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December
7th
2004
Your Daily Fantasy Rx
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Post-2004 Prospect Review: Milwaukee
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

Prospects with Double-Digit Upside
Likely 2005 September Call-ups
Potential Reserve Help
Minor League Draft Picks
Organization Rankings
Milwaukee's Top 15 Fantasy Prospects


Prospects with Double-Digit Upside

Jorge de la Rosa, 23, LH Starter
0-3 on a 5:14 K:BB in 22.2 IP over 5 GS
with 29 H, 2 HR, a 1.57 G-F, and a 6.35 ERA for Milwaukee.
5-6 on an 86:36 K:BB in 85.2 IP over 20 GS
with 80 H, 9 HR, and a 4.52 ERA for AAA Indianapolis(IL).

Perhaps rating him this high is a bad idea after his five unimpressive starts for the Brewers, however he possesses considerable upside and obviously can dominate hitters. Only control problems appear likely to keep de la Rosa from enjoying a successful season in 2005. While I can't recommend him right now to owners in standard leagues, he merits a late-round flyer in deep leagues assuming he wins a rotation job as expected and could contribute fairly quickly if Milwaukee fields a decent defense.


J.J. Hardy, 22, SS-R
28/101 for .277/.330/.495 with 4 HR, 20 RBI, 17 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 9:8 BB:K for AAA Indianapolis(IL).

A separated shoulder cost Hardy nearly the entire season, although his April performance convinced the Brewers to give him an excellent chance to win the starting job next spring with a strong camp. If his plate discipline rebounds following his long layoff, I see no reason Hardy won't contribute immediately, but also remember that he owns relatively little power and speed. Any lofty roto value will derive primarily from a high average, so bidding into double digits on the youngsters looks like a mistake.


Corey Hart, 22, OF-R
0/1 for .000/.000/.000 with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 0:1 BB:K for Milwaukee.
124/441 for .281/.342/.485 with 15 HR, 67 RBI, 68 R, 17/24 SB%,
and a 41:92 BB:K for AAA Indianapolis(IL).

While Hart might wind up on the Brewers' bench if they sign a free agent right fielder, he currently appears likely to compete with Brady Clark for an everyday job. Of course, nothing in Hart's statistical history suggests a particularly impressive offensive future, and his ability to play all four corners might give him more value as a backup. Feel free to bid several bucks on him if he wins a starting job, however he otherwise looks like more than a Dollar Days' gamble as a reserve.


Ben Hendrickson, 23, RH Starter
1-8 on a 29:20 K:BB in 46.1 IP over 9 GS(10G)
with 58 H, 6 HR, a 2.05 G-F, and a 6.22 ERA for Milwaukee.
11-3 on a 93:26 K:BB in 125 IP over 21 GS
with 114 H, 6 HR, and a 2.02 ERA for AAA Indianapolis(IL).

Hendrickson earned International League Pitcher of the Year honors by dominating during his four months with the Indians. Unfortunately, opening his big league career with six straight losses suggests somewhat unexpected downside. A 1.69 WHIP definitely concerns me, especially considering he rarely demonstrated great control prior to this season. At least Hendrickson posted an excellent ground-fly rate, yet while he could emerge as a solid #3 starter in 2005, I suspect periodic struggles will leave him with little overall fantasy value.


Dave Krynzel, 23, OF-L
9/41 for .220/.319/.244 with 0 HR, 3 RBI, 6 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 3:15 BB:K for Milwaukee.
71/257 for .276/.332/.416 with 6 HR, 27 RBI, 36 R, 10/18 SB%,
and a 20:65 BB:K for AAA Indianapolis(IL).
8/16 for .500/.600/.688 with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 8 R, 2/2 SB%,
and a 3:2 BB:K for R Brewers(AZL).

Although Krynzel appears set to compete for a starting job in spring training, nothing in his minor league numbers suggested he can hold an acceptable OBP. His stolen bases declined precipitously, and with Brady Clark and Corey Hart both available to cover the open outfield slot, Krynzel merits little consideration from the Brewers. Of course, he could push $20 in a full-time role, but any BA problems could result in an uncomfortable mid-season demotion for the aspiring leadoff man.


Likely 2005 September Call-ups

Ben Diggins, 25, RH Starter
0-0 on a 4:5 K:BB in 6 IP over 4 GS
with 6 H, 0 HR, and a 0.00 ERA for R Brewers(AZL).

With Tommy John surgery now out of the way, Diggins should enter 2005 in perfect health, likely opening the year no higher than AA before challenging for a big league rotation spot by the fall. If he ever solves his previous control inconsistency, the 17th overall pick of the 2000 draft should emerge as a quality starter for the Brewers, although you should wait until he begins posting decent numbers either at AAA or Milwaukee before considering Diggins anywhere.


Prince Fielder, 20, 1B-L
135/497 for .272/.366/.473 with 23 HR, 78 RBI, 70 R, 11/18 SB%,
and a 65:93 BB:K for AA Huntsville(SL).

Skipping high-A didn't set Fielder back noticeably. Yes, he suffered drops in most of his skills, but he still posted strong numbers at a very high level for someone who entered the season as a teenager. I fully expect him to earn a September cup-of-coffee or even join the Brewers at the trade deadline if Milwaukee deals Lyle Overbay. Fielder merits a top pick in any league given his strong skill set and significant long-term upside.


Anthony Gwynn, 22, OF-L
130/534 for .243/.318/.311 with 2 HR, 37 RBI, 74 R, 34/50 SB%,
and a 53:95 BB:K for AA Huntsville(SL).

Combined with an equally troubling .167/.225/.181 performance in 72 AFL at-bats, Gwynn's poor season at Huntsville suggests he needed at least a year of A-ball. Of course, he demonstrated decent speed skills and maintained a .10 walk rate, so he doesn't look that much worse than Dave Krynzel right now. Gwynn still easily could develop into a top leadoff man, however I don't expect him to contribute in the majors much before the middle of 2006.


Sam Narron, 23, LH Starter
0-0 on a 1:4 K:BB in 2.2 IP over 1 GS
with 5 H, 3 HR, a 2-6 G-F, and a 13.50 ERA for Texas.
8-2 on a 31:24 K:BB in 101.2 IP over 16 GS(17G)
with 123 H, 14 HR, and a 4.43 ERA for AAA Oklahoma(PCL).
6-0 on a 27:10 K:BB in 53.1 IP over 8 GS(13G)
with 56 H, 6 HR, and a 2.36 ERA for AA Frisco(TL).

Yet another smart waiver grab by Doug Melvin, Narron owns good control and respectable history of effectiveness with the Rangers. His continued success at Oklahoma despite an atrocious strikeout rate and weak hit and homer rates suggest he should develop into a viable big league starter in the Kirk Rueter mold. While I don't view him as a likely fantasy contributor, Narron may not hurt you as short-term roster filler.


Brad Nelson, 21, OF-L
127/500 for .254/.321/.434 with 19 HR, 77 RBI, 61 R, 11/21 SB%,
and a 47:146 BB:K for AA Huntsville(SL).

Only Nelson's youth keeps me interested given his poor contact rate and speed skills. While he owns significant power potential, returning to Huntsville for a third year looks like a good idea, especially since I see few open lineup slots once Corey Hart emerges to cover one of the corner positions. Drafting Nelson now looks like a definite mistake.


Rickie Weeks, 22, 2B-R
124/479 for .259/.366/.407 with 8 HR, 42 RBI, 67 R, 11/23 SB%,
and a 55:107 BB:K for AA Huntsville(SL).

While Weeks unexpectedly remained in the minors all year, he posted fairly respectable marks in his first full season as a professional. Yes, perhaps the second overall pick in last year's draft should dominate every level, and his 17 errors in 131 games also concern me. However, Weeks demonstrated patience and power potential, positioning himself to challenge for a starting job in Milwaukee as soon as next summer. His five-category upside and strong likelihood of enjoying at least a decade of consistently solid work in the majors makes him an excellent pick in any fantasy league.


Potential Reserve Help

Brian Adams, 27, LH Reliever
3-2 and 3 Saves on a 68:26 K:BB in 84.2 IP over 52 G
with 92 H, 9 HR, and a 4.25 ERA for AA Huntsville(SL).

Compiling dramatically improved skills in Adams' third AA season should lead to an eventual big league call-up. Unfortunately, a generally weak WHIP looks likely to keep Adams from developing into a viable roto option.


Matt Childers, 26, RH Swingman
5-5 and 2 Saves on a 65:27 K:BB in 98 IP over 10 GS(35G)
with 100 H, 8 HR, and a 4.87 ERA for AAA Indianapolis(IL).

While Childers finally stayed above AA for an entire year, he should depart the Brewers this winter, especially after Milwaukee foolishly dealt his older brother Jason for Pete Bergeron. Matt still should emerge as a decent middle reliever, although you definitely need to wait until he compiles several strong big league outings before rostering Childers.


Chris Coste, 31, 3B/C-R
77/262 for .294/.353/.405 with 2 HR, 26 RBI, 34 R, 2/5 SB%,
and a 20:37 BB:K for AAA Indianapolis(IL).

The veteran journeyman likely will spend next year with yet another different AAA club despite a career .295 BA and marginal patience. Of course, while Coste might help a big league team in a limited role, he appears unlikely to contribute positively to any fantasy team.


Ryan Costello, 25, LH Starter
8-8 on a 105:49 K:BB in 125 IP over 23 GS(24G)
with 124 H, 9 HR, and a 3.89 ERA for AA Huntsville(SL).
1-3 on a 15:9 K:BB in 16.1 IP over 2 GS(6G)
with 19 H, 4 HR, and a 9.92 ERA for A+ High Desert(Cal).

Milwaukee selected Costello in the minor league phase of last year's Rule 5 draft and then converted him into starter with impressive results. He posted fairly strong across-the-board skills and now appears ready to succeed at AAA. Costello likely needs at least a couple more years of seasoning, but he soon should emerge as an interesting fantasy option if provided with the necessary opportunity.


Matt Erickson, 29, SS/2B-L
1/6 for .167/.167/.167 with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 0:1 BB:K for Milwaukee.
109/402 for .271/.359/.358 with 2 HR, 34 RBI, 57 R, 12/22 SB%,
and a 45:68 BB:K for AAA Indianapolis(IL).

The minor league free agent finally reached the majors after four solid AAA campaigns. He possesses minimal power and unimpressive speed skills, but strong plate discipline and a career minor league average over .300 give him a good chance to emerge as a big league backup sometime soon. Of course, you still should wait until Erickson begins holding a decent BA in the majors before rostering him anywhere.


Luis R. Figueroa, 30, SS/2B/3B-R
104/383 for .272/.314/.347 with 5 HR, 48 RBI, 44 R, 5/11 SB%,
and a 24:24 BB:K for AAA Indianapolis(IL).

While the veteran journeyman infielder at least maintained decent plate discipline, his slipping secondary skills make him an obvious risk. I don't expect to see Figueroa return to the majors any time soon


Roberto Giron, 28, RH Reliever
5-0 and 3 Saves on an 18:7 K:BB in 29 IP over 21 G
with 25 H, 3 HR, and a 1.86 ERA for AAA Indianapolis(IL).
2-2 and 8 Saves on a 50:10 K:BB in 38.2 IP over 31 G
with 22 H, 1 HR, and a 1.86 ERA for AA Huntsville(SL).

An outstanding performance this season suddenly leaves the minor league free agent positioned to break camp in the majors if he echoes these marks during the spring. Signing with Kansas City gives him that opportunity, and although Giron's history of inconsistent control makes him too risky to draft, he may merit a mid-season pick-up if he continues this impressive success.


Jeff Housman, 23, LH Starter
1-1 on a 14:13 K:BB in 18.2 IP over 3 GS(5G)
with 33 H, 4 HR, and an 8.20 ERA for AAA Indianapolis(IL).
5-8 on a 121:38 K:BB in 112 IP over 20 GS(23G)
with 108 H, 10 HR, and a 3.13 ERA for AA Huntsville(SL).

An extremely unheralded 33rd round pick in 2002, Housman easily posted the best marks of his career at Huntsville. His dominance of the Southern League led to struggles following his promotion to Indianapolis, however I see no reason he won't rebound over a full AAA season. While you need to wait until he echoes these marks at the highest level of the minors before rostering Housman, I expect him to emerge as a viable fantasy option no later than 2006.


Pedro Liriano, 24, RH Swingman
0-0 on a 10:3 K:BB in 15.2 IP over 11 G
with 15 H, 3 HR, a 1.75 G-F, and a 4.02 ERA for Milwaukee.
3-10 and 1 Save on a 97:50 K:BB in 126.1 IP over 21 GS(29G)
with 149 H, 21 HR, and a 5.20 ERA for AAA Indianapolis(IL).

Lost on waivers earlier today to Philadelphia, Lirano lost his 40-man spot with the Brewers after backsliding following a promotion from AA Huntsville. While I still expect him to develop into a useful option, he almost certainly will remain in the bullpen, so wait until he begins producing after securing a regular role in the majors before adding him anywhere.


John Novinsky, 25, RH Reliever
0-0 on a 0:0 K:BB in 0.1 IP over 1 G
with 1 H, 0 HR, and a 0.00 ERA for AAA Indianapolis(IL).
7-1 and 17 Saves on a 60:15 K:BB in 61.1 IP over 45 G
with 53 H, 5 HR, and a 2.93 ERA for AA Huntsville(SL).

A surprisingly dominant performance from Novinsky pushes him to the edge of the majors. He even could open the year in Milwaukee with a strong spring given the Brewers' uncertain bullpen. While I expect Novinsky soon to emerge as an intriguing late-inning option, don't roster him until he registers several strong outings.


Andy Pratt, 25, LH Swingman
0-1 on a 1:7 K:BB in 1.2 IP over 4 G
with 0 H, 0 HR, a 2-1 G-F, and a 21.60 ERA for Chicago(N).
0-4 on an 8:15 K:B B in 9 IP over 4 GS
with 14 H, 2 HR, and a 19.00 ERA for AAA Iowa(PCL).
1-5 on a 32:21 K:BB in 26.1 IP over 6 GS(7G)
with 29 H, 7 HR, and a 7.86 ERA between AA West Tenn(SL) and AA Huntsville(TL).
0-1 on a 6:4 K:BB in 9.1 IP over 1 GS(5G)
with 13 H, 2 HR, and an 8.68 ERA for A Lansing(Mid).
1-0 on a 10:4 K:BB in 8 IP over 3 GS(4G)
with 5 H, 0 HR, and a 6.75 ERA for R Cubs(AZL).

An apparent case of Steve Blass sent Pratt spiraling down the minor league ladder following his acquisition from Atlanta at the end of spring training with Richard Lewis for Juan Cruz. Chicago then moved Pratt to Milwaukee for Ben Grieve, although following this explosion of his existing control problems, Pratt shouldn't return to the majors any time soon. Avoid him until he proves he can hold an acceptable WHIP as an established member of a big league bullpen.


Chris Saenz, 23, RH Starter
1-0 on a 7:3 K:BB in 6 IP over 1 GS
with 2 H, 0 HR, a 6-5 G-F, and a 0.00 ERA for Milwaukee.
5-5 on an 84:18 K:BB in 84.2 IP over 14 GS
with 76 H, 10 HR, and a 4.15 ERA for AA Huntsville(SL).

Saenz should miss the 2005 season after recently undergoing Tommy John surgery. While I can't recommend drafting him in the spring, don't be surprised if he returns before the end of next season, placing himself in competition for a rotation spot the following spring.


Dennis Sarfate, 23, RH Starter
7-12 on a 113:78 K:BB in 129 IP over 25 GS(28G)
with 128 H, 12 HR, and a 4.05 ERA for AA Huntsville(SL).

I don't know why Sarfate skipped high-A after only managing a 140:66 K:BB in 140 IP last year, but his control problems expanded as expected. Thankfully his other skills remained strong, so while I expect his command soon will force him into the bullpen, Sarfate at least should develop into a quality middle reliever.


Steve Scarborough, 26, SS/2B/3B-R
84/342 for .246/.342/.383 with 4 HR, 37 RBI, 39 R, 2/2 SB%,
and a 43:72 BB:K for AAA Indianapolis(IL).

Scarborough finally managed a decent OBP, however his negligible power and speed skills give him little value to roto teams. He won't even merit consideration as roster filler until he demonstrates some ability to hold a passable BA in the majors.


Paul Stewart, 26, RH Reliever
0-2 on an 8:6 K:BB in 11.2 IP over 1 GS(6G)
with 20 H, 4 HR, and a 10.80 ERA for AAA Indianapolis(IL).
5-3 and 2 Saves on a 74:16 K:BB in 93.2 IP over 2 GS(41G)
with 93 H, 9 HR, and a 3.17 ERA for AA Huntsville(SL).

Following a very impressive 2002 at Huntsville, Stewart remained decent effective at Pawtucket last year. Falling back to AA while shifting to the bullpen may expedite Stewart's path to the majors, but his solid command should've resulted in a longer look in a AAA rotation. If minor league free agency doesn't offer that opportunity, wait for Stewart, like almost all minor league relievers, to begin succeeding as part of a big league bullpen before rostering him.


Clint Weibl, 29, RH Swingman
4-3 on a 59:26 K:BB in 80 IP over 9 GS(24G)
with 84 H, 13 HR, and a 3.94 ERA for AAA Indianapolis(IL).
2-1 on a 12:10 K:BB in 25.1 IP over 4 GS
with 21 H, 5 HR, and a 3.55 ERA for I Long Island(Atlantic).

With weak dominance and unimpressive overall skills, Weibl appears unlikely to emerge as more than occasional injury filler. Despite some effectiveness over several AAA seasons, Weibl will not be a viable fantasy option unless a full-time shift to the bullpen leads to a superior strikeout rate.


Minor League Draft Picks

None.


Aside from players listed above, no other Milwaukee prospect deserves consideration in 2005 fantasy drafts. Adrian Hernandez and Ben Ford each lost his rookie status by exceeding the service time minimum.


Organization Rankings

Selecting primarily college players with high draft picks leave Milwaukee with little lower level depth; 2004 #1 pick Mark Rogers accumulated less than 30 innings in the Arizona Rookie League. However, the combination of a weak big league roster and several quality upper-level prospects create intriguing options here. At least the top half-dozen prospects here should earn starting jobs within the next two years, and Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks could develop into very special players. Feel free to select any of these players in most reasonably deep leagues, however make sure you don't expect immediate success since only Fielder looks likely to begin exceeding double-digit value immediately upon winning an everyday job with the Brewers.

Current ranking of potentially helpful fantasy depth for teams discussed thus far in 2004, based on both the quality and quantity of players ready to contribute in the majors, as well as consideration of the trade value of minor league draft picks from the lower levels of each system:

1. Colorado Rockies(Atkins, Closser, Barmes, Hawpe, I.Stewart)
2. Minnesota Twins(Bartlett, Kubel, Tiffee, Crain, S.Baker)
3. Oakland Athletics(D.Johnson, Swisher, Blanton, Street)
4. Seattle Mariners(Je.Reed, Choo, J.Strong, Fe.Hernandez)
5. Tampa Bay Devil Rays(Gathright, Kazmir, Delmon Young)
6. Anaheim Angels(McPherson, Kotchman, Callaspo, E.Aybar)
7. Cleveland Indians(F.Cabrera, Denney, F.Gutierrez, Aubrey)
8. Arizona Diamondbacks(C.Snyder, Kroeger, Quentin, C.Jackson)
9. Milwaukee Brewers(J.Hardy, C.Hart, Krynzel, P.Fielder, Weeks)
10. Atlanta Braves(Da.Meyer, J.Capellan, Marte)
11. Texas Rangers(Kinsler, Ad.Gonzalez, C.Young)
12. Los Angeles Dodgers(Brazoban, Ed.Jackson, Loney, Joel Guzman)
13. Florida Marlins(Hermida, Willingham, Stokes)
14. New York Yankees(Halsey, D.Navarro, E.Duncan)
15. Baltimore Orioles(Majewski, W.Young, Maine)
16. Toronto Blue Jays(R.Adams, F.Rosario)
17. Chicago White Sox(W.Valdez, B.McCarthy)
18. Kansas City Royals(Teahen, Den.Bautista, Maier)
19. Houston Astros(C.Burke, Josh Anderson)
20. Boston Red Sox(H.Ramirez, B.Moss)
21. Cincinnati Reds(E.Encarnacion, W.Bergolla)
22. Detroit Tigers(Granderson, Giarratano)
23. Chicago Cubs(DuBois)


Today's Fantasy Rx: Despite a wealth of quality prospects who largely look like future stars, none of Milwaukee's youngsters save perhaps Corey Hart appears prepared to earn double-digit fantasy value in a full-time roll next year. J.J. Hardy, Rickie Weeks, and Ben Hendrickson all could develop quickly, and Prince Fielder still possesses more upside than anyone in the system, however don't expect significant contributions from anyone discussed above to your 2005 team as much more than quality trade bait in keeper leagues.


Milwaukee's Top 15 Fantasy Prospects for 2005
1. Corey Hart, OF
2. Ben Hendrickson, SP
3. J.J. Hardy, SS
4. Dave Krynzel, OF
5. Prince Fielder, 1B
6. Rickie Weeks, 2B
7. Jorge de la Rosa, SP
8. Anthony Gwynn, OF
9. Ben Diggins, SP
10. Brad Nelson, OF
11. Chris Saenz, SP
12. Jeff Housman, SP
13. Dennis Sarfate, SP
14. John Novinsky, RP
15. Sam Narron, SP


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