Brewer Trade Value Rankings, Part 2: 20-11

In case you missed it, Kyle put up the introduction and numbers 40-21 for this project yesterday.  Go ahead and be sure to read that first if you haven't already. Numbers 20-11 are filled with a lot of young guns.  Only #20 (Randy Wolf) is a true Veteran.  The next most tenured player has only been in the majors for two seasons.  So remember that most of these guys still have almost all of their service time left, which is very valuable in terms of trades.  Now let's get on with it then, shall we?

20. Randy Wolf.  Despite being an above-average starting pitcher, Wolf ranks at the midway point in our trade values.  The biggest reason for that is his contract.  He still has two years and $19MM left, along with a $10MM team option (or $1.5MM buyout) for 2013.  His raw numbers show a decent pitcher in 2010 as he was able to register a 4.17 ERA.  When you look at the more sabermetric numbers, though, you can see he didn't really pitch that well: He posted a 4.85 FIP, a 4.90 xFIP, and a 3.96 tRA.  Pick your poison, none of those numbers are pretty.

Right now, the only trade value that Wolf holds is the hope that he will revert back to his 3.96 FIP, 3.1 WAR season in 2009 with the Dodgers.  In all likelihood, that won't happen.  However, he also shouldn't be as bad as he was in 2010.  The thing with Wolf is that, as far as his actual production, he should be right around what he was last year--close to his career average ERA of 4.13.  So despite being a nice pitcher, his contract makes him nowhere near as valuable as he might be.

Follow the jump for numbers 19-11.

19. Mark Rogers.  The former first round pick is one of many young players in this portion of the countdown.  Rogers is hurt by his injury history--he missed all of 2007 and 2008 after two shoulder surgeries and, in his first five seasons, only was able to pitch in 53 total games.  Were it not for that, he could potentially already have been a big part of the Brewers starting rotation.  When Rogers finally came back in 2009, he was dominant in 23 games (22 starts) for High A Brevard County, pitching to a 1.67 ERA and a 1.160 WHIP, along with a wonderful 9.3 K/9.  Unfortunately, he wasn't able to put up quite as good of numbers in the minors last year, posting a 3.65 ERA and 1.388 WHIP between AA and AAA.  He also had a 1.80 ERA and 2.08 FIP in ten major league innings as well.  One more thing in his favor:  He does NOT give up home runs.  He has allowed 5 HR in 190.2 innings in the last two years.

Rogers is still just 24 years old, but he's too much of an uncertainty right now for him to be a major trade piece.  The Brewers will certainly continue limiting his innings in 2011 (his 126 innings last year were about 28 more than he had pitched in his career and 61.1 more than he threw in 2009).  In addition, he is prone to giving up walks as he's posted BB/9 of 4.0 in 2009 and 5.6 in 2010 while pitching in the minors.  He might compete for a rotation spot in Milwaukee for 2011, and with a strong season he could rocket up this list as he still has nearly all of his service time left.

18. Chris Narveson.  The Narv-Dog doesn't have near the upside of Rogers, but he is more of a known quantity which is why he is placed higher on our list than Rogers.  He has put up a 4.22 FIP both of the last two seasons and a 4.99 ERA in 2010.  He strikes out a good amount of hitters (7.8 career K/9) but also has a career BB/9 of 3.21.  There's not much to say about Narveson.  He'll be a mediocre pitcher with limited upside, but he's pretty certain to not be bad, and he still has, I believe, five years of service time left so he has some value.

17. Kentrail Davis.  The 39th pick in the 2009 amateur draft, there is no doubt that Davis has spectacular raw talents and in 2010 he was able to show them off.  In A ball he hit .335/.421/.518 and absolutely ravaged the Midwest League, earning a promotion to Brevard County.  While there, he continued to demonstrate his patience as he posted an OBP of .380, however both his power and batting average seemed to have plummeted off a cliff as he put up a BA of .244 and a SLG of .341. I was surprised that the three of us had ranked him so similarly (16, 17 and 19 in our individual rankings) because, to me, he was the hardest one to place.

Listed at 5'9" and close to 200 lbs, he doesn't exactly look like a prototypical center fielder.  However, the 22 year old actually has surprisingly good speed and a strong throwing arm and should be able to hold his own defensively.  His youth might hurt him as far as trade value right now as he is still mostly an unknown until he gets more professional playing time.  He could build on his promising season in A ball and become the top prospect in the system but right now he isn't quite at the level where he could be the centerpiece of a big trade.

16. Jeremy Jeffress.  The 18th overall pick of the 2006 draft's issues with marijuana have been well documented, but after serving a total of 150 games suspended for his habit he was finally able to reach the major leagues last year, albeit as a member of the bullpen.  Jeffress went from AA to a September call-up last year, so it's possible he is sent to AAA to begin the 2011 season.  However, that, like his overall trade value, might be determined based on whether the Brewers organization sees him as a starter or a reliever going forward.  He handled himself well in ten innings out of the 'pen in 2010, posting a 2.70 ERA and 3.28 FIP along with 8 strikeouts. 

Jeffress is another guy with obvious raw talent (he has shown he can blaze a fastball in at over 100 MPH).  He also strikes out a ton of batters (over 10 K/9 career).  Prior to last season, he had put up pedestrian numbers in the minors, however at three levels in 2010 he posted a 2.23 ERA and 0.928 WHIP.  At this point, it's very likely that Jeffress will at the very least be a good, cheap bullpen arm.  If the Brewers try to keep him as a starter he might not make an impact for a couple years, but his talent is undeniable and he is another guy that could potentially rocket up this list in the future.

15. Kyle Heckathorn.  Our rankings varied greatly on Heckathorn, who got 9th, 13th and 25th place votes.  Only Amaury Rivas and Josh Butler had a greater deviation between the three of us.   He's not a player who is easy to project yet as he found success in 2010 at the lower rungs of the minor leagues, but didn't have outstanding peripherals.  Between A and A+ he threw 128 innings and posted a 2.98 ERA and a 1.250 WHIP. He had a 6.5 K/9 which, though good, might not be quite as high as you would like to see out of a top prospect. He also gave up nearly a hit per inning. 

From most of what I have heard, Heckathorn's upside is probably limited to being a third starter.  Now, six years of third-starter material can be very valuable.  However, he is still young and certainly may not live up to that potential, either.  As with Kentrail Davis, a strong season next year could set him much higher on this list in the future.

14. Zach Braddock.  The Brewers appear to have completely given up on the idea of Braddock being a starting pitcher and are content leaving him in his bullpen role.  It's hard to argue given how outstanding he was out of the 'pen last year, with a 2.94 ERA and a 2.90 FIP.  The man is also a strikeout god--a 10.96 K/9 last year and career minor league 11.8 K/9 attest to that.  His 2009 season (when he became a full time reliever) was particularly spectacular:  Between high-A and AA he had a 1.79 ERA, 0.868 WHIP, a 13.8 K/9 and 8.86 K/BB ratio!  Yowza!

In all seriousness, Zach Braddock might be one of the premier young bullpen arms in the MLB and a team that needs relievers or is looking for their closer of the future might want to pry him away from Milwaukee.  Being a reliever keeps him lower than he perhaps could be on this list, but he could still be worth a pretty penny to some teams.

13. Mat Gamel.  Two of us thought similarly on Gamel ranking him 10 and 11 on personal lists, while the other ranked him 22.  There's no doubt that his trade value is a fraction of what it was in 2008 when he was neck and neck with Matt Laporta in the race to be the top prospect in the system.  His defensive deficiencies have been well documented and are almost certainly the reason he hasn't received a legitimate shot at playing time in the majors (along with Ken Macha's seeming hatred for Gamel).  The one thing Gamel has shown he can do in the minors is hit, with a career .302/.376/.489 minor league batting line.  I think sometimes we forget that his numbers in 2010 were just as good as ever--he had a line of .304/.388/.496 last year

Maybe he can become a near-average third baseman in the future, or maybe the Brewers (or another team) should try him out at 1B or a corner outfield spot.  Wherever he plays, he needs to receive some consistent playing time at the major league level.  The Brewers constant yanking him around the last two years has done him no favors and has probably only served to hurt his trade value.  It's tough to know exactly what other teams might think of him now, but he might still be able to net a nice prize in a trade.

12. Jonathan Lucroy.  Sure he didn't hit that well in his first year as the starting catcher in Milwaukee (.253/.300/.329), but he was supposed to get one more year of seasoning in while Gregg Zaun caught games in the big leagues.  Well, Zaun's inuries and Angel Salome's complete breakdown forced Lucroy to Milwaukee and 75 games behind the dish.  The one thing to remember is that top prospect catchers don't come along very often, and Lucroy had hit fairly well in the minors (.298/.377/.460).  I think given a year or two, Lucroy's offense will catch up and he will be a slightly above average hitting catcher who plays good defense--a very valuable player.

11. John Axford.  The last reliever in our rankings, The Ax himself.  He had a rookie year to remember in 2010, posting a 2.48 ERA, a 2.13 FIP and 24 saves after usurping the closers role from Trevor Hoffman early in the season.  He had a fantastic 11.79 K/9, though a less than stellar 4.19 BB/9.  He also only gave up ONE home run in 58 innings and had several multiple-inning outings.  

He might be a regression candidate as his career minor league numbers never showed that he would be able to put together this kind of season.  In his career, he has minor league numbers of a 3.57 ERA, a 9.9 K/9, a 6.0 BB/9 and never sustained extremely good FIP's.  As such, he is a prime candidate to suffer regression, but we said that about Casey McGehee and he ended up having a very good season last year.  Regardless, Axford could be a potential sell-high candidate--particularly with Braddock and Jeffress potentially being able to take the role of closer.  It would probably be a PR hit to trade a player who has become such a hit with fans, but his trade value may never be higher.

Be sure to come around again tomorrow at 3:00 when we'll have #10-6 for you.  Then Friday at the same time we'll wrap this series up with #5-1.

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