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Prospect watching

Top ten, baby.

This month, John Sickels has been reviewing his preseason prospect rankings for each team.  Yesterday was the Brewers turn, and it served as a reminder of just how strong the Milwaukee farm system is.

Of the 20 guys on John's preseason list, virtually none of them have seen their stock fall.  Sure, some haven't done everything we've wanted them to: Ben Hendrickson probably won't earn a spot on next year's list after his continued struggles in the big leagues, and Dana Eveland might slip a notch for the same reason.  Manny Parra is now little more than a chancy rehab project, and Kevin Roberts is having control problems.

Aside from that, we have a system that is doing the unthinkable: everyone is living up to expectations.  Well, check that--lots of folks are exceeding them.

Yovani Gallardo started the year as John's #6.  It wouldn't surprise me to see him enter 2007 as the #1 prospect in the system, maybe top 10 in baseball.  Will Inman, despite some injury troubles, has also improved; if he stays healthy the rest of the year, he could easily crack the top 5 next year.  Angel Salome, Inman's catcher in West Virginia, is having a terrific season at the plate, 10th in OPS among qualifying Minor League catchers.

What really impresses me about the Brewers system right now, though, is the success of some players who didn't make this list.  Carlos Villanueva isn't on it--you can argue about his ceiling, but he's basically Major-League ready right now.  Steven Hammond isn't on it, and he's pitching even better in Double-A than he did in Single-A the first half of the season.  Tony Gwynn is missing from the list, and while his ceiling may be 4th OF, he's putting on a good show in Milwaukee right now.

And then there's Charlie Fermaint.  Also omitted from John's list, he's having another solid year, causing scouts to praise him.  This year's draft has brought the Brewers more toolsy offensive prospects--both Cole Gillespie and Chris Errecart are hitting well in Helena and have the makings of prospects for years to come.  For the BPers among you, Goldstein has some nice things to say about Errecart.

I don't envy John his job come next spring.  Prince Fielder, Jose Capellan, and Corey Hart will come off the list, but that won't make enough room for the guys--Rolando Pascual, Jeremy Jeffress, Brent Brewer, Gillespie, Errecart, Fermaint, Gwynn, Villanueva, Hammond--who need to get on.  That doesn't even count the guys who we'll acquire in exchange for Carlos Lee this week!

All in all, a heck of a problem to have.