $15 for children 14 and under.
Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family. Autographs and photos from Brewers players and coaches, interactive games in the Kids Area, Q&A sessions and game shows with coaches, players and staff, vendor booths with baseball memorabilia, the Brewers Community Foundation Treasure Hunt and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.
The same system for autographs will be used for Brewers On Deck that was used last year. Recipients of any “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced at a later date) will be chosen through a random selection process. Numbered coupons to be entered into the random selection process will be available the day of the event only and will be distributed beginning at 8 a.m. at the Delta Center. Coupon distribution will be available up to an hour before each designated autograph session. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted later this month.
Fans can receive one coupon per event admission ticket and can use that coupon to enter the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players. There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding coupons that are chosen must pay $25 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature. There will be 250 winners for each of the PREMIER autograph sessions.
Players and staff not included in the PREMIER autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10. The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia. For additional information regarding the lottery process, visit Brewers.com/ondeck.
All autograph proceeds benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs. The Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player.
First baseman Hunter Morris of the Milwaukee Brewers Double-A affiliate Huntsville Stars has been selected as the Rawlings Gold Glove Award® recipient among minor league first basemen. The announcement was made today by Minor League Baseball™and Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc.
One player was chosen at each position for a total of nine award winners (included below). The honorees were selected among qualifying players from the 10 domestic-based, full-season Minor Leagues. They will each receive their own Rawlings Gold Glove Award, modeled after the iconic award given to Major League Baseball’s top defensive players, during the 2013 season (see photo attached).
Morris, who turns 24 on Sunday, was named the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player after batting .303 with 28 home runs and 113 RBI in 136 games with Huntsville. He became the first Huntsville player to win the League MVP award since Brewers first baseman Corey Hart in 2003. Morris led all qualifying Southern League first basemen with a .995 fielding percentage as he committed just six errors all season.
Morris, who made a run at the Triple Crown, led the Southern League in home runs, RBI, hits (158), slugging percentage (.563), total bases (294) and extra-base hits (74) and ranked among the leaders in doubles (2nd, 40), runs (T3rd, 77) and batting average (4th). His 40 doubles tied Huntsville’s single-season record (tied D.T. Cromer, 1997 with Oakland Athletics organization and Corey Hart, 2003). Morris will participate in the Arizona Fall League, which begins Tuesday, October 9.
The Huntsville, Alabama native was named to the Southern League midseason and postseason All-Star teams and he earned TOPPS Southern League Player of the Month honors in June and July. Morris was drafted by the Brewers in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Auburn University.
The 2012 Minor League Baseball recipients of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award are as follows:
Position Name Club(s)/MLB Organization
P Adam Warren Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/New York-AL
C Josh Phegley Charlotte/Chicago-AL
1B Hunter Morris Huntsville/Milwaukee
2B Ryan Cavan Richmond/San Francisco
SS Eugenio Suarez West Michigan/Detroit
3B Joe Leonard Mississippi/Atlanta
LF Derrick Robinson Omaha/Kansas City
CF Engel Beltre Frisco/Texas
RF Marcell Ozuna Jupiter/Miami
The Milwaukee Brewers today announced the recipients of the 2012 Robin Yount Performance Awards, which recognizes the Brewers’ Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year. Infielder Hunter Morris was named Minor League Player of the Year and right-handed pitcher Hiram Burgos (pronounced HI-rum BUR-gose) was named Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Morris, 23, batted .303 with 28 home runs and 113 RBI in 136 games with Double-A Huntsville. He was named the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player on Monday, becoming the first Huntsville player to win the award since Brewers first baseman Corey Hart in 2003.
Morris, who made a run at the Triple Crown, led the Southern League in home runs, RBI, hits (158), slugging percentage (.563) total bases (294) and extra-base hits (74) and ranked among the leaders in doubles (2nd, 40), runs (T3rd, 77) and batting average (4th). Additionally, he led all qualifying Southern League first basemen with a .995 fielding percentage as he committed just six errors all season. His 40 doubles tied Huntsville’s single-season record (tied D.T. Cromer, 1997 with Oakland Athletics organization and Corey Hart, 2003).
The Huntsville, Alabama native was named to the Southern League All-Star team and earned TOPPS Southern League Player of the Month honors in June and July. Morris was drafted by the Brewers in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Auburn University.
Burgos, 25, went a combined 10-4 with a 1.95 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) between Class-A Brevard County, Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville. He struck out 153 batters compared to 49 walks and allowed 128 hits in 171.0 innings pitched. His 1.95 ERA was tops among Brewers minor leaguers and ranked 10th-best overall in the minors this season.
Burgos was named to the Florida State League Midseason All-Star team but did not play due to his promotion to Huntsville. He earned Brewers Pitcher of the Month honors in April (Co-Pitcher with RHP Drew Gagnon), June and July. Burgos was drafted by the Brewers in the sixth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft from Bethune-Cookman University. He was signed by area scout Tim McIlvaine.
The Southern League of Professional Baseball Clubs has announced Hunter Morris of the Huntsville Stars as its 2012 Most Valuable Player.
Votes for this award were received from league field managers, radio broadcasters and print media.
It has been a monstrous season for Morris, who enters the final day of the regular season atop the league with 28 home runs and 113 RBI. Morris’ RBI total is the second highest in all of Minor League Baseball in 2012 and the most in the Southern League this century.
The first member of the Stars to claim MVP honors since Corey Hart in 2003, Morris flirted with the first Southern League Triple Crown in 40 years.
His .303 batting average ranks fourth in the league behind Montgomery’s Omar Luna (.315), Mississippi’s Todd Cunningham (.312) and Pensacola’s Josh Fellhauer (.311). In addition to the top spot in two-thirds of the Triple Crown categories, the lefthanded-hitting Morris leads the Southern League in total bases (294), extra-base hits (74), hits (158) and slugging percentage (.563). He also is second in the league with 40 doubles, which are tied for the Stars franchise record previously achieved by D.T. Cromer in 1997 and Hart in 2003.
Concluding May with just three homers in 50 games, Morris went on a two-month power binge that featured the secondmost home runs (17) in MiLB from the beginning of June through the end of July. He also owned the third-highest RBI total (52) in the minors during that span en route to the Southern League’s first back-to-back Topps Player of the Month honors since Montgomery’s Delmon Young in May and June of 2005.
The first native of Huntsville to play for the Stars, Morris thrived in front of the home crowd to the tune of a .327 batting average, 17 homers and 67 RBI at Joe Davis Stadium. In his final home game of the season on August 28, Morris launched his 25th home run to become the first Southern League player with at least 25 homers and 100 RBI in the same season since Jacksonville’s Gabe Kapler in 1998.
In addition to Morris’ offensive achievements this season, the 23-year-old leads all qualifying Southern League first basemen with a .995 fielding percentage. He has committed just six errors in 136 games.
Prior to being selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Morris established a school record with 23 home runs in his junior season at Auburn. He also batted .386 with 76 RBI that year en route to Southeastern Conference Player of the Year honors. A four-time Huntsville City Player of the Year, Morris batted .470 with 46 home runs and 198 RBI at Grissom High School.
The Boston Red Sox, with whom he did not sign, originally selected him in the second round of the 2007 draft.
Which Brewers Prospects Will Play for the Phoenix Desert Dogs? (Arizona Fall League Rosters Announced)
The initial rosters have been announced for the 2012 Arizona Fall League. Prospects from all over baseball are assigned to affiliates to compete as teams for the league championship but also to continue their development. Sometimes players that missed chunks of the regular season are sent so that they get more baseball played, other times top prospects are sent simply to continue their grooming and advancement.
In recent past, the Brewers prospects sent there played for the Peoria Javelinas. Things have been mixed up this year however and this year’s group of Milwaukee Brewers prospects will instead be suiting up for the Phoenix Desert Dogs this fall along with prospects from the systems of the Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics, Miami Marlins, and Tampa Bay Rays.
Here is a list of the players assigned from the various Brewer minor-league affiliates:
- Nick Bucci – RHP – Twitter: @nickbooch - (Highest Minor League level played at in 2012: Class A-Advanced)
- Kyle Heckathorn – RHP – Twitter: @KyleHeckathorn - (Double-A)
- Johnny Hellweg – RHP – (Double-A)
- Santo Manzanillo – RHP – Twitter: @Santo_37 (Double-A)
- Jimmy Nelson – RHP – Twitter: @Jimmy_J_Nelson – (Double-A)
Despite starting this year, Heckathorn and Hellweg will pitch in relief for the Desert Dogs. Hellweg is still viewed as a starring pitching prospect by the organization, however Heckathorn will pitch in relief going forward.
- Hunter Morris – 1B/3B – Twitter: @HunterMorris15 – (Double-A)
- Josh Prince – SS – Twitter: @JoshPrince17 – (Double-A)
- Khris Davis – (Triple-A)
- Brock Kjeldgaard – (Double-A)
***Note: Manzanillo and Kjeldgaard are on the team’s “taxi squad” which limits their availability throughout the short season.***
Over the course of the AFL season, I’ll profile each player for you. That will include looking at their 2012 regular season of affiliated ball as well as scouting reports, etc.
Welcome back. Today begins a stretch of five consecutive days with new profiles for your reading pleasure. That streak will end courtesy of the greatest Milwaukee Brewer of all time, #19 Robin Yount.
Today, however, we’re at 24 in our countdown to Opening Day 2012.
The man who wears 24 is trying to make his first ever career Major League Opening Day 25-man roster at the age of 26.
He is the likely starting first baseman:
Originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Gamel has been as highly-touted as anyone not named Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder as far as potential and tools and the ability to make an impact at the Major League Level.
This hasn’t happened yet for Gamel for a variety of reasons.
First of all is the fact that Gamel has been blocked a bit by players at third base during his time in the organization. First was when Ryan Braun was drafted and kept at the hot corner initially, but then afterward when the team acquired Casey McGehee.
In part because of Gamel’s inability to throw consistently enough while at third, and partly as a hedge against the likelihood of Prince Fielder’s foray into free agency, Gamel switched positions while at Triple-A Nashville.
While still only occasionally playing third base, especially when McGehee was virtually useless on offense throughout the majority of the 2011 season, Gamel focused on learning first base.
He’s done well enough by most accounts at learning the fundamentals, and despite his early assertions that he didn’t like the position when the change was first made, Gamel now seems to like it fine.
Still, many fans would continually bemoan Fielder’s departure and bring up names of veterans at the position who the Brewers should bring in to man the position instead until perhaps a Hunter Morris or Nick Ramirez (first baseman prospects in the Brewers minor leagues) would be ready for the job. They didn’t seem content to let the to-this-point-underwhelming Gamel try to fill some of the offensive void created.
I’ve been on record all off-season as saying that Gamel needs to get a legitimate chance at first base and it’s encouraging to see that all signs point to Ron Roenicke giving him that opportunity. It wouldn’t be enough to platoon him right away or have him be a bat off the bench. I’ve long been of the opinion that Gamel’s best (and perhaps only) chance to succeed at the big league level is to give him both a job and the consistent at-bats that come along with it.
The team seemed ready to do just that, but Gamel was unable to stay healthy. That brings me to my other point.
The reason that I chose to lead with the words that Gamel “has been waiting” to make an Opening Day roster is because up until this season it never seemed like Gamel was trying to make an Opening Day roster. It’s like he just figured that his natural ability would be enough to get him to The Show.
While it has gotten him there a couple of times as a short-term fill-in during Interleague play, it’s never been enough on its own to keep him in Milwaukee or even to perform well while he was up.
Gamel has torn up minor league hitting long enough that he should have been in Milwaukee sooner but his health and questionable conditioning, drive and determination have let him down and caused him to fall short of his goals. If you read the Manny Parra profile two days ago, you’ll know that sometimes those things are a necessity to succeed. Parra has demonstrated them for years. Gamel, not so much through the 2011 season.
In fact, it got to the point where despite his very good offensive season at Triple-A, Gamel was publicly blasted by Brewers minor league coach Don Money in comments to members of the media. Many fans have used that as fodder for tearing Gamel’s chances down.
Gamel used that as fodder for getting his ass in gear.
One of the most exciting moments of the spring was when we began to hear that Gamel had finally gotten the message that he needed to put in that extra work. He said he was in the “best shape of his life” and while that’s a cliché amongst sportswriters, it truly seemed to true in Gamel’s case.
He dropped some unnecessary weight by hiring a personal trainer for the first time. He worked hard to avoid the nagging and, quite frankly, annoying injuries of years past. He admitted that he hadn’t come to camp before in good enough shape to win a job. Muscle pulls and the like haven’t hampered Gamel at all this year.
Gamel has finally had a healthy Spring Training and the results of being up to speed on offense and in the field have begun to show themselves. He had a stretch recently where he hit a home run in three consecutive games, after the second of which Roenicke stated that he absolutely thinks that Gamel is capable of hitting 20+ home runs during the 2012 season.
It’s a far cry from Money’s comments last September.
As someone who has always believed in Gamel, perhaps I’m invested in his personal success more than most. Some only care about the Wins and Losses and don’t care how they are achieved. That’s fine, but that’s not me. I pay attention to the individual performances, trends, etc. That’s probably mostly caused by of my line of work, but so be it.
The bottom line is that I truly believe he’s capable of helping this team win, which is the most important thing after all.
You can follow Mat and his wife Julianne on Twitter: @JMGamel