It's time for part II in position-by-position review of the Brewers minor league system. Today we'll be looking at the most depressingly shallow position in the system, and follow that up by looking at a position that is not exactly deep, but has plenty to be excited about.
The shallow position that I am talking about is of course shortstop. If you thought Yuniesky Betancourt was bad, I suggest you skip this section, because you just might cry. The four prospects mentioned don't offer much more than decent defense (which I guess would be an upgrade from Yuni, but I digress...). Centerfield, on the other hand, offers much more, including the last two, count ‘em TWO, minor league players of the year. So without further ado, we'll start with the shortstops
You know things are bad when Carlos George is being mentioned as a top SS prospect. Taken in the 46th round of the 2008 draft, George has a career slash line of .281/.311/.389 over three levels. Around here, he's known more for his incredible defensive ineptitude, committing a whopping 105 errors in three seasons. He reminds me a lot of Alcides Escobar; lanky, no power, no plate discipline singles hitter. But at least Escobar could actually play defense.
2010 line: .302/.327/.375. 301 AB, 1 HR, 35 RBI, 10 SB (9 CS)
Josh Prince was taken in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft and gave a lot of us high hopes when he OPS'd .774 and stole 26 bases (including 6 in his second pro game) in his first 36 games in Helena. But then he moved up to Wisconsin for the second half of his shortened season, and OPS'd .594. He's still got plenty of speed, stealing 44 bases last season, but little plate discipline and no power.
2010 line: .233/.287/.282. 408 AB, 1 HR, 19 RBI, 44 SB
18-year-old Yadiel Rivera is listen first on the SS depth chart in the BA 2011 Prospect Handbook and rated as the 21st best prospect in the Brewers system. That seems a little high for someone who was completely overmatched in his first season of pro-ball. Still, the Puerto Rican native is very young, and has plenty of time to improve. Rivera has been described as a "true shortstop" with good instincts and great range. He didn't show much last season but the Brewers FO think he has a high ceiling because of his natural athleticism and good hand-eye coordination will eventually lead to better results offensively.
2010 line: .209/.243/.257. 206 AB, 0 HR, 23 RBI, 6 SB
Zelous Wheeler represents not only one of the coolest names in the Brewers system, but probably the best hope at SS, for the near future at least. Wheeler was drafted in the 19th round of the 2007 draft as a third baseman, and has also played some 2B, but played the majority of his games at SS for the first time last year. He's held his own with the bat over his pro career, hitting a respectable .271/.369/.399. He's got a Juan Uribe-type build, and has never been known for his defense, but if he can manage to keep hitting, he will probably get a shot.
2010 line: .275/.382/.396. 480 AB, 11 HR, 65 RBI, 8 SB.
I would mention Luis Cruz here, but he's not technically a prospect anymore.
Moving on to centerfield we find...
Erik Komatsu has been one of my personal favorite prospects since he OPS's .932 in his Helena debut in 2008. Unfortunately, he lost the majority of his 2009 to various injuries. But he bounced back with a vengeance last year to win the 2010 Brewers Minor League Player of the Year award. He's played all three OF positions, but is mainly a centerfielder. He doesn't have a ton of power (although probably more than he showed in Space Coast Stadium last season; see roguejim's fanshot on the sidebar), but if he can stick at CF, that will probably be passable. Most scouts see him as a 4th outfielder, which probably has something to do with his size (5'10", 190 lbs), but I've got high hopes for Komo.
2010 line: .323/.413/.442. 486 AB, 5 HR, 63 RBI, 28 SB
Everyone seems to love D'Vontrey Richardson, with all of his potential and athleticism. The Crew took the two sport athlete in the 5th round of the 2009 draft and filled us all with high hope while stressing that he was "raw." They weren't kidding. For most of the 2010 season, Richardson was a big disappointment. He also committed a Soriano-esque 17 errors in CF. But towards the end of the season, he finally began to figure out how to hit, bringing back all those high post-draft hopes. Overall, his first season wasn't that bad, considering he skipped rookie ball. To quote the BA 2011 Prospect Handbook "Basically, what the Brewers have is a raw player with tremendous tools who is still learning how to play baseball."
2010 line: .243/.331/.368. 522 AB, 7 HR, 51 RBI, 17 SB (15 CS)
Logan Schafer followed up his Minor League Player of the Year season by spending all but 7 games of the 2010 season of the DL. He followed that up with a short stint in the AFL, where he hit .323, but didn't collect a single extra-base hit in 8 games. A 2007 3rd round pick, Schafer is a similar player to Komatsu, except a little older and with a tad less power. He's got good range in center with an average but accurate arm. He's got some gap power, but focuses more on making contact and hitting singles. It will be interesting to see what happens in Hutsville next season, as both he and Komatsu are probably set to play CF.
(Is there really a point of adding a "2010 line" line when he only played 7 games?)
Stop by next week for part III in the series!