Welcome back to the final installment of BCB's position-by-position review of the Brewers farm system. Last week we covered the southpaws in the system and this week we'll take a look at their right-handed counterparts (would that make them northpaws?). We may have lost Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress in the Greinke trade, but there are still plenty of pitchers to be optimistic about.
We've been hearing for years now about how the Brewers have struggled to develop their own pitching. And that has showed on the field. However the story is a little different now; pitching is arguably the strongest position in the Brewers farm system. Unfortunately, much like every other position in the Brewers farm system, there is really no true impact talent. Our system is filled with possible number 3, 4, and 5 starters. Still, it's better than nothing.
So without further ado, we'll start with...
Eric Arnett. What is there to say about Eric Arnett that hasn't already been said? The 2009 first round draft pick has done pretty much nothing but disappoint, and close observers will know that I‘m not a fan of his. The former Hoosier was expected to move quickly through the minors, but instead was sent down to rookie Arizona, where he proceeded to get hit around by teenagers. And his numbers got even worse there! The pitcher the Brewers drafted featured a 91-94 MPH fastball and a nasty slider. Instead they got a pitcher whose fastball sat mostly in the upper-80's and whose slider was usually flat. Hopefully Arnett can figure things out next this season, but I'm not very confident.
2010 line (Wisconsin and Arizona): 3-9, 6.79 ERA, 4.59 FIP. 100.2 IP, 118 H, 46 BB, 79 K. 10.5 H/9, 4.1 BB/9, 7.1 K/9, 1.629 WHIP
Follow the jump for more!
Moving on from disappointments to pleasant surprises we find Nick Bucci. Taken in the 18th round of the 2008 draft, the Canadian native burst onto the scene with a fine year in Wisconsin. Bucci features a low 90's fastball that can touch 93, curveball, and improving changeup which he will thrown in any count. He's also an intense competitor. I've only seen him pitch on TV, but there's a definite fire in his eyes. He's also only 19, and was one of the youngest players in the Midwest League last year. His glaring problem is his fastball command, which often leads to too many walks, high pitch counts, and early exits. He should start the year at Brevard Co. where he can hopefully regain his once sharp control.
2010 line (Wisconsin): 6-7, 3.51 ERA, 4.65 FIP. 120.2 IP, 96 H, 68 BB, 100 K. 7.2 H/9, 5.1 BB/9, 7.5 K/9, 1.359 WHIP
Taken in the supplemental 1st round of the 2009 draft, Kyle Heckathorn has been everything we hoped Eric Arnett would be. He started the season in Wisconsin where he easily outmatched opposing batters. He moved up to Brevard Co. to end the year and earned similar results. Scouts however aren't very high on the big righty. According to the Baseball America 2011 Prospect Handbook, Heckathorn is a "big-bodied, non-athletic pitcher who sometimes struggled with arm action and release points." He's also not striking out as many as batters as most scouts expected. But you can't argue with results. He uses his whole body to thrown downhill and induces a ton of ground balls. He also only walked 33 opposing batter last year. He features a good sinker, average changeup, and mid-to-high 80's slider, and fastball that can reach 94. Many scouts see him as a reliever, and his ceiling is probably a number 3 starter.
2010 line (Wisconsin and Brevard Co.): 10-6, 2.98 ERA, 3.12 FIP. 124 IP, 122 H, 33 BB 90 K. 8.9 H/9, 2.4 BB/9, 6.5 K/9, 1.250 WHIP.
The comparison to Jeff Suppan almost immediately after being drafted left a sour taste in everyone's mouth about Jimmy Nelson, before he even got a chance to pitch. But Jeff Suppan can't throw 96. The 2010 2nd round pick also mixes in a hard 84-86 MPH slider, slow curve, and improving changeup. Checking in at a whopping 6'6" 245 lbs, Nelson sometimes loses his release point, leading to inconsistent control. Some scouts seem him as a closer, but if he can tighten up his mechanics and cut down the walks he profiles as a workhorse third starter. After a decent debut in Helena last year, pitching only in relief, Nelson should start the 2011 season in Wisconsin's starting rotation.
2010 line (Helena): 2-0, 3.37 ERA, 3.16 FIP. 26.2 IP, 30 H, 13 BB, 33 K. 10.1 H/9, 4.4 BB/9, 11.1 K/9, 1.612 WHIP
Keith Law's personal favorite Brewers prospect, Wily Peralta, has slowly been making his way toward the big show since being signed as out of the Dominican Republic way back in 2005. He finally made it to AA last year where he continued to put up good numbers. The only problem was that his strikeout numbers took a dive. He also induced a lot more ground balls, so it's possible that the club asked him to focus more on that. Peralta missed all of 2007 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but hasn't had any health issues since. His arsenal includes a fastball that can reach 96, low 80's slider with good tilt, and changeup, all of which are average to slightly above-average pitches for him. Peralta's ceiling is probably the highest of any of the pitchers mentioned so far. He could be good number 3 or even number 2 starter.
2010 line (Brevard Co. and Huntsville): 8-6, 3.79 ERA, 4.52 FIP. 147.1 IP, 145 H, 64 BB, 104 K. 8.9 H/9, 3.9 BB/9, 6.4 K/9, 1.419 WHIP
Amaury Rivas is a lot like Wily Peralta, except with a lower ceiling. Like Peralta, Rivas was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2005. He also had Tommy John surgery in 2006. Since then he's put up very consistent numbers, and very good numbers. Rivas is equipped with a low-90's fastball that can reach 95, an average slider and a good changeup, and a genuine knowledge of how to pitch. This perhaps, is his best weapon. He knows how to set up hitters and knows the importance of location and using both sides of the plate. He's an aggressive pitcher with good intensity on the mound. Now that I'm done gushing over Rivas, it is important to mention that he is old for his level, recently turning 25. He should move up to Nashville to start the year and quite possibly even to the big league club, if necessary (although hopefully it won't be).
2010 line (Huntsville): 11-6, 3.37 ERA, 3.55 FIP. 141.2 IP, 130 H, 55 BB, 114 K. 8.3 H/9, 3.5 BB/9, 7.2 K/9, 1.306 WHIP
We all know the story of Mark Rogers by now. The former first round pick missed all of 2007 and 2008 with surgeries. But he's healthy now and well on his way to being a making an impact of the major league club. The major knock on Rogers is his lack of control. It wasn't very good when he was first drafted and it hasn't improved much. But if you saw him pitch in September, you know what he is capable of. His fastball sits in the upper 90's, occasionally reaching triple digits. He also throws a good 12-6 curveball, a hard slider, and decent changeup. When he's on, he's pretty much unhittable, as evidenced by his low H/9 rate. He's just gotta keep those walks down.
2010 line (Huntsville and Nashville): 6-8, 3.65 ERA, 2.08 FIP. 116 IP, 89 H, 72 BB, 114 K. 6.9 H/9, 5.6 BB/9, 8.8 K/9, 1.388 WHIP.
Taken in the 11th round of the 2007 draft, Cody Scarpetta has one of the more promising arms in the system. With a low-to-mid-90's fastball, good changeup, and the best curveball in the system, he profiles as a good number 3 starter. Unfortunately his control is a work in progress. Scarpetta might have made a big step forward in lowering his walks, as a mid-season adjustment last year helped to dramatically improve his control. And no conversation about Cody Scarpetta would be complete without mentioning his unusual contract situation. His original signing conracts was voided because of surgery. The Brewers then resigned him, but had to add him to the 40-man roster to keep his rights. They'll burn his last minor league option this season. He'll start the year in Huntsville, with a good chance to make it to Nashville sometime during the year.
2010 line (Brevard Co.): 7-12, 3.87 ERA, 3.24 FIP. 128 IP, 120 H, 67 BB, 142 K. 8.4 H/9, 4.7 BB/9, 10 K/9, 1.461 WHIP
Our 2010 2nd round pick had the misfortune to be compared to Jeff Suppan, but our 3rd round pick was fortunate enough to be compared to Tim Lincecum. Tyler Thornburg's delivery may be similar to the Freak's, but his results of his debut were also Lincecum-esque. Thornburg throws a mid-to-upper-90's fastball, power curveball, and above-avergae changeup. A lot of scouts think his talents would be best utilized as a reliever, but the Brewers will continue to develop his as a starter. He should start the year in Wisconsin, where one of his goals should be improving his command, which is a bit iffy at the moment.
2010 line (Helena): 1-0, 1.93 ERA, 2.73 FIP. 23.1 IP, 15 H, 11 BB, 38 K. 5.8 H/9, 4.2 BB/9, 14.7 K/9, 1.114 WHIP
Others to keep an eye out for...
Evan Anundsen: Remember him? He threw a no-hitter once. He also missed almost all of 2010 with shoulder problems.
Hiram Burgos: The 2009 6th round pick has had good results in winter ball, but has struggled in anything above Helena.
Michael Fiers: Good numbers, but really old.
Andre Lamontagne: Much like Fiers, Lamontagne has put up good numbers, but is old for his level. He's bounced back and forth between starter and reliever in his short pro career.
Maverick Lasker: The 2008 5th round pick has a cool name and ok results so far. He project as a back of the rotation starter. He should start the year in Brevard Co.
Matt Miller: Taken in the 5th round of the 2010 draft, Miller had quite am impressive debut, leading the H-Brewers to the league championship.
Joel Pierce: 2010 draft pick out of Canada. Signed late and has yet to pitch.
Austin Ross: Another 2010 pick who had an excellent debut. A much better debut than Miller, actually.