(Earlier this week, one of our readers, a friend and fellow blogger, contacted me to ask about doing a guest post about one of the minor league affiliates of his beloved Milwaukee Brewers. Since Huntsville clearly falls under the Bus Leagues umbrella, and Andrew is already a friend of the blog, saying “yes” was easy.
Hi, I’m Andrew. I was the one who brought you fine folks at Bus Leagues Baseball to the attention of the Wonder Mat(t)’s. But did you know that’s not all? It’s true!
For one thing, I’m one of the dudes at The Grand National Championships. But that’s neither here nor there, I’m just saying it to stroke my ego. Did you know that the Huntsville Stars have 8 prospects with Major League capability? And why I’m here is to bring them to you.
(Stats as of 6/20)
1. Mat Gamel (3B)
.367 14 HR 62 RBI .431 OBP .622 SLG
You know it’s rare to have a dude hitting .370 and not be within sniffing distance of a AAA promotion.* But Mat Gamel is just that man. His defense was so shaky last season that he seriously thought of quitting. Not to say that a .906 Fielding percentage is something that engenders confidence in his long term ability to third base? But it is a marked improvement over his 2007 at the hot corner. At 22, his bat is ready now, he just needs to consolidate his defensive gains. We’ll see him in September.
2. Matt LaPorta (RF)
.297 19 HR 58 RBI .411 OBP .610 SLG
Gamel may be the more complete hitter, but LaPorta has the power bat. His college experience has been able to get him from Gator Nation to the dominating Double-A level in 12 months. He is still raw on defense, but he’s improving rapidly. He’ll end up moving from right field, but he’s been more than worthy of his First Round hype. He’ll be in Milwaukee in September.
3. Alcides Escobar (SS)
.333 6 HR 43 RBI .368 OBP .448 SLG 19 SB
Here’s where some intrigue is developing. Escobar is a vacuum-cleaner at shortstop, and his 19 steals come with 79% success rate. But he is developing power to the gaps (18 XBH compared to 21 last season)and nascent plate discipline (18 walks in comparison to 21). As a 21 year-old in AA? That’s just awesome. If he keeps improving on his plate discipline, he’ll be in Milwaukee sometime in 2009.
4. Angel Salome (C)
.349 7 HR 46 RBI .405 OBP .548 SLG
Coming off a 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs, the power of the 5’7″ Salome was called into question. But as his 2008 statistics show? His gap power is legitimate. His defense is good in terms of the fundamentals, but he needs to improve the technical aspects on defense and he will never walk or strike out very often. He’ll displace Kendall sometime in 2009, but he’s engaged now. Sorry ladies.
5. Michael Brantley (CF)
.319 4 HR 32 RBI .400 OBP .409 SLG 19 SB
He 21-year old Florida native posesses the best plate discipline in the Brewers organization and is just a touch below Escobar in the wheels department. He has no power, and he is a tweener. (Defensively, he is best suited for left field or first base.) He’s got a Juan Pierre game with plate disipline.
6. Cole Gillespie (LF)
.272 9 HR 45 RBI .375 OBP .484 SLG
The Oregon State alumnus is somebody who plays above his tools. He has doubles power, excellent plate discipline, and excellent baserunning judgement for someone with average speed. His defense is solid and his arm is accurate as well. But with Braun locked up, the Kentucky Ninja Corey Hart being awesome, and LaPorta as the heir apparent? The 24 year-old Gillespie may be more trade bait than anything.
7. Steven Hammond (LHSP)
7-4, 3.45 ERA, 88 2/3 IP, 33 BB, 78 SO
For a 26 year-old Long Beach State alumnus who is repeating a level for the second time, the veracity of his prospectdom may not be exactly the most sound. He has a deceptive devilvery which enhances an average fastball that touches 91. He’ll challenge hitters and keep the ball down, but as the walk total shows? He does lose his command. He may never be one of the top Brewer prospects, but he will get starts.
8. Omar Aguilar (Closer)
0-1 4.00 ERA 3 SV 9 IP 6 BB 7 SO
A recent promotion to AA has many in the Brewers organization excited. Aguilar was destroying Brevard County to the tune of 13 hits and 1 earned run allowed in 25 and 2/3 IP, and he can generate excellent velocity on his fastball, though his command is shaky. The stocky (5’11”, 227) native of Merced, California is currently off to a slow start, but the Brewers want a Joakim Soria for their very own.
Honorable Mention: Chris Errecart (1B)
.271 11 HR 28 RBI .343 OBP .510 SLG
An excellent power hitter, Errecart can play tag with the leftfield fence when he makes contact. But his plate discipline is marginal, and 64 strikeouts in 210 at bats is a scary proposition for the 23 year-old. Though I would not count him out, he has overcome back problems, and his power is real. Nevertheless, of all those who could be inflated from the awesome that is Hunstville? Errecart would be the most logical choice.
I give you nine prospects, from the top of the pops to the next Ryan Garko. But that’s not the amazing thing. The amazing thing is that with all this talent? All the stars and studs in Huntsville?
They didn’t win the Division.