Brewers excited about balance in system
Young pitchers developing as club adds offensive depth
MILWAUKEE -- When the Brewers went after bats with their first four picks of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, it was partly because they could afford to do so.For the last three years prior to this one, Milwaukee has spent time building up pitching prospects in the Draft. Since 2009, the Brewers' first pick has been a pitcher. In 2010, pitchers were the first three picks, and last year, pitchers made up the first five, including two -- Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley -- in the first round. This year's Draft was the first since 2007 that Milwaukee's first four picks were all position players, and with the stockpiling of pitchers in that time, general manager Doug Melvin is excited with the hurlers his organization has coming up.
"I think we're balanced in the organization, and we have some good pitching," Melvin said. "Tyler Thornburg [Double-A] won tonight, he's 8-0 now. We've got Jimmy Nelson [Class A Advanced], we've got Bradley [Class A Advanced]. We've got some good pitching coming along."Melvin also mentioned Wily Peralta, who is the organization's No. 1 prospect, according to MLB.com. Peralta has struggled this season with Triple-A Nashville, going 1-7 with a 6.83 ERA in 11 starts, but Melvin remains confident the Brewers can get him "straightened out." Regardless, Peralta is only part of the equation. Thornburg -- drafted in the third round in 2010 -- recently became one of five Brewers prospects playing for the Double-A Huntsville stars selected to play for the Southern League's North Division All-Star Team. With a 2.69 ERA, the right-hander leads the league in wins at 8-0 and ranks second in WHIP (1.07). He ranks third in strikeouts with 66 in 70 1/3 innings. Last year's Draft picks Bradley and Jungmann, meanwhile, have gone through their fair share of growing pains, as both have ERAs over 4.00 with the Brevard County Manatees. Milwaukee's amateur scouting director Bruce Seid still said he likes what he has seen from the young pitchers in the organization. "We feel we're starting to see some guys develop and blossom," he said. "We feel they can be a good part of what we're going to do in a couple years here in Milwaukee." The three years the Brewers spent going mostly after arms also happened to be Seid's first three years as the club's amateur scouting director. After spending top picks on pitchers in his early time with Milwaukee, he said the Brewers were looking to add more depth to their young hitters, which they did in 2012. But, according to Seid: "That doesn't mean we're void of bats right now." Seid is particularly excited about Double-A prospects Hunter Morris and Scooter Gennett, both of whom will join Thornburg at the Southern League All-Star Game. Gennett -- taken in the sixth round in 2009 -- is set to make his third consecutive All-Star appearance. Through 59 games, the middle infielder leads the league with 73 hits. He also has three home runs and 19 RBIs to go with his .308 average, which is three points higher than his career average in the Minor Leagues. Morris, who is more of a power hitter at first base, leads the Southern League with 21 doubles. A former fourth-round Draft pick in 2010, Morris also has six home runs, 39 RBIs and owns a .292 batting average. In 2011 -- his first full year in the Minors -- Morris ranked fourth in the Milwaukee farm system with 20 home runs. The majority of the Brewers' top prospects selected in recent years likely have at least one more full season to go in the Minors before making the jump to the big club. And while that might leave some fans eager, wanting to see quicker results, Melvin said he believes that to be the best way to ensure a player's progress. "I think the best way to get to the big leagues is to do it the right way and develop [players]," Melvin said Monday when asked about the state of the organization's Minor League system. "And when they get to the big leagues, they're there to stay."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.