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An Interview With Kevin Goldstein, Part 2

In which Jed Bradley is discussed further.
In which Jed Bradley is discussed further.

You can find part one right here. To continue:

Noah: What do you think the organizations biggest weakness is?

Kevin Goldstein: Just talent right now. There's going to be a long digout of this hole that they built for themselves. But the good thing is they didn't build it by failing to draft well. What you're looking at is the bill for last year. Did you have a good time as a Brewers fan last year? I hope you did. Build a good team, make the playoffs, and now this is the bill. So it's going to take a while for them to use the draft and develop some players internationally and things like that. The weakness again is just a flat out lack of talent. But I want to stress that this is no indictment of the Brewers or their system. This is how it works. Plenty of good teams end up with bad minor league systems because they use their prospects to build a playoff team. And that's what you saw last year, and I think they have a chance to be a playoff team this year as well.

NJ: How about the organization's biggest strength?

KG: One of their biggest strengths actually is the front office. They have a talented department, so they're in position where they can meet the challenge. But it is going to be a challenge for them do be what they want to be, which is a three sided system. The right people are in place to do that, though.

NJ: I know that you are a pretty big fan of Orlando Arcia. What do you think of both he and Yadiel Rivera as potential future shortstops?

KG: Well, you're certainly still dreaming on them. One of the guys hasn't played in the United States yet and one just played here in the Midwest League and barely did anything with the bat. So if anyone is thinking they are the future of the Brewers, you're in all sorts of trouble. You're in dreamland. That said, I like both of them. You just have to be realistic about how close they are. I'm not sure Arcia is going to be a shortstop in the end. And if there's one thing I really like about Yadiel is that kid can really pick it. He is a really good defensive shortstop. I saw him play a lot last year. I live in the Midwest so I see Midwest League guys a lot. The thing is, obviously his offensive numbers are dreadful but the one thing I like about him is he's not putting up those numbers while being 5 foot 9 and 140 pounds. He's a big, athletic kid. There are some real tools there, and you say to yourself that that gives him a chance to figure it out. At least they'll give him a shot. In fact, I think he was my sleeper on my Brewers prospect list. If not, I should have put him there. So I like him quite a bit.

NJ: Do you think he could be as good defensively as, say, Alcides Escobar?

KG: No. That's a really great defensive shortstop. I do like him, but that's kind of special.

NJ: I'm not sure how much you know about him, but what do you think about Norichiki Aoki so far?

KG: I think he can be an OK bench outfielder. I think he has an ability to hit for average, but I don't know if he can do anything else. He's going to make contact, which will lead to a decent, if not good, batting average. But I don't know. There's no reason to think he's got a lot of on-base skills, no reason to think he has a lot of speed. No reason to think he has a lot of power. He's got that one skill. And when you're that kind of player there's a margin of error where if you don't do that, you have no real value.

NJ: Here's someone maybe you wouldn't expect to be asked about. Is Eric Arnett's career dead in the water, or is there a chance he'll turn it around?

KG: I think there were some signs at the end of the year. I think definitely he has a chance to turn it around. To call it a bump in the road is obviously putting it lightly. That was a giant log in the road that you have to get around. But there were some signs at the end of the year that made you say, "Oh, maybe." It's certainly much more of a hardship than you would expect from a first round pick. I wouldn't write him off, but him making the big leagues is certainly doubtful.

NJ: What are your thoughts on Tyler Thornburg? People seem to be split on whether he's destined for the bullpen or if he can stick as a starter. What is your opinion on that?

KG: The funny thing is I think the jury is still out. I think it's important for people like me to not say one way or another. I think it's fair to say "probably" or "might be", but I think we need to avoid saying "He will be a starter" or "He will be a reliever." I think it's fair to just say it's up in the air and to rank and value him accordingly. Maybe he will have to move to the bullpen. Are you sure that his arm can hold up over 200 innings? No, not really, but I'm not sure it can't either. So I don't know yet, and neither do the Brewers, obviously. I think we need to be in a world where it's okay to say "maybe." We don't know yet, he's still developing. If you can pitch in the big leagues, that's good right there.

NJ: What player in the Brewers system has the greatest raw potential, regardless of if they can come close to living up to that potential?
KG: You know, it might be [Jed] Bradley. 6'4" 200 pound left handers who can throw 94, 95 don't grow on trees. That's a pretty rare commodity. He does need to refine his stuff, he does need to refine his delivery and be more consistent with what he does. The raw ingredients there are pretty impressive. His ceiling is higher than any pitcher in the system. It's just the chances of him reaching that ceiling are a little less. But your starting point on Bradley is really good, you've got a lot to work with there. Which is why he went so high despite statistically not putting up the best numbers in college.

NJ: It's interesting you bring up the 6'4", 200 pound hard throwing lefty because the Brewers and their fans have experienced a little of that with Manny Parra, who fits that description pretty well.

KG: Sure, and Parra was the same thing. Parra was high on a lot of prospect lists and he was really valued because he can do things that a lot of players can't.

NJ: With Prince Fielder leaving and Mat Gamel taking over at first, the Brewers still have a couple of potential first base prospects in their system-in particular Nick Ramirez and Hunter Morris. If you were to choose one that had the best chance of succeeding in the major leagues, which would it be?

KG: Neither. First base prospects are nasty things. If you're a first base prospect, you have to project to hit in the middle of a big league order or you're not much of a prospect. I don't see either of Ramirez or Morris hitting in the middle of a big league order.

NJ: Finishing up, I'm curious about your opinion on 2011 second round pick Jorge Lopez.

KG: I think you've got to put him right up there with Bradley when you're talking raw material. As far as upside, Lopez is right there. If you talk to people in the Brewers organization about who's looking good in camp this spring of the young kids, you'll hear his name a lot. He's a guy who's starting material is really, really impressive. He's tall; really, really, really long; and good arm action. He has a chance to bring a lot of heat once he fills out, right now he's a really skinny kid. Some guys, like Chris Sale of the White Sox, are really skinny, but they have a really skinny frame and will never get big. Lopez has a skinny frame, but he's going to fill out and get bigger. And with that comes a little bit more velocity. He's just a very raw talent, and he's going to have to refine his stuff and have a more consistent delivery-stuff like that. But it's all the things you look for in a projectable arm. I'm a really big fan of Lopez.

Once more, thank you to Kevin Goldstein for taking the time to do an interview with us. Be sure to check out the Baseball Prospectus 2012 if you get a chance.