Now that the minor-league seasons are complete, what better time to revisit the Brewers' preseason top 10 prospects to see how they fared in 2013?
Here is a look at what transpired with each of those players:
1. RHP Wily Peralta
Peralta has spent the entire season in the Brewers' starting rotation, and it has been a roller-coaster ride for the most part. As were most of the starting pitchers, Peralta was gosh-awful in May, going 1-5 with a 7.71 ERA and coming close to being returned to the minors.
Peralta, 24, improved as the season progressed, however, validating the decision to keep him in the rotation. He still has work to do, with pitch counts that often get out of whack and big innings seemingly arising out of nowhere. But the talent obviously is there and there's reason to expect better things in 2014.
Considering he isn't a strikeout pitcher, Peralta's pitch counts are a point of concern, but Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he doesn't expect it to always be that way.
"With the way his ball moves and the sink on it, somewhere down the line I think he's going to understand how to get some easy outs, meaning two- and three-pitch at-bats where they're going to hit a ground ball at somebody," said Roenicke.
"I think that's going to happen but until he starts commanding the ball he's going to have this type of battle."
2. RHP Tyler Thornburg
No prospect has had a more confounding season than Thornburg. He was not productive at Class AAA Nashville, going 0-9 with a 5.79 ERA in 15 starts. He had a 1.59 WHIP, and opponents batted .297 against him.
The Brewers had a need in their bullpen, however, and promoted Thornburg despite those woes. And, when given a chance to start, he has fared well, posting a 1.13 ERA in four outings (3.04 ERA in 11 relief appearances). It still is not clear where he fits in the club's plans, however.
3. RHP Taylor Jungmann
Jungmann spent the entire season with Class AA Huntsville and didn't dominate in the manner you'd expect from a 2011 first-round draft pick. In 26 starts, he went 10-10 with a 4.33 ERA, with 117 hits and 73 walks in 139 1/3 innings.
After posting a 4.13 ERA with a .207 opponents batting average in 13 first-half starts, Jungmann had a 4.54 ERA and .256 OBA in 13 second-half outings. Jungmann doesn't turn 24 until December and still has plenty of time to develop but at this point is profiling as a bottom-of-the-rotation starter in the majors at best.
4. 1B Hunter Morris
After earning 2012 player of the year honors (.303, 28 HRs, 113 RBI) in the Southern League at Class AA Huntsville, Morris moved up to Nashville and struggled to find consistency at the plate. He ranked among the league leaders with 24 homers but batted only .247 with a .310 on-base percentage and .766 OPS.
Had Morris torn apart Pacific Coast League pitching, he'd probably be up with the Brewers now, starting at first base. Because he has to be put on the 40-man roster this winter in any event, it would not have been a big deal to do so in September. The fact that Morris was not called up shows the Brewers' decision makers are not ready to commit to him for next year.
5. RHP Jimmy Nelson
The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Nelson profiles as a workhorse in the major leagues. He began the year at Huntsville and went 5-4 with a 2.74 ERA in 12 starts, with a solid 1.13 WHIP. He was promoted to Nashville, where the going was a bit tougher -- 5-6, 3.67 in 15 starts.
It's not inconceivable that Nelson could make the Brewers' rotation next spring and jump to the top of the prospect class. At some point in the near future, he'll likely be in the majors to stay but needs to work on sharpening his command.
6. RHP Johnny Hellweg
Hellweg put together the best season of any pitcher in the system, earning PCL pitcher of the year honors. In 23 starts at Nashville, he was 12-5 with a 3.15 ERA, allowing only 103 hits in 125 2/3 innings with a .228 opponents batting average. Hellweg, 24, still had command issues, however, allowing 81 walks.
Those control woes got the best of Hellweg during his first stint with the Brewers, resulting in a 10.97 ERA in four games (three starts). When he pounds the lower half of the strike zone, the 6-foot-9 Hellweg can break bats and induce grounders. But he must show he can throw enough strikes in the majors to hold down a regular spot in the rotation.
7. OF Victor Roache
Roache had a lot of making up to do after missing his first professional season in 2012 while recovering from a serious wrist injury. As might be expected, it took the first-round pick time to get going at low Class A Wisconsin. Roache batted only .209 with six homers and 27 RBI in the first half.
Roache found his stroke in the second half, however, batting .274 with 16 homers and 47 RBI in 69 games. He boosted his OPS from .644 to .840 and has the kind of power bat that can make an impact in the majors. Look for Roache to continue to improve and make it to Milwaukee.
8. 2B Scooter Gennett
Gennett has hit well at every stop in the minors but probably exceeded expectations when given a chance to play regularly for the Brewers after Rickie Weeks was lost in July with a torn hamstring. Gennett batted an amazing .423 in August and held his own in the field, making sensational plays at times.
Assuming Gennett finishes the season in strong fashion, the Brewers will have a lot of explaining to do if he isn't their second baseman in 2014. Yes, Weeks has an $11 million contract for next year but has been in a two-year decline offensively and still is considered a below-average fielder. Weeks won't be easy to trade coming off an injury, but Gennett has advanced his timetable to the majors.
9. C Clint Coulter
The Brewers didn't want their 2012 first-round draft pick to have to wait for rookie ball to start in June so they sent him to Wisconsin to open the season. That was an ambitious assignment for the then-19-year-old Coulter and he struggled with a .207 batting average in 33 games before being reassigned to rookie Helena.
Coulter had trouble getting going there (.238, 1 HR, 8 RBI in 17 games) and also strained an oblique, so the Brewers dropped him another notch to the Arizona Rookie League. Coulter finally got hot, batting .350 with three homers and 15 RBI in 17 games. He is still a work in progress behind the plate but made some strides there and the plan is to keep him at catcher for the immediate future.
10. OF Mitch Haniger
A supplemental first-round pick in 2012 who missed much of that first year with a knee injury, Haniger is a talented athlete who figures to advance steadily through the system. He began the season at Wisconsin and batted .297 with five homers and 25 RBI in 41 games (.909 OPS) before moving up to high Class A Brevard County.
In 88 games with the Manatees, Haniger hit .250 with six homers and 43 RBI (.720 OPS). Haniger doesn't turn 23 until December and the Brewers believe his tool set will get him to the majors. He comes from a solid background and reacts well to coaching.
It's both good and bad news that half of the top 10 played in the big leagues this season -- good that they got the experience but bad that so many players went down the reinforcements were necessary.
And, proving that prospect lists aren't always the gospel, first baseman Jason Rogers -- the Brewers' 2013 minor-league player of the year -- wasn't among the top 30 entering the season.
Braun reaching out
After Ryan Braun accepted a season-ending, 65-game suspension for getting caught buying performance enhancing drugs from the Biogenesis clinic, we were told he would seek forgiveness and redemption via a step-by-step process that would take considerable time.
The current step for Braun is placing telephone calls to season ticket holders, sponsors and suite holders to apologize personally. The Brewers insist it was Braun's idea to do so and their only part was forwarding contact numbers of random ticket holders.
"Ryan called and asked for a list of ticket holders," said Brewers vice president Tyler Barnes. "This was 100 percent his thing. We put a random list together and gave it to him, and that was the extent of our involvement. This was entirely his initiative."
Understandably, some fans have been skeptical that Braun is actually on the other end of the line. One imagines conversations starting like this:
"Hello, this is Ryan Braun."
"Who is this, really?"
"Honestly, this is Ryan Braun."
"Yeah, right. Fred, is that you? Is this some kind of joke? If you don't tell me who this is, I'm hanging up."
It is commendable that Braun is calling the club's fans, because those are the people he has to win back. The Brewers are paying Braun a lot of money through 2020 and can't afford fans to stay away because of his PED use and cover-up, which was 100 times worse.
At some point, Braun will have to answer questions and fill in the blanks after a somewhat generic public apology. In that setting, he wouldn't be able to rehearse or get public relations help and perhaps he'll bare his soul a bit.
There has been no indication such a session will happen before the season ends at the close of this month. You wouldn't think the Brewers want Braun to wait until next spring to hold a news conference, which would be a brutal way to begin a new season.
Braun might be waiting until a pending lawsuit by former friend Ralph Sasson is settled. As the authorities like to say, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
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