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Brewers Minor League Report: Who's Hot and Who's Not, July 2013

Jimmy Nelson continues to look more and more like a future back-end rotation starter. How did he and other prospects perform last month?


Though the month of July allowed for the addition of just one prospect -- Nick Delmonico from Baltimore in return for Francisco Rodriguez -- to Milwaukee's thin pipeline, there were a handful of players who put on quite a show and in turn elevated their 'prospect status' within the system considerably.

Jimmy Nelson continued his ascent up the minor-league ladder with a strong showing last month and represented the Brewers well in the 2013 All-Star Futures game in New York City. Recent draft pick Michael Ratterree lit up the Pioneer League from the plate, 2012 first-round pick Victor Roache finally tapped into his power potential and Johnny Hellweg finished out the month with three shutout starts with triple-A Nashville.

Let's find out who else impressed and who didn't this past month with a July system report.

Previous Reports: April | May | June

Midseason Top 15 Prospect Rankings

Position Players

Who's Hot: Victor Roache, LF, class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

July Line: .303/.369/.587, 13 XBH, 32 K/12 BB, .357 BAbip (122 PA)

Without question the most impressive month of his short professional career, Roache showed improvements in several respects in July. The most obvious of those would have to be his power numbers, tallying 13 extra-base hits en route to a .285 isolated power rating over 28 games. He showed a more matured approach at the plate, too, drawing a walk about every other game, which is an improvement considering he walked just three times over 23 games in June. He's still having trouble placing consistent solid contact on offspeed stuff, but that has improved from the beginning of the season.

Who's Hot: Michael Ratterree, OF, rookie-level Helena Brewers

July Line: .348/.439/.641, 17 XBH, 23 K/12 BB, .439 BAbip (107 PA)

A .261/.381/.425 hitter during his senior season at Rice University, Ratterree, Milwaukee's 10th-round pick in last June's draft, got off to a scorching start with the club's affiliate in Helena, Mon., and that carried over into July, where he posted a .641 slugging percentage and found plenty of holes in defenses on his way to a .439 batting average on balls in play. His strikeout tendencies might be a bit of a concern (he owns a strikeout rate of 22.6 percent this season), but he's established himself as the Pioneer League's premier bat, leading the league in on-base plus slugging (1.082) and weighted runs created plus (169).

Who's Not: Tyrone Taylor, CF, class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

July Line: .196/.299/.314, 7 XBH, 15 K/9 BB, .212 BAbip (117 PA)

Posting a ridiculous 1.159 OPS while striking out (9) less than he walked (10) over 25 June games, Taylor vaulted himself into top prospect conversations among system evaluators at the midway point of the season -- playing a premium position with an advanced approach will certainly do that. But July brought Taylor back down to earth, a bit, striking out (15) more frequently and walking (9) less so than he did in June. His .196 batting average looks concerning, but that was more a product of the fact that his hits simply weren't falling, evidenced by a .212 in-play average. With his matured approach and gap power, though, the hits will eventually fall.

Who's Not: Cameron Garfield, C, advanced-A Brevard County Manatees

July Line: .198/.215/.231, 3 XBH, 21 K/2 BB, .257 BAbip (93 PA)

After a respectable month of April in which he slugged .510 with a .303 in-play average, the last three months have been a struggle for the 22-year-old former second-round selection and July really brought those struggles to the forefront. Last month, Garfield tallied just 21 total bases in 24 games and his plate discipline issues manifested themselves in the form of a 21:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. As for his last three months, Garfield has drawn just eight walks over 253 plate appearances en route to a .257 on-base percentage. He'll need a strong showing in the last two months of the season if he has any chance of starting 2014 at the double-A level.

Who's Treading Water: Mitch Haniger, OF, advanced-A Brevard County Manatees

July Line: .230/.287/.400, 10 XBH, 21 K/7 BB, .263 BAbip (108 PA)

Promoting Haniger from low-A to high-A ball midway through May was a no-brainer, posting a .929 OPS with an impressive approach (25 BB/24 K) in the Midwest League to start the season. But the Florida State League's advanced pitching has limited Haniger since his promotion, as his OPS has dropped to .716 while striking out (51) more than twice as frequently as he's walked (19). With just 10 extra-base hits and a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, his July campaign was nothing to write home about, either, but it would probably be a bit drastic to be overly concerned with his production in high-A at this point.


Who's Hot: Johnny Hellweg, RHP, triple-A Nashville Sounds

July Line: 0.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 13 K/12 BB, .522 oppOPS (3 GS, 18 IP)

After a handful of unimpressive appearances with the big league roster and a start with the low-A team following his demotion, Hellweg returned to triple-A ball to finish out July. In three starts there, he held opponents to a .158 average and didn't allow an earned run to cross home over 18 total innings. His overall control has still been an issue, issuing 12 walks to just 13 strikeouts during that span, but the fact that he has only allowed two extra-base hits and has thrown an average of 66 pitches over each of his three triple-A starts is encouraging.

Who's Hot: Jimmy Nelson, RHP, triple-A Nashville Sounds

July Line: 3.99 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 29 K/17 BB, .563 oppOPS (5 GS, 29.1 IP)

Promoted to triple-A ball in early June, July was Nelson's first full month in the Pacific Coast League and, for the most part, he pitched well. Over his five starts, opponents hit just .198 against him, struck out at a 24 percent rate and tallied just three extra-base hits in 121 plate appearances. His control was consistently inconsistent, though, walking (17) nearly as many hits (20) he relinquished, but his slider missed a good number of bats and his heavy sinker continues to produce ground balls. If he keeps this up, Nelson should get a few opportunities with the big league club next month.

Who's Not: Ariel Pena, RHP, double-A Huntsville Stars

July Line: 7.07 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 24 K/16 BB, .854 oppOPS (5 GS, 28 IP)

An impressive stretch of starts dating from the beginning of May through the end of June (2.49 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) put Pena up for promotion to triple-A ball and potentially even a call up to the big league roster. His month of July wasn't as impressive. Aside from his unsightly 7.07 ERA, Pena struggled to spot his stuff in the strike zone, and when he did, opponents placed consistent line-drive contact on his offerings, turning in a .477 slugging percentage against him. Granted, Pena continues to post impressive strikeout numbers and his ground-ball rates continue to rise. But he'll need to show he can command his stuff more efficiently within the zone if he's to have a remote chance at being a back-end rotation starter in the future.

Who's Not: Eric Semmelhack, RHP, class-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

July Line: 6.75 ERA, 1.92 WHIP, 13 K/12 BB, 1.011 oppOPS (6 GS, 30.2 IP)

Mixing his time as a reliever and starter for most of the season at the low-A level, Rattlers manager Matt Erickson made Semmelhack a permanent starter in July for the first time in his professional career. And while Semmelhack is an intriguing prospect at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Erickson may want to rethink that decision because there weren't many positives to take note of last month for the young 22-year-old righty. Over six starts, opponents sported a line-drive rate of 23 percent en route to a .619 slugging percentage against him, including a .342 in-play average. I think Semmelhack has upside as a reliever, knowing how to mix pitches well with runners on base and induce ground-balls at a high rate, but as a starter, there may not be much projection.

Who's Treading Water: Taylor Jungmann, RHP, double-A Huntsville Stars

July Line: 4.32 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 19 K/16 BB, .817 oppOPS (5 GS, 25 IP)

Similar to Pena, Jungmann had a dominant stretch of starts from the beginning of May through the end of June in which he posted a 1.01 WHIP and held opponents to a .515 OPS. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to perpetuate that success into July. Jungmann's spotty fastball command early in counts led to far too many walks and his breaking stuff frequently caught too much of the plate, leading opponents to a .449 slugging percentage against him last month. He'll need to work on getting ahead of batters early in the count the rest of this season so he's able to feel comfortable with his offspeed/breaking stuff heading into spring training next March.