On this "unseasonably cool" (a.k.a. comfortable) Saturday in Wisconsin, why not take a look at the way 2009 is going for some Brewers who got away. I could post about guys like Anthony Gwynn, Gabe Kapler, Gabe Gross, and Russell Branyan in the majors, but I want to focus on some of the lesser lights:
Barnwell, called up to Milwaukee for one month in 2006, spent 2008 in Albuquerque for the Marlins and also plays for Team Canada. This year, he started in Houston before being traded to Pittsburgh for sunflower seeds. He's struggled at AAA Indianapolis, hitting just .149/.220/.201 in 172 plate appearances while playing everywhere but behind the plate and on the mound.
Ex-Brewers don't retire, they just wind up in Tampa. Bateman is another name to add to the list as he's been plying his trade for AAA Durham. A 29-year-old righty who finally made it to AAA last year while pitching well at every level of the minors, Bateman was picked in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft and went 3-1 with a 2.09 ERA between Huntsville and Nashville last year. This year he has struggled with control, walking 5.6 batters per nine innings, twice his career rate. He's still striking out one guy each inning but all the extra baserunners have his ERA sitting at 4.08 in 35 innings. He has appeared in 26 games and is 4-1 with a save.
The player to be named later in the Sabathia trade, center fielder Brantley was an on-base machine in the minors for the Brewers. He hit .319/.395/.398 last year for AA Huntsville at the tender age of 21. This year he's manned the outfield for AAA Columbus. He's hitting .268/.349/.353 with 33 stolen bases (4 CS!). Even if the slash stats aren't eye-popping, a 22-year-old with speed who walks more than he strikes out in AAA is a pretty good PTBNL.
The former third-best second base prospect in the Brewers system (behind Rickie Weeks and Hernan Iribarren) made the majors last year as a Rule 5 pick in San Diego. The diminuitive switch-hitter, listed at 5'7", went 6 for 34 in one month for the Padres while making 3 errors in five games at the keystone. He was offered back to the Brewers and the team accepted, assigning him to Nashville. Jack Zduriencik in Seattle edged out Tampa for Crabbe's services in 2009. Crabbe hasn't done well at AAA Tacoma, though, hitting just .212/.311/.332.
Follow the jump for more!
Joltin' Joe spent a season and a month in the Brewers' versatile 25th man role. He did better than you can expect the last guy on the bench to do, putting up a .278/.363/.397 line in 172 Brewers plate appearances. Now 33, he was claimed by the Athletics last winter and traded to Tampa after missing the first month of the season with a back injury. He played in twelve games for Durham before getting called up to the Rays. He's hit .320 in 12 games over six weeks, playing the last bat on the bench and emergency catcher role so popular among AL squads.
The Brewers' 6th round pick in the 2005 draft, 27-year-old LHP Hammond worked his way up to AAA Nashville. He struggled mightily in four starts for the Sounds, but went 7-4 with a 3.45 ERA in fifteen starts at Huntsville. He was part of the Ray Durham trade and has not found much success at AAA in the San Francisco organization either. In 19 appearances this year, he is 6-8 with a 5.44 ERA and 1.49 WHIP.
The biggest piece traded away in 2007's Scott Linebrink deadline deal, Inman started out a 3rd round pick in the 2005 draft. Like Brantley, he has made it to AAA at the age of 22. Unlike Brantley, it took some good numbers at AA this year to get him there. In 44 1/3 innings at AA, Inman struck out 36 and walked 8, good for a 3.05 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. Things haven't gone as smoothly at AAA Portland. In 11 starts, Inman has lasted only 60 innings, walking 22 against 36 strikeouts. He has been hittable as well, surrendering 76 base knocks. All of that adds up to a 6.15 ERA and WHIP the wrong side of 1.60.
Acquired from Toronto with Dave Bush and Gabe Gross for Lyle Overbay and Ty Taubenheim, Jackson was part of the 2006 Parade of Pitchers. He was pretty well battered in seven starts and didn't appear again in the majors until 2008. He appeared in two forgettable games for the Brewers last year before being traded to Cleveland as part of the CC Sabathia package. He struggled in nine starts for the Indians last year and hasn't done any better this year. His ERA and WHIP in three major leage games sits on the wrong side of 9 and 2, respectively, and he owns a 5.71 ERA and 1.62 WHIP in 69 1/3 innings at AAA.
After seven years in the minors and running the gamut from top prospect status to bust and back, Nelson made the Opening Day roster this year. He could never get going, however, and was dropped in mid-May after going 0 for 21 with two walks. Rather than being sent outright to Nashville, he chose free agency and was snapped up by Jack Zduriencik in Seattle. Things have improved for him in Tacoma, but not greatly as he's hitting only .255/.318/.416 with 6 home runs in 151 plate appearances.
Called up to the Brewers in late 2007 mostly due to Anthony Gwynn's hamstrings' impeccable sense of timing. The speed demon batted only three times in Milwaukee but swiped four bases as a pinch-runner. Never a great hitter, he has spent 2009 playing for the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, Seattle's AA affiliate. He's put up an unimpressive .235/.336/.348 line in 65 games but has stolen 23 bags in 25 tries.
I wrecked the alphabetical order with this one, but that's okay. "Cap'n Lou" Palmisano was drafted by the Brewers in the third round of the 2003 draft. He had a pretty good campaign for Huntsville in 2007, rapping out a .256/.368/.419 line. Unfortunately, torn cartilege in his left knee required surgery in the spring of 2008, putting his whole season in jeopardy. He did come back as a designated hitter in the low minors late in the year, hitting .297 against the lower-level competition, still impressive coming back from a knee injury. Having been designated for assignment in September, he was eligible for the Rule 5 draft and was snapped up by Houston via Baltimore. He lasted in Houston's major league camp until March 23. He didn't play in the minors before being released in May. Out of affiliated baseball, he signed on with the Sioux City Explorers of the American Association. He hit .257 with six RBI in 25 games before requesting a trade and being shipped to the Pensacola Pelicans. In Pensacola he has gone 7 for 37 with eight walks, giving him a strange overall line of .234/.422/.279 in 111 at bats. Going from major league spring training to the independant leagues in two months is a pretty steep fall and I wish him the best of luck.